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.

 

 

Hemp Seeds: The Amazing Superfood

Let me start off by addressing the elephant in the room: It is common to associate the word hemp with marijuana, however, hemp is a different strain of the plant Cannabis Sativa that only contains less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (better known as THC) whereas marijuana contains about 10%. The minuscule amount of THC found in hemp seeds has not been found to compromise, influence, or impair one’s cognition or judgment and is completely safe and legal. Hemp is actually considered to be one of the most nutritional plants in the entire world. Its seeds are often described as what is known as a “superfood” due to their low calorie and high nutrient content, and they provide a multitude of health benefits. In short, hemp seeds may be small but they pack a big punch.

Hemp seeds deliver enough nutrition to maintain healthy human life. That means you could survive off of eating hemp seeds, and only hemp seeds, for the rest of your life (not that I would recommend that). That’s how nutritious these little seeds are! Hemp seeds were actually one of the primary treatments used  for nutritional deficiencies brought on by diseases such as tuberculosis. One of the many reasons for that is that these little seeds deliver more essential fatty acids than any other plant source. The human body needs essential fatty acids to manufacture and repair cell membranes, allowing cells to obtain proper nutrition and get rid of harmful waste products. Essential fatty acids also aid in the production of prostaglandins, which help regulate the body’s heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting ability, fertility and also play a role in immune function by regulating inflammation and preparing the body to fight infection. Essential Fatty Acids are also needed for proper growth in children, particularly for the development of their nervous system. Hemp seeds also deliver all 20 amino acid, including the 9 essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own. Amino acids are necessary for such things as  building muscle, strengthening the immune system, enhancing oxygen transport, providing energy, and supporting healthy hair, skin and nails. On top of all of that, hemp seeds are rich in phytonutrients that protect your cells, tissues and organs from damage, which helps slow down the aging process and lower the chance of disease.

Eating hemp seeds may sound a little funny, but the nutritional value they bring is no joke. The Chinese have been consuming hemp seeds for years now, and it has only recently gained popularity here in America. Hemp seeds are actually very delicious and have a sweet, nutty taste that many people seem to like, including myself. You could eat them alone, or sprinkle them on a variety of dishes such as cereal, pancakes or even salad. Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

 

The Kale Craze

Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables known to man. Its health benefits have slowly surfaced over the years, giving it its well deserved title as the “queen of greens.” It is an exceptional source of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber making it a nutritional powerhouse and an essential addition to anyone’s daily diet.

Kale, also known as borecole, belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as collards, cabbage, and broccoli. It is packed with numerous vitamins and minerals including:

  1. Vitamin A- for healthy skin and vision
  2. Vitamin C- to build a strong immune system
  3. Vitamin K- to help prevent cancer and improve blood clotting functions
  4. Calicum- to prevent osteoarthrits and maintain bone health
  5. Magnesium- for energy production and a healthy cardiovascular system
  6. Sulfur- to detoxify the body by supporting healthy liver function
  7. Iron- for energy production and proper oxygenation throughout the body

Kale is also packed with fiber, providing 5 grams of fiber in just one cup. Fiber is very beneficial because it helps lower cholesterol, improve digestion and increase regularity. Kale is also a wonderful source of antioxidants, known as carotenoids and flavonoids, that help protect your cells from damage and lower your chances of developing cancer. Last but not least, kale has a high percentage of omega-3, which is a wonderful anti-inflammatory agent that  promotes heart health, mental stability, proper vision, joint function, and healthy hair, skin and nails.

One of my favorite ways to prepare kale is by slicing it into bite size pieces, drizzling a little bit of olive oil on top with a pinch of salt, and baking them for 10-15 minutes. You will come out with healthy and nutritious kale chips that will far surpass the calorie filled, ordinary potato chips out on the market today. I also like to chop kale up into fine pieces with other vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, celery and cucumber to make a delicious and filling salad. Now, go be creative and find out how to incorporate kale into your daily diet. 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.

Coconut Oil and its Long List of Benefits

From cooking, to massaging, to styling your hair, it seems as though coconut oil does it all. Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and can be used for aesthetic purposes as well! It has been used by those who live in native, tropical areas for thousands of years now and has been proven to be one of the primary contributors to their great shape and health. Coconut oil consists of naturally occurring, saturated fats that have been shunned by health professionals for years now. However, with all the benefits that have been shown to come along with using coconut oil, we are slowly realizing that not all saturated fats are bad.

Coconut oil mainly consists of a naturally occurring saturated fat called lauric acid. We have constantly been told that saturated fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. However, the saturated fat they are referring to is man made by a process known as hydrogenation. This process is used by manufacturers to improve the shelf life of their products even though it is detrimental to our health. However, lauric acid is a rare, naturally occurring saturated fat that does not share the same properties as man made fats. Lauric acid does not clog your arteries, increase cholesterol, cause heart disease, nor contribute to obesity. In fact, it does the complete opposite and more.

Coconut oil can help improve your health in many ways. Lauric acid is metabolized by the body into monolaurin, which is known to have anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. This helps boost your immune system and protect you against such common diseases as herpes, influenza, H. Pylori and even HIV. Lauric acid also helps increase HDL, which is known as “good cholesterol.” HDL helps remove the “bad cholesterol” in the body known as LDL, which then lowers the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Coconut oil is also very useful in reducing weight since it helps support healthy thyroid functioning and digestion. It also helps improve the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids so you get the most out of the food you eat. Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin, thus lowering the chances of developing diabetes. Last, but not least, it is a great source of energy since coconut oil is also made up of medium chain triglycerides, which are quickly and easily metabolized by the liver.

Coconut oil can also benefit you on the outside as well as the inside. Coconut oil consists of essential proteins that help repair damaged hair and improve hair growth. It can be used on the scalp to reduce dryness and itchiness as well as dandruff. It has also been shown to be effective in killing hair lice and their eggs. Coconut oil can also be used on the skin as a moisturizer. It helps treat dry, flaky skin and even improves the skin’s elasticity to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Coconut oil can also be used to help treat various skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin infections. Most importantly, it can help alleviate stress and loosen your muscles when massaged into the skin, which I’m sure all of us need from time to time.

Now that the secret is out, go take advantage of it. Not all saturated fats are created equal! Replace your cooking oil, your moisturizers and your conditioners with coconut oil and you will see and feel the difference soon after. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

Cancer: Early Detection and Prevention Can Save your Life

Cancer….it’s a scary word, I know. What if there was a way for you to find out if you were genetically prone to a specific type of cancer? How about if you were able to detect cancer in your body at an early stage and still had time to reverse it? Well, guess what…there is a way! Certain types of cancer are hereditary, some types of cancer are more likely for women than for men, some are more likely for men at age 50 than 30, and so on. Point being, knowing which age to start getting annual check ups, finding out your familial medical history, and learning about ways to help lower the chances of developing a specific cancer you may or may not be genetically prone to can help save your life.

Cancer arises in the body due to mutations in our genes. These mutations may be spontaneous or may be inherited from a family member. When a gene is mutated, it can lead to abnormal cell growth, which can then cause a malignant tumor to form. This malignant tumor can then spread to other parts of your body, which is what is called metastasis. However, there are many tests that have been developed in order to prevent this from happening through early detection. It is recommended that women at the age of 40 should start getting annual mammograms since the chances of developing breast cancer increase around that age. If you are someone that has a mother, or even a grandmother who has had breast cancer, your annual check ups should start at an earlier age since breast cancer is hereditary. A colonoscopy every 10 years is recommended for people over the age of 50 in order to test for colon cancer, which can also be hereditary. Again, if you have a family member who has had colon cancer, your screenings need to begin at an earlier age and need to be more frequent. A simple blood test to measure the level of your thyroid hormones can detect early signs of thyroid cancer. Biopsies of abnormal moles on your skin can help prevent the growth of skin cancer. A biopsy of any abnormal bump on your body can be enough to detect most types of cancer for that matter. If you do not know what your past familial medical history is, there is something called genomic testing which can detect specific mutations in your genes that have been linked to certain cancers. If we have the resources available to find out what the future holds for us in terms of our health, why not take advantage of it?

Although each type of cancer comes with its own set of symptoms, there are some general symptoms that may also be indicative of cancer as a whole. Keep in mind though, some types of cancer do not present any symptoms at all. Some general symptoms, and I do emphasize the word general, include: persistent fatigue, unintentional weight loss (around 10lbs or more), chronic pain, regular fevers, and frequent night sweats. Do not become alarmed if you have these symptoms because, again, they are very general. However, if you do have 2 or more of these symptoms, it wouldn’t hurt to go get a check up just to make sure everything is alright.

Even though cancer does not discriminate and can potentially affect any of us, prevention can at least help lower the chances of its occurrence. For example, wearing sunscreen and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, or even artificial tanning lamps, can help lower the chances of skin cancer. Abstaining from smoking can help lower the chances of mouth, lung and colon cancer. Avoiding excessive caffeine consumption can help lower the chances of thyroid and breast cancer. Exercising regularly can help build your immune system to help fight off all cancers. Eating healthy, nutritious food full of fiber and vitamins can help keep your body strong and prevent cancer as well. I know it is impossible to avoid all carcinogenic agents in this world, but removing the bulk of them from your life can make a tremendous difference.

Many of you may be young and do not think this post really pertains to you, and that you should worry about these things when you are older. However, even though it is more likely to develop cancer when you are older, cancer can happen at any age, unfortunately. Also, you could use this information for your loved ones. Urge your parents to get screened if it is time for them to do so. Make them aware of how important it is to detect cancer in its early stages because it will increase their chances of eliminating it quickly and without much complication. Unfortunately, ignorance is not always bliss. I hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

 

Cold, Flu, Infection, Fever, Cold Sore…What’s the Difference?

Being the second child, I seem to get sick much less frequently than my older brother. This is most likely because my parents weren’t as cautious with me as they were with him while growing up. As bad as that sounds, that is how it is with almost any parent. With the first child, parents are more careful and scared because it is their first time having a baby. Once the second child rolls around, they are more relaxed, which means I probably ate more sand from the sandbox than my brother did. What does all this mean? I have been exposed to more germs and pathogens while growing up so my immune system is stronger than my brother’s is today. I am not mentioning this in order to brag or to make you think you should go feed your child sand, but to make it easier for you to understand how the immune system works. We hear all these terms such as cold, flu, fever, infection, virus, bacteria, and cold sore; however, how many of us know the difference between them? That is what I am here to talk about, as well as how to lower the chances of getting sick through proper preventative behavior as well as taking the right supplements.

Colds and flus are caused by viruses, not bacteria. The difference between a cold and a flu is as follows: fevers, headaches, body aches and exhaustion are more common with the flu; sneezing, sore throat, congestion, and coughing are more common with a cold. There is no cure for a cold, there is only medicine that will help mask the symptoms. When you have a cold, you just have to wait it out until it subsides. The only way to prevent it is through good hygiene, which means wash your hands regularly and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when your hands aren’t clean since viruses can enter the body that way. As for the flu, you can take anti-virals to help treat it, such as Tamiflu, however treatment should be sought within 48 hours of any signs of sickness. You can prevent the flu by getting annual flu shots and also practicing good hygiene as mentioned above.

If you notice your mucus or sputum is colored, such as yellow or green, you most likely have a bacterial infection and are in need of antibiotics. Antibiotics only kill bacteria, NOT viruses. If your mucus is red or even brownish, that may be a sign of something much more serious and you should seek medical attention immediately. It may be that your lungs are irritated from coughing too much, but it could also be something worse.  A fever is also indicative of an infection, but it can come with both a viral and/or bacterial infection.

Cold sores do not necessarily appear only when you are sick. They can occur at anytime and are due to a virus, not bacteria. Cold sores may be something you are prone to from birth, or can be from a virus contracted through contact with someone else’s saliva. Either way, there are topical creams as well as supplements one can take to help treat and prevent cold sores. Lysine is an amino acid (something found naturally in our bodies) that can be found as a supplement over the counter. If you tend to get cold sores often, taking supplemental lysine on a regular basis can help lower its occurance. Lysine also comes as a topical ointment which you can apply directly to the cold sore to help shorten its duration. There are also other topical creams such as Herpecin or Abreva that can help shorten the duration of a cold sore, but should be applied as soon as any sign of a cold sore arises. Carmex is a good chapstick that, if applied regularly, can help prevent and treat cold sores.

There are also supplements found over the counter as well as home remedies that can boost your immune system to help prevent and treat a cold or flu. Zinc impairs the ability of viruses to enter cells, thus preventing infection. Garlic and honey are thought to have antibacterial properties. Vitamins A, D and C help build the immune system, but be careful on how much you take because they can be toxic if taken at high quantities. Astragalus root is a traditional Chinese remedy that is thought to have antiviral properties. Echinacea is an herb that boosts the immune system, but is usually effective only when taken at the very early stages of a cold. Elderberry has been shown to prevent the flu virus from sticking to our cells. Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic medicine used to fight off flu symptoms, but is most effective when taken at the very early stages of the flu. My personal favorite is drinking hot water with lemon and honey. This soothes your throat and gives you the vitamin C and antibacterial effects of honey all in one.

Hopefully, now you will be able to understand what your symptoms mean and in turn you will be able to pick the appropriate treatment for your sickness. Again, do not feed your children sand! Stick to the remedies mentioned above 🙂 Thanks for reading, hope these tips help! This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.