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Monthly Archives

July 2009

Stress and Bioavailability of Food Nutrients

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Nutrition plays a HUGE role in our health and the connection between what we eat in times of stress cannot be ignored. A news item highlighted on NPR’s morning edition this morning drew attention to the availability of various nutrients in one’s typical eating process. The word “bioavailability” means the assimilation of food nutrients that have been digested in the stomach and small intestine and carried into the blood stream for various metabolic processes. It was noted today that for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E &K), to be bioavailable, one must ingest fat with the meal otherwise they are basically excreted. Fiber is not bioavailable (which is why it is recommend to eat so that it cleans out the gastro-intestinal tract). It is suggested that people who don’t consume much fiber per day (the average American eats about 8 grams per day, whereas the World Health Organization suggests about 40 grams per day.) Many people also miss out on what they think is a healthy consumption of vitamins and minerals but end up never ingesting them due to the way they cook the food (Intense heat kills vitamins, cooking veggies in water often leaches water soluble vitamins and minerals out of the foods and gets thrown down the kitchen sink. Some raw foods that are not chewed well also end up passing through the GI tract offering little to one’s health. AND STRESS can also impede the bioavailabilty of food nutrients.

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Take time to prepare a good meal each day. Spend time actually tasting and chewing your food BEFORE swallowing it (some people call this “mindfulness eating”). If your busy lifestyle prevents you from preparing all three meals at home, consider preparing and eating at least one (1) meal a day for your immune system (organic foods with no herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics and petro-chemicals).

• Links Worth Noting:
Did someone say comic relief? If you are looking for a good laugh each day (and perhaps a window in the world of “What were they thinking?” you will see no shortage of candidates for the coveted Darwin Awards (and other acts of stupidity) all of which are chronicled at this website: www.failblog.org (please view at your own risk and don’t try ANY of this stuff at home!)

• Photo of the Day:
Did you know that humming birds stick their tongues out when sitting still? I am not sure why, but after filming many different species for my Earth Songs documentary, I am convinced this is a common occurrence. This still photo was taken from a scene from Earth Songs. It is a Purple-Throated Caribe humming bird filmed on the island of Dominica, West Indies. Enjoy!

• Quote for the Day:

Audrey Hepburn’s Beauty Tips

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”
— Sam Levenson

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Social Suppport: Friends in Need

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Once again research has proved what we have known intuitively all along. A now famous study by David Spiegel regarding support groups and breast cancer patients revealed that those people who had friends to turn to in times of crisis fared better than those who did not. Other studies have backed this up as well. As John Donne so famously said, “No man is an island.” Personal support groups consist of family, friends, colleagues, even pets these days. In essence, people whom we can turn to when we need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to simply share a meal, a laugh or an extraordinary event. Sociologists predicted years ago that as we immerse ourselves in to the lair of technology, the existence of support groups will weaken as people spend more time on the computer than in face to face interactions (many people don’t even know the names of their next door neighbors!). Technology has tried to answer this concern with a variety of social networking sites (e.g., MySpace, FaceBook, etc.) yet jpgs, one sentence emails and 140 character tweets, as great as they may be, are no substitute for human interaction. Real Friends, in real time, are true friends indeed!
• Stress Tip for the Day:
Take stock of your personal support group and take time to cultivate these relationships, IN PERSON! Friends (even family), come and go as we get older, which means we need to cultivate new relationships to maintain a critical mass of our support groups. Consider inviting someone new in your life to lunch or for a short walk in the nearest park. Take time to cultivate your social support groups. Quality of life is what support groups are all about!

• Link Worth Noting:
www.Sharingwellnessinfo.com is a website that offers LOTS of information and current news stories about hundreds of wellness topics. The site was created by two colleagues of mine who have a passion about helping people on their wellness journeys.

Here is a link to their most recent newsletter
http://sharingwellnessinfocom.cmail1.com/t/y/u/klkhtr/ijchhth/

• Photo of the Day:
Dolphins know the importance of social support networks (rarely, if ever do you see a dolphin swimming by itself). This photo was taken of a pod of spinner dolphins off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. They get their name because when they jump up out of water, they spin (rotate) a few times before they enter back into the water.

• Quote for the Day:
“Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof.”
— Richard Bach, author of the book, Illusions

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

The Hero’s Journey

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Joseph Campbell’s body of work into the field of mythology is very relevant to the topic of stress. Through stories, fables and myths in all cultures, Campbell noted a trend in the storyline; a concept he called “the hero’s journey,” also known as the spiritual journey. The hero, he said, 1) departs: going from the known to the unknown (facing fear all the way), 2) accomplishing a task (also known as the initiation stage or baptism by fire… also producing fear)… and 3) returns home upon accomplishing the task as “the master of two worlds.” One time while explaining this concept in a keynote speech, a fellow in the front row murmured under his breath (I embark on the hero’s journey every time I get on the L.A. Freeway!). His point was funny, yet true. Our lives are a series of hero’s journeys where upon we encounter stress on a regular basis and are invited to overcome it. There are two ways to meet stress, however. The first is as a victim (also known is psychological terms as “victim consciousness.” —as the saying goes, “Once a victim, twice a volunteer”). The second way is as the victor. The choice is ours. Campbell said when the hero is on the right track, the journey is blissful. Take his advice and follow your bliss!

(Note: I will be away at a wellness conference and resume this blog on Thursday July 23rd. Thanks!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Take an honest look at your life today and observe which path you have made a habit of taking; the victim or the victor. The path of the victim tends to be one where we hear constant bitching, moaning and whining about how “bad” things are. Victims are complainers and often add a touch of sarcasm, pessimism and typically see the glass half empty, if not broken. Complaining is easy. But, as the expression goes, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” The path of the hero is the high road. It takes work to hike the high road, but the views are incredible!

• Link Worth Noting:
I found two links of Joseph Campbell that may be of interest. Better yet, consider investing the PBS 6 part series where Bill Moyers interviews Campbell. Although this was filmed in 1987, the content is ageless and as relevant today as it was when it was filmed.
I might also put a plug in for the latest Harry Potter movie I saw yesterday: Harry Potter, like so many great stories IS the Hero’s journey. As Campbell said, we gravitate toward these stories to find our way back home.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joseph-Campbell/53067252909

http://www.dynamictube.com/youtube/joseph-campbell.html

• Photo of the Day:
A photo of the Edith Clavell Glacier near Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies (which by the way is melting at an alarming rate). I selected this photo as a symbolic picture of the hero’s journey. Many of our biggest stressors appear to be roadblocks on life’s journey. But we are never given a problem that we are not able to handle… when we put our minds and hearts into it.
• Quote for the Day:

“Follow your bliss.” — Joseph Campbell

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and Creative Problem Solving

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Chronic stress can make one feel like a slave to one’s emotions, often promoting a sense of immobilization. Sadly, this only tends to produce more stress, resulting in a downward spiral of negativity. There is an answer to stress that is very empowering. It’s called “creative problem solving” one of THE best coping techniques and it can turn any bad day into a sunny one. One thing that seems to separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to employ our sense of creativity (e.g., the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, Hoover Damn, penisilin). Perhaps nowhere is creativity needed more than in times of crises. The creative process isn’t JUST for right-brained, artistic people. Creativity combines the powers of the right (imagination) AND left (organization) brains. Coming up with several solutions to a problem and selecting the best one is very empowering; even more so when the solution yields positive results. For some great books on the creative process, check out Roger von Oech’s A Whack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants; two excellent resources (and fun to read) about the creative process. Many people claim not to be creative, but the truth is that we all have the ability to be creative; Necessity is, after all the mother of invention. We could easily say that stress is the mother of invention, as well.

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Consider some problem or issue you have and try to think of five different ways to solve it. How would a 6-year old see your problem? How would a person from Russia or Kenya describe your problem? How would an aliens describe it, or would they even see it as a problem? Come up with five possible (realistic) solutions and then pick the best one and try it out. What have you got to lose?

• Link Worth Noting:
Talk about effective (and creative) problem solving…Imaging fighting the corporate system, like United Airlines, and coming out on top! It was creativity (and the help of youtube) that made this happen. This video went viral and within a few days United Airlines admitted guilt and now wants to compensate this guy for his guitar. It should be noted that they also wish to use this video in their in-service trainings for baggage handlers on HOW NOT to handle baggage. Score one for David, nothing for Goliath!
http://www.geekbrief.tv/united-breaks-guitars

• Photo of the Day:
You cannot get more creative than mother nature, and one place to see the creative process in action is on the big Island of Hawaii, where the volcano, Kilauea is creating new land mass before your very eyes. The best time to see this is around sunset and perhaps even better once its dark. This photo was taken a few years ago, but I hear that the volcano is VERY active these days.

• Quote for the Day:
“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”
— Picasso

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and Stress Vitamins

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The stress response initiates a series of metabolic processes for physical survival (fight or flight). Vitamins are essential nutrients for cell metabolism that the body cannot produce on it’s own so they must be taken in from external sources (e.g., food). Vitamins are categorized two ways: Fat soluble (Vitamins A, D, E K) and water soluble (C and B-Complex). The B-Complex vitamin contains many (8) vitamins including one’s you read on cereal boxes such as niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin. The set of B vitamins does a great many things but ONE thing it is associated with is cell metabolism, specifically energy production, and energy is what you will need for fight or flight. For this reason, the B-Complex is often associated with stress as the “stress vitamin.” (The next time you’re in a grocery store or health store check out the labels on what is marketed as “stress vitamins”). Because the B-complex is in the category of water soluble, what you consume and don’t use you excrete in your urine. Many people who consume LOTS of vitamins have VERY EXPENSIVE urine. Generally speaking, B-complex vitamins can be found in vegetables, and whole unprocessed foods including meats, bananas, potatoes and lentils. Processed sugar tends to negate the efficacy of B vitamins.

• Stress Tip for the Day:
When vitamin supplements are processed, quite often a substance is used to bind these together (in a pill form). The problem is that for a great many people the pill goes in one end and out the other without ever being digested. In nutrition circles this is known as NOT being “Bio-available”. In other circles its known as a waste of money. The best source of all vitamins and minerals is in whole, unprocessed (let’s throw in the word organic too) foods.

• Link Worth Noting:
For more info on the B-Complex vitamin… here is a link to Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_vitamins

• Photo of the Day:
A sample of commonly bought vitamin supplements. (Note: if your supplements don’t dissolve in a glass of water with one table spoon of vinegar added to replicate the stomach’s acid, take them back where you bought them and demand your money back. Also… FYI. Many retail sales people make a commission on the sale of supplements and tend to steer you in the direction of the more expensive items.

• Quote for the Day:
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and the cause and prevention of disease.”
— Thomas Edison
(Note: many of us are still waiting for this day to arrive!)

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and Color Therapy

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The stimulation of various colors each has a dramatic an impact, not only on our thoughts, but our moods as well. Some colors make us feel anxious, while other colors make us feel relaxed and calm. For example, the color red signals a sense of alertness, whereas the colors green and blue promote a sense of relaxation (one reason why being in nature is so relaxing for many). Many restaurants are aware of the messages of color and select colors to generate a specific atmosphere (I was once told that fast food places choose yellows and oranges to get people in AND out quickly—which is true). With the use of functional MRI’s we can now detect what parts of the brain are most active with color stimulation! The correlation between the stimulation of color and mood takes place at an unconscious level as color is one the languages of the unconscious mind. Industry marketers use color as a means to attract customers and sell products. Colors play a BIG role in how we navigate the world and what emotions we use in our daily travels, which is why it is important to know how colors affect you!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Take a look at the clothes in your closet and make note of what you wear each day. Its one thing to have your clothes match your hair and skin color. It even more important, however, to have the colors you wear support a healthy scale of emotions. Pay attention to the color of clothes you wear and if you are feeling down in the dumps consider selecting a color of clothes that supports how you wish to feel.

• Movies Worth Noting:
A while back I included a link to the documentary film, Food, Inc. The other night I went to go see it, and without exaggerating, I think EVERYONE who eats food, must see this movie. Based on much of the content from Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser’s books (The Omnivore’s Dilema, Fast Food Nation, respectively) this film is a real eye opener for everyone, including those who think they eat healthy! I used the book Fast Food Nation as one of three texts when I taught a nutrition course at the University of Colorado for 10+ years. Do yourself a favor and see this movie.

• Photo of the Day:
Sometimes the best things fly right by us and if we are lucky we are there to take notice, like this colorful butterfly I caught on film while on vacation last year.

• Quote for the Day:
“When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and must take a step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of two things will happen; either there will be something solid for you to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”
—Patrick Overton

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and High Blood Pressure

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In a resting state about 80% of the blood in our body resides in the gastro-intestinal tract. The remaining 20% circulates throughout the body to keep cells nourished with nutrients and oxygen. Under stress, the body’s flight or fight response sets in motion a series of physiological events to prepare the individual for physical survival. One of these events is the release of epinephrine and nor-epinephrine to increase blood pressure so that a shift in blood flow can occur from the gastro-intestinal tract to the large muscle groups in the arms and legs (for movement). This is all well and good if the person actually engages in movement (e.g., exercise), but it becomes problematic if one just sits there (these days, usually in front of a computer screen or in traffic). As the expression goes, pressure builds in a closed system. Without movement, blood pressure still increases, but without a significant shift in blood distribution to the arms and legs, pressure builds. Hypertension is a clinical terms to describe high resting blood pressure. Blood pressure is noted with two numbers: the first number (systolic) denotes the greatest force of blood through the left ventricle of the heart. The second number (diastolic) represents the relaxation phase of the heart. Debate continues over which number is most significant but ultimately a rise in both can be serious. Stress is closed associated with hypertension!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Hypertension is often called the silent disease because there is no way to know if you have it unless you get it checked by a health care professional (e.g., nurse, physician, etc.). These days you can even get it checked at the grocery store. You can even get it checked when donating blood, which is always a good idea to do. Blood banks need blood and it’s an altruistic thing to do. Please consider giving blood today! Getting out and exercising isn’t a bad idea either.

• Links Worth Noting:
A lot of people are seeing their blood pressure rise with the fall of the economy and their 401K’s being reduced to 201k’s. One person who now makes his living charting various aspects of the economy is Chris Martenson. He has produced a series of on line videos with insights and suggestions about how to navigate the shoals of fiscal responsibility (and perhaps even lowering your blood pressure in the process). Here is his website.
http://www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse

• Photo of the Day:
A sunrise photo from the Caribbean island of Canouan in the Grenadines (near St. Vinicent). Enjoy!

• Quote for the Day:
“There is nothing either or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Standard of Living vs Quality of Life

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With an ever growing curious ear toward comments about human behavior and the shape of the world today, the word “sustainability” comes up a lot, whether its on NPR news shows, conferences about mind-body-spirit healing, professional journals or magazine articles. The general consensus is that we, as Americans (and everyone we export our lifestyle too around the world) do not live a sustainable life. We use more resources than we have, we consume like crazy and we produce a lot of waste (whether it’s uneaten food or plain garbage.) Contrary to the belief of the popular bumper sticker, he who dies with the most toys DOESN’T win! Sociologists and economists often talk about the “standard of living” which today seems to be associated with wealth and the acquisition of more commercial goods. The term “standard of living” is often used synonymously with the term quality of life, but indeed these are two different things. Semantics aside, quality of life issues deal with basic human needs and many intangible things that money cannot buy (like happiness). In the economic reality we are facing today, many people are seeing a dramatic change in their standard of living, but this doesn’t have to mean a corresponding change in one’s quality of life. You cannot put a price on the quality of life!

• Stress Tip for the Day:
How do you measure your quality of life? What are the intangible things that bring you joy, happiness and peace of mind? What are the aspects of your life that are, indeed, priceless? Quality of life is really about one’s attitude. As the saying goes, “A good day in hell beats a #$%!y day in paradise.” What can you do to improve the quality of your life without opening your wallet? Equally important to ask is this: What parts of your life are not “sustainable” and what can you do to pull in the reins of these behaviors?

• Links Worth Noting:
My friend and colleague, Donna Eden, author of the best seller of the book, Energy Healing has a website and a newsletter. This link will take you to the latest edition of her newsletter. I am big advocate of her work and I hope you get a chance to explore her contributions to health in more detail. She’s awesome!

http://webmail.aol.com/43661/cs_com/en-us/Lite/MsgRead.aspx?folder=NewMail&uid=1.26149061&seq=0&searchIn=none&searchQuery=&start=0

• Photo of the Day:
Last year, on the recommendation of a good friend, I took a trip to the Grenadines in the Lesser Antillies of the Caribbean. The color of the water here is nothing less than unreal. For a nice summer day like today, I selected this photo (on of my screen savers) to reinforce the idea that aqua blue waters are stunning to look at (and for some add to the quality of life!)

• Quote for the Day:
“When you think of all the synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in our foods, it gives a whole new meaning to saying grace before a meal.”
— Brian Luke Seaward

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.