How to Treat Anxiety without Xanax.

It’s only human to feel a little anxious from time to time. If you have a big test coming up, a presentation for your boss, a first date…these are all normal reasons to feel anxious. However, if you feel anxious more often than not throughout the day for no apparent reason, this can lead to serious health problems such as hypertention, a weakened immune system, stomach ulcers, and even depression. Some people may not have control over their anxiety, and can have a panic attack or a nervous breakdown at any moment, but there are ways to help reduce the chances of those events occuring without resorting to xanax.

The first line of defense I want to talk about are the B vitamins. B-Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, which controls our body’s response to stress. The way our bodies respond to stress is important because if the response is over exaggerated for something quite minor, this causes unecessary anxiety. B Vitamins help normalize mood and behavior, combat stress induced fatigue, lower cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone), and maintian healthy lactate levels (which are responsible for anxiety attacks). Magnesium is also great for anxiety because it helps maintian normal nerve function and supports healthy neurotransmission. It has a calming effect on the body and is also known to help lower blood pressure. Another supplement good for anxiety is L-arginine. This helps dilate constricted blood vessels (which is what normally occurs when one is experiencing anxiety) and in turn helps lower blood pressure and nervousness. Lastly, Valerian has been shown to lower anxiety by increasing what is known as GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, in our central nervous system. This neurotransmitter suppresses nerve impulses related to anxiety and calms the body down. With all that said, if you are still not a fan of taking supplements, exercise is one of the best treatments for anxiety. When you exercise, your body releases endorphines, which are our body’s natural opioids. They are known as natural analgesics and cause an overall feeling of well-being. Proper breathing is also very helpful when trying to control your anxiety. Taking a deep breath in times of stress helps deliver oxygen to your brain, which will help increase clarity and focus in order to come up with a resolution to the problem at hand.

All the above mentioned supplements can be found over the counter and are readily available in almost all drug or health food stores. You do not have to take all of them to help treat your anxiety. One should be ample enough, however, these supplements may be combined if needed. When all else fails, one last thing you could try is just smiling, even when you don’t feel like it. This is because when the muscles used to produce a smile are activated in your face, they send a signal to the brain which tells it you are happy, so it releases endorphins. This mechanism is known as “facial feedback.” I hope this article has helped and thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

 

Music is Medicinal

The power of music is quickly pioneering a new approach to therapy. Recently, music has been proven through numerous studies to benefit the body both mentally and physically. Songs that make us happy, energetic, or even reminiscent of good times can bring on a multitude of medicinal effects unmatched by any other form of treatment that exists today. I guess you could say Lady Gaga is the new Prozac.

Music therapy has been practiced as a way to treat many neurological conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and even depression. It has been shown that music can help with improving impaired movement in people with Parkinson’s by giving them rhythm and coordination. For people with speech problems, since the area of the brain that processes music overlaps with speech networks, music therapy can help improve the flow of words and enhance vocabulary. Anxiety and blood pressure are reduced when listening to music because music stimulates the hypothalamus, which is the part of our brain that controls heart rate and blood flow. Alzheimer’s is improved by music since certain songs can help trigger old memories. It has also been shown that endorphins are released by the brain when listening to upbeat music, which can help treat depression. Most importantly, studies have proven a 50% spike in pituitary growth hormone levels, which is a hormone that promotes healing, in people that listen to music.

Listening to music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. That fact alone was enough to instigate studies to determine how music could be incorporated into the health field as a form of therapy. I recently watched a video about a man who was physically alive, but mentally and emotionally dead. He had been living in a retirement home for years and had not been showing any signs of interest or engagement in any activity until he was given an iPod filled with songs his daughter knew that he loved. He instantly perked up and felt alive again as soon as he put his headphones on. Please watch this clip to see for yourselves what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player. Now go put on your favorite song and dance like nobody’s watching! Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

What to Do If you have Trouble Sleeping

Let’s face it, counting sheep doesn’t work. After a long day, the last thing anybody wants is to lay in bed and toss and turn for hours until they finally fall asleep. Wouldn’t it be great if a butterfly could just touch your face and make you fall into a deep, peaceful sleep like in the Lunesta commercials? Well, instead of an imaginary, sleep inducing butterfly, I have some real remedies to share that do not involve prescription drugs, insects, nor sheep.

Falling asleep could be very easy if you just trained your body to know when it is time to go to sleep. This can be achieved by doing the following: Never do any type of work on your bed, which means no writing essays, no looking over bills, no studying, etc.. Your bed should solely be for resting and sleeping. This is so that when you look at your bed, you do not subconsciously associate it with any anxiety provoking activities that may deter you from falling asleep. Sleeping around the same time each night is also very helpful. I know this isn’t typical for most people because some nights we want to go out and have fun, and some nights we just want to stay in and watch a movie. However, the more you are able to sleep around the same time every night, the better your sleep pattern will become. Another important tip is to stop having coffee, sugar, or any other type of stimulant at least 3 hours before bed. Even if you do not have trouble falling asleep, consuming these things close to your bedtime will prevent you from having a deep, restful sleep. Also, make sure you do not have any electronics on when you are going to bed. Turn the TV off, your radio and even your phone. This will allow your mind to rest so that you can fall asleep. Last but not least, do not exercise late at night. After a workout, your body feels energized and awake. So, going to bed after a workout is a bad idea if you are trying to wind your body down.

Other than resorting to prescription drugs, there are safe and effective supplements over the counter that can help with sleep. Melatonin is a naturally occuring compound in our bodies that helps regulate our circadian rhythm , which also controls our sleep cycle. The pineal gland in the brain makes serotonin which is then converted into melatonin at night when exposure to light decreases. So when night falls, melatonin increases in our bodies and makes us sleepy. Taking supplemental melatonin could be beneficial for those of us who do not have as much melatonin production in our bodies. Valerian is also a great sleep aid because it increases the neurotransmitter known as GABA in our brains, which has a calming effect on the body. As mentioned in previous posts, magnesium also has a calming effect on the body and can help induce sleep as well. VItamin D is also beneficial because it enhances your pineal gland’s ability to regulate your circadian rhythms.

Many people resort to alcohol to fall asleep, but little do they know thay are doing themselves a disfavor. Alcohol may help induce sleep, but it disturbs the duration of sleep. In other words, falling asleep will be easy, but staying asleep will not because alcohol doesn’t allow the body to go into a deep sleep. So if you can fall asleep but not stay asleep, what’s the point? Hope these tips help and thanks for reading! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

How to Improve your Memory and Focus without Adderall

Many of us struggle when it comes to remembering important information at crucial moments. Whether it is trying to remember where you last left your keys or what the answer is to question #23 on your history exam, it can be very frustrating when you cannot remember! However, there are ways to help improve your attention span, focus and memory naturally so that you can retrieve information more easily at any given moment.

What you eat can affect how well your brain functions. Your brain gets its fuel from glucose, which can be obtained from carbohydrates. So, eating foods free of carbohydrates would not be ideal prior to an important exam or presentation at work. However, make sure the carbs you eat are complex carbs, which can be found in such foods as whole grain bread and oatmeal. Complex carbs will give you longer lasting energy than simple carbs such as white bread or candy. Blueberries, pomegranate, and dark chocolate are all potent antioxidants that help protect the brain from oxidative damage, which naturally increases as we age. Salmon is a great source of omega-3, a major component in brain cell membranes, which helps with the transmission of signals and communication between brain cells. Nuts and avocado are high in vitamin E, which is known to increase blood flow. Increased blood flow causes an increase in the delivery of oxygen to the brain, which is needed for optimal brain function. Most importantly, keeping your brain hydrated is crucial, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Food substances to avoid, since they are known to impair brain function, include MSG, caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and aspartame
Other factors that affect one’s memory and ability to focus include anxiety, exercise, sleep and practice. When someone is experiencing anxiety, their cortisol levels are high. High cortisol levels have been known to cause degradation of certain areas of the brain including the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain in charge of memory. Exercise is very helpful when trying to enhance memory and focus since it increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. Exercise also helps by reducing anxiety and elevated cortisol levels, thus protecting the brain from degradation. Reading on a regular basis, whether it is a newspaper, book, or even a magazine, can also aid in improving memory and focus because it increases one’s attention span. When you pay attention to something, the chances of remembering it down the line is greater than if you were to not really concentrate on it at all. Getting an adequate amount of sleep is also very important. The temporal lobe, which is a brain region involved in language processing, is harder to activate in people who are sleep deprived. Also, cortisol levels are higher than normal in people who do not sleep at least 6 to 8 hours a night. When all else fails, try turning words into visual cues. Some people are visual learners rather than audio learners, so turning what you are reading into a mental picture, if possible, could help you remember it later.
There are also supplements that are available over the counter that have been proven safe and very effective. Ginko biloba extract has been proven to increase attention span and memory in healthy individuals as well as people with dementia. It works by significantly increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. As mentioned earlier, vitamin E also helps increase blood flow, but make sure not to take more than the daily recommended dose because too much vitamin E can potentially be toxic. Fish oil is a great source of omega-3, which helps protect brain cells by maintaining their structure. Antioxidants, such as the ones mentioned earlier, are also helpful because they protect the brain from oxidative damage that can naturally occur as we age. Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant found in wine and is available as a supplement over the counter as well. 
A lot of people quickly turn to adderall to help them focus and prepare for school exams or even work projects, however, the side effects can be severe and may not be worth it down the line. Adderall is commonly reported to cause heart palpitations, chest pain, tingling sensations in the left arm (which is a sign of a potential heart attack) and even possible growth stunts in children. When there are natural and healthy alternatives out there, why resort to prescription drugs that have so many potential side effects? Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

The Dangers of Stress

Unless you are an orthodox monk living atop Mount Athos, chances are that you will be stressed at one point or another in your lifetime. Stress is an inevitable part of our daily lives and can take on many forms, such as forgetting where you left your keys, being stuck in traffic, or even getting your order mixed up at the coffee shop. Contrary to what most people think, stress affects your body both physically and mentally. Stress makes your body feel as though it is under attack, causing it to wear out over time. Finding ways to cope with or resolve your stress is more important than you may think and should not be overlooked.

Acute, or short term stress, is different than chronic, or long term stress. If you are stressed out here and there and do not let it affect you for long, you are not in as much danger as those who feel stressed more often than not on a daily basis. Chronic stress can compromise your immune system, which is what controls your body’s defense mechanisms. When you undergo long periods of stress, your immune system becomes weak and your body becomes more susceptible to illness. The bacteria and viruses you are exposed to everyday have a better chance of infecting your body because your defense mechanisms are not as strong as they normally would be when you are calm and relaxed. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick when you are studying for a big exam or preparing for a major presentation at work? That is not just a coincidence. Constantly being nervous, not sleeping enough and over-exerting yourself are all forms of stress that increase your chances of getting sick. Over time, stress will not only suppress your immune system, but may even compromise your body’s circulatory system, blood sugar regulation and even cell growth. All this may lead to more serious health problems down the line such as hypertension, diabetes and possibly even cancer.

Learning to control your anger and anxiety when encountering a stressful situation is crucial. Take deep breaths to increase oxygenation and blood flow in your body. Try to think realistically about the situation instead of jumping to over-exaggerated conclusions before they even happen. Think about if what you’re getting mad or anxious about is really worth damaging your health over. Take 10 seconds to calm yourself before reacting to the situation. Find an enjoyable activity to release your anger and frustration through, such as exercise, so you do not repress it and let it build up within you. Last but not least, try to smile or laugh because it sends a signal to your brain to release endorphins, which have a calming effect on the body. Hope these tips help! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

Put Down that Coffee and Grab Some Kombucha!

If you’re a coffee lover, like myself, I’m sure you’ve been warned by someone, at one point or another, about how harmful it is for you. Even though it’s been said that one cup of coffee a day is good for you, how many people just drink one cup a day? You may think that venti triple shot latte you get at Starbucks is considered “one cup” because it comes in just one cup, but you’re wrong. Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to many long term problems such as anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, thyroid dysfunction, electrolyte imbalance, stomach ulcers, “caffeine headaches”, kidney stones, gallblader stones…I could go on but I think you get the point. Same goes for those energy drinks filled with caffeine and B vitamins. There’s only so much vitamin B12 your body can absorb in one day. The rest comes out in your urine. So you are just left with some expensive, bright yellow urine and no energy. So what should you do? I have the answer…

Kombucha is an effervescent tea-based beverage that gives you sustained energy without the crash. It has some caffeine in it, but not nearly as much as coffee or other energy drinks, and it has a multitude of health benefits that come along with it as well. Kombucha contains a vast amount of probiotics. I know you have heard of antibiotics which kill bacteria, but probiotics are the “good bacteria” that are in your body that help regulate your normal bodily functions such as digestion. That is why having kombucha after a large meal is so great becuase not only does it get rid of your food coma, it helps digest your meal as well. Kombucha also helps detoxify your liver, boost your immune system, works as a potent antioxidant, increases your metabolism, lowers your blood pressure, hydrates the body, balances the body’s internal pH, aids in healthy cell regeneration, and helps normalize blood sugar levels. Kombucha will give you as much energy as one of those triple shot lattes, but will not cause you to crash 2 hours later. It will give you energy that lasts for hours and will not harm your body or cause any long term problems.

Kombucha can be found in most health food stores, however, I like GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha found at Whole Foods. My favorite one is the original, but if you’re looking for more healthy goodness, it also comes mixed with ginger, citrus fruits or green leafy vegetables that they have labeled as “multi-greens.” Thanks for reading! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

Alcohol Can Actually Be Good For You

Shots, shots, shots, shots! I know we’ve all heard this before and probably yelled it ourselves at one point, but I am not here to advocate that kind of drinking. I’m here to talk about drinking in moderation. Alcohol has gotten a bad wrap over the years only because people have abused it to the point where the negatives have completely masked the positives; however, I am here to remind people that alcohol can actually be good for you.

First, let me talk about the negatives so you guys don’t go haywire and start drinking like fish because I told you alcohol isn’t that bad. Drinking excessively can lead to some serious problems. Other than increasing the likelihood of embarrassing yourself by falling over or professing your love to your high school crush, alcohol can slowly destroy your liver. Drinking too much can elevate your liver enzymes and eventually lead to cirrhosis. Your liver is a very important organ that has a role in almost every function of your body including digestion, metabolism, detoxification, protein synthesis and even hormone production. Without proper liver function, your whole body can shut down. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to weight gain. Believe it or not, alcohol is full of calories! For example, a 1 ounce shot of tequila has 70 calories. Also, when you drink too much, you usually do not have control over what you eat because your judgment  is compromised. Some people like to drink to become more social and to attract the opposite sex. However, overconsumption can lead to sexual dysfunction and the inability to perform, not to mention developing beer goggles. Lastly, your immune system can be lowered, which would make you more susceptible to infection and illness.

Now, on to the positives. Drinking one glass of alcohol a day can actually have many benefits. It can reduce the chances of heart disease by lowering blood pressure. This is because alcohol acts as a vasodiolater, which causes your blood vessels to open by relaxing the smooth muscle around them. Lowering your blood pressure decreases the chances of developing hypertention, which is a major factor of heart disease. Alcohol can also help with high cholesterol by raising the amount of HDL in your body. HDL helps by picking up excess cholesterol that’s roaming around in the bloodstream and transporting it to the liver where it can be broken down. This is beneficial because high cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke. Lastly, alcohol can help reduce stress and anxiety. For people with demanding jobs or fast paced lifestyles, one glass of alcohol can help them relax and wind down at the end of the day. Wine is a great choice to turn to when you want a drink because it is derived from grapes, which are full of antioxidants. As mentioned before, antioxidants help protect your cells from being damaged by free radicals that readily arise from common metabolic processes in the body.

Don’t forget, drinking in moderation is different than going out and having 5 drinks and 3 shots in one night and not drinking the next couple days to make up for it. Drinking moderately means one glass of alcohol a day and no more than that. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.