Posts Tagged as: Chiropractic
Hypothyroidism has received a lot of attention online since the publication of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian in 2009. While many facets should be addressed in managing hypothyroidism, one of the most important continues to be a gluten-free diet.
Research shows ninety percent of hypothyroidism cases are due to an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. This disease is called Hashimoto’s.
Most doctors do not test for Hashimoto’s because it does not change treatment, which is thyroid medication. Also, many cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed because Hashimoto’s can cause the lab marker TSH to fluctuate.
Where does gluten fit in with this? Numerous studies have linked an immune reaction to gluten with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Whether it’s a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland in many people. Most of these people do not even know they are sensitive to gluten.
Going off gluten is the first step with Hashimoto’s
Studies, clinical observation, and patient stories make a very strong case for the benefits of going gluten-free to better manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism symptoms.
A number of studies for several countries show a link between Hashimoto’s and gluten. This is because the protein structure of gluten closely resembles that of thyroid tissue. When your immune system reacts to gluten, it may start erroneously reacting to thyroid tissue as well. This will cause the immune system to attack and destroy thyroid tissue in a case of mistaken identity.
Studies also show patients improve on a strict gluten-free diet. One study showed as many as 71 percent of subjects resolved their hypothyroid symptoms after following a strict gluten-free diet for one year.
Why you may need to stop eating other foods too
Sorry to say, going gluten-free alone doesn’t always work. Many people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism also need to go dairy-free. Dairy, whether it’s cow, goat, or sheep, is the second biggest problem food for people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Many people simply have an immune intolerance to dairy and aren’t aware of it until they stop consuming it. However, in an immune sensitive individual, the body may also mistake dairy for gluten and trigger an immune reaction that ultimately ends up targeting the thyroid.
For those serious about managing their Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a gluten-free and dairy-free diet frequently results in profound alleviation of symptoms, if not total remission.
Many find they may need to eliminate additional foods, such as certain grains, eggs, or soy. An elimination/provocation diet can help you figure out what your immune system reacts to, or a comprehensive food sensitivity test from Cyrex Labs.
What is there left to eat?
If you’re used to eating without restrictions, eliminating gluten, dairy, and possibly other foods to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroid symptoms may seem overwhelming and too restrictive. Many people are left wondering, what is left to eat?
Rest assured there is more than enough to eat. Most people fare well on a paleo diet that is primarily vegetables (a diverse array of plenty of vegetables helps create the healthy gut bacteria that improve immunity.)
More importantly, symptoms and general health improves so dramatically that people come to love their new diet and despise the way they feel after they cheat.
Ask my office for more information about implementing a gluten- and dairy-free diet.
Did you know too much iron is toxic and inflammatory? If you are working to manage a chronic inflammatory condition, make sure high iron levels aren’t sabotaging your efforts. (Likewise, low iron levels can also make it difficult or impossible to heal.)
Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder in which the body absorbs too much dietary iron. It is a relatively common condition, affecting approximately a million people in the United States. Symptoms typically include joint pain, chronic fatigue, heart flutters, and abdominal pain. Untreated hemochromatosis increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis, liver inflammation (cirrhosis), sexual dysfunction, and other diseases.
Psychological symptoms may include depression, anxiety, nervous tics, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Iron accumulation in the basal ganglia of the brain can interfere significantly with neurological functioning, leading to movement disorders and/or dementia.
Because symptoms vary so much and the disorder is associated with differing conditions, hemochromatosis often goes undiagnosed. If hemochromatosis is suspected, a series of three blood tests known collectively as the Iron Panel confirm diagnosis.
Once hemochromatosis has been identified, it can be addressed in two ways. The medical treatment for hemochromatosis is phlebotomy, which means periodically drawing blood from the body. This helps normalize the body’s iron levels and can relieve many, though not all, hemochromatosis symptoms.
The other way to alleviate symptoms and reduce the dangers of hemochromatosis is through diet — avoiding certain foods and supplements, while favoring others.
What to Avoid
Don’t take iron supplements or multivitamins that contain iron. Even people who have not been diagnosed with hemochromatosis should be cautious of iron supplements (many different factors besides iron deficiency cause anemia, find the root cause for your anemia before taking iron).
Certain medical conditions, such as restless leg syndrome, are associated with iron deficiency, and iron supplements may be prescribed or recommended for these conditions. However, anyone should have their iron levels checked first before taking supplements.
Stay away from vitamin C supplements and orange juice, as vitamin C increases iron absorption. (It is generally okay, however, to eat whole foods that contain vitamin C.)
Avoid or at least minimize alcohol consumption. Alcohol compromises liver function, the organ most vulnerable to too much iron.
Stay away from shellfish and raw fish as they may contain infectious bacteria that people with hemochromatosis are particularly vulnerable to.
Avoid or minimize red meat consumption. Red meat contains a form of iron that the body absorbs most easily.
Avoid or minimize sugar intake. Sugar increases iron absorption.
What to Increase
Essentially, there are two types of foods that a person with hemochromatosis should eat plenty of.
The first category is foods that inhibit iron absorption, such as:
- Green or black tea
- Raw kale
- Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, polyphenols, tannins, phylates and/or oxalates.
The second category is foods that contain iron, but in a form difficult to absorb. Nearly all vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans are in this category. Many of them contain oxalates as well, which reduce iron absorption.
If you are going to occasionally consume some foods that have easily absorbed iron, such as meat or sweets, combine them with foods that block iron absorption.
A hemochromatosis diet need not necessarily be overly strict. Much of it will depend on an individual’s level of iron overload, as revealed by lab tests. Ask my office for more information on hemochromatosis and whether it may be hindering your functional medicine protocol.
When you’re starting on a new health journey, knowing what to eat can seem confusing. For starters, there is a ton of conflicting advice out there, with proponents of each diet insisting their diet is the healthiest.
The truth is, the best diet depends on which one works best for you. Factors that determine this include your individual food sensitivities, digestive health, blood sugar handling, and stress handling.
In functional medicine we follow general guidelines that focus on whole foods, removing foods to which you are intolerant, and stabilizing blood sugar. Beyond that, your history, lab tests, and current condition serve as guides in customizing your diet.
A custom diet plan starts with real food
With customization tips in mind, one basic rule still applies across the board: Eat whole foods.
When you eliminate foods that have been through processing (like breakfast cereal or chips), foods with artificial colorings, additives, and preservatives, and foods laden with industrialized fats and too much sugar, you are already on solid ground nutritionally.
This means sticking largely to the produce, meat, and nut sections in the grocery store. Use healthy, natural fats such as coconut oil and olive oil. Avoid vegetable oils, which are unstable and become inflammatory free radicals in your body.
Avoid hydrogenated oil as it has been shown to damage brain cells and raise heart disease risk.
You have to develop new habits to shop for and prep vegetables, cook healthy meats, and wean yourself off sodas, pizza pockets, chips, and other quick-grab items. But you’ll start feeling so much better you won’t mind. In fact, you’ll likely feel enthusiastic about it.
When eating real food is difficult
Some people favor processed food because they have trouble digesting real foods. This is a red flag digestion is seriously compromised.
For instance, if your stomach feels heavy after eating meat, as if it just sits there and does not digest, your stomach may be low in hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl is necessary to digest meats and it’s a common deficiency.
In functional medicine, we know that a diet that consists primarily of produce is very beneficial. However, the dramatic increase in fiber from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables causes digestive problems in some people.
Factors that make eating produce difficult include an overgrowth of the wrong bacteria low HCl, insufficient output of pancreatic enzymes, inflammation of the gut lining, and other digestive issues.
These people need to work on restoring gut health and slowly ease into eating more vegetables.
Blood sugar and stress handling
Most Americans eat too many carbohydrates and sugars, which contributes significantly to inflammation and chronic disease. At the same time, not everyone fares well on a very low-carb diet.
People with chronically low blood sugar and adrenal fatigue need to eat smaller meals more frequently to protect their brain health, whereas others find eating three meals per day optimal.
Some people feel great on a very low-carb, or ketogenic, diet, while others develop anxiety and insomnia. Finding the right amount of carbohydrates to eat so that you keep blood sugar stable and lower inflammation, yet function optimally, can take some tweaking. Then, as blood sugar and stress handling improve, you may be able to readjust.
If you’re like most people, you over indulged during the holidays and now you’d like to reboot your health with a detox diet. The autoimmune diet calms inflammation, stimulates repair and recovery, and boosts energy while preventing hunger. It also helps tame autoimmunity and repair leaky gut.
Remove foods that cause inflammation
Many foods people eat daily can be inflammatory, causing fatigue, rashes, joint pain, digestive issues, headaches, anxiety, depression, autoimmune flare ups, and more.
The foods most people react to are gluten, dairy, various grains, eggs, nuts, and nightshades. Sugar, sweeteners, and sweet fruits also cause inflammation.
The autoimmune detox diet calms inflammation
People new to this diet often wonder if there is anything left to eat. There is plenty to eat on the autoimmune diet! In fact, the autoimmune diet more closely resembles what people have eaten for most of human history.
The diet is based on grass-fed and organic meats, wild fish, healthy fats, fermented foods, and lots of veggies. Eating plenty of vegetables will help build good gut bacteria, detoxify the liver, and boost immune health and tolerance of more foods.
Healthy fats include coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and ghee (if tolerated). Avoid processed vegetable oils and strictly avoid hydrogenated oils, or trans fats.
The rewards of feeling better outweigh the downsides of the diet
The autoimmune detox diet is certainly more work than eating fast food or microwave meals. But the rewards in how much better it will make you feel are worth the effort.
This diet requires planning and preparation. You may experience cravings, low energy, and some detox symptoms for a few days in the beginning. Online support groups can be very reassuring and helpful.
However, it doesn’t take long before most people feel an increase in energy and well being and actually come to enjoy the diet. Many also lose unwanted fat.
After following the diet for 30 to 90 days, you may wish to add in some of the eliminated foods — one at a time every 72 hours — to see whether you react to any of them. This will help you customize a lifelong diet that is healthy but satisfying. Many find going off at least gluten and dairy bring substantial health benefits.
Supplements to enhance detoxification and gut repair
Certain nutritional compounds can aid in your health reboot. Some are great at supporting liver detoxification, gut repair, blood sugar balance, and stress handling, all of which can aid you in your new diet. Just call my office for advice.
Foods to avoid on the autoimmune detox diet
- Sugars and sweeteners, including honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.
- High-glycemic fruits: Watermelon, mango, pineapple, grapes, canned and dried fruits, etc.
- Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and other nightshades
- Grains: Wheat, oats, rice, barley, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, etc.
- Dairy: Milk, cream, cheese, butter, whey
- Eggs or foods that contain eggs (mayonnaise)
- Soy: Soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, etc.
- Lectins: Lectins are compounds that can promote leaky gut. Avoid nuts, beans, soy, nightshades, peanut oil, peanut butter, and soy and soy products while on the diet. You may be able to add some or all back in later.
- Coffee: For some coffee over taxes the adrenal glands. Many instant coffees contain gluten.
- Processed and canned foods
Foods to eat
- Most vegetables (except nightshades and mushrooms): Asparagus, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beets, cauliflower, carrots, celery, artichokes, garlic, onions, zucchini, squash, rhubarb, cucumbers, turnips, watercress, etc. Eat with every meal!
- Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled ginger, fermented cucumbers, coconut yogurt, kombucha, etc. You must make your own or buy one of the few available truly fermented brands. (If you have histamine intolerance you may need to avoid these.)
- Meats: Grass-fed and organic chicken, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, etc., and wild fish
- Low glycemic fruits sparingly: Apricots, plums, apple, peach, pear, cherries, berries, etc.
- Coconut: Coconut butter, milk, cream, oil
- Herbal teas, non-stimulating, non-caffeinated
- Olives and olive oil
- Ghee (butter oil) unless severe dairy allergy
If you dread allergy season, then you know what it’s like to suffer from itchy skin, red eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches.
Likewise, you may react to certain foods with hives, headaches, nasal congestion, skin problems, a racing heart, or irritability.
What is the common denominator in both scenarios? Histamines. While many people just give up and suffer, some natural compounds can bring relief. To understand why these natural remedies work, it’s helpful to understand a bit about histamines.
What are histamines?
Histamine is a protein that causes inflammation, redness, and irritation. It is produced in response to environmental or dietary proteins, also known as antigens.
When the antigen comes into contact with the body, the immune system registers it as an intruder and produces antibodies to it. These antibodies cause a release of histamine into your bloodstream, where they can build up with repeated exposure and increase sensitivity.
Histamines are found in many common foods, especially those aged or fermented, such as aged cheese, red wine, and sauerkraut, and also in foods such as eggs, some fruits and vegetables, and some seasonings.
Natural ways to relieve the suffering
The bright side is that there are a number of natural ways to ease your suffering, whether it’s from seasonal allergies or high-histamine foods.
First — Lower overall inflammation in the body
Before looking at natural antihistamines, it’s important to first address a functional medicine foundation: adopting a diet and lifestyle to lower overall inflammation.
This includes removing foods to which are intolerant (gluten and dairy are most common), stabilizing blood sugar, repairing intestinal permeability, managing low thyroid function and hormone imbalances, and addressing chronic stressors, such as sleep deprivation, over training, toxic exposures, junk food, excess alcohol, and many more.
Quercetin — nature’s Benadryl
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.
It also gives both short-term relief and long-term gut repair so you’re you less susceptible to allergies.
Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine that naturally blocks histamine production. It can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the most effective option.
The European herb butterbur has been shown to rival leading OTC drugs in reducing histamine reactions. It’s an anti-inflammatory properties also reduces spasms in smooth muscle and relaxes swollen nasal membranes.
Mangosteen is a fruit extract that has been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit histamine release.
This Asian medicinal plant has been shown to inhibit histamine production.
Ask me about natural antihistamine relief
These are just a few of the many compounds effective in reducing histamine reactions. You can benefit from the synergistic effect of these compounds working together in product formulations that combine them.
If you have seasonal allergies or react to foods, contact my office. I can help you determine the source of your symptoms and get you on the path to feeling better.
Although we’ve all read the stories about marriage being good for your health, a bad marriage is bad your health. In fact, bad marriages are far worse for you than healthy marriages are good for you. In other words, if your marriage is a constant stressor, you’ll lower your risk of chronic disease either going it alone or doing the work to make the marriage a good one. What’s more, the risks are higher for women.
Contemporary studies show marriage lowers your risk of many modern ailments, including heart disease, cancer, and even dementia. Why? Research into adult attachment shows humans are hardwired to depend on a significant other as a matter of survival. Though we may think it’s about love and romance, to the human brain, a long-term relationship is the difference between life and death.
However, these benefits don’t extend to troubled relationships. It’s the human body’s life-or-death approach to relationships that also makes a bad marriage a health risk. One study went so far as to show a bad marriage entails the same risks as smoking, and another showed being single is healthier than having married and divorced, prompting researchers to encourage people to try and make a bad marriage good again.
Stress negatively impacts the immune system
When researchers analyzed blood samples of unhappy couples immediately after a big fight, they saw a significant decline in immune function, with the biggest drops happening in those whose fights were the most hostile. Fighting couples also showed slower wound healing.
Fighting and hostility in a relationship both depress immune function and promote inflammation, particularly for women, raising disease risk.
Men and women respond differently to arguing
Researchers measured how different styles of arguing affected couples’ health. The results showed surprising differences in how men and women react physiologically to arguing.
For women, the biggest predictor of health risk is lack of warmth and openness from her partner. For instance, small cues during an argument (a term of endearment or a squeeze of the hand) gives a woman the reassurance her health depends on to know she and her partner are still connected.
Men, on the other hand, are triggered by battles for control and use of controlling language.
Either way, hostile fighting turns out to be as predictive of heart disease in women and men as a history of smoking. The key isn’t to stop the inevitable arguments, but rather to learn how to fight in a more thoughtful manner that doesn’t trigger the subconscious, immune-sabotaging threat to survival.
Why health depends on a healthy relationship
Healthy relationships are good for us because they give the survival-wired brain back-up during times of stress. Affection from a caring partner during a stressful time helps you regulate negative emotions, relieving the brain of the need to do it all alone, and thus buffering the body from the detrimental impacts of stress.
Even the best of marriages will have conflict. The key is to use those times to repair and strengthen the relationship rather than damage it.
If you’ve been googling how to manage your chronic health condition, chances are you’re heard of leaky gut. Leaky gut is what it sounds like — the lining of the intestines have become “leaky,” allowing undigested foods, bacteria, and other undesirables into the sterile bloodstream.
This causes system-wide inflammation that becomes chronic health issues: autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, chronic pain, brain fog, food allergies and sensitivities, depression, eczema, asthma, and myriad other complaints.
It makes sense, then, that people want to heal leaky gut.
However, it’s best to know why you have leaky gut first. That way you’re not chasing down the wrong remedies.
Ten causes of leaky gut
Although we understand the role of leaky gut in chronic health disorders, the underlying causes of leaky gut itself can be harder to pin down.
Here are the causes we know about:
- Many inflammatory foods damage the intestinal walls, leading to leaky gut. Gluten in particular is associated with leaky gut. Dairy, processed foods, excess sugar, and fast foods are other culprits.
- Excess alcohol is another common cause of leaky gut.
- Some medications cause leaky gut, including corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, and some medications for arthritis. It’s important to note some drugs have inflammatory fillers such as gluten.
- Certain infections, such as H. pylori overgrowth (the bacteria that causes ulcers) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause leaky gut. Yeast, parasites, and viruses are other possibilities.
- Chronic stress raises stress hormones, which damages the gut lining over time.
- Hormone imbalances can cause leaky gut as the intestines depend on proper hormone levels for good function. Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, and stress hormones all contribute to leaky gut.
- Autoimmune conditions can lead to leaky gut. We often think in terms of leaky gut causing autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis. However, sometimes it’s the other way around. The constant inflammation of autoimmune disease can make the gut leaky. Or autoimmunity in the digestive tract can sabotage gut health. In these cases, managing autoimmunity is a strategy to improve leaky gut.
- Food processing changes the natural structure of foods in a way that makes them inflammatory to the gut. Examples include deamidating wheat to make it water soluble and the high-heat processing (glycation) of sugars. Additives such as gums (xanthan gum, carrageenan, etc.), food colorings, and artificial flavors are inflammatory for some people, too.
- Our environment surrounds us with toxins, some of which have been shown to degrade the gut lining. Regularly taking glutathione, the body’s primary antioxidant, helps protect the body from toxins.
- Sufficient vitamin D is vital to protecting the gut lining and a vitamin D deficiency can make the intestinal lining more vulnerable to damage.
These are some of the factors known to contribute to leaky gut. By understanding the cause of your leaky gut, you will have more success restoring health to your gut and managing your chronic health or autoimmune condition.
For more information on how to support leaky gut and autoimmune management, contact my office.
Do you suffer from brain fog and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism? People think brain fog is funny or normal, but it’s not. It’s a red flag your brain is inflamed, functioning poorly, and likely degenerating too quickly. It’s also a sign you need to properly manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
What causes brain fog and why should you care? Consider these reasons:
1. Brain cells not communicating well with each other
Brain fog happens when brain cells, or neurons, don’t communicate well with each other. This causes brain function to slow down and diminish, giving you symptoms of brain fog.
Many factors cause neurons to fire sluggishly or not all with each other, which I’ll talk about more in this article.
When you have brain fog and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, ask yourself, “Why are my neurons not firing effectively?”
2. Unstable blood sugar, brain fog, and Hashimoto’s
Blood sugar that swings too low or too high can cause brain fog. Symptoms of low blood sugar include irritability or lightheadedness between meals, cravings for sweets, waking up at 3 or 4 a.m., dependence on coffee or sugar for energy, becoming upset easily, and forgetfulness.
Symptoms of high blood sugar (insulin resistance) include fatigue after meals, constant hunger, cravings for sweets not relieved by eating them, constant thirst, frequent urination, difficulty falling asleep, and a big belly.
Blood sugar that is too low or too high means neurons are not receiving the energy they need to function, which often causes brain fog.
Unstable blood sugar is commonly caused by eating too many processed carbohydrates and sugary items, skipping meals, or chronic overeating.
Relieving brain fog can be as easy as stabilizing your blood sugar. Eat a whole foods diet based around vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. Keep carbohydrate consumption to a level that prevents symptoms of low or high blood sugar. Stabilizing blood sugar is also important to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
3. An unhealthy gut environment
Communication between the gut and the brain is ongoing and intimate. Bad gut health affects the brain and can cause symptoms of brain fog.
For instance, some people develop brain fog after eating certain foods, such as gluten, that trigger inflammation in the gut. If you have digestive problems, your gut may be playing a role in your brain fog.
Also, leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the intestine becomes overly porous, allows undigested food particles, yeast, bacteria, and other harmful compounds to enter the bloodstream.
This triggers chronic inflammation in the gut, body, and brain, along with other health problems, such as food intolerances, pain, autoimmune disorders, skin issues, joint problems, depression, and, of course, brain fog. Working on good gut health is paramount to managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism as well.
4. Poor circulation, brain fog, and Hashimoto’s
Are your fingers, toes, and nose are cold to the touch? This may mean your brain is not receiving enough oxygen due to poor circulation. Other symptoms of poor circulation include weak nails, fungal nail infections, low brain endurance, and cramping in the hands and feet.
Low circulation deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients, thus causing brain fog. Factors that cause low circulation include anemia, chronic stress, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, low blood pressure, smoking, and blood sugar imbalances.
5. Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and brain fog
Autoimmunity is a disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue. Examples include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmunity can cause inflammation in the brain, leading to brain fog.
Also, autoimmune attacks in the brain are more common than people realize, a risk for those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. This, too, is linked with brain fog.
Don’t shrug off brain fog or Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Addressing brain fog will not only improve brain function but also help prevent dementia later in life. Ask my office for more information.
While volunteering is good for those in need, the giver cashes in big on generosity, too. Studies show the benefits of generosity and volunteering include a heightened sense of well-being, increased self-worth, and improved emotional and physical health.
How generosity makes you happier
Generosity and volunteering produce hormones that relieve stress, promote happiness, cause a natural high (endorphins), and promote bonding and tranquility.
Being generous makes us feel better about ourselves. It builds confidence, and encourages us to focus toward the world rather than ourselves.
When we improve someone else’s life, empowerment grows and we are better able to deal with life’s hardships.
Volunteering can help you live longer
Generosity and volunteering also lower mortality rates, reduce cardiovascular risk, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve sleep.
In fact, one study showed adults who volunteered at least four hours a week for one year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to non-volunteers.
Another study of teens found those who spent an hour a week helping children in after-school programs had lower levels of cholesterol and inflammation than their non-volunteering peers.
Generosity must be genuine
If you want to benefit from generosity and volunteering, make sure you’re focused on helping others and not just looking good.
A 2012 study found that older volunteers had a lower risk of dying in a four-year period than non-volunteers, as long as their volunteerism was for altruistic and not self-oriented reasons.
Tips for volunteering to improve your health
- Offer to do something your enjoy.
- Help with a cause you’re passionate about.
- Be realistic about your schedule so you don’t stress out.
- Volunteer with others so it’s socially beneficial.
- Don’t give up if your first attempt is a bad match.
Receive generosity with grace so others can benefit as well
Remember, generosity and volunteering are good for everyone.
If someone is generous to you, don’t brush it off or feel undeserving — receive their kindness with sincerity and grace. This will bring you closer to the person and allow them reap the benefits of giving as well.
Most pet lovers find their furry, feathered, hoofed, and scaly companions count among their best friends. But pets aren’t only good company — research shows they greatly benefit your mental and physical health.
Pets help the developing immune system
Petting a furry friend not only brings a sense of comfort and calm, it’s good for the immune system, too.
A study in Finland showed that babies who grew up in a home with cats and dogs were 44 percent less likely to develop ear infections and 29 percent less likely to receive antibiotics in their first year compared to babies from pet-free homes. The theory is that exposure to bacteria brought in from outside by pets helps the developing immune system learn how to react properly to germs in the environment. And the more time the pet spent outdoors, the greater the benefit.
Other studies show that children who live with dogs and cats in the first year of life are less likely to develop allergies to those animals later in life.
Pets help you live longer and lower disease risk
Babies aren’t the only ones benefiting from pets:
- People with pets have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non pet-owners, regardless of weight, diet, and smoking habits.
- In subjects who have experienced a heart attack, dog ownership decreases the odds for death the first year post-heart-attack from 1 in 15 to 1 in 87!
- In people undergoing stress tests or physical examinations, the presence of a dog during the exam lowered heart rate and blood pressure.
- “Seizure-alert” animals are trained to signal their owners prior to a seizure as well as protect them during the event.
- Some pets are trained to alert their diabetic humans to episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) before life-threatening symptoms develop.
- Prescription drug use and overall costs of caring for patients in nursing homes dropped in facilities where companion animals became part of daily therapy.
- The need to exercise a pet and care for it often results in better physical and mental health for the human, regardless of age.
- Researchers at the University of Arizona are exploring whether dogs can improve human health by having a probiotic effect on the body.
Pets provide mental, emotional, and social benefits
Pets not only make us healthier, they also make us better people!
A study at Tufts University found young adult pet owners are more connected to their communities and relationships, are more engaged in community service, help family and friends, demonstrate more leadership, and have more empathy and confidence compared to non pet owners.
Caring for a pet can prevent downward spirals by providing consistency and routine, helping us feel needed, and giving us something to do and look forward to each day.
This is especially true for those who live alone, as well as the elderly, who say their pets provide social companionship and a reason to get out of the house for exercise and socialization.
Even families surveyed before and after they acquired a pet reported feeling happier after adding a pet to the family.
In conclusion, pet owners exhibit greater self-esteem, are more physically fit, more conscientious, less lonely, more socially outgoing, and have healthier relationship styles than non-pet people. The researchers concluded that our pets contribute to our sense of self just as much as our human companions do.