2020 has been a year of obstacles for many of us. Those who have avoided illnesses or recovered are simply grateful. Others are mourning the loss of loved ones and reminded of the fragility of… More
Sleep disorders are conditions that disturb our normal sleep patterns. Sleeping is a complicated biological process where we are unconscious but the brain and body are still actively functioning. These continuous bodily functions help us stay healthy. When we don’t get enough restful sleep, we feel tired, but even worse, it can affect our physical and mental well-being. Restful sleep is one of the most important facets of Active Wellness.
The term “sleep disorder” refers to conditions that affect sleep quality, timing, or duration and impact a person’s ability to properly function while they are awake. These disorders can contribute to other medical problems, and some may also be symptoms for underlying mental health issues.1
Over four decades, more than 100 specific sleep disorders have been identified and complex methodologies categorize them based on causes, symptoms, physiological and psychological effects, and other criteria.2 However, most sleep disorders can be characterized by one or more of the following four signs:
- Trouble falling or remaining asleep
- Difficulty staying awake during the day
- Imbalances in circadian rhythm that interfere with a healthy sleep schedule
- Being prone to unusual behaviors that disrupt sleep
Some fairly common types of sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS), hypersomnia and parasomnia.3 According to general estimates by the Sleep Foundation, 10 to 30% of adults live with some form of insomnia. Most of us have experienced some form of insomnia—either having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Chronic insomnia occurs when sleepers experience symptoms at least three times per week for at least three months. Insomnia lasting less than three months is known as short-term insomnia.
Sleep apnea is ubiquitous and presents more of a problem, because left untreated, it could lead to serious health issues. It’s not only a sleep disorder but also a breathing disorder where the sleeper stops breathing for 10 seconds or more. There are various forms of sleep apnea, but each warrants checking in with a health practitioner for possible treatment.
Restless leg syndrome causes the sleeper to waken from an urge to move the legs or simply twitching from an irritating sensation, while hypersomnia causes extreme sleepiness during the day, to the point of not being able to function.
Parasomnia is a collective term for unusual behaviors that occur prior to sleep, during sleep, or during the transition period between sleep and waking. These behaviors can occur during different stages of sleep. Sleepwalking and night terrors are examples of parasomnia, as are talking or eating while asleep.
Sleep disorders can be caused by health issues including heart, lung, nerve and pain conditions. They can also be caused by depression and anxiety, certain medications, caffeine, alcohol, irregular schedules, aging and even genetics. It’s best to check in with a health practitioner, just to be on the safe side.
When going to sleep, make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend removing all electronic devices from the bedroom.4
From November 1 through December 31, 2020, the discounted Nikken “Cozy Winter” Packs not only help you to reap the health benefits of a good night’s sleep but also to expand your Global Wellness Community when you share it with others.
What a difference a good night’s sleep can make! We work better, feel better and consciously or not, we treat people better when we’re well rested. In fact, the importance of sleep continues to be a hot topic. Nikken has been advocating for restful sleep with the help of advanced magnetic technology way before it became one of the primary focuses of Active Wellness practitioners!
Just how important is sleep for Active Wellness and overall health? In a 2018 study, Mayo Clinic scientists found that sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of age-related memory loss.1 This follows a 2017 study that linked poor sleep to higher levels of other biological markers associated with age-related brain conditions.2 Another 2018 study even determined that one sleepless night alone can be damaging, leaving behind harmful protein debris in your brain.3
The National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) annual Sleep in America® poll shows Americans feel sleepy on average three times a week, with 62% trying to “shake it off” as their primary response. Those who feel sleepy five to seven days a week report especially high rates of irritability (52 percent), headaches (40 percent), and feeling unwell (34 percent). The Sleep in America poll found when people feel sleepy, more Americans say it’s generally because they’re not sleeping well enough (55 percent) as opposed to not having enough time to sleep (44 percent).4
To help achieve restful sleep, The National Sleep Foundation advises us to focus on maximizing comfort and minimizing distractions:
• Use a high-performance mattress and pillow, such as the KenkoNaturest® Custom Pillow. This helps with comfort and the support of the spine to avoid achy muscles and joints.
• Choose quality sheets and blankets. Again, this is to help with comfort and maintenance of suitable temperatures throughout the night. The Kenko® Dream Comforter is ideal to snuggle under during cool nights.
• Avoid light disruptions. Excess light exposure can throw off sleep and circadian rhythm. Use blackout curtains or a comfortable sleep mask, such as the Kenko PowerSleep Mask, to block out light.
• Keep noise to a minimum. If you can’t eliminate nearby sources of noise, consider drowning them out with a fan or white noise machine. Earplugs or headphones are another option to block abrasive sounds when you want to sleep.
• Make sure the room temperature is not too hot or cold by using heaters, fans and air conditioning as necessary. Researchers have found that sleeping in a cooler environment of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit is conducive to restful sleep.5
From November 1 through December 31,2020, the discounted Nikken “Cozy Winter” Packs not only help you to reap the health benefits of a good night’s sleep but also to expand your Global Wellness Community when you share it with others.
1 D. Carvalho et al. Association of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness with Longitudinal Β-Amyloid Accumulation in Elderly Persons Without Dementia JAMA Neurology. Vol. 75, June 2018. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.0049.
2 Sprecher KE et al. Poor sleep is associated with CSF biomarkers of amyloid pathology in cognitively normal adults. Neurology. 2017 Aug 1; 89(5): 445-453.
3 Shokri-Kojori E et al. Β-Amyloid accumulation in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. PNAS April 24, 2018. 115 (17) 4483-4488;
Just like any other important organ in our bodies, the lungs age over time and lose some of their efficiency. The lungs can become less flexible and lose strength. The overall effect is that breathing becomes more difficult.
Our breath literally gives life, so keeping our ability to breathe easily is critical to Active Wellness and a high-quality lifestyle. Here are some key behaviors to help keep our lungs functioning properly:
• Never smoke. If you do, find a way to stop. Seek the help of a professional if necessary. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the U.S. during its history. In addition, smoking causes about 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and women.1 Smoking also causes the lungs to age more rapidly. The good news is, according to the American Lung Association, within just 12 hours of quitting smoking, carbon monoxide levels in the blood drops to normal, and within a few months, lung function begins to improve. Within a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.2
• Exercise regularly. We think about exercise in terms of maintaining a comfortable weight, keeping muscle tone and optimizing cardiovascular health. The truth is, regular exercise is key to the health of our lungs. Just as the heart beats faster during exercise, the lungs work harder, too. The body requires more oxygen during exercise, and the lungs increase their activity level to deliver that necessary oxygen while expelling additional carbon dioxide. Breathing increases from about 15 times a minute to approximately 40 to 60 times a minute, giving the lungs a real workout.3 Try to do something active for 30 minutes daily to lighten the load on the lungs and to help increase the efficiency of oxygen transportation and metabolism.4Strengthening the lungs with regular exercise helps improve immunity and resist aging.
• Avoid exposure to pollutants. Stay away from smokers to avoid breathing in secondhand smoke. Keep your windows rolled up when in heavy traffic to avoid breathing in exhaust fumes.
• When driving, avoid idling the car for long periods of time (a minute is a very long time when idling, so keep it to 10 seconds or less) to help prevent noxious air. Many newer car models automatically turn the ignition off when idling for more than a few seconds.
• The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that indoor pollution is typically worse than outdoor. To help decrease indoor pollutants, open windows to keep air circulating, ban smoking indoors, keep dust to a minimum, use natural cleaners such as Kenzen® Surface Cleaner as much as possible, avoid synthetic air fresheners and make sure exhaust hoods and other ventilation methods are adequate.
• Wash your hands frequently. Keeping hands clean is the easiest way to help prevent lung infections.
• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables, because they contain nutrients that help boost the immune system.
• Cover your coughs to help stop the spread of germs. Get plenty of rest, eat well and keep stress levels under control to overcome any viral or bacterial infections.5
• When working where there are known pollutants, wear a mask, such as the Kenzen® Face Mask. Avoid breathing in toxic fumes from chemicals, solvents, paints, excessive amounts of dusk, fumes, smoke, gas, vapors or mists.6
• Breathe deeply. Most of us take shallow breaths from the chest area, but this only utilizes a small portion of our lungs. On the other hand, deep breathing helps clear the lungs and allows for full oxygen intake and expulsion of carbon dioxide. Be conscious of your breath and it is noticeable that deep breathing feels invigorating as well as relaxing.
1, 2, 3 healthline.com/health/understanding-idiopathic-pulmonary-fibrosis/ways-to-keep-your-lungs-healthy-and-whole#4.-Prevent-infections
Bone and joint conditions worldwide are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability: musculoskeletal conditions include back pain, arthritis, traumatic injuries, osteoporosis, spinal deformity and childhood conditions.1 As life expectancies lengthen and changes in risk factors intensify, these conditions are expected to increase, unless new treatments and preventive measures are found.
With the challenges of Covid-19 affecting people globally, lockdown and business closure restrictions have led to a decrease in physical activities. Being less active makes people more susceptible to bone and joint issues, specifically in the form of spinal pain and disability. World Spine Day is annually on October 16 and this year, it’s particularly important to pay attention to spinal health for well-being.
Active Wellness promotes regular physical activity, which is one important component of spinal health. Good posture, using your knees when lifting heavy objects, and keeping your work environment safe are simple behaviors to adhere to. Yet, most of us tend to slip up and slouch, lift with straight legs and keep a fair amount of clutter around us. World Spine Day reminds us to stay disciplined and at the very least, sit up straight!
Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives, with an estimated one billion people worldwide with spinal pain.2 Most cases of back pain tend to be mechanical and non-organic. This means they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
The spine is a complex structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. Ligaments can be sprained, muscles easily strained, disks can be ruptured and joints, irritated—all leading to back pain. Poor posture, obesity and psychological stress also can cause back pain. Organic causes can be arthritis, kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots or bone loss. Here are 10 tips to keep your spine, and therefore your bones and joints, healthy:
• Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
• Stay consistently active. Do whatever your body is comfortable with, but keep doing it every day.
• Stand and sit properly. (Do not slouch and try to keep the hips level.)
• Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes that support your feet. Make sure the shoe is snug at the back of the heels. This helps prevent rolling of the foot either to the inside or the outside.3
• Lift with your knees and don’t twist your body when you’re carrying a weight.
• Never smoke. Smoke impairs blood flow, which deprives the spinal tissues of oxygen and nutrients.
• Keep your spine aligned when sleeping. Back sleepers can place a pillow beneath the knees to reduce stress on the lower back. Side sleepers can place a pillow between the knees to keep the hips balanced.
• Make sure you include enough calcium in your diet to keep bones strong. Kenzen BDZ® and Kenzen® Calcium Complex are your bone buddies.
• Manage any pain you have with the help of a health practitioner or physical therapist, and avoid opiates as much as possible.
• Relief from joint discomfort is available in the form of Nikken CM Complex Cream and Kenzen® Joint.
“Everything in moderation.” The essential thought is found in the work of the Greek poet Hesiod (c.700 bc), who wrote ‘observe due measure; moderation is best in all things’, and of the Roman comic dramatist Plautus (c. 250–184 bc), who wrote ‘moderation in all things is the best policy.’1 These wise words are especially prudent when it comes to delicious food that may have high calories or may not be the best for us. When something is delicious and beneficial, double bonus! Such is the case with cacao or cocoa powder.
Cacao beans are a source of flavonoids, with the primary type present being flavanols. Cacao beans come from the fruit of the tree known as Theobroma cacao. Theobroma means “food of the gods” and aptly, cacao beans not only contain flavanols but also nearly 400 other identified compounds.2
Flavanols are a type of plant nutrient found in many foods and drinks, such as tea, red wine, blueberries, apples, pears, cherries, and peanuts. They are particularly abundant in cacao beans. Fermenting, drying, and roasting cacao beans yields cocoa powder, which is used to make chocolate. Flavanols in cocoa have been studied for many years. Decades of research and more than 100 published studies have demonstrated the benefits of daily cocoa flavanol consumption, including supporting a healthy heart, blood pressure, brain health and cognition, circulation and skin health. 3 They have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage.4
With the emerging recognition of the beneficial effects of flavanols, there has been a shift in commercial production towards chocolate forms with high flavanol content.5 Cocoa powder can contain as little as 10% fat and has up to 6% by weight, flavanols. It also has minerals (Magnesium, Copper, Vitamin K and Calcium), protein, and fiber in modest amounts. The main flavanols present in the cocoa powder are catechins and epicatechins.
Italian researchers tested the effects of cocoa flavanols in 90 healthy 61- to 85-year-olds whose memories and thinking skills were in good shape for their ages. Participants drank a special brew of cocoa flavanols each day. One group’s brew contained a low amount of cocoa flavanols (48 mg a day), another’s contained a medium amount (520 mg), and the third’s contained a high amount (993 mg).
After eight weeks, people who consumed medium and high amounts of cocoa flavanols every day made significant improvements on tests that measured attention, executive function, and memory. The findings were published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A similar study by these researchers published in 2012 showed that daily consumption of cocoa flavanols was associated with improved thinking skills in older adults who did have thinking problems, a condition called mild cognitive impairment. And both studies found that cocoa flavanols were associated with reduced blood pressure and improved insulin resistance. 6
Formulated to help people reach their recommended daily allowance of fruit and vegetables, in other words, to eat an Active Wellness diet, Kenzen® Total Vegan Drink Mix was designed with children in mind. It therefore “hid” its four recommended daily servings of veggies and fruits per serving/scoop with delicious chocolate flavor.
When you check out the ingredient listing of Kenzen Total Vegan Drink Mix, you’ll see that the second ingredient is Organic Cacao Powder. The formulation of this powdered green superfood is proprietary, but we can tell you that there are 3.15g of Organic Cacao in each 6.3g serving. That’s a significant amount, based on studies mentioned above, so whether you’re trying to get veggies into a child or feeding your own adult heart and brain, it doesn’t get easier than this! Just add water and get a delicious chocolate beverage that is really good for the body and mind: triple bonus!
3 Kwik-Uribe, Cocoa flavanols: Manufacturing Process & Supply Chain Make or Break Benefits, Nutraceuticals World, July/August 2020, p. 36.
Scientists have spent countless hours over the past decades researching the whys, hows and whats of infectious diseases. Although all the answers are yet to be found, what is known with surety is that the best way to help prevent infections is to block the infectious microbes from entering the body. Entry points are all the body’s openings, and most often, through the nose and mouth.
Personal hygiene habits are a big part of helping to prevent infections. Parents tell their kids to wash their hands before each meal. Washing hands to help prevent infections requires even more vigilance. To help prevent infections, wash hands often throughout the day, when you return home from work, after shopping, after using the bathroom and in between preparing different types of food. And if you can’t wash your hands, hand sanitizer is second best.
Helping children learn good personal hygiene habits is important, as many times, they are the ones that spread infections. Teach them to cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze or cough. Explain why they should not pick at healing wounds, blemishes or pimples, as that only helps spread infections.1 Be a good role model and have tissues and bandages readily available. Be aware of any cuts on yourself, your children and your pets, and make sure they’re washed and cleaned before bandaging. And always see a medical practitioner if it’s something you can’t take care of easily.
In a family circle, it’s common to share just about everything. But to help prevent infections, don’t share dishes, glasses or eating utensils. That way you won’t be sharing as many germs. And, definitely don’t share napkins, tissues, handkerchiefs or other such items.
Many infections are the result of eating something unclean. Most cases of food-borne infection are not life-threatening, but they can certainly lead to severe discomfort or more complicated medical conditions. Help prevent infections by preparing and storing foods safely:
• Rinse meats, fruits and vegetables thoroughly before preparing, cooking and serving.
• Wash your own hands with soap and water before and after handling meats.
• Separate raw food from cooked food and wash cutting boards and other surfaces in between uses.
• Defrost foods in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
• Store leftovers in airtight containers and refrigerate perishable foods within two hours.
Ironically, many infections are actually picked up when you spend time under treatment at a hospital or other health facility. These healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a significant source of medical complications.2 HAIs are associated with surgery, medical devices, catheters and ventilators. Research has shown that some healthcare workers may clean their hands less than half the time they should,3 so you need to advocate for yourself and make sure they are wearing gloves before they touch you.
Since social distancing is advised at this time, we are already living differently than we used to in order to help prevent infections. When out and about, be sure to wear a face mask, such as Kenko® Face Mask. In addition to practicing Active Wellness, also remember that when not at a medical facility, avoid direct contact with anyone who is ill and try not to touch any surfaces they’ve touched. Avoidance is especially important for people with compromised immune systems or underlying conditions such as type 2 diabetes, any type of cardiovascular issue, asthma, etc. Use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable. Kenzen® Hand Sanitizer helps not only to clean your hands but also soothes them.
Nobody likes the aging process, and no truer words were uttered than “Old age is not for the faint of heart.” The truth is, if we are given the option to grow old, we need to embrace it and make the best of it, because it’s a privilege not everyone has.
In a previous blog there were “10 head-to-toe tips for active aging,” which mostly are common sense and relatively easy to implement in an Active Wellness regimen. This blog summarizes why we need to practice Active Wellness and active aging.
People associate aging with wrinkles and gray hair. That may be an accurate visual, but what happens internally to our bodies affects the aging process much more drastically. One of the most common changes during the aging process is that our cardiovascular system becomes less flexible and stiffens, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood through the vessels and arteries. These changes increase the risk of hypertension and other heart problems.1
To help lower the risk of cardiovascular problems, maintain a sustainable and reasonable weight by eating a healthy diet that’s high in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean sources of protein and eliminate saturated fats, refined sugars and some salt. Exercise moderately and consistently and stay away from tobacco and its related products. Reduce stress through meditation, exercise, therapy and self-care products such as the handheld KenkoTouch® massager.
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density, weakening them and making them more susceptible to fracture. We might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility — factors that can affect your coordination, stability and balance.2
To counteract these effects, do some form of weight-bearing exercise every day and make sure to consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. If you don’t eat a diet rich in essential minerals, consider taking supplements such as Kenzen® Joint, Kenzen® BDZ and Kenzen® Calcium Complex. You’ll be happily pleased with results you may actually feel.
The brain undergoes changes as we age that may have minor effects on the memory or thinking skills. For example, healthy older adults might forget familiar names or words, or may find it more difficult to multitask.3
There are several activities that can help slow down aging of the brain. We can promote cognitive health by doing the same things that promote cardiovascular and digestive health; that is, exercise regularly, quit smoking or using any tobacco related products, eat a healthy diet and manage blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes—all together, these measures help decrease the risk of cognitive decline. In addition, we can do puzzles, play word games, Sudoku and learn new skills, such as an additional language or musical instrument.
With age, we might have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. We might become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Aging also can affect the eye’s lens, causing clouded vision (cataracts). Hearing also might diminish. We might have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.
To promote eye and ear health, we need to schedule regular checkups and follow our medical practitioners’ advice on glasses, hearing aids and other corrective devices. We can easily wear sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats outdoors and use earplugs when we know we’ll be around loud machinery or other loud noises.
There’s an old Chinese saying that translates loosely to: “Toothaches can’t kill you but they make you feel like dying.” When we age, the gums might pull back from our teeth and cause both to become more vulnerable to decay and infection.3 Brushing and flossing are easy ways to decrease the risk of gum and dental deterioration. Much as we may dislike it, we need to see our dentist regularly, especially when we age.
According to a study from Yale University, people who viewed aging positively lived 7.5 years longer than those who approached it with a negative attitude.4 To reiterate this, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, seniors who viewed aging positively (wisdom and overall satisfaction) are 40 percent more likely to recover from a disability than those who see it as synonymous to helplessness.5 The more you embrace getting older and appreciate its positive aspects the happier you are and the younger you look.
The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) is promoting the consumption of vegetables and fruits for health. Health means decreasing the risk of certain common but debilitating conditions, including type 2 diabetes, diverticulitis and other digestive issues, hypertension and most notably, cardiovascular disease. Have a Plant™ is PBH’s new behavioral science-based call to action.
Since nearly 90% of Americans fall below fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations1, the PBH suggests the following:
- Join the Have a Plant™ Movement by enjoying fruits and veggies you know and love, whether fresh, frozen, canned, dried or 100% juice.
- Follow PBH’s social channels to learn creative tips/tricks to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your daily diet.
- Take the Have a Plant™ pledge: commit to adding one or more fruit and or vegetable to your routine every day this month: try something new, and experiment. Although this is National Fruit and Veggie Awareness month as recommended by PBH, any month is a good month to make this pledge.
- Spread the word on the importance of consuming multiple types of fruits and veggies, since no single vegetable or fruit can supply all your nutrient needs.
The importance of eating fruits and vegetables cannot be overstated. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to reap the multiple benefits of including a rainbow of plant foods into your diet. Studies show that people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are more likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases, as mentioned above. Here’s why:
• Vegetables are low in fat and calories and none have cholesterol.
• Vegetables and fruits are important sources of potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and Vitamins A and C.
• Diets rich in potassium may help maintain healthy levels of blood pressure.2 Sweet potatoes, white beans, tomato paste, sauce and juice, beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils and kidney beans are rich in potassium.
• Fiber helps reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease, as well as help ensure proper bowel function. High-fiber foods include peas, broccoli, figs, berries, all types of beans, artichokes, avocado and pears.
• Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells.3 Foods rich in folate include leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, seeds and nuts, and fortified foods, such as whole grain breakfast cereals.4
• Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections. Vitamin A is found in orange and yellow vegetables and fruits as well as broccoli, spinach and most green leafy vegetables.
• According to a study conducted by Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals, all fruits and veggies contributed to the benefit but green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and mustard greens most strongly associated with a decrease risk of cardiovascular disease.5
• Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. It also aids in iron absorption. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, cauliflower, green and red peppers, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes and winter squash.
• A randomized trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health showed fruit and vegetable rich diets lowered blood pressure even more when some of the carbohydrates were replaced with healthy unsaturated fat or protein.6
Have a Plant™ works well with an Active Wellness lifestyle and it’s never too late to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Remember that Kenzen® Super Ciaga is rich in antioxidant fruits, and Kenzen® Total Vegan Drink Mix can help you and your children with four of the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables in each scoop!
5, 6 www.hsph.harvard.edu
Have you noticed if your appetite changes with the seasons? Do you eat more when the weather is colder? In cooler weather, your body needs to burn more calories to maintain body temperature. To protect your health and keep you warm, the system that controls appetite signals you to eat more.1
There have been studies done to determine why our appetites vacillate. In one study, subjects consumed about 200 more calories a day beginning in the fall when the days grew darker.2 Another study explained that humans are very light-sensitive and when there is less of it, we tend not only to eat more but also to eat faster!3
Other experts believe the environment causes us to eat more, not the changing season. They believe that being inside all day with less activity and fewer opportunities to exercise, contribute to increased food intake.4 The holiday season is an obvious example of environmental influences in food consumption: we eat certain high-caloric foods during the holidays and even crave them during that time of year.
A common question related to increased food consumption is, “Will I gain weight because I eat more in the cooler months?” The answer may seem obvious; however, it’s not as simple as it may seem. The logic behind this question is that the increased calories will add body fat. This is not necessarily correct, because weight gain depends not only on the amount we eat but also on what we eat.
The role that the hormone insulin plays in fat accumulation helps determine whether or not we gain weight. Insulin is produced when we eat complex or simple sugars. Its main function is to usher sugar into our cells to be used for energy. When our cells are getting enough energy from sugar, insulin will signal the leftover sugar to be stored as fat, so it can be used as needed in the future if food is sparse. Contrary to carbs, dietary fat doesn’t spike insulin and therefore doesn’t get stored as body fat. Instead, it provides a steady energy source, and is excellent for brain health and immunity.5
Another reason some of us eat more during colder weather is simply due to boredom or depression because we can’t get motivated to go out in the cold. Even an advocate of Active Wellness can have a day lacking in motivation once in awhile. Eating comfort foods is a known escape mechanism, so the key is to be mindful and eat because you are hungry. In other words, stay in tune with your body and make sure you actually feel hunger, not boredom.
Also, keep to your exercise routine, whether it’s a daily walk in the cool brisk air or an indoor mat workout. And, remember there’s help to stay on the right food regimen with high protein, low fat options such as Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix to which you can blend in healthy fruits and even veggies. For an antioxidant boost, simply add Kenzen® Super Ciaga powder.
As we are staying home more than usual during these unprecedented times, we tend to be less physically active. We need to make a special effort to get our bodies moving on a daily basis, not only for our health’s sake but specifically to keep our bones strong. Here’s why it’s so important to keep up the practice of Active Wellness:
- When bones and muscles do not get adequate stimulation, that is, through movement and exercise, bone resorption quickens. Bone resorption refers to bone loss. 1
- Vitamin D levels are critical for bone health, and staying indoors decreases exposure to the sun, the natural source of vitamin D.
- We might be making fewer trips to shop for fresh groceries and eating fewer fresh leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dairy products, all good sources of calcium and vitamin D. Eating ready-made or processed foods may deprive us the nutrients that are necessary to help protect, build and maintain bones.
- Strength-building and weight-bearing exercises provide great stimulation to the bone cells and help to increase bone mineral density and bone size. The good news is that these types of exercises can be accomplished by stair climbing, walking, lifting weights and dancing, all of which can be accomplished indoors.
- Decreasing contact with others and staying homebound can cause mental stress. Social media shows evidence of increased smoking and alcohol intake by members of various age groups. Unfortunately, smoking and excessive alcohol intake contribute to bone loss and weakening of bones by reducing blood supply to the bones, slowing production of bone-forming cells and impairing the absorption of calcium.2
In summary, there are simple things to do to help maintain bone health. They’re the same habits we should form even when we have the freedom of going out whenever we want:
- Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in calcium and vitamin D. If your access to fresh food is limited, remember that staples such as canned beans and canned fish contain calcium and protein.
- Set aside 30 minutes a day to exercise. If you can go outdoors and enjoy sunshine for some of that time, even better.
- Maintain your body at a weight that is comfortable for you. This is not a time to try and lose a lot of weight. In fact, being too thin makes you more likely to get osteoporosis, but carrying too much weight can increase the risk of falling or leading to a more sedentary lifestyle.
- Ensure your home environment is free of clutter and any obstacles that may cause you to fall. Now more than ever, staying fracture-free is critical, especially if you already have osteoporosis.3 Minimize the need to go to a hospital.
- Ensure a daily calcium intake that is age-appropriate.
If you don’t normally take a nutritional supplement to help boost your bone health, this may be the perfect time to start. Why not try Kenzen BDZ® and Kenzen® Calcium Complex? At Nikken, we call them“bone buddies”because they are formulated to work together. Kenzen BDZ™ helps the body absorb calcium with three patented blends that research has shown to help preserve bone structure and strength and to build healthy bones.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.