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Focused Breathing: Spiritual, Physical, and Mental Benefits

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7 Ways to Stay Healthy During this Season

We have all been challenged in some way by the Coronavirus and now it is time for Cold and Flu Season. It could be a particularly challenging season but it doesn’t have to be. Even though I am a Registered Nurse, I have been very vocal regarding my opinion as it relates to Western Medicine. I was never taught about alternative/natural ways to stay healthy in nursing school. I was taught the western medicine way only. There is a place for western medicine, however I choose to believe that the creator placed something on this earth to heal whatever ails us. He created a perfect body and gave us the tools to keep it that way. I would like to share 7 things I do to keep illness at bay during this season.

  1.  Drink Bone Broth

I’ve written several times about the scientifically proven benefits of bone broth. Bone Broth contains valuable minerals in a form your body can easily absorb and use. It also inhibits infections caused by viruses thanks to its anti-inflammatory amino acid, arginine. I could go on and on about how bone broth can help ward off the flu/cold, coronavirus and other illness. I challenge you to do your own research to find recipes. A cup a day will keep the doctor away. 

2.  Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is critical for many reasons but one of them is to keep our immune system functionally optimally to ward off things such as viruses. Our brain and heart are made up of approximately 73% water and our lungs, 83% water. Water is also found in our blood. This speaks to the power and importance of water in order for our cells and different systems, such as the immune system, to function properly. The majority of the water in our bodies is found inside the billions of cells. The cells MUST have water to live. Just having this little bit of information is definitely reason for me to comply. I like to think of water as a flushing mechanism that helps to flush out toxins from the body. The more you drink, the more you eliminate through your urine. I have found that 8 glasses of just pure water a day, at room temperature, have made a big difference for me. Give it a try. 

3. Proper Rest

Rest/Sleep allows your body time to rebuild its body systems such as the nervous system, bones, muscles and just the whole body in general. According to the Sleep Foundation, a 20 to 30-minute nap helps improve mood, performance, and alertness. What does that say to you about rest? The job of our immune system is to keep foreign invaders that cause flu, cold, and other viruses away. If the cells of our immune system are not properly hydrated and given adequate time to rest and regenerate, they will not function properly and therefore make us more susceptible to the illness. I have heard people say, “I only need 4 hours a night.” That is not enough time for the body to regenerate. Research has shown that EVERYONE needs 7-8 hours per night.

4. Regular Exercise 

So, we’ve talked about the fact that most of our body is made up of water. In order to keep the water moving and doing its job, we must be active. The cells that are filled with water move along more fluidly when we keep them well hydrated. Remember the cells must have water to live. I like to think of it as the cells floating through the blood stream and nourishing all our organs and systems such as our immune system. This only happens when you are well hydrated and exercising regularly. Regular consistent exercise also improves heart and vascular function, controls weight, lowers blood pressure, and boost immunity. Health and Harvard.edu (2017, October 31). How to Boost Your Immune System. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu. Again, I like to think of it as exercise increasing the speed at which my immune system cells move through my body and do their job more efficiently.

5. Meditation/Silent Time

With all the noise in our external environment, it is essential to have meditative silent time. Shut out everything external and go inward. This includes time away from all external devices including our phones, iPads, and T.V.’s. One of the key benefits of meditation is stress reduction. Stress breaks down our immune system and makes us more likely to get sick. Stress causes an increase of the stress hormone in our body called cortisol. Consequently, the cortisol releases inflammatory chemicals. We know that inflammation is the root of all disease and illness. Meditation and silent time also promote good emotional health. Healthy brain equals healthy body. There are so many proven benefits of meditation/silent time. It has been scientifically proven to be essential for good physical, mental and spiritual health. Just start by setting aside 15 minutes a day to sit in silence. Some great guided meditations also are available at no cost on You Tube.

6. Eating a Healthy Diet 

It goes without saying that eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables leads to better health. The key word is raw. That means you can’t cook your green beans in pork fat back for 2 hours. You’ve just taken something healthy and made it unhealthy. According to the World Health Organization, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity are the leading global risks to our health. Some good rules of thumb related to your diet are:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables with every meal. (Lightly steaming the veggies is a good way to maintain the nutrients in them)
  • No sugar (Including sodas, sugary juices, sweet teas, cakes, candy….) Sugar decreases your white blood cells that help fight infection. 
  • Daily Unsaturated Fats such as fish, avocado, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil…)
  • Less than one teaspoon of salt daily
  • Stay away from fast food
  • No processed food
  • Limit ingredients on what you buy to no more than 6. If there are ingredients that you have no idea what they are and you can’t even pronounce them, do not eat them. The fewer ingredients on the label, the better.
  • Read labels on everything you buy

7. Handwashing and Keeping Hands Away From Face 

Handwashing is the single most effective method to controlling the spread of infection. Wash them often. It is also important to keep your hands away from your face. We touch our face hundreds of times a day. The nose, mouth, eyes, and ears all act as portals of entry for germs like flu and coronavirus to get into our body. Make a practice of not touching your face. If you need to touch your face, wash your hands first. Your hands should always be washed for 20 seconds in a scrubbing manner that covers the back, palms, and fingers. All parts of the hand.

There are of course many other things you can do to keep yourself healthy during this season when viruses seem to be more prevalent.  I have found however that consistency is key. When I choose not to practice the 7 ways of avoiding these viruses, then I end of getting sick or just not feeling my best. When I do decide to practice the 7 steps above with consistency, I feel amazing. The answer is not in a vaccine. Vaccines are more about big pharma revenue as opposed to prevention. The answer is in what the creator has already given us. Use it. It is my hope that you all have a blessed, happy, and healthy season.

Stay Well and don’t forget to enter your email address to receive my monthly articles straight to your inbox. Your support and love are greatly appreciated. Leave a comment to let me know how you stay healthy.

Vince Shifflett, RN BSN CCRN

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Water: An Essential Part of Your Diet

fullsizeoutput_1f0bIn my current role as a Tele-Health Nurse, I am realizing that people as a whole are water deprived. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water and we are continuously losing that water through urination, sweating, breathing and in our stool. It must be continuously replaced. Water is an essential part of our diet. As a matter of fact, it is vital to life.

I could write a book on the benefits of water and how it works to keep our bodies functioning properly. I will try to hit the highlights and hope you will understand the critical nature of water intake.

I talk to hundreds of patients a week who call in with varying symptoms. One of my initial questions is, “How much water do you drink a day?” I am shocked at the responses. “At least 2 bottles a day.” “Very little.” “I am not sure but not much.”

Dehydration or lack of proper amount of water leads to:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood sugar (Diabetes)
  • Increased anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Dry/Wrinkled Skin
  • Decreased circulation
  • Decreased Heart Function
  • Altered Mood
  • Decreased Concentration, memory and alertness

There are more negative implications of not drinking enough water daily. These are just a few.

Function of Water:

  1. Aids in Digestion
  2. Aids in Absorption
  3. Critical for proper Circulation
  4. Regulation of body temperature
  5. Transportation of nutrients to our cells and organs
  6. Vital to Optimal Heart function

I will give a few examples.

The skin contains plenty of water which as mentioned earlier must be replaced continuously. Lack of water leaves your skin looking dry and wrinkled. Proper water intake is also vital for heart function. Blood volume (water volume), blood pressure and heart rate are all closely related and very dependent on proper hydration with water. http://www.ncbib.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954

If you have a diagnosis of heart failure or kidney failure, check with your doctor regarding the proper amount of water consumption for you. Otherwise, get to drinking.

How to tell if you are drinking enough

Your urine is the best indicator to tell if you are drinking enough water. Your urine should be clear and free of odor. If it is dark yellow or even moderately yellow, you should be drinking more. I like to think of water as a cleansing agent that flushes the body of toxins and keeps it running smoothly. Keep in mind that certain vitamin supplements can turn your urine a different color but otherwise, it should be clear.

Ditch the incredibly harmful drinks like sodas, sweet tea and fruit juices full of sugar and down a nice glass of water instead. Your body will thank you. It will thank you even more if you drink it at room temperature. Ice cold water can be a bit of a shock to the body and create changes in our vessels. If you hate water, flavor it with fresh squeezed lemon, oranges, strawberries, cucumbers, mint or what ever flavor you prefer.

Keep a bottle of water in your car, in your bag, at your desk and on your night-stand. Start your day off with a glass of water to rehydrate all your cells.

For the next month, I challenge you to focus on drinking a minimum of 8 glasses a day. You will see an improvement in your energy, mood, skin clarity, and overall sense of well-being to just name a few.

Thanks as always for tuning in. I appreciate each of you.

Vince Shifflett, RN BSN CCRN

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Hi, I’m Vince. I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse and Author. Welcome to my site. On this site you will be provided inspirational, educational, motivational and thought provoking articles. It is my mission to have this information help you achieve Optimal Health which includes your  Physical Health, Spiritual Health, and Mental Health. My ultimate goal is to create change and stimulate self-healing. I would love to have your support by entering your email address on this site to receive my monthly articles. I look forward to your feedback.

 

 

 

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Eight Simple Ways to Stay Healthy This Flu Season

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I have the privilege to assess many patients daily as part of my job as a Triage Nurse. We are already seeing an influx of people calling in with cold/flu symptoms. There are many ways to stay healthy during this cold and flu season. I would like to share just 8 of those ways that I feel are of the most important.

  1. Hand Washing:

The single most effective way to control the spread of any infection is proper hand-washing. We touch many things daily that others also touch such as door knobs, telephones, grocery carts, seats in public places, utensils at a buffet, sinks in public restrooms, the items on the coffee bar at Starbucks and the list goes on. The issue is, there is no way of knowing if the person who touched it before you washed their hands first. Hands should be washed vigorously for a minimum of 20 seconds, making sure to cover all parts of the hand including the finger tips. Hands are a great vehicle to carry the infection into our body. Wash them. Wash them often. Keep them clean.

  1. Keep Hands Away from Face:

I believe this is the second most important thing we can do to keep germs out of the body and remain healthy during this flu season. The hands are the vehicle as we discussed. The nose, ears, eyes, and mouth are the portals of entry. When we touch our face, the germs on our hands get into the body through these portals of entry. If you need to touch your face to clean it, apply make-up, scratch an itch or any other reason, wash your hands as directed in the hand-washing section before touching your face. An alternative would be to use hand sanitizer.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet:

Eat a diet that is high in raw fruits, vegetables and low in processed meats and modified ingredients. Stay completely away from sugar. Sugar lowers our bodies ability to fight infection by decreasing the number of cells called phagocytes that actually help fight infection and keep it away. A good healthy diet gives our bodies immune system the tools it needs to do its job effectively.

  1. Include Bone Broth in your Diet:

I could write a book just on bone broth alone but for the sake of this article, I will keep it brief and hope you trust my knowledge. Most of our immune system lives in our gut. Bone broth helps protect the gut by coating it with collagen and nutrient rich minerals thus strengthening the immune system. It is my recommendation that you make it yourself at home. A cup a day is sure to keep the doctor away. I have attached the link to some simple recipes for your convenience. https://wellnessmama.com/5888/bone-broth/

  1. Get the Proper Amount of Rest:

This is absolutely essential for cell regeneration. Rest allows your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild. This regeneration process—which also requires water, food, and sometimes supplements—rebuilds your body tissues allowing them to grow back stronger. Sleep is also an important part of the process. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I’m fine on 4 hours a night?” “I’m ready to go.” They may feel fine but in actuality, their body is much more susceptible to colds and flu without the proper amount of rest. The adult body needs between 7 and 8 hours of rest per night.

  1. Keep a Humidifier in the Room Where You Sleep:

Winter weather tends to dry out your skin and nasal passages. That coupled with the fact that we turn on our heat in the winter creates a perfect breeding ground for infection. The heat in our homes during the winter also dries out our mucous membranes and leads to a much greater risk of infection with the cold and flu. If you do not already have a humidifier for your bedroom, I recommend purchasing one that is equipped with a humidistat. That will allow you to control the humidity level. The ideal level is 45%.

  1. Regular Exercise:

Regular exercise is a pillar of healthy living. It promotes good circulation which in turn allows cells and substances of the immune system to do their job much more efficiently. Exercise has many great benefits and protecting the immune system of one of them. Get moving and stay healthy.

  1. Drink Lots of Water:

Again, in an effort to keep it brief and simple, I will say this. The more you drink the more you pee. The more you pee, the more bacteria and other harmful organisms get flushed from your body. To me, that sums it up and is reason enough to drink more water. Does it have to be water? Yes. Our bodies are largely made up of water and the body cannot function properly without the right amount. The current recommendation is at least 8 glasses a day.

It is my hope that the information in this article will save you a trip to the doctor this year.

Now its time to put this all into practice for myself.

Be well,

Vince

Board Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse

 

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Inflammation: The Root of all Disease

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Inflammation has been shown to be at the root of all disease. Inflammation can be a good and bad thing. It is the bodies normal response to injury and infection and can therefore actually stimulate healing. On the other hand, chronic sustained inflammation is not good and is the root cause of disease and illness. In this article we will take a closer look at inflammation, causes of inflammation, foods that cause it, foods that prevent it, and ways to measure inflammation in the body.

A Closer Look

In inflammation, chemicals from white blood cells are released into the blood. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues resulting in swelling. It goes without saying that cells that are inflamed, leaking, and edematous are not going to do their job effectively. In other words, inflammation damages your bodies healthy cells and tissue and severely weakens your immune system. Consequently, this weakened immune system is the gateway for disease and illness. The bottom line is inflammation can affect all internal organs and prevent them from functioning properly. For example, inflammation of the kidneys leads to elevated blood pressure and kidney failure. Inflammation also plays a key role in heart disease and the progression of atherosclerosis and blood clot formation. These are just a few of many examples.

Causes of Inflammation

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Diet Choices

Foods that cause inflammation

  1. Sugar: Sugar drives inflammation and negates the anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that women eating a diet high in sugar developed breast cancer that spread to the lungs at a much higher rate than their counterparts who ate no sugar.
  1. Vegetable and Seed oils: Vegetable oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids which promote inflammation in excess. Omega 3’s is a better option. 
  1. Alcohol: Alcohol leads to bacterial toxins moving out of the colon and into the body. A condition known as “leaking gut syndrome.” This leads to widespread inflammation and subsequent organ damage.
  1. Processed Meats 

Foods that Prevent Inflammation: For the purpose of this article, I cannot go into detail about every food but I challenge you to do your own research in an effort to create and maintain a anti-inflammatory environment in your body.

  1. Berries: Berries contain anti-oxidants known as anthocyanins. These anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory effects that greatly decrease the risk of heart disease.
  2. Fatty Fish: Contains high concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids which are great anti-inflammatories. Some good ones to eat are salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies. 
  3. Broccoli: Best source of a powerful anti-inflammatory known as sulforaphane.
  4. Avocados: Protect against inflammation and have been shown to decrease risk of cancer.
  5. Green Tea
  6. Peppers
  7. Mushrooms
  8. Turmeric
  9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Cherries
  12. Fermented Foods: Fermented foods maintain a healthy gut which is where most of your immune system lives. Some good examples of fermented foods are yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut just to name a few. 

Key Inflammatory Marker

C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a good way to assess for inflammation in the body. I always have my physician include it in my lab work. An elevated CRP level indicates inflammation but is non-specific as to location. It is however found in the blood when systemic inflammation is present making it important to have it checked. Ask for the test. In one study, people with excessive alcohol intake had greatly elevated CRP levels which validates that alcohol is something to limit in our diets.

In conclusion, my 30 years of nursing has allowed me to see the negative implications of chronic inflammation in the body. It has brought an awareness to me of the importance of diet as it relates to inflammation and maintaining optimal health.

Until next time,

Eat healthy, be aware, and be well.

Much love,

Vince

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Vince is a Critical Care Registered Nurse, Published Writer, and Columnist living and loving in Atlanta, Georgia. Enter your email address to receive his bi-weekly educational, inspirational, and thought provoking work straight to your inbox. You can also follow him on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Your support is deeply appreciated.