Happy New Year 2011!

It’s been just over two years since I started this blog and what an enlightening journey it’s been. When I started it, I was writing two times a week and then cut down to once a week when I started aboutalz.com. Now, as the new year begins, I am in the process of developing a new program, Gracefully Age Program  (GAP), where I work with seniors and baby boomers who struggle to find enough time to take care of their aging bodies, but would like to feel like they are in their 20’s again … except with better judgment.

My clients and I work together on the goals to be accomplished. Currently, we are in a three-month pilot program, but the actual program starts this spring and will run for six months. I am developing resources for the program as well as joint ventures. My program will be unique in that as a Cellular Response energy healer, I will incorporate energy exercises which I find totally intriguing.

As my blog has pointed out for the past couple of years, we seniors need to take care of our bodies if we want to have a good quality of life ahead of us. As I observe seniors around me, so many of them have let their bodies deteriorate. They have no energy. They have no sparkle in their faces. They are in pain. Diseases are rampant. I felt a program like GAP could help people even more than what I am doing in my Cellular Response practice. But only people who are committed to do anything to have optimal health will succeed in such a program. We all know people who could benefit from such a program, but they are going to have to want it for themselves. I will be the link that will help them achieve their goals.

So, I need more time to spend on the next chapter of my retirement career of helping more people and therefore, I will be adding to my blog every other Wednesday instead of weekly. I’ll be back in two weeks.

I appreciate your friendship. Make 2011 the best year ever!

How to Keep your Body Alkaline

As 2010 comes to a close, I hope it was a healthy year and you are looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I know I have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in 2011.

Each of us has a path we can take — the illness path or the wellness path. The choices we make determine whether we’re headed for illness or for wellness. We are in charge of our own body. We determine what to consume. We decide if we are going to challenge our bodies by exercising. We are constantly making choices — one choice is just as easy to make as another choice. Still, over a period of time, one will lead to better health and one will lead to your doctor’s office. Which will it be for you?

One of the ways to keep your body free of diseases is to keep it in an alkaline state. I’ve heard it many times — diseases cannot live in an alkaline body. How do you keep your body in an alkaline state? By consuming more alkaline foods than acidic ones. Approximately 75 percent of your food intake should be alkaline and about 25 percent should be acidic. So, a lot more alkaline foods than acidic ones. This helpful chart at betterbones.com puts the alkaline-forming foods on a scale from low to high.

There are various places where you can buy pH paper such as a garden center or pet shop or even one that sells swimming pool supplies. If you want one that covers a wider gamut, you may need to find a lab supply store.
Personally, to keep my body alkaline, I take a “greens” supplement with every meal. What I like about this company is that their multi-vitamin is also packed with a “greens” caplet. I also drink alkaline water. I was recently tested by a health practitioner and my body was in an alkaline state. This is not to say that I leave the job to the supplements. I do try to make smart choices about what I eat.

I wish all of you the best of health. Take care and see you next year.

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Stress Relievers — Reducing Cortisol

Are you stressed? Here we are in the middle of the holiday season and even running regular errands like grocery shopping can be stressful. Traffic is heavier, parking lots are more crowded, and you have more to do with the holidays upon us. Occasional stress is not harmful; it’s the continuous, relentless one that is the problem.

Cortisol is a “stress hormone” that is produced by the adrenal glands. It is secreted in greater amounts during your body’s “fight or flight” response. Small amounts of cortisol are fine, but when it’s continuous, many problems start to develop such as a depressed immune system, sleep problems, blood sugar abnormalities, and abdominal weight gain so it’s important to get the body back to a relaxation state.

Elizabeth Svoboda of Prevention magazine recommends the following:

  • Say “om” — practicing meditation can cut cortisol by 20%
  • Make a great iPod mix — listening to background music can cut cortisol by 66%
  • Hit the sack early or take a nap — there was 50% more cortisol in the group that slept 6 hours or less vs. those that slept for 8 hours which gave the body enough time to recover from the day’s stresses.
  • Sip some black tea — cut cortisol by 47%
  • Hang out with a funny friend — even simply anticipating laughter can cut cortisol by 39%
  • Schedule a massage — this can cut cortisol by 31% and not only reduces stress, but promotes production of dopamine and serotonin, the “feel good” hormones released when we socialize with friends or do something fun.
  • Do something spiritual — cut cortisol by 25%; church-going subjects had lower level of the stress hormone, but you can also take walks in nature’s “cathedral” in the woods or along a beach or even doing volunteer work.
  • Chew a piece of gum — cut cortisol by 12 to 16% to instantly defuse tension. Gum chewing increases blood flow and neural activity in select brain regions.

I hope you’ll find at least a couple of suggestions useful to you and can be implemented immediately. Happy Holidays!

When to Take the Keys from Older Driver

One of these days, as an older driver, we might become such a hazard on the road that it is best that we no longer drive. None of us is looking forward to that day. According to the January 2011 issue of Consumer Reports, in 2008 78% of Americans 70 and older had a driver’s license. That’s a rise of 73% compared to 1997 and reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They expect the number to keep rising as baby boomers age. What is disturbing is that our vision, response time, and neuromuscular control worsen with age. As well, cognitive abilities including memory, perception, reasoning, and thinking can also decline.

People with mild dementia are higher-risk drivers, but as many as 76% are still able to pass a driver’s test. The American Academy of Neurology has issued guidelines to help doctors determine when their patients with dementia should stop driving. Among them are:

  • Crash in the past year to five years
  • Citation in the past two to three years
  • Aggressive impulsive personality

Other ailments that can impede driving are:

  • Glaucoma
  • Angina
  • Arthritis
  • Respiratory illness
  • Neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease

In determining when to take the keys from an older driver, Orly Avitzur, MD, a board-certified neurologist and medical adviser to Consumers Union suggests the following:

Taking away the keys is more than just not being able to drive. There is a loss of independence. Going anywhere means depending on someone else so there are many issues to be resolved.

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Jyoti Sondhi — Lighting the Lamp Within

Guest author Jyoti Sondhi shares her path on how she came to write Lighting the Lamp Within.

Yet many of us seem to miss important turns on this journey. We get caught up in our day-to-day lives. The mind is constantly running after things that we do not possess, or looking after things that we have. I have often wondered why do we feel miserable and suffer when it is our real nature to be in joy and in peace? Why are we looking for happiness outside and not inside of ourselves? Why do we have low self-esteem and insecurities? Why are we looking for external power to feel complete when we are infused with the energy of love? Why do we allow a strong ego to run our lives when humility is our real nature?

I have lived such a life too, for many years until a kind of spiritual experience changed my life completely. The turning point crept quietly into my life some years ago, following Reiki immersion. I call it my spiritual awakening, something that I did not fully understand at that time. I did not know that ordinary people like me could have such a divine experience.

And then the inspirations came to me from the Universe.  I reached a point where I could not hold them and felt the need to express them. That was the start of my blog which led to my book, Lighting the Lamp Within.  One by one,  my life experiences started to make sense and  the jig-saw of my life began to feel complete. The inspirations did not come in any particular order, but when I started to put them into my book, I realized I could broadly arrange them thematically.

Lighting the Lamp Within is a collection of brief essays to help answer some of the questions that we all have as seekers in a simple and practical way. I am sharing what I have learnt in this process about my Self, and about practical lessons in spiritual living. I have identified various  hurdles in our spiritual growth and offered healing and practical techniques for ordinary people to live a spiritually enriched  life with a shift in perspective. I unravel key lessons on spiritual living — lessons that most people would be able to  relate to whatever their faith.

Jyoti Sondhi

These essays may illuminate your spiritual journey or may simply leave food for thought. As you go through this book, do take time to pause and reflect upon the ideas. These may become important landmarks for your own growth.

More information on my book is available at www.lightingthelampwithin.com and discussions on quotes from the book can be found at http://lampwithin.wordpress.com.

Lighting the Lamp Within (ISBN 978-14502-5528-8) is also available at several on-line retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Edamame or Soy Beans

Soy Beans in Pod

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and many of us have overeaten, are you thinking of perhaps incorporating some healthier foods into your diet? If you’ve never had edamame (pronounced eh-dah-mah-meh) or soy beans, it might be something to consider. It’s generally available as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants and readily available in the freezer section of Asian supermarkets either shelled or in the pod. Sometimes you can even find fresh ones in the vegetable section.

Edamame is one of the few plant sources of complete protein and is a great source of antioxidants and high in fiber. When shelled, they look like small lima beans. The taste is unique and mild. They make an excellent snack or a great addition to a salad.

What are the benefits of soy?

  • Keeps bones strong. It contains isoflavones which are estrogen-like compounds that improve bone density and hence, reduce fractures.
  • Fights heart disease. Edamame is one of the few non-fish sources of omega-3 fats which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Soy can also lower your cholesterol.
  • Beneficial for dieters. Because it’s high in protein, it will fill you up quickly and you won’t overeat. It will also “stick to your ribs” longer. If you snack on the soy beans in the pod, it takes work so you’ll eat more slowly and eat less.

If buying the frozen beans in the pod, check the directions on the package. It’s very simple, but if you’re trying to reduce your sodium intake, eliminate the salt when boiling the beans. Happy, healthy eating!

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Thanksgiving 2010

Cover of "Attitudes of gratitude"

Cover of Attitudes of gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2010 in the United States. No matter how challenging a situation we may be in, such as caring for someone with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, we all have something to be grateful for. Sometimes it’s just conscious awareness of our surroundings that can wake us up to gratitude in our life.

A good friend of mine gave me a book, Attitudes of Gratitude — How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life. It’s a small book, but not one to read at one sitting. I enjoy reading one “thought” just before a quiet meditation. The late Ardath Rodale of Prevention magazine suggested that readers count the number of times they say “thank you” during the day. By turning our attention to it, we will probably increase the number of times we say “thank you.”

Many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional meal of turkey and all the trimmings and pumpkin pie. On CNN news, it was suggested that you use a saucer-size plate. This video also gave other suggestions to make your Thanksgiving healthier. There are so many “makeover” recipes that you can find at various Web sites on the Internet. Do you have a favorite “makeover” healthy recipe that you love? Please share it.

As much as many of us will try to control our eating, it will be difficult. My husband and I have received two invitations for Thanksgiving — lunch and dinner — so I will have my digestive enzymes handy to assist my digestive system. I thank all of you for your support and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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Second Anniversary — noranagatani.com

This week I celebrate my second anniversary with noranagatani.com. It’s been an awesome experience and mind-boggling when I think about people who have connected with me via comments, phone calls, and e-mails. I’m also grateful for the wonderful contributing authors.

Using the tagline, “Helping Seniors Live Happily Ever After,” has enabled me to cover a variety of topics, but what I’ve cared most about is the health of my generation. If you still haven’t caught on to exercising, it’s important that you do.

Granddaughter

I’ve mentioned being retired — it’s been almost five years now — and what fun to experience so many new things. Topping the list is becoming a grandma. What a delight! I’ve also been a “Cellular Response” practitioner for almost a year and how gratifying to see people feeling good.

Now I’m taking it a step further and I’ve developed a program to have seniors and baby boomers take charge of their own health. So I’m working with seniors and baby boomers who are struggling to find enough time to care for their aging bodies and would like to feel as though they are in their twenties again, except with better judgment. Know any senior who would do anything and pay anything to feel more energetic? Give me a call to find out more and get in on my no-cost pilot program. I’m looking for volunteers from anywhere in the United States. Call any time — 703.825.8384. I’d love to help!

Brain Rules: Part II

In my last post I introduced a wonderful book by John Medina, Brain Rules. I talked about his first chapter, the importance of exercise because it boosts brain power. In this post, I explore his Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.

In 1965, a 17-year old made the Guinness Book of World Records by not sleeping for 11 straight days. He became irritable, forgetful, nauseous and after five days he was actively hallucinating, became severely disoriented, and paranoid. He looked as though he had Alzheimer’s disease. In the last four days of the experiment, he lost motor function, his fingers trembled, and his speech slurred. However, on the final day he was able to beat scientist William Dement, who was studying him, at pinball for 100 consecutive times. Dement is often called the father of sleep research.

I used to think that many seniors don’t sleep well at night and therefore always needed a nap during the day. However, it appears that the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal. The “nap zone” is literally fatal: More traffic accidents occurring during it than at any other time of day.

We know that lack of sleep hurts learning and cognitive skills. But it also affects other bodily functions:

  • ability to utilize food consumed falls by about one-third
  • ability to make insulin to extract energy from glucose falls dramatically
  • body’s stress hormone levels rise in an increasingly deregulated fashion
  • accelerate the aging process

Medina points out, “The bottom line is that sleep loss means mind loss. Sleep loss cripples thinking in just about every way you can measure thinking.” The amount of sleep each person needs varies, but we know for sure that it’s needed and we can certainly function a lot better by getting our requisite amount of sleep plus a power nap. Perhaps we’ll even have fewer “senior moments” and slow down our aging.

For previous posts that mentioned “sleep,” type “sleep” in the search box in the upper right corner.

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Brain Rules: Part I

Brain Rules by John J. Medina, PhD, is an intriguing and interesting book published in 2008. Dr. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. He also teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in it Department of Bioengineering. In Brain Rules he talks about 12 principles of surviving and thriving at work, home, and school.

  1. Exercise: Exercise boots brain power.
  2. Survival: The human brain evolved, too.
  3. Wiring: Every brain is wired differently.
  4. Attention: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  5. Short-term Memory: Repeat to remember.
  6. Long-term memory: Remember to repeat.
  7. Sleep: Sleep well, think well.
  8. Stress: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  9. Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses.
  10. Vision: Vision trumps all other senses.
  11. Gender: Male and female brains are different.
  12. Exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Chapter 1 immediately caught my attention with exercise boosts brain power. So all of my writing about “moving” and all of the hours I spend in various forms of exercise should pay off. He answers the question: Is there one factor that predicts how well you will age? Before answering the question, he profiles two people he met on television — Jim and Frank.

Jim is in a nursing home — picture him in a nursing home, in a wheelchair, his eyes vacant, lonely, friendless staring into space. Most people would not want to spend their last years of life in this way. On another channel, the author meets Frank … Frank Lloyd Wright, that is. He was amazed at his use of language and the clarity of his mind. Wright completed the designs for the Guggenheim Museum (his last work) when he was 90 years old in 1957.

Jim or Frank — which lifestyle are you headed for? Medina says:

Put simply, if  you are a couch potato, you are more likely to age like Jim, if you make it to your 80s at all. If you have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to age like Frank Lloyd Wright and much more likely to make it to your 90s.The chief reason for the difference seemed to be that exercise imporved cardiovascular fitness, which in turn reduced the risk for diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.

He goes on to say that a lifetime of exercises can also do amazing things for cognitive performance in areas like long-term memory, reasoning, and problem-solving, but the area that’s not improved by exercise is short-term memory and certain types of reaction times. Also, over-exertion and exhaustion can also hurt cognition. So, folks, we continue with our “senior moments.”

Medina says, “Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in leisure-time physical activity. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key. With Alzheimer’s, the effect is even greater: Such exercise lowers your odds of getting the disease by more than 60 percent.” Now this is amazing — “… a 20-minute walk each day, and you can cut your risk of having a stroke — one of the leading causes of mental disability in the elderly — by 57 percent.”

Exercise opens up your blood vessels so it can feed your brain. In addition as the blood flows more freely, the body makes new blood vessels, which penetrate deeper into the tissues of the body.

He concludes the chapter by saying, “Our brains were built for walking — 12 miles a day! To improve your thinking skills, move.”

In order to have enough energy to exercise, we must get enough sleep. In Brain Rules: Part II, I talk about sleep.

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