Posts Tagged ‘good health’

apple, flowers and measurement tapeAccording to Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010, more than two out of every three adults in the United States is considered to be overweight or obese. Increasingly, these individuals are realizing the impact extra weight can have on their health and lifestyles, from increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease to sore joints and limited energy. As such, many individuals struggling with overweight and obesity are seeking solutions to these problems, and turning to health and fitness professionals for help. In truth, fitness professionals are poised to make a bigger impact on public health than ever before. Are you prepared?

The ability to create effective fitness programs and offer the motivational techniques to help clients succeed are just part of the equation. Nutrition can make or break your client’s weight-loss program. While it’s vital to stay within your defined scope of practice as a health and fitness professional, helping clients achieve their goals and maintain those numbers beyond the short term with an expert nutrition plan and tips is always part of a successful program.

The best possible chances for weight-loss success with these 10 essential tips:

YOU CAN’T OUT EXERCISE A POOR DIET.

We’ve all heard this one and you may already be giving this advice. The truth is that diet is a significant part of the weight loss equation. Your clients should know that rebuilding their bodies into more efficient machines requires a (mostly) healthy diet with adequate calories. This is how they will best achieve their weight-loss goals.

MAXIMIZE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.

When it comes to weight loss, fruits and vegetables may just be your client’s best friend. These nutrient-dense foods can help clients feel fuller with fewer calories, making them an ideal addition to every meal. Fruits and vegetables also make a great low-calorie “off plan” snack when hunger unexpectedly rears its head. Clients new to a healthy eating plan may want to work closely with a dietitian to explore the best choices and preparations for fruits and vegetables.

LEARN TO LOVE LEAN PROTEIN.

Clients exploring a weight-loss program may be unfamiliar with lean proteins that can help curb cravings and keep them satisfied from meal to meal. Skinless, white meat chicken and turkey; fish and seafood; certain cuts of beef and pork; and beans and soy products are all lean choices. Once they get started on a weight-loss program with you, ensure your client’s meal plan includes a source of lean protein with every meal.

READING NUTRITION LABELS IS A MUST.

We live in a fast-paced world. To grab our attention, many products now include “healthy” buzzwords. These often do not provide the most accurate picture of a product. When it comes to weight loss and health, it’s important to read nutrition facts panels for the most accurate information. In fact, a recent study from the University of Houston looked at the difference marketing buzzwords (such as “all natural”) on packaging made and found “every single product used in this research study that included one of the health-related trigger words was rated as being significantly healthier than the exact same product that did not include those words.” Clients unfamiliar with nutrition labels should work with a nutrition professional to learn the basics of making the best choices for their weight-loss nutrition program.

PORTIONS ARE POWERFUL.

Most of us have seen how “portion distortion” has played a role in the excess weightmany of our clients are struggling to lose. While reading nutrition labels can help, learning recommended portion sizes and even regularly measuring foods are essential to meeting weight-loss goals. Clients wanting to start a weight-loss program should understand these portion sizes may take time to get used to. The best nutrition programs include easy-to-understand measurements to guide your clients as they relearn portions as part of a healthy eating plan.

MAKE IT REAL WORLD.

Your clients’ weight-loss programs should fit into their lives to ensure that they are successful now and for a lifetime. The most effective weight-loss programs include some flexibility in schedule and meal plan, as well as strategies to navigate social events, busy lifestyles and even restaurant meals. Work closely with clients to identify the weight-loss programs that will work best for them. Dietitians can also help clients navigate this real-world aspect with healthy eating strategies.

When clients are ready to start a weight-loss program, set them up for success with the right information. Working closely with your client to develop the best fitness and nutrition program can help you deliver the weight loss results they want.


 

Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Evolution Nutrition, a web-based nutrition management system, designed for you, the fitness professional.

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Some athletes are choosing water and real food instead of sports drinks and processed bars and gels.

By Alastair Bland
The SALT, NPR Food Blog
Posted 7/16/2012

As the world’s greatest athletes gear up for the 2012 Olympic Games in London this month, viewers like us are likely to see a spike in televised ads for sports drinks, nutritional bars, and energy gel — that goop that so many runners and cyclists suck from foil pouches.

Powerade, in fact, is the official sports drink of the 2012 Olympics, and if it’s true what these kinds of ads imply, processed sports foods and neon-colored drinks are the stuff that gold medalists are made of.

But sports nutritionists and pro athletes don’t all think so. David Katz, physician and nutrition expert at the Yale University School of Medicine, says sports drinks generally aren’t much better than sodas. “[Sports drink companies’] marketing is based on the gimmick that somehow this extra load of sugar and calories will turn you into an athlete,” he says

Perhaps no brand has so loudly touted its product as an enhancement to physical prowess as Gatorade. One of its most effective sales pitches asserts that its sweet and colorful drinks can rehydrate a body more efficiently than water. Leslie Bonci, a dietary advisor to several Major League Baseball teams and a consultant for Gatorade, explains, saying that the body can absorb Gatorade more quickly than it can water alone. She adds that the sugar in Gatorade provides needed calories absent in water.

“Gatorade is a source of fluid, it’s a source of energy, and it’s a source of electrolytes,” she says. Electrolytes are minerals essential in helping the body retain water — and it’s true: We can’t live without them.

But the electrolytes in Powerade and Gatorade occur naturally in many other foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and coconut water.

Katz warns that the sugar content of sports drinks is far more likely to cause unwanted side effects than it is to propel you to the finish line of a race.

Like tooth rot, for example, or that stubborn layer of blubber that clings to our waistlines in spite of our most vigorous efforts to dispatch it. After all, makers of sports drinks, bars and gels encourage people to consume their products not just during exercise, but before and after, as well.

For example,the website for GU Energy — a popular brand you may know from discarded foil wrappers plastered to the asphalt — advises sucking down one of its 100-calorie gel packs before a workout, then again every 45 minutes during the workout. For your post-workout meal, there is GU Recovery Brew.

GU Energy did not respond to our inquiries about their products by press time, but sports nutritionists aren’t so sure about the suggestion to slurp the gels.

“The sports nutrition industry just tells us to eat, eat, eat,” says Stanford University nutrition coach Stacy Sims. “They don’t care how big you are or whether you’re a man or a woman or if you’re trying to lose weight.” (Full disclosure, Sims co-founded her own sports nutrition company called Osmo, which makes powdered sports drinks for hydration and recovery, and are purportedly easier on the body than syrupy energy gels.)

Walk onto any school field on weekends, and you’ll see kids drinking sports and energy drinks, too, even though pediatricians advise good old fashioned water.

Mountain biking legend Gary Fisher says these “engineered nutrition” products keep many amateur athletes on the tubby side. “I see guys who really put in the miles, and they have a gut that never goes away,” Fisher says.

Fisher says he prefers roast beef sandwiches, burritos, nuts, and bananas during bike rides, and afterward, he often eats a large helping of chicken or fish served beside a salad dressed with olive oil.

And Scott Jurek, the record-holding vegan ultra-marathoner featured in the 2009 bestseller Born to Run, enjoys smoothies prior to his 30-mile training runs, scarfs rice balls and hummus wraps en route, and afterward feasts on quinoa, tempe, brown rice, and beans — all vegan recipes included in his new book, Eat and Run.

Jurek says gels, which are easy to pack and carry, may be convenient if no real foods are available. His favorite gel product is by Clif, which also happens to be one of his sponsors.

But Sims at Stanford says unless you’re flat out of gas with miles more to go, don’t do goo.

“The fact is, every time you take a gel, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you want to do,” says Sims, who has worked with cycling stars Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong. She says densely sugared foods dehydrate the body and cause overheating.

But that’s supposedly where Gatorade comes in, rehydrating parched athletes and resupplying the body’s depleted electrolytes.

How important is hydrating anyway? Can it be reduced to a specific formula? Timothy Noakes, a South African sports nutrition doctor, says dehydration is a simpler condition than sports drink companies have hyped it up to be. He says athletes can generally “listen” to their bodies and drink water when they feel thirsty.

No Alcoholics / Kein Alkohol Logo


Naturopathic Physician
Posted June 27, 2012

When it comes to the health of a recovering addict/alcoholic, the approach of natural medicine can positively alter the course of treatment — and definitively increase chances of getting and staying sober. In the first part of this series, I talked about withdrawal and insomnia, two of the most crucial problems that lead to relapse. I support my patients from several perspectives, encompassing mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. Detoxification, 12-step meetings, group and individual therapy, carefully prescribed medications, and family involvement are all integral to the success of a recovering addict in putting down his drink or drug of choice. But I’ve also found that the proper diet, along with targeted vitamin supplementation, can work miracles in the lives of early recovering addicts and alcoholics.

The link between sugar and alcoholism is not to be denied. The active alcoholic often typically consumes 50 percent or more of his or her total calories in the form of alcohol. Remaining calories are often in the form of junk foods: empty calories that actually deplete the body’s stores of essential nutrients.

Alcohol affects the body’s relationship with nutrition in several ways. First, it influences the cells of the midbrain that regulate sensations of appetite by suppressing desire for food while encouraging alcohol intake. [1] Second, it provides a lot of calories without essential nutrients so energy provided is short-lived and leaves the body without proper nutritional stores to draw on. And third, after the initial rush of energy provided by alcohol, there’s a severe drop in blood glucose levels that leads to fatigue, depression, and loss of energy and the subsequent consumption of more sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as caffeine, to swing the body’s energy back up. Because of this my patients who are recovering addicts often think they need sugar and caffeine to feel good — to even feel normal.

I encourage a diet free of sugar and all its forms. This is a departure from average recovery wisdom that tells recovering addicts to eat all the candy and ice cream they want. But this kind of sugar consumption leads to prolonged cravings, fatigue, anxiety, hormonal imbalance, diabetes and simply a new form of dependence. To stabilize blood sugar, I have my patients focus on eating complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest and therefore provide longer and more stable sources of energy with fewer cravings. My prescription is frequent small meals to regulate blood sugar: three moderate meals a day with two sizeable snacks in between.

The diet I endorse is 45 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat and 25 percent protein. The best complex carbohydrates grains are: brown and wild rice, oats, amaranth, millet, spelt, beans, and lentils. People often don’t think of vegetables and fruits as sources of complex carbohydrates but they are some of the best we have available. All of this fiber helps cut alcohol cravings, as well.

For my patients, I can’t stress the importance of protein enough. Proteins helps the body repair tissue and the alcoholic/addict needs this in abundance to help restore organs affected by chronic abuse including the liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, and brain. Protein is also necessary for blood sugar stabilization. Eggs, lean red meats, chicken, fish, and turkey are all to be eaten in abundance. Nuts are the protein snack of choice among my patients. Proper and adequate intake of fats is essential for absorption of vitamins and nutrients and for cellular repair. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, butter, and avocado are good sources. These oils are vital, too, to provide essential fatty acids. Deficiency of these leads to a host of problems, particularly for the recovering alcoholic, most notably depression. [2]

Because it overstimulates the nervous system causing increased anxiety and insomnia, caffeine consumption is to be minimized if not completely eliminated. I ask my recovering addicts and alcoholics to try herbal coffee substitutes like Pero or Cafix to get the taste fix. If elimination is impossible, I recommend no more than two cups of caffeinated beverages per day. Decaffeinated coffee, which still contains some caffeine, is preferable.

I urge people in recovery to eat nothing artificial to ease the load on the liver, which has to struggle to break down chemicals and preservatives. Foods should be in as close to their natural state as possible. I have found great success in cutting alcohol cravings by eliminating common food allergens, most notably wheat and dairy.

B vitamins are essential during detoxification from alcohol and drugs. Supplementing with vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential, ensuring proper brain function and decreasing fatigue, brain fog and poor memory. Wernickie-Korsakoff syndrome, or alcoholic encephalopathy, is a pronounced form of thiamin deficiency. [3] Research has shown that vitamin B3, or niacin, helps alcoholics detox from alcohol. [4] Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, helps support adrenal function and also helps rid the body of alcohol. For the recovering alcoholic suffering from insomnia and anxiety, vitamin B6, pyridoxine, is crucial for the production of serotonin and melatonin. Commonly, I give my recovering addicts/alcoholics a high quality B-complex supplement, along with vitamin A and vitamin C, which they are usually deficient in.

It’s my goal, as a doctor, to facilitate a physical recovery so that the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of recovery have a better chance of succeeding. Food is a crucial medicine in restoring this balance of health. The sooner a newly-sober person feels great, I’ve found, the sooner he or she will begin to accept a life free of crippling attachments to substances — the life they are truly are meant to live.

REFERENCES:

1. Xiao, et al. “Effect of ethanol on midbrain neurons: role of opioid receptors.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Jul; 31(7): 1106-13.

2. “Deficiency of Dietary Omega-3s May Explain Depressive Behaviors.” Science Daily. Jan 30, 2011. https://www. Sciencedaily.com.

3. Martin, et al. “The Role of Thiamin Deficiency in Alcoholic Brain Disease.: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. July 2004. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov.

4.Cleary JP. Etiology and biological treatment of alcohol addiction. J Neuro Ortho Med Surg 1985;6:75-7.

For more by Maura Henninger, N.D., click here.

For more on natural health, click here.


Author, ‘How To Live 100 Years Without Growing Old’
Posted: 05/24/2012 10:15 am

No question, doctors and patients are now joining the vitamin D revolution in large numbers. More and more doctors are ordering tests to determine vitamin D blood levels and more patients are reading about the positive benefits of vitamin D in news reports. There have been more than 3,000 published studies and reports involving vitamin D listed at the National Library of Medicine in just the past 14 months.

Now, pediatricians at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore say all children need to be screened for vitamin D deficiency. This means vitamin D is going big time.

What’s the vitamin D revolution about and why should you join it? It’s about the rediscovery of a sun-made vitamin-hormone that was first recognized in 1922 to avert bone softening in children, what is called rickets.

Overlooked at that time was the fact that most vitamin D-deficient children with rickets had impaired immune systems. Only recently have researchers begun to investigate the role of vitamin D in maintaining an optimal immune response. In particular, vitamin D activates an army of white blood cells called neutrophils, which represent 50-70 percent of the total white blood cell volume and are the first responders to any infection in the body.

Vitamin D for colds and flu

Dr. John Cannell, founder of The Vitamin D Council, has noted that seasonal bouts of the flu and winter colds are not spread from person to person as commonly believed. Colds and the flu do not progress from town to town, and an individual in a family may come down with a viral infection while others remain healthy. Nor are colds “caught” by being out in chilly weather. In fact, medical literature points to the wintertime cold and flu season as simply a downturn in human immunity as vitamin D levels drop due to the diminished intensity of the sun combined with more time spent indoors as the outdoor temperature becomes chilly.

A relatively recent study found just 800-2,000 international units (IU) of supplemental vitamin D, by weight just 20-400 micrograms, reduced wintertime cold symptoms from 30 in 104 subjects given an inactive placebo tablet to just nine in 104 subjects given vitamin D. That is quite a striking difference.

Modern medicine is agonizingly slow in providing conclusive evidence as to whether vitamin D is the big antidote to the common cold and wintertime viral infections. But your family doesn’t have to wait; vitamin D is relatively inexpensive, and concerns about overdosing are poorly-founded.

The biggest concern among doctors is that mega-dose vitamin D will cause a condition called hyper-calcification. But it takes about a million units of vitamin D for this to occur in healthy adults. Intake of 40 1,000-unit vitamin D pills a day would be required to produce toxicity in an adult.

Our family isn’t waiting for more science. My wife and I began taking 5,000-8,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, and we have found at the first sign of a runny-nose cold we take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 and our cold symptoms usually subside within minutes. That much vitamin D may seem to be problematic, but physicians inject 300,000 IU among postmenopausal females for wintertime bone protection without side effect.

Putting vitamin D into practice

Recently, our 7-year-old son began to develop symptoms of a cold and an earache. We started with 5,000 IU of chewable vitamin D and then gave another 5,000 IU a few minutes later. Our son was also given some elderberry syrup, reported to be helpful for the flu, along with some vitamin C. We soaked Q-tips in hydrogen peroxide and placed them in his ear canals to kill off germs and then instilled an herbal ear drop that provided garlic oil. Within a short time the earache and other symptoms were gone.

This regimen continued for about three days as symptoms began to reappear upon awakening in the morning — that is, until our son was given his vitamin D. He didn’t miss a day of school and no doctor’s office visits for antibiotics were required. Special note: If earache symptoms persist, don’t be so stubbornly committed to self-doctoring that you allow your child to suffer permanent hearing loss.

When our son was about 2.5 years of age he awoke in the middle of the night crying with a fever of 101.8 degrees Fahrenheit. We broke up vitamin D tablets, mixed them with water and instilled about 5,000 IU in a bulb syringe orally. Within minutes he began to shake with the chills, a sign his fever was breaking. Within 15 minutes he was sound asleep in his bed.

The vitamin D revolution is underway, and it has promise for addressing many maladies, including childhood food and peanut allergies, for pregnant women to reduce the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, wheezing and asthma in their offspring, and for tonsillitis, just to mention a few of its many applications. Learn to use vitamin D for your whole family and they will really call you Doctor Mom. To learn more, I’ve written a free family guide to vitamin D, available here.

For more by Bill Sardi, click here.

For more on natural health, click here.

By Dr. Laura Q. Rogers
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 27, 2012 @ 12:17 PM

The key component to weight management is caloric balance. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Exercise helps you burn more calories while you are trying to lose weight.

Exercise boosts the number of calories your body burns for up to 24 hours, even while resting. By exercising while on a weight-loss diet, you will be able to retain muscle mass, which helps your body burn more calories and improve your physical functioning while losing fat. It also can help you sleep better; disturbed sleep can interfere with your ability to lose weight.

Once the weight is lost, individuals who continue to exercise are able to keep it off better than those who do not exercise. Exercise redistributes the fat away from the abdomen. If the fat is in your abdominal cavity, it increases your health risk for diabetes and heart disease.

How much exercise do I need?

You need to determine your daily caloric needs at rest –– the number of calories you are burning at rest, based on your current weight, age and height. A free online calculator on your smartphone or computer, such as caloriesperhour.com/index_burn.php, can help you do this.

Then, factor in the amount of physical activity you are doing during your usual daily activities. If you have a desk job, you are not going to burn any more calories than when you are at rest. However, a construction worker burns more calories on the job. Brisk walking burns about 300 calories an hour, and jogging burns 675 calories an hour.

Next, determine the number of calories you are actually eating. This requires keeping a diet record by writing down everything you eat and drink, including portion sizes. Read food labels to identify how many calories are in various foods. You can also download a free smartphone app to help you keep track of your diet.

Working out a weight-loss plan

Decide how much weight you want to lose. If you need 2,200 calories a day, and you want to lose a half pound per week, you need to do some exercise, such as brisk walking, for nearly an hour per day until you have achieved the desired weight loss. If you want to lose more weight, you need to do more exercise to burn a greater amount of calories.

Losing a pound a week requires eating 500 fewer calories per day than what you are burning. Extreme reductions in calories may cause your body to burn fewer calories, so gradual weight loss (i.e. 1/2 to 2 pounds per week) is optimal. The key is to combine diet and exercise. The online calculator can show you how long it will take to realize your goal.

Although any amount of exercise is better than none, the most effective goal for weight loss and redistributing fat away from the abdominal area of the body is to exercise at least 250 minutes per week (or 38 minutes per day). Wearing a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps a day also helps with losing weight and reducing abdominal fat.

Be safe while exercising

Wearing proper shoes for the activity you are doing is an important first step in exercise safety. If you have excessive weight or have diseases, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, you must be careful and may want to engage in only low-impact activities. Always wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t bind or constrict. Also, stay hydrated by drinking water as needed.

Do I need any special tools?

No tools are required if you choose simple exercises, such as walking, which is considered one of the best ways to exercise. Some individuals choose exercise that requires equipment, such as a stationary bicycle or treadmill. It is important to use the appropriate equipment for your activity and make sure it is in good working order.

Making an exercise plan

A well-thought-out exercise plan will help you stay on target for meeting your goals. After deciding how much you want to lose and your calorie adjustments, you need to decide the type of exercise you will do.

Choose exercise that is safe and enjoyable. Will it be of moderate or vigorous intensity? Be sure to check with your physician if you have health risks or symptoms. How much time can you devote to exercise?

Think about adding some variation to your exercise routine so you do not get side-tracked by bad weather, boredom or broken equipment. Having an exercise partner for social support is helpful to some people. Also, keep exercise records.

Start slowly and gradually to avoid injury. As you become stronger and more flexible you can work your way up to longer duration and more repetitions.

If your chosen exercise is walking, it is recommended that you wear a pedometer for a week and record how many steps you did per day. Then calculate a daily average. Increase about 500 steps per day every two weeks and maintain a record of daily steps, working up to 10,000 steps per day.

Work exercise into your daily routine, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike to your destination, exercise at lunch with co-workers, take a 10-minute break to stretch or take a 10-minute walk and reduce screen time.

Dr. Laura Q. Rogers is professor of internal medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Be Healthy Springfield (Ill.)

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April 5 2012 | Circulatory System

As technology advances, we learn more about the human body and how it works. We also gather details about how supplements are utilized in the body. This type of advancement can lead to innovative change and newer, better products, like our  Co-Q10 50 mg softgels.

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Co-Q10 material is often found in a crystalline state, which is less-absorbable by the body and not as likely to have the optimal cellular energy, cardiovascular health and longevity benefits.  Some manufacturers begin their processes with a crystalfree form of Co-Q10. But after processing, the Co-Q10 re-crystallizes inside their softgel capsule. To avoid this, certain manufacturers use solvents in their products. But these solvents may interfere with absorption or cause other issues.

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An anxious person

By Dr. Gary Kracoff and Steve Bernardi
Posted Mar 28, 2012 @ 12:22 PM

To be alive is to invite and to know stress and anxiety. These emotions can run the gamut as to how they affect our lives — from the mild forms that can be easily remedied to small lifestyle changes to more severe forms for which medical intervention is advised.

Again, we are all going to know stress, we are all going to know anxiety. You can no more avoid stress and anxiety in life than you can walking through the rain without getting wet.

In many circumstances, stress is natural and even welcomed. When we are in a competitive situation, or faced with an important task, or are called on to protect and defend someone for whom we care, or if there is a high-priority cause in which we are engaged, the physical and emotional manifestations of stress and anxiety — spiking of adrenaline, rise in heart rate, cold sweat, focusing of attention and building of discomfort — help and enable us to confront and overcome the challenge.

There are, of course, events that bring with them mountains of stress — such as losing a job, conflicts at work, illness, death of a loved one, money problems and marital and other relationship discord.

Drugs — such as asthma inhalers, cold medicine, diet pills, caffeine and thyroid medication — have the potential to increase nervousness.

Stress can result in unsettled sleep, a rise in blood pressure and cholesterol (which contributes to heart disease), weight problems, binge eating, sexual dysfunction, autoimmune diseases and digestive issues.

Depending on how we manage and work through stress, we can either get through it with short-lived and minor unease, or we can allow it to paralyze us or to cause us to act out angrily or unsafely, or to manufacture hurt in other ways.

This is why it is vital to take the initiative in controlling stress and anxiety.

Lifestyle and healthy activity and the right choices can have a dramatic healing impact on all types of stress, whether it is mild or severe. Yet in cases of severe anxiety, when one is beset with deep panic and fright, professional medical help should be immediately sought.

So what can we do, how can we live, to be best conditioned and prepared so that we are less susceptible to stress and anxiety disrupting our lives? Here are some ideas:

Eat healthy:It only makes sense. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet that is high in fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil, nuts, canola oil) and polyunsaturated fats (e.g. fish oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil). Polyunsaturated fats are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that have been medically proven to support and strengthen the nervous system and the brain. There is a reason that fish is called “brain food.” Stay away from processed sugar and processed flour. Drink plenty of water. Drink alcohol in moderation. We are what we eat.

Exercise: Absolutely one of the best life choices all around is for us to engage in regular physical exercise. When we are exercising, we aren’t stewing in our anxiety and letting it fester; we access a new perspective and adjust our focus and experience out-and-out fun. Plus, all sorts of good things happen to us physically when we exercise, all of which support anxiety reduction: stimulation of “feel good” brain chemicals, boosting of energy, burning of fat, promotion of better sleep and strengthening of the immune system. Even moderate exercise — walking for 20 minutes, biking for an hour, doing a low-intensity yoga or Zumba class or ballroom dancing — can tamp down stress.

Friendship and personal support network:True friends and a network of people who are there for us, who will listen to us, who will support us, can soothe even tremendous hurt and relieve even deep-set anxiety. Clinical study after clinical study has borne out and certified the health benefits of friendship and strong family. Among the studies that show that a supportive social network relieves stress and anxiety is one that the National Medical Association published in 2009. In the 1950s, a team of researchers went to the town of Roseto, Pa., (almost of all of whose residents were from or first-generation descendants of the village of Roseto in Italy) to determine why the people in the community were remarkably disease free and living long lives, despite eating a not particularly healthy diet and smoking and not exercising. Researchers concluded that a main factor allowing these people to live long lives and stay healthy was that Roseto was an unusually tight-knit community with several strong civic organizations. (Imagine if the residents of Roseto had also eaten better, not smoked, and exercised.)

Supplements:The proper regimen of supplementation enhances and helps optimize dietary nutrients necessary for physical and emotional health. Mentioned above is the value of omega-3s consumed through fish and certain plant oils. Further value and benefits can be gained by taking high quality fish oil supplements, and also high quality herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements. It can’t be emphasized enough that quality and purity of supplements vary immensely from one manufacturer and producer to another — and that ingesting low-quality and impure supplements provides little to no health support, and is also a waste of money. Some natural remedies can greatly aid in easing stress and anxiety; including Relexagen, a synthesis of herbs first used in Asia during the third century that more recently has been proven to alleviate anxiety and induce calm.

Stress and anxiety come with life. Yet there is much we can do about handling it; we remain masters in this respect.

Staying out in front of stress and anxiety, remaining educated and aware of the options available to us in combatting both, and taking the right action and making the right choices will pave the way for happiness and health.

Steve Bernardi is a compounding pharmacist and Dr. Gary Kracoff is a registered pharmacist and a naturopathic doctor at Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center in Waltham (www.naturalcompounder.com). Readers with questions about natural or homeopathic medicine, compounded medications, or health in general can email steveandgary@naturalcompounder.com or call 781-893-3870.