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10 Secrets To A Happy & Healthy 100 Years Of Life: Lessons from Okinawa, Japan

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The island of Okinawa in Japan, just north of Taiwan, has long been a hot spot for the secrets to longevity. It is unrivaled for its health, spirituality, and connection to mind and body. In fact, Okinawa has some of the highest number of centenarians (those who live past 100) in the world, at about 50 per 100,000 compared to 5-10 per 100,000 in the USA. These aren’t your average old folks, either. Here in the West, we associate old age with misery, joint pain, dementia, and nursing homes, but in Okinawa, the centenarians are happy and surprisingly independent.

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Diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, diabetes and heart disease are virtually unheard of, at least, not until you’re 90! Interestingly enough, when an Okinawan is removed from his or her society and rituals and adopts an American or Western lifestyle, their age limits begin to parallel those of the citizens of the United States. What exactly is their secret? Although genes do play a role, it seems lifestyle is the biggest contributor. In 2000, the Okinawa Centenarian Study published some fascinating facts on longevity:

1. Plant-based Diet

Okinawa is a beautiful tropical island (which helps anyone’s mood), but there is a bigger secret to their success. Because the plants are closer to the equator, where the sun’s damage may be greater, they protect themselves by producing higher amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants to stay alive. These nutrients not only protect the plants from the sun’s rays, but from animal or insect consumption too. Those phytochemicals are what correct free radicals and eliminate inflammation from our bodies! Okinawans eat up to 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day — ALL ORGANIC!

2. Limited to No Animal Protein

In Okinawa, the population follows a plant-based diet where they grow their own food. It is 80% plant based with the 20% reserved for fish and, occasionally, pork if there is a special ceremony. It is also free of the antibiotics, hormones, and cruelty that exist in Western culture in factory farms.

3. High Flavanoids (estrogenic compounds from food) and Good Fats

They eat natural grains, root vegetables, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and a ton of NON GMO fermented soy (90% is GMO in the USA). Examples like miso, flax, or tempeh are excellent for the liver and for menopause. Women experience menopause naturally with fewer complications. Another secret is bitter gourd or goya. As the name implies, this is a very bitter melon! It contains B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and beta carotene. It contains a phytonutrient called charantin and an insulin mimicking compound called polypeptide P that induces lower blood sugar and could be a remedy for diabetics.

4. Caloric Restriction

They practice a technique called Hara Hachi Bu, where they do not overeat. It translate to 8 parts out of 10, meaning they stop eating when they are 80% full. Caloric restriction has been a debatable topic but studies have shown that restriction, without malnutrition, can produce measurable benefits and potential longevity. For one thing, you will lose weight, and this is a good thing for most Americans. Caloric restriction also activates autophagy, which is the process by which older, dead cells are gobbled and cleaned up by other cells to keep the body running at tip top shape. If the body is inefficient at removing old debris, then this buildup can lead to neurodegenerative and cardiac diseases. Other studies point to “hormesis,” which means to induce benefit from low intensity biological stressors. This theory proposes that a calorie restricted diet excites the immune system and heightens the defensive state by inducing small amounts of stress, which lead to turning on longevity genes through science-based epigenetics (certain genes are turned off and on based on nutrition, environment, thoughts, etc).

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5. Daily Exercise

They practice daily exercise that is not only beneficial for the body, but the mind too. You know how wonderful it feels to finish a challenging or relaxing yoga class? Imagine doing that every day in a slower paced, island environment. The majority practice Tai Chi, karate, gardening, dance, yoga, or martial arts, all of which are known to connect mind and body in a more spiritual process. Also, no one smokes! They also have little osteoporosis (no, they don’t drink a lot of milk, which does not stop osteoporosis) because they eat more plants which are chock full of calcium! They then activate vitamin D and overall bone health by spending time outdoors in the sun.

6. Positive Attitude

When polled, the Okinawans consistently scored higher in the ability to handle stressful situations as well as on their overall outlook on life. On the island they enjoy a slower paced life and close, supportive networks. Lab results reveal low levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory amino acid present in those with heart disease. Okinawans have an 80% lower risk of heart attack!

7. Close Knit Community Groups

We are social beings who need love and support from friends and loved ones. Up to 80% of Okinawa’s elderly live alone independently or with a spouse, however they never give up their connection to community centers or elder day cares where they engage in games, sports, or exercise together. There is a name for these social groups and they are called moai groups. In Okinawa, growing old is looked at respectfully and the elders still help to run the community. There is always family visiting as life is slower paced. There are local festivals, gardening activities, and healing herbs brought to friends and dances for all to attend to continually heal the body and soul.

8. Find Tour “Ikigai”

Ikigai means “your purpose.” Retirement is a foreign concept in Okinawa. Their belief is that one should make life worth living no matter how old you are. You help others and continue to always look for a renewed mission.

9. Cultivate Spirituality

Spirituality, but not religion, is a major part of life in Okinawa. There are morning rituals, meditation groups, and a continued sense of belonging to a group that works collectively to achieve something bigger than them. They do not shy away from music or dancing as they believe this awakens the soul. The natives play Okinawan instruments like a traditional banjo and gather for community celebrations often. Women in Okinawa are noro (priestesses) or yuta (female shaman).

10. Eastern and Western Medical Approaches

Unlike the mindset in the West where there is a pill for every symptom and hard work to achieve health is often shunned, the Okinawans combine both aspects to achieve overall health. The employ shamanistic healing practices, spirituality, and some Western methods as well. They believe in the vitality and health of the people and their villages. Particularly, the older women play an active role as the religious leaders and spiritual shamans in the villages. Ancient herbs like the ones used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine are used in daily life. In fact, turmeric is consumed in large quantities (mostly in tea) and is revered for its antioxidant and detoxifying effects on the liver.

We could all learn some lifestyle lessons from the wise and gentle people of Okinawa, Japan.

Sources:

1. Okinawan Centenarian Study 2000 — ww.okicent.org

2. Genetic Determinants of Exceptional Human Longevity: Insights from the Okinawa Centenarian Study — www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PCM3259160

3. The Secrets of Long Life — ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2005/11/longevity-secrets/buettner-text

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A Potential Solution To Reduce Snoring & Sleep Apnea

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I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Snoring and sleep apnea not only represent a holistic health risk to an individual, the irritating noise at night can often create conflict in a couple’s relationship. I’d like to share with you a convenient alternative remedy that has helped all of my clients to reduce snoring and sleep apnea, and that is by wearing a tape to keep your mouth closed during sleep. A new study published this year also showed the efficacy of this treatment.

Major Cause of Snoring & Sleep Apnea

One major cause of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is mouth breathing during sleep, especially when you sleep in the supine position. When you sleep in the supine position with an open mouth, gravity pulls down your jaw and tongue, which then compresses your throat. As a result, your airway gets suppressed and narrowed, leaving less space for the air to pass through.

Mouth breathing also introduces stronger air flow as you inhale and exhale, which exacerbates the airway soft tissue vibration, causing the loud snoring noise. Strong air flow during mouth breathing also induces strong negative pressure that sucks in the soft tissues around the throat area, further narrowing your airway and eventually causing it to collapse, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.

The Quick Fix? Wear Tape To Keep Your Mouth Closed

As I mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of snoring and sleep apnea is mouth breathing. A quick fix to keep your mouth closed during the night is to apply a small piece of tape over it. When your mouth is closed and lips are together, it is harder for you jaw to fall back even when lying in a supine position. Keeping your mouth closed also forces you to breathe through your nose, which not only helps to regulate the airflow to reduce the negative pressure inside your airway, but also reduces soft tissue vibration

An otoralyngology study published this year in the American Academy of Otolaryngology Journal demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique, showing significant reduction in median AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) score and snoring index [1].

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In the past few years, ENT specialist Dr. Hung Cheng Tseng and I have recommended wearing tape for all of our clients as part of our AirwayFit training program, and the feedback has been great. For some CPAP users, wearing tape on their mouth can help to eliminate the air leakage issue. In addition, if you often find yourself waking up with a dried mouth and throat, this method will also help you keep your mouth and throat moisturized throughout the night.

How To Apply?

In practice, wearing tape to sleep is actually a lot less daunting than it sounds.

Visit any drug store near you and pick up a small roll of medical grade paper tape. It should cost you no more than $10. I recommend ones that are hypoallergenic, porous, and non-waterproof. When you wear the tape, you want to roll your lips slightly inward so you don’t apply it directly onto your lips. Otherwise, your lips can really hurt when you remove it in the morning. Some people apply some lip balm or vaseline onto their lips first as a layer of protection.

You don’t have to wear the tape over your entire mouth. You can start by wearing it vertically, in the center, right beneath your nose, and that should suffice; as long as the tape keeps your jaw up, you should be fine. I also recommend you to pre-fold one of the corners of the tape, just so that there’s a corner you can grab onto easily in the morning to tear it off.  If you have sensitive skin and you find removing the tape hurts, you can wet it with water before you remove it in the morning. You could also reduce the stickiness of the tape prior to use by sticking it onto your forearm a couple of times before applying to your lips.

If you really are panicked by this idea, then as I mentioned before, you can try wearing it only at the center portion of your mouth. This will leave gaps on the two sides of your mouth but still keep your jaw in the upright position during sleep. Also, if it’s your first night trying this method, wearing the tape 30 minutes before you go to bed can help you adjust to the feeling.

Most people who have tried the tape method to keep their mouth closed find it convenient and more comfortable and cheaper than the alternative methods. However, I would caution against wearing tape to keep your mouth closed if you experience the following: nausea or epilepsy, or if you have consumed alcohol or any pill or medicine prior to sleep. Otherwise, give it a try today and you will find yourself waking up feeling much more energized and hydrated the next morning!

To learn more about your sleep trouble, visit www.AirwayFit.com

Source:

[1]    Huang TW., Young TH., “Novel Porous Oral Patches for Patients with Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Mouth Breathing: A Pilot Study” American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery 152.2 (2015): 369-373. Print.

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A Simple Recipe For A Homemade Non-Toxic Fabric Softener

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many fabric softeners are loaded with toxic chemicals that may cause harm to our health.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you looked for alternatives to make or to buy? There are plenty out there.

Fabric softeners are one of the most unnecessary dangerous chemicals that you may be using in your home, and it’s important that you stop right away. There are much better, safer, all natural alternatives that will keep you, your family, and the environment safe. The natural alternatives can also prolong the life of your clothes. Really, we have no reason to have ever invented such a toxic product in the first place.

Fabric softener is one thing, among many household items, that absolutely must go, and hopefully from the awareness that is raised from this article and many others that are exposing these harmful chemicals for what they are, we will continue to see the decline in their use as people continue to opt for safer, cleaner alternatives.

So, What Is So Bad About Conventional Fabric Softeners?

First of all, the majority of conventional cleaning and personal care products can essentially be thrown in the garbage as they are absolutely loaded with chemicals, many of which are completely banned in other countries. We have many safer, all-natural alternatives to these types of things and we simply do not need to be using these to clean ourselves, our home, or our clothes. People sometimes assume that our governments have our best interests in mind and wouldn’t allow ingredients that are toxic to our health into the products that we use on a regular basis, and while that’s a nice thought, it is a naive one.

Fabric Softeners are among the worst offenders in terms of toxicity and it really makes one wonder how these chemical pollutants were approved by the U.S. Environmental Agency in the first place. The purpose of Fabric Softeners is to free your clothes from wrinkles and static cling and of course leave them smelling mountain fresh or like a field of lavender, but at what cost is this “fresh” smell?

According to the Environmental Working Group, fabric softeners contain chemicals and fragrances that can cause skin irritation and respiratory irritation. The fragrance element alone can come from hundreds of different chemical compounds, and yes many of them are toxic.

Interestingly, according to what Anne Steinmann, Ph.D., professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a world expert on environmental pollutants and their health effects, said in an interview with New Scientist, “Most exposure to hazardous pollutants occurs indoors, and a primary source for these pollutants is our everyday consumer products.”

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New Scientist also has stated that there are no legal requirements that all the ingredients, including potential toxins be listed for most of the products we use every day. While the compounds they contain have been tested individually for toxicity, scientists admit it’s hard to say how dangerous they might become when some are mixed.

Conventional fabric softeners are either a liquid that you pour into the rinse cycle of your washing machine, or a sheet that is thrown into the dryer with your clothes. Both contain compounds that are especially harmful to children. Toxic chemicals can easily enter your body through the skin. One of the worst is phthalates, which are added to emit a fake fresh fragrance, the University of Illinois Cancer center had the following to say about phthalates,

“Phthalates [are a] synthetic preservative that’s carcinogenic and linked to adverse reproductive effects (decreased sperm counts, early breast development and birth defects) and live and kidney damage.”

Steinmann also noted,

“Using a liquid fabric softener? You are pouring these toxic chemicals into the ocean every time you use it. Even worse than liquid fabric softeners are dryer sheets, whose chemicals are heated and then shot into the air for you to breathe into your lungs.

That ‘fresh-from-the-dryer’ smell that fabric softeners impart to your clean load of laundry? Don’t breathe it in, if you like your lungs to function. That super floral smell is masking a seriously unhealthy chemical stench.

So, What Are The Alternatives?

Luckily, there are lots, which begs the question, why did we ever start using these horrible toxic products in the first place? Every chemical product that is in use today for personal care or home cleaning could essentially vanish from the Earth and you know what? We would make do.

A simple recipe for a homemade fabric softener is as follows:

Ingredients

2 Cups Epsom Salts or 2 Cups Coarse Sea Salt
20-30 Drops Essential Oil
1/2 Cup Baking Soda

Simply mix all ingredients together and store in a container with tight-fitting lid, add ½ cup directly to your load of laundry.

Some even more simple ideas are as follows,

One half cup pure baking soda added to your laundry.

One cup of distilled white vinegar and about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil shaken in a spray bottle, give your wet clothes a spritz after they are washed, before you put into the dryer.
Don’t worry the vinegar smell will go away.


A crumpled up ball of aluminum foil tossed in the dryer with your clothes can help to get rid of the static cling.

Another great alternative, that is simple, cost-effective, economical and environmentally friendly is the use of dryer balls. You can get the plastic kind that can cut your drying time in half and reduce the static cling in your clothes, but to be more environmentally conscious there are also wool dryer balls that you can purchase or easily make your own.

Final Thoughts

Here’s what it comes down to, as consumers we have been gravely misinformed and maybe we have believed that there are some kind of standards set in place by our governments, unfortunately, it seems that these protection agencies, for the most part, don’t have our best interest in mind. So, with that in mind, it is up to us to be aware of what we are purchasing, if we stop purchasing these conventional products which contain harmful ingredients such as phthalates and fragrances, then the big corporations will either change their recipes, stop using these chemicals or simply go out of business. As the consumer, we have a direct vote for the types of products that are being produced by how we are choosing to spend our money. If WE don’t want chemicals in our products, we must simply stop buying them and start making our own. We must take responsibility for our own lives and create the type of world we want to live in. It is up to each and every one if us.

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Pamela Anderson Speaks Out Against Porn & Explains How It Can Ruin Lives & Relationships

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Pamela Anderson has called out the pornography industry and has provided a warning about the damage it can cause.

  • Reflect On:

    Think about the porn industry, it's origins, and what it has become today. How can porn impact us psychologically, physically, and what impact is it having on the younger generation and their overall perception of sex and sexuality?

Perhaps one of the most iconic sex symbols of our time, former Baywatch star and Playboy Bunny Pamela Anderson, has a warning for us all. In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal, entitles “Take The Pledge: No More Indulging Porn,” Anderson andrabbi-counselor Shmuley Boteach warn about how watching too much porn can ruin lives and relationships.

She’s been quite an activist as of late, the picture you see above was taken in her support for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange.

For those of you who may be thinking how hypocritical this sounds coming from a former porn star, (I can hear the comments now) just remember, people can change and often do. Who better suited to know about the porn industry than an insider? There was a lot of backlash for her article, but perhaps she is onto something here.

“From our respective positions of rabbi-counselor and former Playboy model and actress, we have often warned about pornography’s corrosive effects on a man’s soul and on his ability to function as husband and, by extension, as father,” the pair continue. “This is a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness given how freely available, anonymously accessible and easily disseminated pornography is nowadays.”

“How many families will suffer? How many marriages will implode? How many talented men will scrap their most important relationships and careers for a brief onanistic thrill? How many children will propel, warp-speed, into the dark side of adult sexuality by forced exposure to their fathers’ profanations?”

The Problem With Porn

I’m not here to demonize an entire genre and subculture, but there are a few things that we should all consider when it comes to porn. This topic is fairly taboo, even though it is extremely prevalent in our current society — just from a couple clicks of your fingertips a whole world of all kinds of sexual fantasies and fetishes are available. Online you can find anything you want, and the “selection” of what is offered has certainly ramped up in the digital age. What used to be seemingly innocent magazines and videotapes is now a whole underworld of anything you could imagine — often including crude and violent scenes of degradation and objectification of young women and men, too.

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Watching porn frequently is not only highly addictive, but overtime it can also lead to desensitization. This could be the reason that the porn seems to be getting more and more violent and grotesque over the past decade or so. Viewers are needing more and more to simply feel something.

It’s Okay To Play

When it comes to sex, we all have different desires, fantasies and wants and this information is not intending to shame anyone for their own. There is a whole subculture of people who are aroused by BDSM, and other fetishes, which is absolutely fine. However, this type of sexual play is often consensual, with strict rules in place. Some of the porn that is emerging is known as abuse porn and does not depict a consensual experience.

“The sensual revolution would replace pornography with eroticism—the alloying of sex with love, of physicality with personality, of the body’s mechanics with imagination, of orgasmic release with binding relationships. In an age where public disapproval is no longer an obstacle to personal disgrace, we must turn instead to the appeal of self-interest,” they write.

“Simply put, we must educate ourselves and our children to understand that porn is for losers—a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.”

It’s Time To Talk About It

Of course in an effort to remain neutral we shouldn’t generalize the entirety of porn and judge those who watch it, but it is something that we should be openly discussing more often. Raising awareness of the potential consequences and effects of porn would be a great place to start. Especially because the younger people are likely accessing this type of material online and there is a good chance that what they are seeing is their first glimpse of sexuality.

Are the scenes depicted in porn how we want our children to be viewing sex? Do we want our sons and daughters to believe that this is what sex is all about and all there is to it? Or should we be teaching them that although it can be fun to play games that both parties should be respecting each other and consenting to the experience before engaging in this type of play? And that sex can be a beautiful, loving and sacred act. It’s time to open up the conversations and bring awareness to the consequences of watching too much porn and the potential for addiction.

There is an excellent movie about this very topic called “Don Jon” a young man who is totally addicted to porn and hooking up scores a “perfect 10,” unfortunately, even she is not enough to satisfy his desires and he actually prefers watching porn to being with her. I won’t reveal how this movie ends, but it is very enlightening around the topic and is an enjoyable film.

For more information on this topic, read, “The Problem With Porn: Something We Should All Consider”

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