Is Magnesium a Cure for Insomnia and Restless Legs?

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of clinical conditions including hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmias, coronary spasm, premature artherosclerosis and diabetes.

It is also used as a treatment for angina, asthma, gall stones, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, glucose intolerance, diabetes, hypoglycemia, fatigue, fibromyalgia, prevention of hearing loss, kidney stones, leg cramps, migraine, osteoporosis, PMS, prostate issues and INSOMNIA.

And according to government data, 68% of Americans do not consume the recommended intakes of magnesium and 19% of Americans do not consume even half of the recommended intakes.

Not good….and up until 5 years ago, that was me.

Until I was introduced to magnesium supplements during a health & fitness trade show.

A rep for Natural Calm gave me a bunch of samples and while I sleep pretty well, I did notice an immediate effect on my sleep. My mind stopped obsessing over what I did or didn’t do that day or what I had to do tomorrow. Just calm.

And it made me wonder…could something as simple as magnesium be a cure for insomnia?

Since then, I have had no qualms recommending this product to clients & friends who are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or just getting their busy minds to quiet so they can relax.

A mug of their lemon flavor drink about an hour before bed does the trick for me every time.

And recently, while searching for a natural treatment for a friend with neuropathy in both legs, I found a bunch of research about magnesium oil helping to relieve muscle spasms, tension and various forms of neuropathy – pain, restless legs, itching, tingling, etc.

Google also told me that Natural Calm makes a magnesium oil.

So, I emailed the fine folks at Natural Calm and told them about my friend and they sent me a bunch of samples – Magnesium Oil & Gel. (being a blogger can have its perks)

And knock on wood, it’s been a great success. Applied on her legs after a  hot bath and just before bed, my friend has seen a significant reduction in pain, tingling and restlessness.

Conclusion

I was a fan before trying the oil…and I am an even bigger fan now.

So, if you think that supplementing with magnesium may be helpful to you, I can honestly & wholeheartedly recommend both the Natural Calm drink and their Magnesium Oil.

NOTE – You can buy Natural Calm and Magnesium Oil at these links

NOTE #2 – I would love to hear about your experiences (good or bad) with magnesium.

Reference

Change Your Body Language Change Your Life

There is a large body of research which shows us that your body language tells us lot about your state of mind.

In fact, we all make split second decisions about other people based on their body language each & every day.

  • Do we like that person?
  • Do we trust them?
  • Do they give us the creeps?

What you may not know is that…

And you don’t even need to believe me for it to work.

Because “our bodies change our minds, our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

power-posing-hormones

Spending 60 seconds in a “power pose” WILL increase your test, decrease your cortisol and make you feel and act like your best self.

Seriously…this stuff works.

Like Dr. Cuddy says…“Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”

Reference

Feel Great with Micro Workouts

What is your typical day like?

  1. Relaxed, fulfilling and full of moments where you nourish your body, mind & spirit
  2. Stressed, fast paced, hectic and hurried

If you said #1…congratulations…and stop reading

If you said #2…you really, really need to take the next 60 seconds and learn about micro workouts.

Jumping_Jack

 

What are Micro Workouts?

  • short bursts of fairly intense exercise…lasting between 30-120 seconds.

What can Micro Workouts do for ME?

  • Micro workouts can give you the mood-improving effects outlined in the articles referenced below.

But I already go to the gym three times per week

  • That’s great, but what happens when the mood-improving effect of yesterday’s workout wears off? Micro workouts take very little time and provides mood-boosting results immediately….when you need them.

What do I do?

  • Micro workouts are short in duration – 30-120 seconds
  • Micro workouts are fairly high in intensity
  • Micro workouts require lots of muscle to be involved – no bicep curls

Examples please….

  • Jumping Jacks (fast paced) for 30 seconds…rest 30 seconds…Jumping Jacks for 30 seconds…rest 30 seconds
  • Bodyweight squats for 60 seconds
  • Push-Ups for 20 seconds…rest 20 seconds…push-ups 20 seconds….
  • Racing up a flight of stairs…rest…race up another flight..rest….

We’re not trying to get a “real” workout here…we’re just trying to break up your stressed out thought patterns with a burst of physical activity and activate your natural  mood-boosting hormone production

While this technique has been used with a number of different mood disorders, you should probably consider talking to a mental health professional if you’re having problems coping with this crazy world we live on.

Reference

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Iyashi Rock Bathing = Ultimate Relaxation

  • Your life is busy
  • Your life is hectic
  • Your life is stressful

Your life needs the kind of ultra-relaxation that only a Japanese Ganbanyoku (rock bathing) spa can provide.

And lucky for me, Toronto is blessed with an authentic  rock bathing spa – the Iyashi  Bedrock Spa. And on days when I am feeling that life has kicked me around a little bit, I book a rock bathing session and let all of my stress melt away.

What is Rock Bathing?

[box type=”info”]Originating from Thailand, Rock Bathing – uses a special stone, called Black Silica, to heat your body from the inside out. These black silica stones are unique in that they naturally release Far Infrared Rays (FIR) and Negative Ions to help the body perspire and “detoxify” and are found in only one mountain in Hokkaido Japan. Unlike regular saunas, the silica rock beds that you lie on are kept between 42° to 44° C with the humidity at about 60%, providing for a comfortable temperature that is incredibly soothing and relaxing. Other clients have referred to it as being in a “Rain Forest”.[/box]

And while I can’t verify the validity of the health claims associated with Ganbanyoku, I can tell you that you WILL:

  • Sweat a LOT
  • Feel more relaxed than you have ever felt
  • Feel amazing for hours after the session – my skin tingles for a few hours…weird but pleasureable

I have also spoken with other clients who claim that weekly rock bathing sessions have dramatically improved their symptoms of arthritis, allergies and fibromyalgia.

[box type=”info”]Rock Bathing is nothing like a regular sauna or steam bath. One of the first things you will notice is your sweat – you will sweat a LOT – but there is no odour, saltiness or stickiness to it. And if you take the opportunity to stretch or do some yoga poses during your session, you will find that your muscles are unbelievably supple and receptive to stretching.[/box]

Note – As with all my reviews, I only tell you guys about products and services that I completely believe in and would recommend to clients, friends and family. I am a paying client of Iyashi and a huge fan. If you’re in the Toronto area, check out Iyashi. If not, do a google search for Ganbanyoku [your city].

Reference

What to do when Life Sucks

Sometimes life sucks.

  • You have a bad day at work
  • You sat in traffic for hours
  • Your “fat clothes” are fitting way too tight
  • You’re sick of being single
  • You’re sick of being married
  • A dog pooped on your front lawn

In response, you:

  • Smack-talk your boss behind their back, or
  • Give the finger to the jerk who cut you off in traffic, or
  • Eat an entire bag of Oreos, or
  • Cry, scream, punch, swear, drink, etc…

And after all that…your life still kinda sucks…maybe even a little worse.

If this sounds like you (me) and you are open to breaking a few of your bad habits, you might want to listen to the words of Pema Chödrön – an American Buddhist who is the resident teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia.

In her book Taking the Leap, Pema Chödrön talks a lot about the Tibetan Buddhist concept of shenpa.

Shenpa is that feeling of being very uncomfortable and having an immediate desire to get away from that feeling as fast as possible. It’s kind of like we are like little kids stricken with a nasty case of poison ivy. The itch is horrible and all we want to do is scratch and scratch and scratch. Unfortunately, scratching makes poison ivy worse.

In real life, when we experience something unpleasant, shenpa kicks in and instigates a strong desire to do “something” to try and make the unpleasantness stop.

That “something” could include the aforementioned smack-talking, finger-waving, over-eating, bad tv watching, cigarette smoking, etc, etc, etc…

Unfortunately for you, giving into shenpa usually makes things worse in real life too.

  1. It relieves our suffering for only a very short amount of time, and
  2. After which, we return to the same problems we had before we inhaled those Oreos
  3. Only now we have to deal with the after-effects of our shenpa over-reaction.

Obesity, traffic tickets, unemployment, alcoholism, a punch in the nose, etc…

Chödrön suggests a different approach.

Instead of running away from life’s bad news….sit with it.

Pay attention to what has just happened and how it makes you feel. Don’t react. Pay attention. And then do what you can to make the crappy stuff a little bit better.

Kind of like putting calamine lotion on poison ivy instead of scratching it.

Canada's Health Ranking Falls Like a Fat Guy Through an Wicker Chair

Canadians love to talk about their healthcare system.

  • We love to brag about how much better it is than the American system, yet
  • We also love to complain about the long wait times and the imminent bankruptcy of the system.

Lately, it’s been more complaining than bragging.

  • We blame the nurses’ union for being greedy.
  • We blame the hospital bureaucrats for their big salaries and “obvious” incompetence.
  • We blame illegal immigrants and the poor for clogging up the emergency room instead of going to their GP.

We blame. We blame. We blame.

Problem is….we should be blaming ourselves.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, the real problem with the Canadian healthcare system isn’t the system…it’s the Canadian public and their lazy lifestyle that is ruining the healthcare system.

Canada’s 2012 Health Report Card

The Conference Board of Canada takes an annual look at 17 industrialized nations and compares them using 11 different markers of health.

  • In the 1990s, Canada was ranked 4th.
  • Today, Canada has fallen to 10th.

What gives? 

According to the research, while top-ranking countries like Japan, Switzerland & Norway have invested in programs designed to promote a healthy lifestyle, thereby lowering the economic impact of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, depression, dementia, osteoarthritis, and heart disease, Canada has virtually ignored health promotion.

And according to the Conference Board of Canada, “most top-performing countries have achieved better health outcomes through actions on the broader determinants of health such as environmental stewardship and health-promotion programs focusing on changes in lifestyle, including smoking cessation, increased activity, healthier diets, and safer driving habits.

Leading countries also focus on other determinants of health—such as education, early childhood development, income, and social status—to improve health outcomes”.

It’s a novel concept…spend a small amount of money preventing disease instead of spending a large amount of money treating disease.

What now?

The cynic in me believes that nobody is going to pay attention to this report and that the status quo will rule the day.

However, just last week, the federal government announced $4 million in additional federal money for Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Awareness and Education Initiative.  And while $4 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the total spending on healthcare, it’s a start and may represent a shift in government thinking.

Time will tell.

What can we do NOW?

You could write a letter to your MP or MPP or the appropriate federal/provincial Health Minister….and they might send you a nice form letter telling you how they take the health of Canadians seriously…yadda yadda.

Or you could use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to put a little heat under their seats.

  • Canada – Leona Aglukkaq – Federal Minister of Health and Long-Term Care – Facebook – Twitter
  • Alberta – Fred Horne – Minister of Health and Wellness – Facebook – Twitter
  • British Columbia – Michael de Jong – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Manitoba – Jim Rondeau – Minister of Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors – Facebook
  • New Brunswick – Madeline Dubé – Minister of Health – Facebook
  • Newfoundland – Susan Sullivan  – Minister of Health and Community Services – Facebook – Twitter
  • Northwest Territories – Tom Beaulieu – Minister of Health and Social Services  – website
  • Nova Scotia – Maureen MacDonald – Minister of Health and Wellness  – FacebookTwitter
  • Nunavut – Keith Peterson – Minister of Health and Social Services – website
  • Ontario –  Deb Matthews – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Prince Edward Island – Doug Currie – Minister of Health and Wellness – Facebook – Twitter
  • Quebec – Yves Bolduc  – Ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux – Facebook
  • Saskatchewan – Don McMorris – Minister of Health – Facebook – Twitter
  • Yukon – Minister of Health and Social Services- Facebook – Twitter

NOTE – this problem isn’t unique to Canada. Other countries (like the US of A – #17 of 17) could use with a healthy dose of health promotion.

Improve Your Bad Mood with Fatty Food

A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed that this great big delicious, chocolate-fudge ice cream sundae has the power to reduce feelings of sadness.

Congratulations science…..you now know what every Mom with a crying child has known for millenia.

Food soothes raw emotions.

In particular, fatty foods can reduce feelings of sadness or stress or depression…

The Science

The researchers took a group of twelve healthy human volunteers and:

  1. Put them on a 12 hour fast
  2. Induced either neutral or sad emotions (via music & visual images)
  3. Delivered an intragastric infusion of either fatty acids of saline
  4. Measured their levels of fullness, hunger, nausea and mood
  5. Performed a 40-minute fMRI scan, while
  6. Measuring fullness, hunger, nausea and mood 3 more times during the fMRI scan.

Here’s what they found

  • Hunger scores increased during sad emotion and decreased during neutral emotion conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference in hunger ratings between the emotions was much smaller in fat compared with that in saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect)
  • This indicates that the effect of sad mood on hunger is attenuated by fatty acids.
  • The fMRI results agreed with these findings – showing that the behavioral and nerve cell responses to sad emotions were also lessened.

  • Mood ratings decreased during the sad conditions, with no change or a slight increase during the neutral conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference between emotions was smaller in the fat than in the saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect).
  • This difference confirms that fatty acids successfully moderate feelings of sadness.

Conclusion

Previous research has shown that sugary, high-carb foods are effective in attenuating moods – ie making sad people less sad.

This study shows that dietary fat has the same effect.

However, it neglects to mention that drowning your sorrows in lasagna & ice cream sundaes is not a fool-proof solution.

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Reference

health-healthhabits-fitness-nutrition-diet-jillian michaels positive reinforcement diet - shame

Dieting 101 : Say NO to Shame

Believe it or not, you will cheat on your diet.

At some point in the next few weeks:

  • You’re going to eat too much, or
  • Eat right before bed, or
  • Eat the wrong food, or
  • Skip a meal, or
  • Etc, etc, etc….

It’s guaranteed. Everyone does it. Even Jillian.

It’s how you deal with that cheat that’s going to determine the success of your diet.

If you see your cheat as a temporary slip-up and move on to the next meal, next day, next week…you’ll probably be very successful with your weight loss.

However, if you:

  • Obsess over your cheat, and
  • Keep blaming yourself, or
  • Pretend it didn’t happen, or
  • Hide it from others (ie your trainer)
  • Or find some other way to catastrophize your little diet slip-up

I can pretty much guarantee that your diet is doomed.

Shame is the Diet Killer

When you were learning how to drive, you made all sorts of tiny little mistakes & corrections. But you didn’t crash the car.

When you’re learning how to eat healthy & lose body-fat, you’re going to make all sorts of tiny little mistakes & corrections. You’re going to learn which foods work best for you. You’re going to adapt the generic diet to suit your unique lifestyle.

And as long as you don’t turn your little mistakes into big, emotional problems, you will be successful.

Always remember to stay in the present.

When you cheat on your diet:

  • Recognize that you did it.
  • Ask yourself why you did it.
  • Ask yourself how to avoid having it happen again
  • And then move on. Let it go.

There is no shame in making a teeny tiny little mistake. Learn from it, move on to the next meal and stop beating yourself up over a few cookies.

How to Beat Emotional Eating

Food affects Mood : Mood affects Food

A new client of mine is getting over a VERY stressful weekend.

A weekend in which her emotions got the better of her….and as a result, she found herself face to face with some pretty intense cravings for pizza, coca-cola and tubs of double-churned chocolate ice cream.

The cravings won.

By Monday morning, the stress was at least partially under control, but she was now feeling a ton of guilt & nausea from pigging out on all that food.

After reminding her that she should have called me instead inhaling all that food, we had a nice long chat about:

  1. how our moods affect the food we eat
  2. how the food we eat affect our moods

She was already quite aware of how her moods affected the quantity and quality of the food she ate.

When she felt sad or mad or glad, she also felt like eating pizza & coca-cola and ice cream.

What she wasn’t aware of was how her emotional diet of pizza, coca-cola & ice cream:

  1. set off a flood of hormones & neurochemicals designed to
  2. make her crave more of the high sugar, high salt, high fat foods she had just inhaled.

She also wasn’t aware that when we combine her diet-induced hormonal & neurochemical triggers with the ones caused by her emotions, she was doomed to end up with a truly vicious circle of poor eating choices.

Because in addition to the physical sensations of hunger and the specific cravings for sweet, salty & fatty caused by her hormones & neurochemicals, my client also got to experience the incredibly crappy mood altering effects of her weekend emotional eating binge.

She actually felt worse than before she pigged out.

Sad. Angry. Frustrated.

Plus she regained 3 of the pounds she lost in the previous week.

A Different Kind of Health Habits…..The I CAN DO IT Conference

This weekend, I will be attending the I CAN DO IT conference in Toronto.

Founded by Louise L. Hay four years ago as a forum for kindred spirits to gather, commune, and heal themselves and each other. The I Can Do It! Conference is intended to revitalize your soul, charge your body’s subtle energy centers, and bring a sparkle to your eyes.

And while my friends and family will tell you that I am not the typical sparkly eyes kind of guy, I do have an open mind and an obsession for improving my health, fitness, knowledge, etc…

So, starting tomorrow and running through Sunday, I am going to head down to the Metro Toronto Conference Centre to improve my emotional & spiritual health, boost my energy centers, and perhaps run into Oprah.

Here are some of the speakers attending the conference.

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I hope to see you there.

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me fat

Purdue University researchers have found that people, especially men, who feel any kind of discrimination, are more likely to become obese.

“The study found that males who persistently experienced high levels of discrimination during a nine-year period were more likely to see their waist circumference increase by an inch compared to those who did not report discrimination,” said Haslyn E.R. Hunte, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology.

“Females who reported similar experiences also saw their waistlines grow by more than half an inch.

This shows how discrimination hurts people physically, and it’s a reminder how people’s unfair treatment of others can be very powerful.

Hunte is planning to investigate this further by studying biomarkers, such as cortisol, which is a stress-induced hormone, in relationship to effects of discrimination.

And as I mentioned in the following  posts, high levels of cortisol have been shown to lead to body-fat deposits around the belly.

Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if future research discovered that high levels of cortisol and feelings of discrimination are also related to alcoholism, drug use and all the other coping mechanisms that people use when times are tough.

Conclusion

According to Dr. Hunte:

“People who feel unfairly treated should be aware of this connection between the stress related to their perception and consider coping strategies like exercise or other healthy behaviors as a coping mechanism for such stress.

More importantly, as a society we must become more aware of how we treat people and that treating others unfairly matters beyond hurt feelings.”

Reference

This is Why You Need to Take Astragalus

Astragalus Membranaceus has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.

And even though us Westerners are a few thousand years late to the game, our scientists are working hard to get us up to speed.

In particular, an interesting study just came across my desk which showed how a decoction of the dried root of the Astragalus plant was very effective in:

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

Which is kind of a big deal considering that excessive body weight, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease is fast becoming the new normal in North America and Europe.

So, I decided to do a little more research into Astragalus and it’s effect on insulin sensitivity et al.

And I found a pile of research.

Research which showed how Astragalus was effective at:

  • boosting immune system function – cold, flu, infection, fever, allergies
  • reducing hypertension via a diuretic effect
  • eliminating free radicals
  • improving cardiac function
  • improving chronic fatigue
  • improving heart function
  • improving kidney function
  • improving symptoms of asthma
  • improving stomach ulcers
  • reducing inflammation
  • improving your body’s ability to handle stress

as well as…

  • reducing body weight
  • improving insulin sensitivity, and
  • improving the severity of fatty liver disease

All with no chance of toxicity.

Which is kind of important when you start messing around with herbs and roots.

So…where can you get this Astragalus stuff?

The Dreaded Kraft Dinner Hangover

I did something really stupid yesterday.

It was just one of those days where I was:

  • short on time
  • running low on healthy food
  • hungry as a bear
  • and in a bad mood (crappy day, don’t even ask)

As a result of my crappy day, my stress levels were sky high and my serotonin levels were down in the dumps.

As a result of that, I began to have a wicked craving for carbs and was experiencing a generally crappy mood which also caused a craving for a great big dietary hug from Mom.

So, in a moment of emotional weakness, I ripped open a dusty old box of Kraft Dinner from the pantry.

And I ate that glow in the dark orange, mushy, creamy, full of chemicals, pasta slop.

And I loved every spoon/shovelful.

Unfortunately, for the rest of the evening I was craving carbs like a heroin junkie craves heroin.

And this morning, I woke up with everything aching…my head, my back, my muscles feel stiff and sore and I am still craving carbs and feeling generally like crap.

So, what did I do to get rid of my Kraft Dinner hangover?

  1. Exercise – at 4:30 this morn, I woke up and did 30 minutes of joint mobility and muscle flexibility exercises. Nothing too intense – just working the stiffness out of my body
  2. While exercising, I drank a serving of Athletic Greens
  3. I also choked down a Vitamin B Complex pill and another herbal adaptogen product to help get my hormones back in order.

The result:

At 6:30 this morning, I started writing this post and…

  • my headache is gone,
  • my craving for carbs is 82% gone,
  • my muscles feel normal – not optimal, but okay.

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Overall, I feel 91% less crappy and ready to go train another 6 clients.

Conclusion

Just Say No to Kraft Dinner

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