Take home messages

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As  I embark on this new lifestyle journey, I thought I take some of you readers along by sharing a few take home messages that I have personally compiled in my handy dandy notebook.

So here are they:

 From the movie “Hungry for Change”, I learn that

1.Unhealthy food kills more people than all drugs combined.

Stay away from highly refined, isolated concentrated chemical such as high fructose corn syrup (HCF), refined sugar and refined flour. In terms of glycemic index, HCF is likened to jet fuel for your body. And what happen when you pour jet fuel into your car gasoline tank, you are going to ruin your engine and burn it out. The same goes with HCF; this will run the risk of causing sugar imbalance in your body. Processed refined food (e.g. sugar) also increases the beta-endorphins in brain(i.e. feel good natural opiate like substance). This explains why when you are depressed/ under stress, you crave and eat what is known as ‘comfort food’, such as macaroni and cheese because they have virtual delivery system of sugar, right into the body fat. What happens with addictions is, you become habituated to the effect and you need more and more to give you the same effect and it’s no different with sugar. According to a study, the number one source of calories for people living in the United States is fructose and fructose is highly addictive. In 1990s, an average person is exposed to 15g of fructose, which is within the limit of healthy recommendation of 15-25g of fructose (i.e.less than an ounce a day). Now, the figure resides in 70-80 g , and teen is taking as much as 120-150g of fructose a day. When you abuse that type of sugar, there’s a severe metabolic consequences that change the brain chemistry, and the compounding effect of this further makes it difficult to get out of the cycle of food cravings and the addiction to these foods that are unhealthy. Stay away from artificial sweetener such as aspartame. Aspartame is toxic; it causes frontal lobe inflammation, migraines, visual disturbances; symptoms that mimic multiple sclerosis (e.g. headache, neurological problems and seizures). In fact, no pilot is allowed to consume diet soda because diet soda cause severe aberration to vision and potentially lead to problems to their flying. Stay away from additives such as MSG and free glutamate, which are used to enhance flavor in about 80% of all processed food, for they have been shown to make mice fat.

 2. We need to be an informed consumer.

There is a huge disparity between what the marketers say and the things they actually deliver. The naming of food products, for instance, is often too loose and creative. And this is coming from major food companies whose products are in major grocery stores all around the world. For example, cereals made by General Mills called Total Blueberry Pomegranate cereal doesn’t actually contain blueberry and pomegranate.

3. Also, from an informative YouTube Video of a Harvard’s Positive Psychology’s Professor, Tal-Ben Shahar,  I learn the importance of starting an exercise regime. Not exercising is like taking a depressant. Exercise regime not only reduces obesity, but also decreases violence, decreases the incidence of Alzheimer’s’ disease and delays cognitive decline.

4. Lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of meditation. Meditation decreases anxiety (evidence of this is well documented in the startle response of a meditator), makes us happier (through the higher level of activation in the left-side of the prefrontal cortex), and also makes us more resilient against physical ailments.

And let us not forget the humble deep breathing (3 deep breaths is the magic number here) and expressing gratitude, through focusing on the positive and appreciating the ordinary. Research on gratitude shows that the group that expresses gratitude at the end of the day perform the best in areas such as happiness, generosity, success and are reported to be physically healthy than the groups that express hassles, superiority and control of the day.

So, as I end this short post, I hope that these pointers will not only inform, but also encourage  all of us to lead a healthier lifestyle. Namaste.

Editha (200hr) Yoga TTC 07/14 weekend