In functional medicine we look at diet and lifestyle strategies to prevent or reverse disease, calm inflammation, and slow the aging process. However, other overlooked but extremely important aspects to your health are your general happiness, well-being, and attitude. Science shows happiness and positivity are correlated with better health. If you are not naturally happy, not to worry, simply putting forth small and regular efforts in the direction of happiness, such as writing in a gratitude journal, has been shown to improve health.
In what is thus far the most comprehensive study on what makes people happy, researchers looked at the lives of Harvard graduates, blue-collar workers, and women spanning almost a decade. From that data, they found six common themes that ran through the lives of the happiest lifelong subjects. If you would like to meet with Dr. Celaya to discuss your issue, schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION.
1. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Researchers found those with lifelong smoking and alcohol habits were unhappier than those who abstained. Among the study subjects, not smoking was the most important factor in healthy aging.
Likewise, the study showed that alcohol robbed people of happiness and sabotaged their relationships (healthy relationships are one of the six factors of happiness).
In functional medicine we know smoking and regular alcohol consumption make it hard to be healthy and happy for other reasons. Smoking robs your brain of oxygen, degenerating it more quickly. This has an effect not only on your brain function, personality and mood, but also on the health of your body. Regular alcohol consumption has also been shown to more quickly degenerate the brain and promote leaky gut and inflammation.
2. A college education. Despite income, social class, or IQ, college-educated research subjects were happier in the long run. Those with higher education tended to take better care of their health and avoid destructive habits like smoking and drinking. Exercising your intellectual curiosity is also good for the brain at any age and despite your education.
3. A happy childhood. Ok, this one is unfair for a lot of people. Feeling loved by one’s mother was a bigger predictor of lifelong happiness despite income or IQ. Coping well with adolescence was another predictor. But not to worry if your childhood has been something only from which to recover. Caring, loving friendships and relationships have been shown to compensate for damaging childhoods, and those are factors you can develop through self-work.
4. Good relationships. Mutually heathy, loving, and supportive relationships were found to be fundamental to happiness across all the study subjects’ lives. This includes continually widening your social circles so that if some friends fall away new ones to fill their place.
5. Good coping skills. No one is spared from bad stuff happening. However, happier people are more resilient and better able to cope with hardship. This can be a learned skill, even if you need a therapist’s help. Coping skills include altruism, creating good outcomes out of bad situations, staying focused on the bright side, and keeping a sense of humor.
6. Giving back. The happiest study subjects intuitively followed a path that spiritual traditions have espoused for millennia — happiness is found through service. As they matured, the study subjects who served in building community and relationships thrived best. This includes mentoring, coaching, consulting, and otherwise selflessly sharing the fruits of well-earned wisdom.
Sometimes it can be difficult to “practice happiness” when we feel terrible. One of the most rewarding aspects to a functional medicine recovery journey is a boon to your general mood, well-being, and sense of love. Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION to find out how.
Entrepreneurs face countless problems with money, partners, employees, failure, and never-ending uncertainty. The physical, mental, and emotional consequences can take their toll.
According to researchers, people who own their own businesses tend to be passionate people in the best and worst ways and are more prone to:
Sense of worthlessness
Loss of motivation
Entrepreneurs’ burdens are doubled by the obligation they feel to keep their problems to themselves.
Overwork and poor self-care: a recipe for disabling exhaustion
Researchers also suggest that entrepreneurs struggle with hypomania — a milder version of mania seen in 5 to 10 percent of Americans. This makes them prone to overworking.
Business owners tend to dive into their projects and succumb to poor diet, lack of sleep, not enough social support, and minimal exercise.
These habits make them less resilient emotionally and physically and more prone to health consequences.
Self-care as the foundation for business success
Though running a business or launching a startup is full of stress, you can still support your resilience, health, and energy.
Find emotional support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. See a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of significant anxiety, PTSD, or depression.
Make time for friends and family. Research shows social connections improve physical health, psychological well-being, and longevity.
Get regular, adequate sleep. According to the CDC, adults who average fewer than seven hours sleep per night are more likely to report chronic health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, asthma, SOPD, arthritis, depression, diabetes, and dementia.
Exercise regularly. Moderate daily exercise helps reduce stress, improve mood, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, manage weight, and support good gut bacteria for better brain function.
Exercise should leave you feeling energized and refreshed. If you exercise and feel exhausted, you over-did it.
Take a digital sabbath. Unplug for an hour every day or a full day on the weekend. It does wonders for your mental and emotional health, and it makes room for real-time social connections that further support your health.
Travel less. When we are on the road — or in an airplane — we face irregular schedules, poor diet, and sleep deprivation. When possible, avoid travel during times of stress.
Schedule time off. Create regularly scheduled time where you have absolutely no commitments, not even wrangling the kids at the playground. Make a day solely for you and only do what brings you joy and rejuvenation.
Support your gut health for good mental health. Our gut microbiome — the community of bacteria present in the digestive tract — is innately tied to many aspects of our health, from energy level to mood and brain function.
An anti-inflammatory diet will help support gut health and your stress resilience.
Eating plentiful and varied produce (with a minimum of fruit to avoid spiking blood sugar) is one of the best ways to support healthy gut bacteria. Aim for five to seven servings per day.
Support your adrenal glands. The health of our adrenal glands can make the difference between being energetic and being burned out.
Adrenal adaptogens, phosphatidylserine, and plenty of sleep are ways to support your adrenals.
Avoid junk food and excess sugar. These items put the adrenal glands into overdrive, draining them of their reserves.
When you support your health your energy increases, your mental focus improves, you become more efficient, and you are better able to handle the chaos that running a business requires.
If you need support in any of these areas, contact my office for more information.
Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients we can’t get enough of from food. Our bodies are designed to make vitamin D from sunlight, yet modern life has made that difficult. The result is a worldwide 50 percent deficiency in vitamin D, even in sunny locations.
Why we can’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin
While some foods contain vitamin D, our main source is supposed to be sun exposure and we synthesize it using cholesterol.
However, certain factors stand in the way:
Reduced sun exposure. We spend far fewer hours outside than our ancestors and slather on sunscreen when we are outside. People with dark skin or who live farther north have even less ability to make vitamin D from sunlight.
Limited diet. Most people don’t eat the foods that contain more vitamin D, such as organ meats, salmon and fish liver oil, and egg yolks. Two foods fortified with vitamin D — dairy (a common immune reactive food) and breakfast cereals (gluten and grains).
Gut inflammation and fat malabsorption. Vitamin D is fat-soluble. When the gut is inflamed due to leaky gut and other inflammatory gut disorders, fat absorption is compromised and your vitamin D levels suffer.
Stress. High cortisol levels from chronic stress can deplete vitamin D levels.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include:
Muscle, joint and bone pain
Brittle or soft bones
Suppressed immune system
What vitamin D does for you
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and along with thyroid hormone, is one of the two hormones every cell in your body needs. It regulates hundreds of different pathways throughout the body.
Bone density. Vitamin D has long been known to play a role in preventing breakdown of bones and increasing the strength of the skeletal system.
Mood regulation. Low vitamin D is linked to a 14 percent increase depression and a 50 percent increase in suicide rates. Increasing vitamin D intake can help improve anxiety and depression.
Brain health. Vitamin D’s biologically active form has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques common to Alzheimer’s Disease. Associations have also been noted between low 25-hydroxyvitamin D and dementia.
Reduced cancer risk. Optimal vitamin D levels are associated with lower rates of cancers of the breast, ovaries, prostate, and pancreas.
Sleep quality. Adequate vitamin D is associated with improved sleep.
Immune regulation. Vitamin D plays a key role in promoting regulatory T cells, which decide whether to dampen or promote inflammation in the body.
This is particularly important in dampening autoimmunity, when the immune system attacks body tissue.
Studies show more than 90 percent of those with autoimmunity have a genetic defect that promotes vitamin D deficiency.
A common thread in all chronic illnesses, inflammation is shown to be reduced by adequate vitamin D levels.
Ways to boost vitamin D
Sunshine. Get 20 to 60 minutes of sun on your skin per day, depending on your skin tone and latitude. The more skin exposed, the more D you produce.
Food sources. Include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and egg yolks in your diet.
Supplementation. Vitamin D exists in two forms, D2 and D3.
While vitamin D2 is commonly seen on mainstream vitamin labels, vitamin D3 is twice as effective at raising vitamin D levels in the body.
Current mainstream dosage guidelines for vitamin D are based solely on maintaining proper bone density and not preventing chronic health conditions.
Since vitamin D is fat soluble, its recommended to take it in an oil-based soft gel capsule or liquid form with a meal that includes fat.
For autoimmune management, doses of vitamin D can range from 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day. Some people take higher doses if their genetics hamper absorption. It’s best to test your levels every three to six months.
Emulsified vitamin D
Emulsified vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) enhances absorption and helps prevent toxicity at higher doses.
Support fat metabolism with digestive enzymes
If you have leaky gut, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or have had your gall bladder removed, your ability to absorb fat may be compromised. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, make sure your body can absorb it by adding digestive enzymes to your daily regimen.
As more and more people are opting for a healthier lifestyle today, beverages like protein shakes and detox drinks are gaining popularity. One of such considered to-be-healthy drinks is green tea. However, rather than being a new scientific discovery, green tea has been in use since the ancient times, specifically in Indian and Chinese medicine and is considered one of the most beneficial, health-promoting drinks available today.
What is green tea?
Green tea is made from the leaves of Camillia sinensis plant, which is also used to produce other teas such as oolong tea and black tea. It is the processing method of the leaves that separates them–black tea is oxidized and green tea is not. Another interesting fact is that, though all the different types of green tea are made from the same plant species, the quality, taste, and type of green tea varies significantly. This is dependent on several variables, including processing methods, cultivation practices, chemical use, etc.
What are the benefits of drinking green tea?
Time and again, the innumerable benefits of consuming green tea daily have been proven by extensive research and studies, and green tea is no myth. In fact, green tea is a miracle of nature, some of the benefits of which are as follows:
It is a rich source of antioxidants
Despite being low in calories, green tea contains several antioxidants such as flavonoids and catechins. These antioxidant substances protect the cells in the human body from damage from harmful, free radicals. These antioxidants also help in detoxification.
Green tea aids in weight loss
Having green tea is a great add-on to a weight loss regime, as the beneficial compounds in the tea aid in body fat reduction. It also helps to maintain the weight, which is the most difficult part of the weight loss journey. Another way by which green tea helps in weight loss is by enhancing physical performance and endurance. Are you interested in other antioxidants and what they can do for you? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Green tea boosts immunity and lowers the risk of infection
According to several studies, catechins in green tea possess antimicrobial properties and thus reduce the risk of developing an infection. Thus, by boosting immunity, green tea maintains your overall health.
It improves brain function
Green tea has shown to have a positive impact on memory, cognition and attention span. Some research has concluded that substances present in green tea are neuroprotective and thus, help in both treating and lowering the risk of disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Along with enhancing the brain function, green tea also helps with depression and stress.
It helps you sleep better
Having a cup of green tea before bed has a relaxing effect on the body, thus helping you sleep better. This has a dual effect – it lowers your stress levels, and also provides you a boost for making your mornings productive. However, some people may face difficulty in sleeping due to the caffeine content in green tea. Decaffeinated tea can help solve this problem.
Green tea is good for the gut
Green tea can be considered a probiotic because of the positive effect it has on the microflora in the gut. It also helps improve digestion. However, one downside of green tea is the caffeine in it. Even though the caffeine content in green tea is not a lot, it might still aggravate the symptoms of conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Thus, it is better to avoid having large quantities of the same in case you suffer from some such condition.
Green tea lowers the risk of cancer
Investigators have shown that the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) found in green tea can lower the risk of developing cancer. The positive effect of green tea has been shown with regards to breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer among others. However, it is recommended to consult your doctor if you are on anti-cancer drugs. This is because the compounds in green tea can interact with some of these drugs.
It improves overall cardiovascular health
Drinking green tea regularly has beneficial effects on blood pressure, thus improving the cardiovascular health. Green tea can also reduce the risk of adverse cardiac events by lowering the serum lipid levels. The substances in green tea also promote vasodilatation, which reduces the work to be done by the heart. Furthermore, green tea aids in improving blood sugar levels. Various human studies have shown that regular consumption of green tea can improve insulin sensitivity, and thereby, lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Anti-aging effects of green tea
If the abovementioned health benefits weren’t enough, green tea helps fight the signs of aging by maintaining the health of various tissues of the body. Moreover, green tea also helps one look younger by increasing blood circulation to the skin and improving the overall appearance of the skin.
Surely, these benefits depict why green tea is considered a miracle for the human body. Certain situations, however, warrant caution before you make green tea a regular part of your diet:
Some drugs can interact with the compounds present in green tea and cause untoward effects. Hence, if you are on any medication, consult your doctor first.
Iron deficiency anemia can result from drinking green tea excessively as it hampers the absorption of iron in the intestine.
Similarly, green tea consumption can also lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Too much of anything is not good. Although research says that you can have as many as ten cups of tea a day, it is safe to restrict yourself to two or three cups.
Drinking green tea on a regular basis is a convenient, affordable and healthy habit to add to your life. If the above outlined science-backed benefits have not managed to emphasize the goodness of this drink, consider the innumerable years that have gone by since this drink was introduced to the human race, and still remains one of the most popular beverages worldwide. So have that cup today and take a step towards a healthier you!
Have you ever wanted to know everything there is to know about your thyroid? This 7-part video series will cover thyroid lab testing, nutrition and infections that affect the thyroid, toxins, thyroid hormone conversion, lifestyle, and adrenal interplay.