Ever feel like your mind is as cluttered as a messy desk? Multiple tasks and responsibilities clamor for your attention, such as caring for children or elderly parents, worry over relationships or financial issues, coupled with the latest news from always-on technology. It can leave your mind feeling like a scrambled egg.
When your mind gets cluttered like this, you are not just momentarily distracted. Your thoughts jump everywhere, and it can be hard to focus on any one thing for more than a few seconds. Productivity suffers, as well as the ability to make good decisions, and you may be tempted to indulge in unhealthy foods or drinks in an attempt to get some short-term relief.
Consider these 10 easy-to-implement, effective, healthful ways to help declutter, calm, and soothe your mind instead.
So start de-cluttering your mind. Pick one of these tips and incorporate it into your life. Then add others as desired. You will love your newfound sense of calm!
Food plays an important role in the development of a child’s brain. Children have very active and busy lives, now more than ever before. Their days are long and packed with schoolwork and after-school activities. The brain is constantly working to help fuel thoughts, movements, breathing, etc.; therefore, their bodies and brain need an adequate amount of fuel to stay energised and focused throughout the day. The brain consists of highly metabolically active tissue that requires a constant supply of calories and micro nutrients to meet its energy needs. What kids eat or don’t eat can impact their overall development and cognitive function.
Here are 10 foods that can help kids be sharp and get the most out of their learning and activities:
Eggs: Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein and choline.1 Adequate protein is essential for proper growth and development, whereas choline is a precursor to several neurotransmitters that help with cognitive development and memory function.1
How to serve: Eggs can be served a number of different ways—scrambled, boiled, sunny-side up, over easy, etc. Pick your child’s favorite way of eating eggs and serve with whole grain toast for a hearty breakfast or an after-school snack.
Salmon: Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc. contain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), essential fatty acids, which are crucial for brain growth and development.1 Including at least two servings/week of omega-3-rich food can help support cognitive function. Learn which fish pack more benefits than others.
How to serve: Introduce the kids to different types of fish early on, because eating fish/seafood can be an acquired taste for many. Try making salmon patties, tacos, or grilled sandwiches.
Green leafy vegetables: Spinach, kale, collards, etc., not only contain dietary fiber but are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients such as folic acid and lutein, which can help support cognitive development and memory.2
How to serve: Kids usually aren’t thrilled about eating their greens. So, you can try hiding spinach, kale, or other greens into a smoothie, quiche, pasta sauce, or omelet.
Blueberries: Blue and purple fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, purple grapes, and eggplant contain anthocyanins, a polyphenol shown to support brain health and function by positively affecting memory and focus.3
How to serve: Add blueberries to whole grain pancakes and Greek yogurt for a hearty, protein-rich breakfast.
Almonds: Almonds contain vitamin E, an important nutrient that aids with neurological functions such as balance and coordination.1
How to serve: Swapping out peanut butter in sandwiches for almond butter is a great way of incorporating almonds in their diet. Another great way of including almonds is adding them in pesto sauce instead of pine nuts and serving over whole grain pasta.
Meat: Lean meats such as beef, chicken, turkey, etc., are a rich source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is required for rapid cell growth and division, especially during fetal brain development. Inadequate B12 status can impact cognitive functioning and impair brain growth.1
How to serve: Try making beef kebabs or add shredded chicken or turkey in soups, stews, chilli, or wraps.
Avocados: Avocados contain a rich supply of monounsaturated fatty acids or “healthy” fats that help support overall vascular function which can help deliver adequate nutrients to the brain.1
How to serve: Avocados are another food that can be an acquired taste. Adding avocado into a smoothie is a great way to mask the taste and add creaminess.
Beets: Beets are a good source of nitrates, which help support blood flow to the brain and promote mental performance.4
How to serve: When mixed into foods, beets can turn any food into a fun bright jewel colour that’s fun to eat. Try mixing beets into hummus, pasta sauce, or hash browns.
Dark chocolate: A small amount (1-2 ounces) of dark chocolate is a great addition to the diet due to the high content of flavonols it contains. Flavonols are phytonutrients containing anti-oxidative properties that may help support memory and brain function.1
How to serve: Rather than choosing milk or white chocolate, look for at least 70% dark cocoa when selecting chocolate. Instead of giving your children hot chocolate from a mix, create a healthier version by mixing a tablespoon of dark cocoa powder with warm almond milk.
Turmeric: Turmeric is an ancient spice that has been used for centuries in India. It contains curcumin, a polyphenol that gives turmeric its yellow colour. Curcumin contains anti-oxidative properties, which may help with cognitive function.1
How to serve: Create your version of “golden milk” by adding 1 teaspoon turmeric powder to warm almond milk.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Yoga Alliance, yoga in America is expanding at an almost exponential pace, with some 37 million people in the U.S. (nearly 1 in 10 Americans!) practicing it on a regular basis. What is behind yoga’s explosive growth and popularity? Why are both men and women of all ages flocking to this ancient practice?
Traditional yoga, which originated in ancient India more than 2,000 years ago, is a complex, rather esoteric system involving eight different “arms” or divisions. These arms include such disciplines as breathing, postures, concentration, meditation, withdrawal of the senses, and other practices, beginning by focusing on the outer world, then turning the focus inward until liberation or enlightenment, known as samadhi, is achieved.
Modern yoga, especially in the West, is almost exclusively focused on the physical postures known as asanas, as well as breathing and concentration. But even this mostly physically focused yoga is much more than just a set of physical poses, and it differs exponentially from simple stretching or other fitness routines. Yoga connects everything, including the movements of your body and the oscillation of your thoughts, to the rhythm of your breath.
Through this connection, your attention is naturally directed inward. And it’s this inward directedness that helps you to become “friends” with your thoughts. Instead of trying to suppress them or judge them or change them, you simply become aware of them and how they change from moment to moment. Gradually, you become more aware, and over time, as your body becomes more flexible, so does your mind.
Ask anyone who practices yoga on a regular basis why they do it, and you’ll get a variety of reasons from “yoga just makes me feel better” to “I like being more flexible.” But as it turns out, there is a plethora of scientific studies to back up yoga’s impressive effects on physical and mental health.
Here are seven powerful reasons, all backed by science, why you should begin your yoga practice today:
If you are anything like the average smartphone user, you spend about five hours per day on your device. In addition, you skim through work emails on vacation and check your social accounts before bed, poring over articles and double-tapping photos on Instagram. Maybe you aren’t aware of it, but the only time you truly unplug is when you’re asleep at night.
It turns out dependence on technology isn’t great for mental health. According to a 2016 University of Illinois study, mobile device addiction is linked to depression and anxiety—specifically when people use devices for escapism or to fill a void.
Removing stress is an effective way to improve well being, but this becomes difficult when people become addicted to the very source of their anxiety.
The good news? Awareness goes a long way, and there are a number of concrete steps you can take to disconnect in today’s connected world. Implement the following tips to unplug, improve your mental health, and ultimately boost your sense of fulfilment.
1. Leave work at work.
Make a point of relaxing after work hours—especially on weekends and vacations. Rather than treating these times like lighter versions of your actual workday, refrain from checking your work email or accepting calls that aren’t urgent when you’re off the clock.
If you feel your boundaries aren’t respected, gently inform your colleagues that constant connectedness can hinder workplace productivity. The 2016 study “Exhausted But Unable to Disconnect” reveals that it’s not only the time workers spend responding to emails after hours, but also the anticipatory stress, or the expectation of having to respond to after-work emails, that is stressing them out.3
Similarly, if you work from home, try to maintain standard work hours. Keep your clients informed of these hours and avoid returning to projects during your off time. A little self-imposed structure will help you disconnect in a big way.
2. Take a social media detox.
Social media use has been linked to issues such as depression and social isolation. According to Brian Primack, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, those who reported spending more than two hours a day on social media had double the likelihood of perceived social isolation than people who spent just half an hour per day on social platforms.4
This is why taking a social media detox can work wonders for your mental health. Either limit your use of social media to just once or twice per day or go cold turkey and take a full week off. Regardless of how you structure your break, the numbers are in your favour.
3. Engage in activities without your phone.
Disconnect by taking up device-free activities such as hiking or yoga. Team sports are another compelling option. Know from the start that you are making a conscious decision to use your phone less frequently and get in shape while you unplug.
For an added challenge, the next time you have the urge to look at your phone during what’s supposed to be a relaxing activity, go without your device. Rather than researching recipes online, grab a cookbook and spend a tech-free evening making dinner. Or if you’re meeting friends for drinks, leave your phone in the glove compartment of your car. In order to truly disconnect, you must get used to being without your device.
4. Disconnect with your loved ones.
Have you ever planned a nice night with your family, only to find that everyone is glued to their phone? Rather than banning devices outright, you and your family can agree to disconnect at specific times. This will make it seem like you’re working together rather than monitoring one another’s technology use.
So on dinner next Thursday, request that everyone go without their phone. Or plan a Sunday evening game night during which all devices must be in another room. Disconnect together in order to connect with one another.
5. Put all devices away before bed.
This is a crucial piece of advice. Do not look at your phone, tablet, or computer screen before bed or you risk compromising the quality of your sleep. A pair of Michigan State University studies indicated that smartphone use keeps workers mentally engaged late at night, which can interfere with their productivity the next day.5
Not only that, but the blue light emissions from digital devices can throw your physiological clock out of whack. If you want to disconnect at night, keep your phone in another room for optimal results. No doubt, it will be waiting for you the next morning.
6. Commit to a daily meditation practice.
Pick a time and place and commit to a routine meditation practice. Embrace the quiet environment, even if sitting still proves a challenge. If you can only spare 10 minutes each day, that’s perfectly fine—your mind and body will thank you for the break, no matter how short.
These tips will help you unplug from your devices and disconnect from the chaos of your daily life. Make a point of taking time to unwind each day. In doing so, you will experience less stress and be more productive in the long term.
Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team
Let’s set a scene. It’s 12:34 AM, and you’ve been lying in bed for about two hours, wide awake. You tell yourself to relax and go to sleep, but it doesn’t happen. Your mind is racing. “What is wrong with me?” you ask yourself. Oh no! You forgot to put the clothes in the dryer. “I guess I’ll just do that first thing in the morning.” The madness continues for another hour before you finally see the back of your eyelids.
Sleep issues plague countless people in the world, and for a variety of reasons. Those may be due to diet, lifestyle, or anxiety, among others. Lack of sleep can lead to health issues including confusion, lethargy, and memory loss.
It’s hard to attack the day when your mind is in a fog. Maybe that’s why the coffee industry is booming?
Personally, I experienced bouts of insomnia throughout my life and usually at the worst time possible. This is not ideal for someone battling Crohn’s disease and driving race cars at 180 mph, but I have some good news! There are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. After tireless research and trial and error, I’ve created a plan to help get myself (and you) back on track.
Functional Medicine was a critical aspect of my ability to obtain healthy, restful sleep. Before working with a medical provider to create a functional lifestyle plan, I was tired, dizzy, sluggish, and worn out! This functional lifestyle optimisation transformed all aspects of my health and daily life.
However, sleep isn’t entirely about nutrition and diet. There are changes you can make to further your ability to get at least 7 ½ hours each night.
Start with adjustments to your nighttime routine. Finish daily chores (dishes, trash, walking the dog, etc.) about two hours before your target sleep time. Next, work on nightly hygiene requirements and clothing. Brush your teeth, take a shower or bath if needed, finish bowel movements, and put on comfortable clothes. Give yourself about an hour to an hour and a half for winding down afterwards.
Limit exposure to artificial light at this point. Too much, and your body will think it’s daytime. Hormones like cortisol will continue to get released, which keeps you up. But remember, cortisol is an essential hormone to help wake you in the morning!
Get your surroundings in order. Make sure your room is dark with no artificial light. Cover up any small illumination from electronic devices (masking tape works well) and install blackout shades over the windows. Your body has various light receptors in the eyes and skin to tell itself it’s time to go to sleep. Keeping the room dark supports that process and promotes the release of hormones, such as melatonin.
If you are easily startled at night by sounds, like me, then creating an atmosphere with continuous background noise or none at all can help tremendously. It’s hard to eliminate noise entirely, so work with various resources like your AC unit, sound machines, or your phone. I use an app on my iPhone that plays constant brown noise to smooth sudden sounds throughout the night.
Temperature also plays a significant role. Keeping the room on the colder side will allow you to enjoy your bed and covers. No one wants to sweat during the night! Usually, you’ll find between 65 to 72 degrees as the perfect temperature. Don’t freeze yourself, though! Make sure you’re comfortable.
Let’s talk about the bed. Humans spend a significant portion of their lives sleeping, so make your bed a sanctuary. I’ve tried various mattresses, and for me, a medium stiffness memory foam mattress is the perfect softness and support for a great night’s sleep. Find one that’s right for you, but make sure it limits your exposure to chemicals.
Recapping. At this point you are physically ready for bed, lights are dimmed or off, the sound is consistent or eliminated, and the temperature is perfect. As you slide into bed, you are ready to relax and calm the mind. You are now set to enter the sleep zone! But how do you get there?
Pick an activity (or multiple) such as reading, meditation, talking to a loved one, or journaling for the next hour. Avoid the TV, phone (yes, that means no Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook…the list goes on), and anything work-related.
Everyone is different, and some things that work for you may not work for someone else. That’s OK! For example, my ideal scenario is meditating and reading. About an hour before my target sleep time of 10 PM, I start with a guided meditation using the Head space app on my iPad.
After meditating, I’ll read for 5 to 45 minutes. Sometimes, I find myself falling asleep only a few minutes after a long day of training or racing. While reading, I make sure to focus on the book and not alternative thoughts. My mind starts to relax, and before I know it, my eyes get heavy. At that point I know it’s time to fall asleep!
Here are a few extra notes:
I know things aren’t always perfect, especially if you travel, have stress, or are burning the candle at both ends. All I can say is that your daily life will be much more productive with proper sleep. You’ll surprise yourself with the amount of work or chores you can accomplish in a short time when your mind and body are functioning at full capacity!
Sleep is a crucial component of a happy, healthy life. Plus, it helps your memory! Your body requires rest to recover and rebuild. It enables you to regain the strength and stamina needed to approach each day with confidence and vigour to achieve your maximum potential.
Lawson Aschenbach is a seven-time professional sports car racing champion. He started racing karts at the age of 8 and went on to win state, national, North American, and four Grand National Championships. In 2005, he finished on the podium in his first sports car race and then burst out onto the scene in 2006, winning the SPEED World Challenge GT Championship in his rookie year. Aschenbach has over 35 professional race wins and currently competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge Series.
Lawson Aschenbach is a paid consultant and guest writer for Metagenics.
By Deanna Minich, PhD, CNS
What are you thinking right now?What were you thinking a few minutes ago?
It wouldn’t be a surprise if you couldn’t remember your thoughts. You’re certainly not alone, as most of us are not aware of our thoughts, much less realize their profound impact on our health.
It’s been said that we think something on the order of 50,000 thoughts every day and that most of those thoughts are recycled and negative.1 If we conceive of every thought being powerful enough to change our physiological function as we know from the well-established placebo and nocebo effects, then it would make sense to ensure that we sift through all the mental information that we are feeding ourselves every day, right? Yet, most of us just let thoughts waft in and out without any discretion. For some of us, we might be up to speed on food and food labels, but we aren’t as diligent about “reading our thoughts.”
Similarly, just like eating poor-quality food can lead to unwanted health impacts, so too can thinking poor-quality thoughts take us down a path of possible inflammation and stress, ultimately leading to potential imbalance and illness.
Here’s what the studies tell us about the science of thinking on our health:
About Deanna MinichGuest blogger Dr. Deanna Minich is an internationally recognized health expert and author with more than 20 years of experience in nutrition, mind-body health, and functional medicine. Dr. Minich holds Master’s and Doctorate degrees in nutrition and has lectured extensively throughout the world on health topics, teaching patients and health professionals about nutrition. She is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, a Certified Nutrition Specialist, and a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. Currently, Dr. Minich teaches for the Institute for Functional Medicine and for the graduate program in functional medicine at the University of Western States. Her passion is bringing forth a colorful, whole-self approach to nourishment called Whole Detox and bridging the gaps between science, soul, and art in medicine.
View all posts by Deanna Minich →
Specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) are a way to help support the body’s natural ability to resolve physical stress.1 While the body can make SPMs naturally, supplementing with exogenous SPMs may help facilitate the body’s natural resolution process and completion of its response to physical challenges.2,3*
Metagenics, in collaboration with world-renowned leaders in the field of resolution physiology and other SPM experts, set the standard for defining SPM oils based on activity for use in nutraceutical formulas. But where do these SPMs come from?
From the first drop of marine oil through a specialized fractionation protocol and creation of the finished product, Metagenics follows a stringent, patent-pending process to create SPM Active®.
The SPM fractionation process:
SPM Active is developed through an advanced, patent-pending fractionation process which Metagenics exclusively brings to practitioners. SPM Active is a fraction produced from a high-quality marine oil. This fraction contains standardized levels of 17-HDHA and 18-HEPE, which can lead to the formation of resolvins, an important group of SPMs, in the body. The SPM Active fraction has also been shown to be bioactive and support the existing resolution mechanisms of the body.*
While SPMs are sourced from marine lipids, they are not the same as fish oil. In fact, work done during the development of SPM Active shows that fractions, from the same marine oil starting point, behave differently—not all are pro-resolving, and some fractions may have the opposite effect.4 This makes it essential to test and understand the bioactivity of SPM-rich oils.
Additionally, even though EPA and DHA are the precursors of SPMs, they do not have pro-resolving properties of SPMs.1 EPA and DHA require multiple downstream enzymatic conversions to form 17-HDHA and 18-HEPE, which are further converted into specialized pro-resolving mediators.
Meditation Tips for Beginners—Five Powerful Reasons for Starting a Regular Practice of Meditation | Blog
If someone asked what image comes to mind when you hear the word “meditation,” do you picture an exotic scene with monks in saffron robes, sitting silently within temple walls, eyes closed, and faces serene? Although meditation remains a vital part of many cultures’ religious and spiritual practices, here in the West meditation has recently become, for the most part, separated from its roots and embraced as a stand-alone “mind technology” used to achieve better health, both physical and emotional.
Although it’s difficult to know exactly how many people practice meditation on a regular basis, according to a 2012 survey done by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Health, some 18 million U.S. adults practiced meditation in some form, including “…Mantra meditation, Mindfulness meditation, Spiritual meditation, and meditation used as a part of other practices (including yoga, tai chi, and qi gong).”1
A major reason for meditation’s wide acceptance here in North America was the Dalai Lama’s longstanding cooperation with Dr. Richie Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who met the Dalai Lama in 1992 and who has conducted scores of scientific studies on Buddhist monks who were experienced meditators. Some of Dr. Davidson’s early research involved flying monks in from Tibet and Nepal to the university, where they underwent various brain scans and other tests while they were meditating.
Dr. Davidson has been interviewed many times about his research, and he never fails to express his amazement at his team’s findings: Experienced meditators could produce long, sustained bursts of gamma wave brain activity, many times at will. These findings had never been seen in an untrained mind and were so unexpected that at first the scientists thought their equipment had malfunctioned!
Once these findings were made public, the doors were wide open for other researchers to look at meditation’s possible benefits on human health. Since then, numerous studies have been done documenting meditation’s beneficial effects on everything from sleep to stress reduction. Many of these studies have used mindfulness, a form of meditation that has become very popular here in the West. The method is deceptively simple:
Step 1: Take a seatSit in a chair, on a meditation cushion, or even on a park bench. Just make sure you are comfortable. If you are in a chair or on a bench, keep both feet flat on the floor or ground. If you are sitting on a meditation cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. Straighten your upper body so you’re not slouching, but don’t become unnaturally stiff. Let your hands rest on top of your thighs. Allow your gaze to drift downward. You don’t have to close your eyes, but if you want to, that’s okay too.
Step 2: Bring your attention to your breathingSimply observe your breathing, the way the air moves through your nose and down into your lungs and then back out as you exhale, the rhythmic rise and fall of your chest or belly. There is no need to try to stop or control your thoughts. You couldn’t, even if you wanted to!
Step 3: Refocus your mindWhen your mind wanders away from your breathing, as it invariably will, gently bring it back and refocus your attention on your breath. No matter how often this happens, just be with it. Don’t fight it or get mad at yourself. It’s all part of the process. You are not doing anything wrong!
Step 4: Pay attentionWhen you are ready, lift your gaze or open your eyes if you had them closed. Take a moment to notice any sounds, then notice how your body feels and any thoughts or emotions you are experiencing.
That’s all there is to it! The practice itself is very simple. It’s doing it consistently that is the work. And it’s this consistent practice where you will see results. When you are first beginning, it’s probably best to meditate for only a few minutes and then gradually work your way up to 45 minutes to an hour.
So now that you know how to get started with mindfulness meditation practice, let’s look at five of the most powerful, scientifically supported benefits you can get from incorporating this practice into your daily life:
1. Meditation can enhance your immune system.A short-duration mindfulness practice of only eight weeks done in an office setting can significantly enhance your immune functioning. The subjects in this 2003 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine not only had an increase in immune functioning, but also had changes in their brains associated with positive emotions.2
2. Meditation can help ease physical pain.The number of people suffering from chronic painful conditions is staggering. More than 100 million Americans are reported to have chronic pain, and the usual methods of treatment have their own set of problems. Research shows that mindfulness meditation helps relieve pain.3 Plus, meditation, while pleasant, is nonaddictive!
3. Meditation can increase the grey matter in your brain.This is one instance where going grey is a good thing! Research published in 2005 in the journal Neuroreport showed that regular meditation resulted in thickening in areas of the brain associated with sensory, cognitive, and emotional processing.4
4. Meditation can help you age gracefully.Telomeres are molecular structures located at the end of your chromosomes and are involved in the replication of your DNA as well as insuring the stability of your chromosomes. As you age, your telomeres shorten. This shortening can serve as an early indicator of several age-related diseases.
Stress, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and other factors can serve to shorten your telomeres. Conversely, it has been suggested that a healthy diet, not smoking, and physical exercise can maintain or even increase telomere length.
A 2016 study from the journal Mindfulness reviews the evidence that meditation leads to longer telomere length and also serves to strengthen this evidence by comparing the telomere length of experienced meditators to healthy controls who had never meditated. The meditators had significantly longer telomeres than the controls.5
5. Meditation may help ease depression and anxiety and help reduce stress.A 2014 meta-review article in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that “…evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation programs could help reduce anxiety, depression, and pain in some clinical populations.”6 They recommended that physicians and other clinicians be prepared to speak with their patients about how a meditation program could help to relieve their psychological stress.
There is abundant evidence showing scientific evidence for the health benefits, both physical and emotional, of a regular meditation practice. Almost anyone can do mindfulness meditation, as it requires no special equipment, doesn’t require any particular religious or spiritual orientation, and is simple to do. So take your seat and begin!