Expressions of Health Blog
"Videos, Motivations, and Other Positive Stuff"
  1. Presidential Debate Jingle will Make Your Day, Blue Jay!

    Brought to you by Spriggles Motivational Books for Children

    In this season of political debates and candidates, Primates, let’s keep in mind, Porcupine, that we can agree to disagree, Flea.

    There’s no need for fights, Termites. And remember the golden rule from school, Mule, if you can’t say something nice, Mice, then mum’s the word, Hummingbird.

    Stick to the facts with no personal attacks, Yaks. Just tell us what YOU are going to do, Caribou. What is your plan, Lamb, and what direction will you take, Snake. We can’t sweep the issues under the rug, Bug.

    And it’s not OK, Stingray to bash the leader of our nation, Dalmation. Though his policies you may dislike, Pike, name-calling gets us nowhere, Polar Bear.

    So let’s unite, Bobwhite. We need a strategic plan, Pelican, followed by a mission and common goals, Moles. An agenda we can all follow, Swallow certainly would be best, Robin Redbreast.

    But it takes all of us, Platypus! Divided we fail, Whale, but together we succeed, Centipede. So let’s keep on trying, Lion, to get this country in great shape, Ape!

    Get out and vote, Billy Goat and make yourself heard, Bluebird!

    About Spriggles:

    “Motivating, educating, and inspiring children to lead healthy, active and energetic lives!”

    Spriggles Motivational Books for Children have been endorsed by the National Children’s Literacy Project. These award-winning books provide a fun and unique way to enhance your child’s awareness and knowledge of health, nutrition, activity, and character. Spriggles combines “spirit” and “giggles” to weave innovative stories, imaginative illustrations and playful animal rhymes. Nothing else motivates and educates young children ages 3 to 8 quite like Spriggles. For more information and details on how to order these specially priced books go to www.spriggles.com

  2. Scientific Link Between Processed Foods and Depression

    Reprinted, with permission, from Dr. Mercola:

    Research shows that the food you eat can have a profound effect on your mental health. So, regardless of your mental health problem, the importance of addressing your diet simply cannot be overstated.

    In a very real sense, you have two brains — one in your head, and one in your gut. Both are created from the same tissue during fetal development, and they’re connected via your vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem to your abdomen.

    It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain, which helps explain why mental health appears to so intricately connected to your gut microbiome1 — the bacteria and other microbes living in your gut.

    For example, researchers recently found that fermented foods helped curb social anxiety disorder in young adults.2,3 Another study4 found that mice engaged in obsessive-compulsive repetitive behaviors were pacified when given a strain of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis.

    Gut bacteria also produce mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin is found in your intestines, not your brain.

    At the end of the day, if you’re trying to address your mental state, optimizing your gut health should be toward the very top of your list.

    The Strong Link Between Sugar and Depression

    A number of food ingredients can cause or aggravate depression, but the number one culprit is refined sugar and processed fructose, which feed pathogens in your gut, allowing them to overtake more beneficial bacteria.

    Sugar also suppresses the activity of a key growth hormone in your brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia.

    Diets high in sugar also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation, which over the long term disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain.

    Last but not least, refined sugar and processed fructose and grains are key contributors to insulin and leptin resistance, which also plays a significant role in your mental health.

    One recent study5,6 found that high-glycemic foods (including those high in refined grains and added sugar) were associated with higher odds of depression.

    Added sugar in particular was strongly associated with depression, reconfirming what William Dufty said in his classic best-selling book, Sugar Blues, first published in 1975. Sometimes it takes a while for science to catch up — in this case 40 years!

    Other Processed Food Ingredients That Promote Depression

    Other processed food ingredients that can contribute to depression and/or other mental health problems include:

    Genetically engineered (GE) ingredients can significantly alter your gut flora, thereby promoting pathogens while decimating the beneficial microbes necessary for optimal mental and physical health.
    Glyphosate— the most widely used herbicide on food crops in the world with nearly 1 BILLION pounds applied every year — has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals, which are critical for brain function and mood control.
    It also causes systemic toxicity, and was recently declared a Class 2A probable human carcinogen. Roundup, in which glyphosate is the active ingredient, has also been shown to increase the antibiotic-resistance of E. coli and Salmonella.

    Artificial food additives, especially the artificial sweetener aspartame, can wreak havoc with your brain function. Both depression and panic attacks are known potential side effects of aspartame consumption. Other additives, such as artificial colorings, are also known to impact mood.
    Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, may negatively impact mood and brain health.
    In fact, a number of studies indicate that wheat can have a detrimental effect on mood, promoting depression and even more serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia.

    Most non-organic wheat is also treated with glyphosate in a pre-harvest processed called desiccation, which adds to its problematic effects (see glyphosate above).

    To Heal Depression, Heal Your Gut

    As noted by The Epoch Times:7 “In the last 20 years or so, scientists have developed a new respect for bacteria, and the paradigm is turning from a strategy of war, to one of co-existence. Science now considers a robust, diverse bacterial colony to be essential to good health.”

    Indeed, the bacteria residing on and in your body outnumber your cells 10 to 1, and viruses in turn outnumber bacteria 10 to 1. In many respects, you are your microbiome.

    As Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told The New York Times:8

    “We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human. That’s a phenomenal insight and one that we have to take seriously when we think about human development.’’

    Rapidly mounting research reveals that many of these little microbes have very specific functions, and as a whole play a profound role in your biological processes and overall health — including your brain health.

    “According to Dr. Raphael Kellman, a New York City-based physician who specializes in treating the microbiome…the microbiome not only influences our mood, but it also has a lot to do with how the brain functions and develops over time,” The Epoch Times9 notes.

    ‘By improving the microbiome we can actually see positive changes in mood, cognitive function, and executive function,’ Kellman said…

    ‘The microbiome communicates with the brain through a number of mechanisms… These pathways include direct neurotransmitters that the microbiome produces.

    It communicates with the brain via the vagus nerve, and also via the endocrine system in the stress pathway — the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal axis.’

    Current treatment for neurological disorders focus on direct changes to brain chemistry, tweaking levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in hopes of tuning in the right balance. But the future of mental health treatment may focus much more on the gut than the brain, and more on food than drugs.”

    The fact that improving your microbiome can affect your cognitive function means it’s also important to nourish your gut to stand a better chance against neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, researchers have also found that recurring depression is associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, the area of your brain associated with memory formation,10 and depression itself appears to be a risk factor for dementia.

    Here, it’s important to take your vitamin D levels into account, as both depression and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with vitamin D deficiency.

    The Birth Of A More Holistic Model For Mental Health

    Depression and anxiety are typically treated with antidepressants, despite the fact studies have shown them to only be on par with placebos in terms of effectiveness. They’re also associated with a slew of side effects, including the progression into more severe and/or chronic mental health problems. Recent research may in part explain why antidepressants can worsen the situation rather than making it better.

    The ‘chemical imbalance’ theory states that depression and anxiety disorders are due to low serotonin levels. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by making more serotonin available for use in your brain, which is thought to improve your mood. Alas, recent research reveals that people with social anxiety do not have low serotonin; they have higher than normal levels. So further boosting serotonin with an SSRI will only make the anxiety worse…

    The new focus on gut health is a welcome departure from the synthetic drug model. As discussed in The New York Times,11 researchers are listing and investigating psychoactive compounds found in feces, and are experimenting with fecal transplants in animals to assess its effect on neurodevelopment:

    “Anxiety, depression, and several pediatric disorders, including autism and hyperactivity, have been linked with gastrointestinal abnormalities. Microbial transplants were not invasive brain surgery, and that was the point: Changing a patient’s bacteria might be difficult but it still seemed more straightforward than altering his genes. When Lyte began his work on the link between microbes and the brain three decades ago, it was dismissed as a curiosity.

    By contrast, last September, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded four grants worth up to $1 million each to spur new research on the gut microbiome’s role in mental disorders, affirming the legitimacy of a field that had long struggled to attract serious scientific credibility… It seems plausible, if not yet proved, that we might one day use microbes to diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders, treat mental illnesses and perhaps even fix them in the brain.”

    Abnormal Gut Flora Fosters Abnormal Brain Development

    Researchers have also begun experimenting with fecal transplants in autistic children,12 and while such investigations are still in its infancy, there’s plenty of cause for optimism. There does in fact appear to be a close connection between abnormal gut flora in infancy and abnormal brain development — a condition Dr. Campbell-McBride calls Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). GAPS is the result of poorly developed or imbalanced gut flora and may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) without hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities.

  3. Namaste and Thank You (Final Yoga Class)

     

    As most of you know, last night (11/20/2013) was our final yoga class UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.  We emphasize this because at this point we are not certain when our classes will resume.  As we navigate various opportunities and situations in our lives, we will certainly keep you informed of our plans.  Please keep in mind that our healthy wellness retreats WILL continue to be available and we urge you and your friends/family to contact us to create your very own customized group retreat that may include massage, yoga, reiki, and reflexology.

    We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank each and every one of you that have participated in our yoga classes and let you know how immensely proud we are of the progress that you’ve made.  We urge you to maintain your yoga commitment in our absence and look forward to keeping in touch with you until classes are able to be resumed.  Most importantly, we wish you all the peace, joy, and light this Universe has to offer.

    Namaste,

    Martha and Jeff

  4. New Review of Our Spriggles Books (from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior)

     

    **DOUBLE-CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE**

    SprigglesReview-page-001

  5. REMINDER FROM SPRIGGLES BOOKS!

     

    This election day:

    Let your voice be heard, Bluebird!

    Go to the polls, Moles!

    Make sure to vote, Billy Goat!

    http://www.spriggles.com

     

  6. 99¢ Well-Spent!!

     

    We are happy to announce that our Spriggles Motivational Books for Children are now available in e-book format for both Kindle and Nook.  And better yet, they are just 99¢ each for a limited time.  Remember, Spriggles combines “spirit” and “giggles” to motivate and educate young children (ages 4-7) to lead healthy, active, and energetic lives.  Spriggles provides children with critical stepping stones toward understanding the value of nutrition and physical activity.

    The three books in the Spriggles series are:

    *Health & Nutrition

    *Activity & Exercise

    *Inspiration

    Why not take advantage of this great offer and download your Spriggles e-books (Kindle or Nook) for the children in your lives.  Thanks!!

  7. My 10-day Vipassana Meditation Retreat

     

    Happy New Years All!

    I just returned from the most challenging, rewarding, fascinating, and life changing experience . . .  I attended a 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course in Bloomfield, MI.  It truly was a fantastic experience.  Below is a summary of the course, taken from “Introduction to Vipassana Meditation”.  I would be happy to share personal experiences and answer any questions you may have – just give me a call!    I highly recommend this course to everyone!  See the Vipassana Meditation site or www.dhamma.org for further info as well.

    The technique of Vipassana meditation is a simple, practical way to achieve real peace of mind and lead a happy, useful life.  Vipassana means “to see things as they really are”.  It is a logical process of mental refinement through self-observation.

    From time to time, we all experience agitation, frustration and disharmony. When we suffer, we do not keep our misery limited to ourselves, instead, we keep distributing it to others.  Certainly this is not a proper way to live.  We all long to live at peace within ourselves, as well as with those around us.  After all, human beings are social beings, and we have to live and interact with others.

    Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques.  It was rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gotama the Buddha and is the essence of what he practiced and taught during his forty-five years of teaching.  In our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced by Mr. S.N. Goenka. (To learn more about Mr. Goenka, go to the Vipassana website)

    To learn Vipassana meditation it is necessary to take a ten-day residential course under the guidance of a qualified teacher.  Ten days of sustained practice has been found to be the minimum amount of time in which the essentials of the technique can be learned for Vipassana to be applied in daily life.  For the duration of the course, students remain within the course site, having no contact with the outside world.  Students refrain from reading and writing, and suspend any religious practices or other disciplines.  They follow a demanding daily schedule which includes about ten hours of sitting meditation, with many breaks interspersed throughout the day.  They also observe silence, not communicating with fellow students.  They may speak with the teachers whenever necessary and they may contact the staff with needs related to food, health and such.

    There are three steps to the training.  First, students practice avoiding actions which cause harm.  During the course they undertake five moral precepts, agreeing to abstain from killing living beings, stealing, speaking falsely, all sexual activity and the use of intoxicants.  This simple code of moral conduct, along with maintaining silence, serves to calm the mind which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation.

    The second step is to develop a more stable and concentrated mind by learning to fix one’s attention on the natural reality of the ever-changing flow of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.  By the fourth day the mind is calmer and more focused, better able to undertake the third step, the practice of Vipassana itself:  the observation of sensations throughout the body, the experiential understanding of their changing nature and the development of a balanced mind by learning not to react to them.  One experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness.  This truth realization by direct experience is the process of purification.

    The entire practice is actually a mental training.  Vipassana can be used to develop a healthy mind.  Students receive systematic meditation instructions several times a day, and each day’s progress is explained during a video evening discourse by Mr. Goenka.   Complete silence is observed for the first 9 days.  On the tenth day, students learn to practice metta (loving kindness meditation) and they resume speaking as a transition back to their ordinary way of life.  The course concludes on the eleventh day.

    All courses are run solely on a donation basis.  There are no charges for the courses, not even to cover the cost of food and accommodations.  All expenses are met by donations from those who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the same opportunity.  Neither Mr. Goenka nor his assistant teachers receive remuneration; they and others who serve the courses volunteer their time. Thus, Vipassana is offered free from commercialization.

    Although Vipassana has been preserved in the Buddhist tradition, it can be accepted and applied by people of any background.  The Buddha himself taught Dhamma (the way, the truth, the path).  The technique works on the premise that all human beings share the same problems, and that a pragmatic method which can eradicate these problems can be universally practiced. Vipassana teaches those who practice it to be self-dependent.  Vipassana courses are open to anyone sincerely wishing to learn the technique, irrespective of race, faith or nationality.

    Vipassana has the capacity to transform the human mind and character.  The opportunity awaits all who sincerely wish to make the effort.

    I hope you will find the time in 2012 to take part in this wonderful experience!

    Martha

  8. YOGA CLASS SCHEDULE @ EXPRESSIONS OF HEALTH

    Yoga Class Schedule (as of Jan. 1, 2012) 

    Monday:   6:00 pm – 7:15 pm             Level 2 (Intermediate) 

    Tuesday:  10:00 am – 11:15 am         Gentle Yoga

                           6:30 pm – 7:45 pm           Level 1 (Basic)

     Wednesday:  5:00 pm – 6:15 pm    Level 2 (Intermediate)

                                7:00 pm – 8:15 pm      Gentle w/meditation

     Thursday:  10:00 am – 11:15 am     Gentle Yoga

                              6:00 pm – 7:15 pm       Level 1 (Basic)

    Gentle Yoga – A slower-paced class that concentrates on increasing flexibility by holding stretching postures longer and repeating them.  Suitable for all levels of yoga.

    Level 1 (Basic) – Geared toward beginners with a very basic understanding of alignment principles, breathing techniques, and postures.

    Level 2 (Intermediate) – Assumes a strong familiarity of postures and generally 1-2 years of yoga experience.  Classes will vary between Vinyasa, Slow Flow, Power, and Gentle.

     

    ****Suggested price is $7 per class.  However, EOH Community Wellness allows each student to simply pay what they can…no questions asked.  We want to make these classes affordable to the entire community. ****

     

    For class availability and information, please call 989/739-5498 

  9. New Years: Intentions, not Resolutions

     

    This New Years, let’s not be content to merely make resolutions.  Hey, over 95% of all New Year’s resolutions fail!  Instead, let’s set INTENTIONS.  What’s the difference, you say?  Resolutions are all based on “future outcomes”…like losing weight or stopping smoking…and they must be planned for and worked on and achieved through great discipline.  Great if you can do it.

    INTENTION, however, is not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, according to Buddhist practice, it is a path that focuses on how you are “being” in the present moment. Your attention is on the ever-present “now” in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on UNDERSTANDING WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOU and make a commitment to ALIGN YOUR ACTIONS WITH YOUR INNER VALUES.

     

    What are your inner values?   Live by them.  Think according to them and act according to them.  Remember, thoughts become actions and actions become habits.

     

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – Martha and Jeff

     

  10. Thanksgiving Poem

    May your stuffing be tasty

    May your turkey be plump,

    May your potatoes and gravy

    Have nary a lump.

    May your yams be delicious.

    And your pies take the prize,

    And may your Thanksgiving dinner

    Stay off your thighs!

     HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    WE WISH YOU A BLESSED HOLIDAY