Two physical elements that you cannot live without, and that are abundant and practically free, will help you immensely as you aim to keep your heart healthy. They are air and water, or more specifically, clean air and clean cool water, which provide a solid foundation for the body’s needs. Breathing in fresh, clean air enables your heart to pump a rich supply of oxygen throughout your whole body. And drinking enough clean, pure water improves the quality of your blood, which in turn improves your heart health.
Let’s Talk About Air
Your body requires a good supply of oxygen to keep it running optimally. Literally, oxygen is food for your body. Benefits include:
• Cell regeneration
• Energy production
• Waste elimination
• Tissue detoxification
• Healthy brain activity
• Immune system maintenance
• Promotion of healing and recovery
• Natural calming effect
We all know that without oxygen, we die very quickly. Our body systems simply shut down. It makes sense, then, that ongoing low oxygen intake is equivalent to a slow death. This is why increasing your daily supply of oxygen should become one of your highest health-related priorities.
Thankfully, increasing your oxygen intake is well within your reach. It’s a matter of learning to breathe deeply. Unfortunately, as we grow older we develop the tendency to breathe shallower and shallower. It’s a mistaken notion that our lungs lose their capacity as we age. That’s simply not true. In actuality, we “forget” how to breathe deeply, and we tend to take shorter, shallower breaths that deprive our cells of oxygen and fail to use our full lung capacity.
Take a deep breath right now, then exhale slowly. Feel your lungs filling up. Feel every cell of your body energized by the oxygen. Feel yourself relax with every big breath you take. Therapeutic, isn’t it?
I’ve developed a form of deep breathing called Full Wave Breathing™ (FWB) that does wonders to increase your body’s oxygen intake. It’s an easy three-step process that you can learn quickly and master with regular practice. It involves breathing fully into your abdomen and maintaining a steady inhale-exhale flow with no pause in between. Your exhale is effortless and natural. You can breathe through your nose or mouth, whichever you prefer. Just be aware that breathing through your mouth can increase oxygenation by more than 50 percent.
You can download and print complete FWB instructions here. This is a great technique for working with children as well as adults. After downloading FWB instructions (they’re free), remember to practice this powerful technique daily. We’ll cover FWB more in future posts.
Many individuals have found Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT or HBO) to be highly beneficial. HBOT involves flooding every cell of the body with oxygen. The individual lies down comfortably in a chamber and breathes normally. The pressurized chamber supplies 100% oxygen. Most sessions last from 45 minutes to two hours, with the person relaxing inside while breathing normally and listening to soothing music. This therapy is used extensively in Europe and in Russia, with positive results. It’s not as widely available in the United States yet; fewer than 400 American hospitals offer HBOT. But it is available.
Doctors and researchers have discovered that HBOT:
➢ Increases oxygen concentration in all body tissues
➢ Improves blood flow, even in regions with arterial blockages and also to compromised organs
➢ Stimulates growth of new blood vessels
➢ Enhances white blood cell action
➢ Successfully addresses chronic degenerative health problems.
For these reasons and others, HBOT is used around the world to treat a vast array of ailments. Conditions that have been successfully treated by this method include traumatic brain injury, stroke, fetal alcohol syndrome, coma, multiple sclerosis, autism, and sports injuries. More and more it’s being used for cardiovascular cases.
Spend some time researching Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on the Internet. If you feel you might benefit from this form of therapy, then print the information that you find most useful and take it to your doctor. Discuss with him or her the potential benefits in your particular situation. This form of therapy is approved by Medicare for limited uses, including peripheral artery disease. Know also that private clinical services are available.
Let’s Talk About Water
Next we move on to water, another basic element that does wonders for your health and wellbeing. Over the years, you’ve repeatedly heard that it’s a good idea to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Why is this important? Because the cells of your body, including your heart, need water to work properly. Your body is composed of water, and you lose water through natural functions like perspiration. It’s important to replenish this water daily.
Sufficient water intake helps with your digestion, keeping your skin hydrated, helping your body absorb nutrients from food, and detoxifying your cells. In addition, drinking enough water can stave off a wide range of maladies, from headaches to exhaustion to even kidney stones!
What’s more, drinking plenty of water can lower your risk of getting heart disease for a number of reasons. Here are several:
- Being marginally dehydrated affects your blood’s viscosity, or thickness, which can raise blood pressure and increase heart attack risk.
- When the body doesn’t get enough water, it “closes off” some capillaries. This restricts the flow of blood and causes blood pressure to rise in order to keep the blood circulating through.
- Water contains minerals, such as magnesium, which help keep the heart healthy.
- By drinking plenty of water, you flush toxins out of your system more quickly. This, in turn, helps keep your blood cleaner, so to speak. Healthier blood circulating through your body keeps your heart healthier, too.
A study conducted by the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California found that drinking enough water every day significantly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. Findings showed that healthy men who drank at least five glasses of water a day had a 54% decrease in the risk of fatal coronary heart disease compared to men who drank only two glasses of water. For women, the risk was lowered by 41%. Researchers believe this is due to the fact that drinking plenty of water thins the blood, which reduces the risk of developing blood clots.
Tap water is good, so long as you filter it to remove harmful substances such as fluoride and chlorine. A faucet-type filter can remove most impurities and you’ll need to keep it clean.
It’s best to drink plain water; juices, milk, teas, and sodas do not have the same effect as plain water does. They do count as part of your daily consumption unless they are diuretic in nature. Bottled water is also a good option for drinking; although, it has some negative implications for the environment. Make the choice that makes sense for you!
Nourish your vitality, mind, and emotions when you eat. Not everything you are tempted to put into your mouth is nutritious. Most processed, treated, and refined foods lack nutritional value. The chemicals and preservatives disrupt communication in your mind-body-spirit system. Processed foods are high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fat. In other words, they offer a lot of what you don’t need and very little of what you do.
Since these foods are typically void of nutrition, we eat them to fill other needs. Their consumption is often rooted in cravings, which may be for a certain taste, emotional comfort or because we are thirsty. Do you acknowledge these alternative reasons for eating? Observe yourself and your diet to identify any patterns.
- Do you eat when you are happy? Sad? Bored? Lonely?
- Do you crave sugar? Salt? Spices?
- Are you confusing thirst with hunger?
Pinpointing these patterns help you to develop strategies for coping with them. In turn, these strategies are your guides to a lifetime of good health and feeding your body with intention and nutrition.
There are five types of taste. Sweet, sour, salty, astringent, and bitter. At different times, the body will seek them all out. Many people are familiar with the desire for something sweet after a meal or a salty snack in the afternoon. These cravings are based on taste, not nutrition.
Scientists have proven that on an average, cravings last approximately fifteen minutes. Even though you feel as if you won’t last another second without a cookie, it simply isn’t true. If you can occupy your mind with deep breathing or another activity until the craving passes, you will survive.
The Ayurvedic lifestyle also offers a strategy to deal with taste-based cravings. According to these ancient teachings, the best way to solve the problem of eating for taste is to nourish all of these sensations in every meal. Look for natural sources of each taste and combine them to satisfy your food cravings before they begin. Your meals could include a variety of foods from each taste group. This includes sweet fruit, astringent herbs, sour yogurt, salty cheese, and bitter spinach. This may require that you begin to see foods differently, but that is an inevitable byproduct of feeding your body with intention. Food becomes fuel, not an answer to a craving.
The human body is 70% water. Good health requires that you remain hydrated. Most people don’t drink enough water and when this occurs, the body sends you a signal. Often this signal is misinterpreted as hunger. So before you hit the food, drink a glass of water. This may be just what your body needs. And giving your body what it needs is the basis for proper nutrition.
Some cravings are emotionally based. Throughout your life, you may have associated food with a number of situations, which, in turn, became automatic responses. If as a child, you were treated to a bowl of ice cream when you were sad, chances are as an adult you will repeat this pattern to nourish your self. The ice cream made you feel better then, so you assume it will make you feel better now. It often does for a little while. However, in the end, you are still left with an unresolved situation or emotion. The only thing you fed was your sweet tooth, and as we all know what it wants is hardly ever nutritious.
Our world is a highly stressful one and many people turn to food as an escape. Like the emotional eating described above, eating to release stress is only a temporary fix. It does not offer you valid emotional or nutritional value. Instead of reaching for the chips, reach for a pad and pencil. Help yourself learn to deal with your emotions by making a list under the heading Emotions I Would Feel If I Allowed Myself To Do So. Write down any emotion, positive or negative, that you feel you are holding back. Your list could include anger, joy, guilt, sadness or love. When you eat out of stress or for comfort, you are using food to stuff these emotions back inside.
Now go down your list and allow yourself to really feel each emotion. Use deep belly breathing to help yourself focus and center. This process teaches that these emotions are a part of you with a need to be expressed. You owe it to yourself and your health to freely express your emotions without fear or shame. Once you accomplish this, you may find that open communication is more satisfying than cookies, cake or any other foodstuff you would have previously reached for.
“Guided imagery is a very powerful psychological tool which can be used to achieve a wide variety of health objectives: enhance well being, expanded awareness, facilitate psychological growth and integration, evoke inner wisdom, increase empathy, expand creativity, increase memory, facilitate optimal performance, evoke a more positive attitude, and accelerate the learning of subject matter.”
-Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Imagine Well Being
Increase your well being by using your imagination. Think about this scene! It’s a bright and warm Friday afternoon. You left your office a little early this day to get some cash at the ATM machine for the weekend activities. You check your bank balance to find the astounding sum of one million dollars. All those zeroes flash on the screen.
Surprise lights up your eyes. Awestruck, you stare at the screen one more time to make sure that what you see is right. Passion wells up and laughter rolls through your body! Now hold that feeling. Breathe several deep, full connected-breaths and switch to another image for well being.
Carry that passionate, thrumming feeling into a scene from your life in which you were successful, on top of the world, and doing all you wanted to do. Remember the success. Breathe in the passion. See the success. Feel the emotion. Continue to breathe the passion in deeply and fully.
This exercise is an example of how mental imagery creates a sense of well being by pairing an image and evoked emotion. When you merge images and feelings that work for you, you can direct your energy and empower your results. Mental imagery makes you aware of your energy. You then choose how to direct your energy and intend a clear sense of health and well being.
The thoughts about how you view the world are not just housed in your brain. Your thoughts resonate in the magnetic field of your nervous system and throughout your whole body. Like a tuning fork, you resonate energy and well being because your body is a dynamic processor of energy.
Think of an image as a powerful emitter of your message to your environment. For example, you focus on an image that supports your intention of joy—you smiling, children laughing, ocean waves caressing the shore. You broadcast this image out into the world. Like any emission of energy, it will spread itself around, and your magnetic field will attract it back to you. So the question to ponder as you read this chapter is: What do you want to send out through your energy field and manifest in return? What dynamic do you want to empower?
WHAT IS IMAGERY?
Imagery is the ability to visualize or mentally create pictures and feelings. You can use this technique to empower success, joy and balance the same way an athlete envisions winning. Earlier chapters showed you that thoughts and feelings are not separate from each other. A thought triggers a biochemical response in your body. A feeling or sensation triggers a corresponding chemical response in the brain. Imagery lets you empower your awareness and direct your body into skill development and positive emotional states.
Mindbody science has shown us that thinking about running a race can trigger the same physical feelings as the physical act of running. Obviously running the race gives you the elation, physical exercise and tension release. What imaging the race before hand can do for you is set the stage by focusing your goal and preparing the physical body. In the same way, imaging success can empower your intention of joy and anchor triumph in your body.
Lynn Joseph, Ph.D., a professional speaker and founder of Discovery Dynamics, calls “guided imagery a thought process that directs and focuses the imagination and involves the body, the emotions and all the senses: vision, audition, smell, taste and touch. Even if your predominant sense is not visual, you can still use guided imagery effectively by feeling deeply and sensing acutely. Imagery is the powerful language of the subconscious. By choosing your images, you can program your subconscious mind for health and wellness. In fact, the subconscious mind does not know the difference between an image you ‘see’ in imagination and an image you see in the physical world.”
Studies Suggest We Are Slowly Suffocating
- Air pollution may contribute to the development of asthma in previously healthy people.
- A recent Los Angeles study found that 8% of childhood asthma cases are a result of living within 250 feet to major roadways.
- The gains in lung function paralleled improving air quality in the communities studied, and across the Los Angeles basin, as policies to fight pollution took hold.
- The research appears in the March 5, 2015 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that air pollution is causing an increase in respiratory illnesses, as much as 50% in some areas. The result is that asthma has grown into an epidemic in the United States. Breathing exercises that can help are often overlooked.affects 16.2 adults and 6.7 million children.
- The most common chronic childhood disease in the country affects 1 in every ten kids and links is now correlated with allergies.
- Common air pollutants slow children’s lung growth according to results of a comprehensive, ten-year study from the University of Southern California Children’s Health Study.
When the quality of our air is weak, we tend to breathe shallower, and we absorb more toxins.
The resulting rapid, shallow breathing leads to inadequate oxygen supply, respiratory disease, and fatigue. Parents may resort to the strongest medications to help their children breathe better and remain active. On the other hand, many parents are uneasy with the constant intake of medication and look for alternative ways to reduce their children’s need for bronchodilators and steroid-based drugs.
Solution: Breathing Exercises
The environmental facts speak openly about the necessity and urgency to take action and improve our breathing capacity. To enjoy health, we must enhance our breathing ability and understand that:
- Shallow breathing increases stress and anxiety.
- Deeper breathing exercises bring relaxation and the ability to manage better asthma episodes.
The first step in the breathing process is inhaling. After oxygen enters the lungs, it is picked up by hemoglobin in the blood and sent to all the cells. Once in the cells, oxidation, the method of combining the nutrients from food with oxygen, creates energy. Oxygen maintains cells and keeps them clean and healthy. At the same time, oxygen helps remove waste from the body and reduces inflammation. Breathing that is more efficient increases oxygen in the body.
Children are especially at risk for respiration difficulties because their growing bodies require oxygen. Moreover, their bodies must be capable of using that oxygen efficiently. Unless the muscles responsible for respiration are exercised through deep breathing techniques, the rib cage and surrounding tissues get stiff, which makes inhalation more difficult. Less suppleness and weak muscles leave stale air in the tissues of the lungs and prevent fresh oxygen from reaching the bloodstream. This stunts growth, depresses the immune system, and contributes to disease. By teaching children to breathe fully and deeply, you can positively impact their health for a lifetime.
First Graders Can Do It
The International Breath Institute helps you retrain poor breathing habits in a three-step breathing exercise called Full-Wave Breathing. Full-Wave breathing fights the toxins that pollute our cities by strengthening the lungs, relieving bronchitis, improving circulation, oxygenating the blood and minimizing the reoccurrence of respiratory ailments.
Research from the International Breath Institute shows that first-grade children, who sat for long periods of time in their seats, breathed shallower and shallower as the day progressed. Their postures slumped, and their eyes glazed. Learning cannot take place under such conditions.
But, when their teacher led them through deep breathing exercises for ten minutes each day after lunch, something amazing happened. They felt upbeat! They learned and concentrated more easily. They were relaxed and could shift attention without difficulty after recess. The first graders reminded each other to use their breath before each assignment, and they practiced breathing while walking in the hallway, which helped them not chatter and disturb others.[i]
Emotional Links to Allergies and Asthma
Emotional reactions affect our breathing.
Fear accelerates breathing.
Anger pumps our breathing like a spewing volcano.
Sadness and grief inhibit breathing.
Well-known asthma triggers are exercise, emotional stress or emotional excitement.
Shallow breathers are more anxious and impulsive.
Breathing is the only body function that we do involuntarily, and that we can voluntarily control. We can influence our autonomic nervous systems and positively affect other systems in the body like circulation, respiration, and digestion.
How people breathe affects their attitudes. Deep breathers are more relaxed and balanced. Shallow breathers are more anxious and impulsive. Full-Wave Breathing is a smooth and successful tool to help children develop better resilience and emotional strength!
You can’t breathe for your kids, but you can help them with breathing exercises to give them an extra edge in fighting illness every day. Use the Full Wave Breathing method with your children and you will see the difference it makes.
OTHER LINKS WITH UPDATED POLLUTION NEWS:
NEWS RELEASE: Research links tobacco smoke and roadway air pollution with childhood obesity
NEWS RELEASE: Research raises new concerns about air pollution impacts at Los Angeles International Airport
Why Use Affirmations?
When you have “convenience” food bombarding you from every direction, it can be difficult to choose options that give your body the nourishment it needs.
However, if you have daily reminders and effective tools at your disposal, you may find that eating the right foods and feeding your body the best fuels becomes easier.
Of course, there will always be temptations; but when you equip yourself with anti-temptation tools, you will be able to quickly re-focus your mind on your greater goal of getting healthy!
Make Better Healthy Food and Nutrition Choices
When everyone around you at the office is indulging in burgers, fries, and sugary drinks, it’s awfully tempting to join in, isn’t it?
But what if you could stop that temptation in its tracks and actually choose to make a healthy choice? You don’t need me to tell you that fatty and sugary choices are not the kinds of food that your body needs – you need to tell yourself! That is where affirmations comes in when you need to remind yourself about holistic health choices.
It can be hard in moments of temptation to make the right choice for nutrition and nutrients.
With the help of positive nutrition affirmations, you can re-train your brain to replace the desire for junk food with healthy choices.
Nutrition Affirmations can help you stick to your diet, say no to temptation, and eat nourishing and satisfying foods. How? By replacing the negative spiral of thoughts in your mind with powerful, positive ones.
But first you have to believe that it is possible to gain control over your thirsts, desires, and cravings. The first step in making a lasting change in your life is to make the commitment to success. Are you committed? Do you believe that you can overcome your cravings?
Once you’ve set your commitment in stone, you’re ready to learn the top 10 affirmations to get you through moments of weakness.
Top 10 Food and Nutrition Affirmations
Before reading the list below, you should know that affirmations are most successful when you internalize the saying and repeat it frequently. Whether you’re having a good or bad day, you need to be constantly repeating these positive statements in your mind. Temptation will strike when you least expect it, so it’s better to be prepared!
- I can neutralize bad habits with good food, exercise, and healthy living.
- I am proud to reach out to my support network instead of leaning on food for comfort.
- I am losing weight for me because I love me.
- I set aside time just for me.
- My good health and productivity are the rewards for the nourishing foods I eat.
- Weight gain happens over time, so my weight loss equally requires time, patience, and lifestyle changes.
- I use self-care, not self-control.
- The more I take care of myself, the better I feel.
- I am firmly committed to staying active and healthy.
- I deserve a healthy body and mind.
When you look at these food and nutrition affirmations, they may seem like ideals – behaviors and thoughts that you only wish you could have – but each time you reaffirm them by saying them aloud, you’re slowly changing your mindset. Over time, these ideals will become a reality through your thoughts and actions.
But remember, you must first believe you can change. Once you make the commitment to your success, you will change your attitudes about food and you’ll be thankful you did!