Get Close to Nature and Improve Your Outlook

According to the Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology as surveyed in 44 U.S. cities, Americans only spend 2% of their time outdoors, 6% in transit, and 92% of their time indoors.1 What this translates to is a severe distancing from nature—not just Mother Nature but our own natural selves.

Richard Ryan, author and professor of psychology at the University of Rochester says, “Nature is fuel for the soul. Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature. Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings.”2

A series of five studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology showed that spending time outdoors is an integral aspect of Active Wellness. The five separate experiments involved 537 college students in actual and imagined contexts:

  1. Participants were led on a 15-minute walk through indoor hallways or along a tree-lined river path.
  2. Undergraduates viewed photos of buildings or landscapes.
  3. Students were required to imagine themselves in both active and sedentary situations, inside and outside, with and without others.
  4. Over a four-day period, participants had to track their moods and energy levels throughout the days with diary entries. Students were asked to record their exercise, social interactions, time spent outside and exposure to natural environments, including plants and windows.
  5. Same as four above, but participants had to record activities over a two-week period.

In all five studies, participants felt consistently more energetic when they spent time in natural settings or imagined themselves in nature. The findings concluded that being outside in nature makes people feel more alive and that only 20 minutes daily was enough to boost vitality levels significantly. 3

Studies also have shown five potential benefits of spending more time outdoors:4

  1. Your vitamin D levels will go up. Going outside in the sunlight a few times a week with arms and legs exposed for 10 to 15 minutes makes all the vitamin D needed.
  2. You will get more exercise. British researchers tracked 1,000 children via accelerometers that sense movement and noted that children were more than doubly active when outside.
  3. You will be happier. Light elevates moods and physical activity is proven to relax and cheer up people. Researchers at the University of Essex have noted that “green exercise” or activities taking place in nature, have added benefits, especially for mental health.
  4. Your concentration will improve. Researchers have reported that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) seem to focus better after being outdoors.
  5. Recovery times may improve. University of Pittsburgh researchers reported that spinal surgery patients experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries when they were exposed to natural light. Even the view out the window (trees instead of a wall) had an effect on recovery times.

Psychologists posit that nature affects us similarly to meditation.5 Thoughts slow down or ideally, our minds take a complete break. The result is inner stillness, renewed energy, a sense of well-being and clearer perceptions.

Nature is everywhere—why not reap the benefits? And if you need some extra reinforcement when venturing into nature, Nikken has an entire line of support wraps and an environmentally-friendly PiMag® Sport Bottle to help you stay hydrated.

 

1 https://mindfulminutes.com/10-steps-to-detox-your-mind/

2, 3 https://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3639

4 https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/a-prescription-for-better-health-go-alfresco

5 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-darkness/201204/the-power-nature-ecotherapy-and-awakening

 

Nature’s Perfect Food

It’s hard to imagine a single food having the multiple benefits of nutritional ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, amino acids, enzymes, plant protein and fiber. Yet, barley grass is composed of all those ingredients and more, making it a true superfood. Take a look at all the benefits provided by barley grass!

If you don’t want the calories that come with the antioxidant-laden fresh fruit juice, consider barley grass powder, easily mixed with water. It’s loaded with vitamin A, vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), folate, vitamins C (ascorbic acid), E (alpha-tocopherol) and K (phylloquinone). It contains an abundance of electrolytes such as magnesium, phosphorous and potassium along with other essential minerals such as zinc, iron and calcium.1

High in chlorophyll and beta-carotene, barley grass helps stimulate the body’s natural processes of eliminating waste materials and helps support metabolic processes while strengthening and detoxifying the liver. Zinc, selenium and copper are the minerals in barley grass that contribute to its cleansing abilities.2

By helping the body stay clean internally, barley grass also assists the gut in propagating healthy bacteria and thus decreasing inflammation and other associated symptoms of ulcerative colitis.3

With these cumulative benefits, it comes as no surprise that barley grass helps boost the immune system, which helps strengthen the ability to prevent and combat infection and disease. Regular consumption of barley grass provides the required nutrition, which is necessary for balancing the optimal production of immune cells in the body.4

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), barley grass powder is the best functional food that provides nutrition and helps eliminate toxins from cells in human beings; however, its functional ingredients have played an important role in providing health benefits. NIH comprehensive databases show numerous studies of barley grass that attribute super powers to the green food, including the prevention of chronic disease.5

 Short of calling barley grass a miracle food, various papers housed by the NIH show that “barley grass promotes sleep; has anti-diabetic effect; regulates blood pressure; enhances immunity; protects liver; has anti-acne/detoxifying and antidepressant effects; improves gastrointestinal function; has anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, and anti-gout effects; reduces cardiovascular diseases, fatigue, and constipation; alleviates atopic dermatitis; improves cognition; and so on.”6

As if all these benefits for the internal organs were not enough, barley grass also has been shown to be effective in protecting against UV radiation. The superoxide dismutase enzyme essentially helps protect the body on a cellular level from the effects of radiation and barley grass is a good source. Barley grass juice can be consumed regularly to help prevent any such damage and reduce the effects of harmful radiation. The chlorophyll content in barley helps the regeneration of new cells and also helps with the repair of damaged cells.7

Nikken has taken “Nature’s Perfect Food” and turbo-boosted it for Active Wellness. Kenzen Jade GreenZymes® is made with organic barley grass and a proprietary blend of organic acacia and organic pearl barley seed extract powder. Acacia is a source of dissolvable dietary fiber used to promote good bacteria in the intestines.8 Pearl barley contains potassium, calcium and magnesium, which have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.9 It has also been linked to a lower risk of chronic disease and a stabilizing factor in blood sugar and weight management.10

1,2, 3, 4 https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/cereal/barley-grass.html

5, 6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5904770/

7 https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-benefits-barley-grass/

8 https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-268/acacia

9, 10 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295268.php

 

Are You Getting Enough Protein in Your Diet?

Eating an adequate amount of protein is critical for Active Wellness. Proteins are the main building blocks of the body—they’re used to form muscles, tendons, organs and skin. The body also uses protein to help repair tissues when recovering from injuries and intense exertion.

When it comes to the right amount of protein for you, many factors come into play. Although the DRI (dietary reference intake) calculated by most official nutrition organizations is based on body weight alone (.8 grams of protein per kilogram or .36 grams per pound)1, individual and gender requirements may vary widely. Your activity level, state of health, age, and body mass are all important considerations. Even the goals you want to achieve for your body matter, for example, if you are intent on increasing muscle mass.

The Institute of Medicine offers a way to break down protein needs based on activity level. Sedentary people would multiply their weight in pounds by .4 and active people by .6.2 Competitive athletes would increase protein intake by multiplying their weight in pounds by .75 and a light body-builder by .85.3

As the body ages, metabolism and the absorption of key nutrients slows down. This puts those 65 and older at risk of developing sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function. The essential amino acids in protein are key nutrients for muscle health, but older adults are less responsive to low doses of amino acid intake compared to younger people. A 2016 study from researchers at the departments of Food Science and Geriatrics at the University of Arkansas found that this lack of responsiveness can be overcome with higher levels of protein consumption. The study says that protein levels in the range of 30 to 35 percent of total caloric intake may prove beneficial.4

Another interesting variance was shown in an eight-week study with two groups of women who completed a strength training plan of two upper body training days and two lower body training days per week. One group ate a high protein diet and another, a lower protein diet. Results showed that the women on the higher protein diet gained significantly more lean body mass with an average of 4.6 pounds compared to an average of 1.5 pounds for the lower protein group. 5

The surprise finding in the study was that even though the women on the higher protein diet consumed about 423 more calories from protein than those on the lower protein diet, they did not gain body fat. Instead, they lost an average of 2.4 pounds of fat mass vs. 1.7 pounds fat mass lost by the women with lower protein intake. The women in the higher-protein group also gained just over two pounds but when body composition was measured, they gained more muscle and lost more fat than the lower protein group.6

According to Tara Dellolacono Thies, a registered dietitian, most women need between 50 and 60 grams of protein a day, more than the 46 grams calculated by the DRI. She explains that vegetarians can get plenty of protein without eating meat and dairy by consuming green peas, tofu, nuts, chickpeas, soybeans, broccoli, quinoa, chia seeds and cocoa powder.7

Even higher amounts of protein are recommended by Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut. She attended a “Protein Summit” with 60 nutrition scientists and published a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where she noted that “taking in up to twice the RDA of protein is a safe and good range to aim for. The potential benefits of higher protein intake, these researchers argue, include preserving muscle strength despite aging and maintaining a lean, fat-burning physique. Some studies described in the summit reports suggest that protein is more effective if you space it out over the day’s meals and snacks, rather than loading up at dinner.” 8

As with any health and nutrition change, it is important to talk to your doctor about your protein needs and intake as you age. Additionally, protein should be paired with resistance exercise to help prevent muscle loss, medical experts say.9

Having a hard time meeting your daily protein requirements? Kenzen Vital Balance® contains 20 grams of vegan protein per serving. It’s certified kosher and organic and naturally sweetened with monk fruit.

1 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-per-day

2, 3, 7 https://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410520,00.html

4, 9 https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2018/protein-needs-fd.html

5, 6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29405780

8 https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/101/6/1317S/4564491

How Healthy is Your Indoor Environment?

When we think of pollution, smog, plastic, garbage and contaminated bodies of water come to mind. But what about indoor pollution? Other than bad air caused from smoking, cooking, mold, mildew and animal dander, what else makes our indoor environment unhealthy?

The use of EMF and RF devices is growing exponentially.  These devices transmit wirelessly using Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Radio Frequencies (RF).  They are not safe and are harmful to adults and children.1 Examples include mobile or cordless phones, WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled devices, and the infrastructure that allows for their usage. Electromagnetic radiation around the 1 GHz frequency band, which is mostly used for modern wireless communications, has increased from extremely low natural levels by about 10 times.2

Radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation is also used for radar, security scanners, smart meters, and medical equipment (MRI, diathermy, and radiofrequency ablation). In a nutshell, exposure to EMF and RF is virtually at every indoor facility we may enter. This type of health risk is known as anthropogenic environmental exposure. Anthropogenic is defined as “relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature.”3 EMF and RF exposure will continue to surge as technological advances proliferate.

At the Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association, an independent scientific organization, volunteer scientists have constructed the world’s largest categorized online database of peer-reviewed studies on radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation and other man-made electromagnetic fields of lower frequencies. A recent evaluation of 2266 studies (including in-vitro and in-vivo studies in human, animal, and plant experimental systems and population studies) found that most studies have demonstrated significant biological or health effects associated with exposure to anthropogenic electromagnetic fields.4

The evidence supports the International EMF Scientist Appeal by 244 scientists from 41 countries who have published on the subject in peer-reviewed literature and collectively petitioned the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) for immediate measures to reduce public exposure to artificial electromagnetic fields and radiation. Evidence also exists of the effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation on flora and fauna. For example, the reported global reduction in bees and other insects is linked to the increased radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation in the environment.5

Some government health authorities have recently taken steps to reduce public exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation by regulating use of wireless devices by children and recommending preferential use of wired communication devices in general.6

It’s unrealistic for us to stop using our EMF and RF devices; however, we can make concerted efforts to detach from them during downtime. We also need to make sure our children are not glued to their cell phones and gaming devices. As inhabitants of planet Earth, we urgently need to reconnect to Mother Nature!

Try KenkoGround™ against your skin and incorporate it into your Active Wellness lifestyle.

 

1 https://www.globalindoorhealthnetwork.com/

2 Smith-Roe SL, Wyde ME, Stout MD, et al. Evaluation of the genotoxicity of cell phone radiofrequency radiation in male and female rats and mice following subchronic exposure. Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society Annual Conference; Raleigh, NC, USA; Sept 9–13, 2017.

3 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anthropogenic

4, 5, 6 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(18)30221-3/fulltext

 

Support and Be Supported in Your Exercise Routine

For those of us who love spending time outdoors under the warmth of the sun, now is the time to go barefoot and ground ourselves naturally! It’s also time to take advantage of the weather to exercise and practice Active Wellness outside! Many water sports come to mind—swimming, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, paddleboarding and windsurfing to name a few. Some exercises that are done inside a gym or studio can now be performed comfortably outdoors: walking, biking, yoga, tai chi and chi gung.

According to the American Heart Association, being more active can help us lower our blood pressure, boost levels of good cholesterol, improve blood flow (circulation), keep weight under control and prevent bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis.1 At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is recommended for each week.2 This can be broken down to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Since every minute of moderate to vigorous activity counts, adding two or three short walks a day would help reach that goal.

Being a couch potato can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. One study showed that adults who watch more than four hours of television a day had an 80% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.3 If you’re not naturally active or need some motivation to get started, here are a few ways to become more active:

• Seek out people who will help keep you motivated and accountable for your Active Wellness regimen. Many communities have local workout events for you to attend. There are also local hiking groups, Silver Sneakers classes, kayaking circles, and many others for you to join.

• Get a workout buddy who is at about the same physical shape you’re in. You can help each other stay on course and progress together. Make it a social time, not just an exercise time.

• Choose activities you enjoy. For example, if you hate running, don’t try to become a jogger. Zumba, Pilates or yoga might suit you better. Not everyone has the same sense of balance—if you have sensitive joints, swimming may be your best choice.

• Don’t limit yourself to just one exercise activity. Mix it up to keep from getting bored or burned out.

• Although many people like to get their exercise out of the way first thing in the morning, you should choose your own best time. If you’re not a morning person, getting up earlier to exercise will only demotivate you.

Nikken has the perfect exercise support products to help you achieve Active Wellness. KenkoTherm® Support Wraps help secure your muscles and joints, so you feel confident during strenuous activities. They provide added support when your muscles feel achy or strained. KenkoTherm® wraps are crafted of soft yet durable material that provide the ideal amount of stretch. KenkoTherm DUK® tape is 100% cotton with hypoallergenic adhesive and water–resistant. It comes in black and peach, and when you purchase a 6-pack, you receive 10% off.

1,2, 3 https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/why-is-physical-activity-so-important-for-health-and-wellbeing

 

Our Planet’s Most Important Living Plants are Tiny but Mighty

Marine scientists and ecologists consider the most important living plants to be the most important living organisms on the planet. The almighty single cell alga produces about 50% of the oxygen used on Earth and our lives essentially depend on it.1 Algae (plural for alga) paved the way for the evolution of other single-celled organisms as well as those with multiple and/or complex cells, known as eukaryotes.2

Algae come in many forms and have an interesting array of uses. Because algae are susceptible to environmental change, they are excellent indicators of water quality and a component of sampling programs. For example, an overgrowth of algae (known as algal blooms) can clog water intake pipes and filters. Once algal blooms die off, a substantial amount of dissolved oxygen is used by bacteria to break down the organic matter, depleting oxygen levels in their water habitat; this condition is known as hypoxia.3 In other words, aquatic ecosystems depend on algae to provide oxygen.

Aside from its formidable environmental impact, different types of algae—often known as seaweed—are sources of sustainable biofuel and found in common food items as well as cosmetics. Algae are also a source of active pharmaceutical compounds that can be used against drug-resistant bacterial strains, viruses and cancers.4 Different forms of algae have varying commercial value—less known but economically important are algae used for fertilizer, feed for farm animals and fish. As a soil-binding agent, algae is important in the healthy formation of soil to protect against natural processes such as erosion..5

Algae are an important source of nourishment in numerous cultures around the world. Most of us are aware of nori, Japanese seaweed used to prepare sushi. Chinese incorporate kelp into cold dishes that are served as appetizers or sides and into hot soups. Irish, Scottish, French, German, Norwegian and Swedish cuisines also use seaweed as a culinary ingredient in salads, as a topping or as a side to meat dishes.

Not only is algae considered by many consumers worldwide to be a low cost source of protein, but it also provides a number of important minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, and zinc. Algae also contain several healthy elements including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins A, B, C, and E.6 It is a perfect food to incorporate into an Active Wellness lifestyle.

Some specific types of algae are known for their skin conditioning attributes, such as promoting blood circulation, providing moisture and regulating the sebaceous gland function. They activate cell renewal and the metabolism, while having an anti-inflammatory effect.7 Chlorophyll contributes to the oxygen supply of the skin because it is similar in composition to hemoglobin. Especially effective in skin care products, green algae have an amino acid content similar to human collagen.8

The True Elements® Marine Organic Skincare line is formulated with various combinations of seaweed extracts, namely Chondrus Crispus (red algae or Irish moss), Laminaria Digitata (brown algae, Oarweed, Irish seaweed or kelp), Ulva Lactuca (sea lettuce) and Crithmum maritimum L. (sea fennel). Containing minerals, trace elements and marine micronutrients, these seaweed extracts in the True Elements® Ecocert certified skincare line help to gently cleanse, tone, hydrate and prevent signs of premature aging.

1,2, 4 https://scripps.ucsd.edu/biblio/algae-worlds-most-important-plants-introduction

3 https://www.in.gov/idem/files/factsheet_owq_sw_algae_aquatic.pdf

5, 6 https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-the-economic-importance-of-algae.html

7, 8 https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/5/4/68/pdf

 

Don’t Take Water for Granted

When I was growing up in Taiwan, boiling water was an activity 365 days of the year. Every night, we would boil lots of water and fill glass bottles for cooling. By the next morning, the water would be ready either to refrigerate for drinking or left at room temperature for cooking. It would get reboiled for brewing tea or coffee as well as poured into ice trays to make ice cubes.

When I lived in Canada, I appreciated the cold water that came out of the faucets. No boiling was required and the running water tasted better than any bottled water I had ever had. Ironically, many indigenous populations—First Nations in Canada—now must boil water in order to decontaminate it for drinking, the same way residents of Flint, Michigan have had to for years now. Even in industrialized countries, contamination and water scarcity are more prevalent than we think. In areas of the arid Southwest in the United States, for example, populations are facing a threat to their drinking and irrigation water supply as rivers dry up..1

People often take their drinking water for granted, but when you’re traveling, the tap water may not be safe to drink. With diarrhea, giardia, hepatitis A, typhoid and cholera among the illnesses that can be transmitted with bad water, it pays to know which parts of the world guarantee clean, safe tap water, and where you should be sourcing bottled water instead.

The water you need to be most concerned about is water that might contain microorganisms that will make you sick, and in less developed countries, you are more apt to run into water that contains a variety of microorganisms you want to avoid.  To make untreated or badly treated water safe, boil for 60 seconds. Boiling in rolling water for one minute should kill 100% of pathogens. At high altitudes of 2,000 meters or 6, 562 feet, boil for three minutes.2

If the water is unsafe to drink, don’t brush your teeth with water from the tap. Check that natural bodies of water are safe before you swim, keep your mouth closed in the shower and don’t accept ice in your drinks. Remember that with canned beverages, such as soda and beer, the outside of the can may have been contaminated too if it was chilled in ice..3 Also, if you can’t drink the water, don’t eat the salad either. Only eat food which has been cooked or that has a peel, which you can remove. Salads are generally washed with local water when being prepared, so always ask if it has been purified if you’re unsure.4

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidelines for removal of some or all of the bacteria that may be present in drinking water. Boiling is ranked with a high effectiveness as is using a combination of filtration and disinfection. The recommendation is to use a 0.3 micron filter with NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction/removal.”5

If you decide to purchase bottled water wherever you go, make sure it is sealed. In impoverished nations, bottles are often refilled with tap water, which is unsafe for drinking. Please remember to dispose of your plastic water bottles responsibly. Non-biodegradable items cause a huge problem throughout the world.

Nikken Water Packs help you access PiMag® water at home and on-the-go. Traveling with the PiMag® Sport Bottle with patent-pending nano-filtration technology and alkalization media is easy and convenient. It exceeds reduction standards for cyst, lead, bacteria and much more. Fill it with potable water wherever you are, and know that you are contributing to the well-being of the local ecology as you practice Active Wellness everywhere you go.

1 https://thewaterproject.org/water-scarcity/water_scarcity_in_us

2, 3, 4 https://www.mappingmegan.com/travelers-guide-to-safe-tap-water-countries-with-unsafe-drinking-water-can-i-drink-the-water-in/

5 https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/backcountry_water_treatment.html