Welcome to James Brent Health & Wellness

Achieving Optimal Health

                           

Achieving Your Optimal Health 

Diet, 

If we use our limited time and hard earned money to keep our cars running well and helping them last, even though they can be replaced, doesn’t it make sense to optimize our mind and body’s health since they cannot be replaced. Now that cars have computers systems that can alert the owner about potential problems, it is much easier to keep a maintenance schedule. The body has vital signs that be measured, even at home, to alert us about potential health problems. We can take appropriate actions that include life style changes and or schedule a visit with your medical doctor. 

There are several simple measurements that can be done at home.

1. Temperature is a measure of our metabolism. Ideal is 98.6 degrees F. A temperature routinely less than 97.7 could indicate low thyroid function. A temperature slightly above may be normal. 

2. Pulse is a measure of heart beats per minute. An ideal range is 60-70. Routinely above 80 can increase the risk of heart attack. Causes can be poor hydration (water intake), low magnesium, increased anxiety and not enough exercise. Routinely below 60 could indicate low thyroid function, although some athletes may have 45-60 beats per minute. 

3. Blood Pressure, ideal is 120/80. Some consider 140/90 to be elevated. While other health care providers consider a blood pressure as low as 130/80 a risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney and eye problems. A low blood of 100/60 may indicate low thyroid function if accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and brain fog.

4. Weight, 70% of the American population is considered over weight. Most people understand that too much body fat is unhealthy. It is possible for thin people to have low muscle mass and high body fat. There are two measurements that may be helpful in determining whether you have too much fat.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (kg/m2). It may be easier to go online for the calculation. Males should be less than 30 and females less than 21.

Waist to hip is a ratio that is determined by measuring the waist at the level of the belly button and divide it by the measurement of the hips at the widest level. Ideal for males is 0.9 (over 1.0 is unhealthy). Ideal for females is 0.8 (0.85 is unhealthy). Too much belly fat increases the risk for chronic disease, cancer and dementia.

In addition to these self assessments, you may want to consider blood tests to discover potential health risks before symptoms related to less than optimum health develop. Reference ranges stated on test results and what is believed to be normal for the various panels that are measured by the blood test are based on what is found in 95% of the population with no consideration given for illness. The reference ranges include the super healthy and the super sick. Therefore, it is possible to have symptoms of illness and still be in the normal ranges. This can be frustrating when you feel sick, but your doctor interprets the results in the normal range. It is interesting to note reference ranges have changed as the population has gotten sicker. 

These blood tests can be ordered and evaluated by your doctor. Insurance may or may not cover some the more informative blood test panels or a high deductable insurance plan may apply the cost to it. Either situation could cause a large out pocket expense. Many states, including Missouri, allow patients/ clients to order their own tests from a laboratory facility. The results are sent directly to the patient/client. These tests can be interpreted by your medical doctor or a health coach. Recommendations can be made to improve test results and most likely reduce the risk of more serious disease or improve symptoms related to disease.

There are cooperative like organizations that contracted with testing facilities to offer tests at reduced fee when the patient pays directly and medical insurance is bypassed. Due to the tendency for reduced coverage by insurance companies, this may be the most economical way to have the appropriate tests. Blood test panels that measure metabolites to evaluate kidney and liver function, triglycerides and cholesterol, hormones, inflammation, important  nutrients and the type, the size and amount of blood cells. The information provided not only indicates a need for change, but also serves to monitor if your doctor’s or health coach’s recommendations are being followed and how they are working. 

One such organization is Your Lab Work. You can visit their website ( yourlabwork.com/?ref=567 )to place an order or for further information. If you are concerned about health issues, I recommend the Transformational Panel. It covers all the areas previously discussed. The Young and Healthy Basic is less expensive and provides a good screening if you have no health issues. Your Lab Work provides me compensation to help support my work. If you have questions about Your Lab Work feel free to email me. For questions regarding a blood test either from Your Lab Work or from another source, please contact me for a consultation. Also visit my website: jamesbrentdds.com. 

James Brent DDS Health and Wellness LLC

Email: jamesbrentdd@gmail.com

Phone: 636-456-7028                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

The Disease Tree

  

The state of disease/health in one branch can affect the state of disease/health in the other branches. That is why it is important to have a holistic approach to our body’s health. 

  

There are five pillars that are necessary for supporting health.

1. Mindset: Controlling thoughts and emotions.

2. Diet: Food, water, air intake

3. Exercise: Movement

4. Sleep: Quality and quantity

5. Community: Provides mutual support in living a healthy life.

You can use the following information to improve and strengthen these pillars.

This tree represents of the many chronic diseases that can plaque the human body. Whatever is used to prevent disease can also be used to treat it. Brushing and flossing treat disease at the local level, but unlike most drugs, there are few if any side effects. Finding and eliminating the root causes provides both prevention and treatment. Since individual humans have differences in personality and body type, the root causes can be manifested differently from person to person. Healing is aided first of all by getting to know the person seeking improved health, then follow these ABC’s of healing.

A. Activate the mind by having a positive emotional and mental attitude and the body by taking medicinal substances that increase or stimulate the body’s healing ability.

B. Build the mind by practicing techniques that promote positive and loving feelings and the body by giving it the proper amount of high quality air, water, and food.

C. Cleanse the mind by practicing techniques for letting go of unpleasant thoughts, forgiveness and expressing gratitude, and the body by eliminating or reducing the toxins already in our body with deep nasal breathing, sweating while increasing water intake (1/2 ounce per pound body weight), and fasting.


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Principles of Healthy Eating

   

Dr. Weston Price

· Prominent dentist, head of the American Dental Association of his time

· Traveled the world in the 1930s studying nutrition

Native People

· Had plaque on their teeth, but had virtually no tooth decay or gum disease

· Did not get impacted wisdom teeth because jaws were wider

· Had healthy bones and immune systems

Essential Principles of Healthy Eating

· Select natural foods over processed foods

· Select nutritionally dense foods

· Eat fresh foods that are in season and locally-grown

· Eating organic reduces chemical exposure

· Select food that is flavorful, looks and tastes good

· Eat in a relaxed state with an attitude of gratitude

Nutritional Density

· High nutrient value for calories consumed

· Most important part of good nutrition

· Processed foods are not nutritionally dense

· Wild foods are extremely nutritionally dense

· Native people had 10 times more fat-soluble vitamins and 4 times more water-soluble vitamins in their diets.

· Macro mineral content was also 3-4 times higher.

Specific Nutritive Values in Native Diets

· The isolated Swiss diet contained 10 times more fat-soluble vitamins and activators, 4 times more calcium, and 3.7 times more phosphorus

· The isolated Gaelic ate 10 times more fat-soluble vitamins, 2.1 times more calcium, and 2.3 times more phosphorus

· The diet of the Aborigines of Australia contained 4.6 times more calcium, 6.2 times more phosphorus and 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins

Dr. Price’s Conclusions

· Good dental health is a sign of good general health

· Tooth decay is a sign of nutritional deficiency

· Disease and criminal behavior is linked to poor nutrition

Diet and Dental Health

· Weston Prihat the indigenous groups that had the highest immunity to tooth decay ate foods from at least two of the following food sources daily: 

o Dairy products from grass fed animals

o Fish and shellfish (including organs)

o Organs of land animals

Thoughts on Nutrition

  

1. Be grateful for your food

2. Chew your food well, you cannot overdue it

3. When possible choose organic, locally grown or raised

4. Foods to avoid:

· Anything your grandmother would not recognize as food

· Anything that has more than 5 ingredients

· Anything that you cannot pronounce

· Anything that has high fructose corn syrup

· Foods that make health claims

· Avoid eating when you’re angry or upset

· All flour

· MSG or similar additives

· Hydrogenated or Trans fats

5. Be aware many knowledgeable people believe the Western Diet is an important factor in chronic illness or disease refer to Doctor Weston Price’s research (see www.westenprice.org) 

6. Everyone according to genetic makeup and living environment needs a certain balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to supply energy and chemicals so that we function normally. Heating or other processing changes the chemical nature of food. This can be beneficial, making it easier to digest fully. It can also make food more difficult or impossible to digest; they become unrecognizable as food to our digestive tracts. Anything our body does not recognize triggers an immune response such as allergies and autoimmune disease (arthritis and colitis). Poorly digested foods can also contribute to ulcers and gastric reflux.

7. Food is more than the sum of its nutrients. The nutrients behave differently when artificially broken up by processing. Whole naturally occurring foods are better than supplements. These are nutrient dense.  Nutrient dense foods should contain a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). These provide energy and building blocks for our body. They also should contain micronutrients which provide vitamins, minerals and cofactors for optimal metabolism. Most diets emphasize increasing one of the macronutrients in order to improve health. A good rule of thumb would be:

A. High physical activity requires increasing carbohydrates.

B. Muscle building requires increasing protein. 

C. Low physical activity requires increasing healthy fats.

Try fresh fruit and vegetables of many colors. The darkest, deepest colors are better. Whole milk and dairy products are better than reduced fat. Note: most dairy products have been processed by pasteurization, which could be a problem for some. Lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut and yogurts are beneficial because digestion is already started, friendly bacteria are replaced and healthy enzymes are present Even whole grains should be minimized. Hydrogenated and Trans fats should be avoided, these oils are broken down into usable but unhealthy fatty acids. Fats are necessary for health. Our brains and cell membranes are mainly made of fat. Eggs from free range chickens, salmon, chia seeds, and flax seeds (which can be ground in a coffee grinder), and walnuts (soaked for 8 hours in water) are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Nut butters are also a good source of fat. Olive oil and coconut oil (which has been shown to have anti-microbial activity in the intestinal tract) are good and can be used for cooking since they are more heat tolerant. Coconut oil and coconut butter could be good for the immune system. Proteins should make about 25% of our diet and should be included with each meal. Vegetarian sources of protein include nuts, seeds (pumpkin and hemp are good) and beans. Proteins provide amino acids which are the body’s building blocks and are directed by our genetic code for building our bodies. Food contains instructions that help our metabolism and affect our genes. That is why it is important to eat foods that are whole, real, and fresh.

8. As the cost of processing foods (to make them cheaper, more convenient, and tastier) have gone down, the cost for treating chronic illness has increased even more.

9. After eating a meal to about 2/3 fullness, we should feel great emotionally, we should feel energized (not tired), we should not have any cravings.

10. There is a lot of controversy on diet. These thoughts could help point the way to a healthier lifestyle, which is the path that leads to true healthcare. Be an informed consumer and do your own research.

Suggested reading:

Michael Polian “The Omnivores Dilemma”

Weston Price DDS “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”

Francis M. Pottinger M.D. “Pottinger Cats: A Study in Nutrition” 

Elimination Diet

The goal is to eliminate the food or foods to which our body has produced antibodies and contribute to the process of autoimmunity and inflammation. Inflammatory foods must be avoided for healing to take place. The fire of inflammation cannot be put out if we keep throwing gasoline on it. The most common food component is a protein called gluten. It is present in many foods (read labels). It is probably best to avoid any foods containing wheat, rye or barley. The casein in dairy may be another to avoid (although raw grass fed dairy may be ok.) Corn, eggs and soy may also be a source of food intolerance. It would be good to start the elimination of these foods for 3-4 weeks. If improvement occurs then slowly reintroduce one at a time to find the offending food. If no improvement, there may be another food or toxin involved and you will need professional help

Thoughts on Digestion

   

The digestive system requires more energy to do its job than any other body system. Disease in any part of the digestive system from mouth to colon can be either a symptom of disease or a contributing factor to disease in another part. Every part of the digestive system contributes the body’s health and maintenance.

We must chew our nutrient rich food completely and mix it with saliva to start breaking it down.  The saliva should be in adequate amounts and have a pH of 7.0-7.4 (which is alkaline). This healthy saliva provides an environment for friendly bacteria rather than disease causing bacteria. Healthy saliva aids in the replacement of lost minerals from the teeth during eating and drinking. The stomach acid (HCL) breaks down food more, kills unwanted bacteria, and prepares some minerals such as calcium for use. It is important to not dilute stomach acid by drinking liquids with meals. Drinking one half hour prior to eating is much healthier for the digestive process. The small intestine should be relatively sterile (may be a few friendly bacteria).  It further breaks down food with enzymes and allows the needed nutrients to be ready for transportation to the body’s cells, while preventing unwanted wastes from getting out into the body, a large part of the immune systems work. The large intestine (colon) aided by friendly bacteria recycles usable material and eliminates waste. The friendly bacteria produce some vitamins our body needs.

Stomach and intestinal problems such as: Indigestion, GERD, Irritable Bowel, Crohns, and Ulcerative Colitis can prevent normal digestion from occurring and increase the risk for many other diseases. This may include cavities and gum infection. Diets high in protein and refined carbohydrates are not only difficult to digest, but also can make our mouths more acidic, which creates a better environment for unhealthy bacteria which are not killed by the stomach acid. Food allergies, which may include gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts, can irritate the digestive tract causing Leaky Gut. This is when waste products, bacteria, and toxins leak out of the gut and into the body instead of being eliminated from the large intestine. An over growth of bacteria in the small intestine and stress can also contribute to Leaky Gut and its associated Leaky Brain.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut may include the following: abdominal pain, excessive gas, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Diseases associated with Leaky Gut/Leaky Brain include: ADHD, arthritis, asthma, auto immune diseases, celiac, chronic fatigue, depression, dermatitis, eczema, fibromyalgia, memory problems, multiple chemical sensitivities, psoriasis, sinus problems, and yeast infections.

It is important to be aware that the health of the digestive tract from the mouth to the colon should not be viewed and treated as separate parts. Dysfunction in one part of the digestive system can contribute to disease throughout the body. A comprehensive approach to health of the teeth and gums should include personal hygiene, diet, and mental stress reduction techniques. Understanding this and making the necessary life style changes not only lead to a healthy smile, but also to a healthy rest of us.

Vitamins (organic substances made by plants and animals) and minerals (inorganic substances that come from soil and water) are the micronutrients necessary for the body’s chemical reactions responsible for growth, repair, and healing. These are my recommendations for supplements:

1.  Multivitamin with B complex (B1, B2, B12), and vitamins A,D,E,K. It may be necessary to increase vitamin A to 10,000 IAU and D3 to 4000 IAU per day.

2. CoEnzymeQ10 100mg/day

3. Essential fatty acids to balance (omega3, omega6, omega9) with two omega3 to one omega6. For omega 3 fatty acids, use high quality refrigerated form of flaxseed or fish oil. Flaxseeds can be soaked (6 hours) or ground fresh in coffee grinder. Omega 3 fats are needed for calcium utilization and are anti-inflammatory.

4. Minerals should include: calcium citrate 1500mg, magnesium citrate/malate 750mg, and potassium citrate 4000mg per day.

5. Zinc, copper, iron and manganese need to be in balance. You need professional guidance.

6. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is necessary for protein digestion and preparation of minerals such as calcium and iron for use. HCL also kills harmful bacteria, viruses and yeasts present in food. The HCL challenge test can be used to determine the need for HCL. Take one 400-500mg Betaine HCL with pepsin capsule in the middle of a meal. Increase by one capsule until a mild burning is noticed. If one or two capsules causes burning you may have parasites (SIBO) causing acid reflux and professional guidance is needed. 

Sleep

  

Sleep quality and quantity may be the most component of the biochemical balance that promotes health. This should be addressed first with any chronic illness unless pain is involved. Sleep not only serves an essential restorative function for the brain but also has been linked to an increased risk factor for diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance (a pre-diabetic indicator). J Broussard PhD, etal. “Impact of sleep disturbances on adipocyte function and liopid metabolism”. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. May 2010

Our sleepiness at bed time and wakefulness in the morning is a product of the circadian (daily) rythym between cortisol and melatonin . Cortisol, the stress hormone, peaks shortly after waking, the cortisol wakening  response, and decreases throughout the day. Melatonin increases during the day peaking at bedtime. Stressors such as: obstructive sleep apnea, toxins, anxiety, excessive blood sugar drops can increase cortisol levels and decrease the ability to sleep. Mineral imbalances such as low magnesium and zinc and high copper levels as well as an acidic PH (see my thoughts on balancing PH). Alcohol may reduce sleep quality. 

There ways to improve sleep. Practice sleep hygiene by eliminating sources of blue light, lowering bedroom temperature and avoiding electric media 1 hour before bed time. Try having a regular bed time and rising time to get about 8 hours sleep. The 60 minutes prior to bed time can go as follows:  relax with a warm Epsom salt soaking bath with a few drops of Lavender essential oil for 20 minutes or a banana tea (!/2 banana with peel in 3 cups of water. This will provide magnesium. Tart cherry juice can be helpful. Try 0.5 mg- 1.0 mg melatonin. Afterwards try a mental relaxation technique such as: counting backwards from 300 by 3s,counting slow diaphragmatic breaths (see diaphragmatic breathing exercise), focus thoughts on daily aspects of gratitude or other meditative technique

Stress

  

Stress is a non-specific response by our body to any demand: physical, mental or chemical. It can be pleasant or unpleasant. Unfortunately, many of us allow our thoughts on life’s unpleasant experiences to dominate. We can usually control our behavioral response to life’s events. Our emotional response is more difficult to control. It can be easily detected by facial expression or tone of voice. In addition we all tend to be impatient and stubborn, so we have to find quick answers to everything. The quickest answer seems to be: segregate everything into things we like and don’t like. What we don’t like is blamed for a number of undesirable emotional experiences. Emotions trigger reactions in our nervous system and hormones to enable the flight or fight response. The prolonged reaction in chronic, unhealthy stress is a contributor to many symptoms and disease. Some of which include: grinding or clenching teeth, muscle tension, headaches, increased blood pressure and heart rate, fatigue, upset stomach and digestive problems, changes in appetite, memory loss, and learning difficulties. There some who believe chronic stress is responsible for all chronic disease. The term for pressures that lead to stress is stressor i.e. work, kids, traffic or politics. Whatever we do to reduce the body’s chronic stress reaction to stressors will be beneficial. 

1. Relaxing Breath: breathe out through the mouth for a count of 4 and breathe in through the nose for a count a count of 3. Rest your tongue in the roof of the mouth and let your jaw muscles relax while thinking the word “relax”. You can increase the exhale/inhale count as long as you exhale longer than you inhale. Repeat the exercise 2-3 times. Try to do this upon waking, at bed time and hourly during waking hours. Use a cue such as: opening a door or drawer, ending a phone call or text, or any regular activity to remind yourself.

2. “Notice and Ease Exercise” from Heartmath. Visit web site, heartmath.org

3. Research Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR)

When we see wear patterns on the teeth, white lines on the cheeks or scalloped indentions on the tongue we suspect chronic, unhealthy stress may be occurring. Be aware of any teeth clenching activity. The only time your teeth should touch is when you swallow. 

Supplements helpful for clenching and stress management:

· Magnesium

· B-Vitamin complex- (Apple cider vinegar has B vitamins, Bragg Organic is good)

· L- Theamine 200-250mg per day found in green tea.

· Adaptogen herbs such as:

Asian ginseng, ashwagandha extract and licorice root extract can help break the inflammatory hormonal pathways that take place in the body’s chronic stress reaction.

There are U.S. companies such as Metabolic Management, Nature’s Sunshine, and Standard Process that combine vitamins, minerals and enzymes in forms that can be used to support specific body systems and their chemical pathways. These companies provide the safety, quality and convenience that justify additional cost over other sources such as GNC, Amazon, Walgreens or Walmart

Inflammation

  

Inflammation like stress is a nonspecific reaction by the body. This means it happens the same way all the time. It starts as a call for help by the cells of our body when they are not happy. The signs of inflammation are: pain, swelling, redness and heat. Usually, it takes 8-10 days to resolve and helps prevent infection and while healing occurs. This is a normal process and is beneficial. Inflammation must be regulated; otherwise we can have too much or too little.

1. Too much inflammation can lead to: autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, atherosclerosis, ulcers, obesity, sinusitis and allergies. 

2. Too little inflammation can lead to infection and cancer.

3. Additionally, inflammatory chemicals also cross the blood brain barrier inflaming brain cells. This can contribute to headaches, seizures, depression, dementia, increased sensitivity to pain, and many cases of autism.

Inflammation and stress are closely linked. All healing must return these responses to normal function. This is the goal of Functional Medicine’s approach to treatment. 

All infection causes inflammation. Red, bleeding gums are infected and inflamed

Toxicity

  

If you suffer from loss of energy, memory loss, depression, anxiety, nausea, sleep problems, skin problems, canker sores, bad breath, food intolerance, trouble losing weight, PMS, menstrual problems, body aches and pains, sinus problems frequent colds or frequent headaches you may be toxic. Consider a detoxification program to include:

1. Healthy breathing: see attachment

2. Increase water intake to ½ ounce per pound of body weight per day. You can add Celtic sea salt to each glass of water for a total of 1 teaspoon per day.

3. Increase antioxidants with fresh fruits and vegetables of many colors. A high quality green tea such as “gun powder” available on Amazon is also a good source.

4. Liver support: The liver is the main detoxifier of our blood. It needs minerals, B complex vitamins, vitamin C, and amino acids to do its work. Cruciferous vegetables, raw spinach (which has all the amino acids the body can make), uncooked garlic and onions also have beneficial amino acids. Milk Thistle supplement.

5. Improve elimination with fasting, enemas, sauna or hot Epsom salt baths (20 minute soak).

6. Eat fermented vegetables: the friendly bacteria take up heavy metals and help make B vitamins.

7. Stress reduction: see attachments.

8. Take a quality probiotic such as organic plain yogurt. You can add 2-3 tablespoons of fresh ground or pre- soaked (over- night) flaxseeds.

9. For amalgam removal take 2 tablespoons activated charcoal/8 ounce glass of water or juice. 

Balancing pH

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The pH of blood can range from 7.35-7.45, perhaps as high as 7.5. This is considered to be alkaline and is optimal for the health of our cells, bones and teeth. Also the body can eliminate toxins more effectively. A good indication that our blood pH is normal is the pH of our saliva and urine which should also be an alkaline pH (7.0-7.5) depending on the time of day. As the pH becomes acidic, minerals can be lost from teeth and bones. Toxins are not eliminated as well, resulting in unhealthy, chronic inflammation.

An acidic balance will decrease the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease the body’s ability to repair damaged cells, decrease its ability to detoxify and increase tumor cell production.

Symptoms associated with low pH include: tooth decay, osteoporosis, muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, gout, allergies, and infection.

Self help includes:

1. Deep diaphragmatic breathing. Internet search Cleveland Clinic diaphragmatic breathing.

2. Increase water intake to ½ ounce per pound body weight. Add fresh lemon juice for alkalizing minerals.

3. Meals should include an increase of fresh green leafy vegetables such as spinach as well as 10-12 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day.

4. Mental relaxation to decrease the chronic stress response. Refer to the information on stress.

5. Mineral supplementation with magnesium and potassium.

6. Decrease or eliminate intake of refined carbohydrates. Decrease intake of proteins. Both of which increase acidity.

pH testing kits can be purchased at www.MicroEssentialLab.com

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  

The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle of breathing. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs. Your abdominal muscles help move the diaphragm and give you more power to empty your lungs. But chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may prevent the diaphragm from working effectively.

When you have pulmonary disease, air often becomes trapped in the lungs, pushing down on the diaphragm. The neck and chest muscles must then assume an increased share of the work of breathing. This can leave the diaphragm weakened and flattened, causing it to work less efficiently.

Diaphragmatic breathing is intended to help you use the diaphragm correctly while breathing to:

  • Strengthen the diaphragm
  • Decrease the work of breathing by slowing your      breathing rate
  • Decrease oxygen demand
  • Use less effort and energy to breathe

Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

 Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

 

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  Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. 

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 Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips (see "Pursed Lip Breathing Technique").The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible 

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1. Sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed.

2. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.

3. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

4. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips (see "Pursed Lip Breathing Technique"). The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.

Note: You may notice an increased effort will be needed to use the diaphragm correctly. At first, you'll probably get tired while doing this exercise. But keep at it, because with continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing will become easy and automatic.

How often should I practice this exercise?

At first, practice this exercise 5-10 minutes about 3-4 times per day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise, and perhaps even increase the effort of the exercise by placing a book on your abdomen.

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Four Healthy Habits

  

1. Healthy thinking by changing our perception about life’s events to include: mindfulness (being present on purpose and without judgement), patience, compassion, and forgiveness.

2. Healthy breathing provides adequate oxygen, helps normalize stress, and maintain chemical balance in and around cells, tissues and organs.

3. Healthy drinking is ½ ounce water per pound of body weight.

4. Healthy diet includes: unprocessed, high quality, organic when possible, nutrient dense foods that contain naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and possibly enzymes to help completely digest the food so that it can be used effectively in our body, without causing inflammation. Calories only provide energy. Enzymes also help in the: elimination of toxins, destruction of harmful bacteria, building and repair, and destruction of blood clots.

Developing Healthy Habits

  

A habit in an automatic response and does not require conscious thought. It can be a thought, emotion, or action. Habits are learned behaviors that become a permanent part of the brain’s memory. They allow the brain to multitask. The brain does not distinguish or judge habits. It attempts to make our life situation better by focusing on what will happen in the next ten minutes and not on the long term consequences. The brain processes information from three sources that activate the body’s response: the external environment, internal physiology (what causes the body to work), and what is socially acceptable. Habits are reinforced by responses that are considered rewarding.

Since habits can be overridden by conscious thought, new, healthier habits can be learned to replace unhealthy ones. Relapse is part of the process; therefore trying is the most important aspect. Success is secondary. The first step is placing value on health and having a desire to change. Secondly, become aware of the cues, emotional states and thoughts that trigger unhealthy habits. The key words to remember are: cue, habit, and reward. Use a cue that you think, say or do frequently during the day, then practice the habit every time you experience the cue and immediately reward yourself with small pieces of dark chocolate (high cocoa content, low processed sugar) or some other treat. Dark chocolate causes the brain to release oxytocin, a chemical that increases the brain’s ability to rewire. You can effectively change an undesirable habit by keeping the same cue/reward and substituting a desirable habit. Always use the cue, habit, reward technique. Also try to surround yourself with opportunities to engage in activities that do not activate unhealthy habits. It is better to not focus on the unhealthy habit: instead increase enriching activities that develop healthy ones. Ways to increase success include: practicing observing others who not only demonstrate the healthy habit, but also encourage it in you, by reducing anxiety. Stress related anxiety overloads the conscious part of our brain and allows the unconscious habit in our memory to take control. There are many relaxation techniques that can reduce anxiety such as: relaxed breathing, mindfulness based stress reduction (MSBR), and Heartmath. Other helpful hints include: allowing healthy activities to be enjoyable, learning problem solving and coping skills so that challenges become opportunities, and improving social interactions that inspire healthy living. Try not to deprive yourself. Create positive associations with healthful behavior, connect with friends and support groups that will aid you in developing healthy habits, which are the key to happiness and good health.

Please go to General Health 2 to begin the evaluation of your own health. 

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