Sleep is essential for hormone balance.

Why getting enough sleep and having a routine is essential for healthy hormone balance and synthesis.

You probably know that sleep is important, but do you ever consider how important sleep is for your overall health and wellbeing?

When we sleep, the body enters parasympathetic mode, which enables cell growth and repair. This is when healing, repair, mental sorting, and detoxification occurs. We get tired due to the hormone melatonin, which is the main hormone responsible for our circadian rhythms, or sleep-wake cycle. It is secreted by the pineal gland within the hypothalamus of the brain. If we sleep well (i.e. a routine of 6 – 9 hours of unbroken sleep at roughly the same time every night), then we should naturally start to feel tired as it approached bedtime and naturally wake up after 6 – 9 hours. Approximately thirty minutes after waking up, cortisol should rise so that you feel alert and ready to get the day started.  Hormones are sensitive to our circadian rhythm. “When ignored, poor sleep will make you fall down a hormonal flight of stairs,” Gottfried says

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Should you take food supplements?

There is a lot of controversy amongst health care professionals about whether or not their patients should be taking food supplements – vitamins and minerals – or not. The answer is not clear-cut, as each patient is different and responds differently to different kinds of treatment (and supplementation).

Why do people take food supplements?

Here are some of the most common reasons why people take supplements:

  1. We know that vitamins and minerals have essential functions in the body for our health and wellbeing, therefore it ‘makes sense’ to take them in a pill, right? Just another one of life’s conveniences?
  2. Marketing – companies that produce the supplements make us believe that we need them, or we are not being responsible about our health (when I ask new patients the question about whether or not they take vitamins, minerals or supplements, the most common answers are either a sheepish no, or a proud yes, followed by a long list).
  3. Recommendations – either by professionals or peers.

Ask yourself – why are you taking the supplement? If they are recommended by a health professional to support a medical condition, blood test reveal levels low, or you are presenting with symptoms recommended by a medical professional – then you should probably continue, but if it is just because you think it is the right thing to do, read the rest of this article.

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Know Thyself?

As a reflexologist, I strongly believe in the skill of introspection and ‘awareness’ of ones’ strengths and weaknesses in order for authentic healing and ‘improving’ one’s life – which is an ongoing growth (and sometimes regression) process.

KNOW THYSELF – this phrase is mentioned by a couple of Philosophers (originally by Socrates, followed by Plato and Aristotle) and many other contemporary speakers, writers and leaders. We can also find many references to this in the Bible and other spiritual teachings[1].

But what does it matter? Can’t we just get on with what we need to do and be whoever we are without contemplating the essence of oneself? Perhaps that deeper introspection is just for those ‘feely’ people who care about that stuff? And working on improving one’s life is for the smart overachievers? Well I suppose the choice is yours, but perhaps you can give this blog post a read to find out if there are any benefits for you to understand yourself a little bit better.

In order for you to improve yourself, you need to know where you are currently. This is where you have to be honest with yourself. Where are you now compared to where you want to be? And what small habits can you implement to help you get there? Be authentic and be aware. (The likelihood of you ever ‘arriving’ at were you want to be is impossible, but as humans (most of us anyway) we’re constantly striving for better, that’s why we like to have goals it keeps us motivated and driven, and gives life a sense of purpose.)

Why “Know Thyself”? Being aware of the person you are helps you to hone into your strengths and weakness and ultimately help you to ‘live your best life’, ‘achieve your goals’, whatever it is you set out to do. One of the most difficult things to do is to “Know thyself”, but you can observe yourself, your actions and your thoughts – that is the only way that you will be able to change them and improve yourself.

Tools to know Thyself

Observation and awareness of thoughts and actions are the primary way of having a better understanding of oneself, but sometimes ‘tools’ can be worth exploring:

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Why do we crave junk food when we are stressed (or upset)?

How often do you find yourself drawn to chocolates, chips, pastries and other high & simple carbohydrate ‘comfort foods’ when you have had a stressful day or in the moment of a stressful situation?

Besides the fact that junk foods are convenient, they are also comforting. A lot of food science and lots of money is spent to make junk food pleasurable for us. ‘Junk foods’ have the right chemical make up to make you want more. They stimulate chemical release of the pleasure neurotransmitter, dopamine, which is also associated with addiction. Dopamine is not the only hormone released. When we eat sugar the brain produces opioids, another group of neurotransmitters (including endorphins) largely associated with addiction because they create a morphine like effect.[1]

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How to build Resilience to ‘Shocking’ situations.

I have often written about how stress affects the body, this article is a bit more specific. In the past I have written more about ‘chronic stress’ – stress that sits with us for long periods of time, causing a consistent increased level of cortisol in the system. This post is about quick, sudden periods of high anxiety or shock. This kind of ‘stress’ may have long lasting effects, depending on how you deal with it.

According to Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com):

“Psychological shock is when you experience a surge of strong emotions and a corresponding physical reaction, in response to a (typically unexpected) stressful event.”

‘Shocking’ situations are out of our control. However, you can mentally prepare your mind, so that when a shocking situation occurs, you have the resilience and the mental control to deal with shocking events more efficiently.

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The Essence of Reflexology

Reflexology can be explained in one simple sentence: Reflexology helps the body to heal itself. Mostly, this occurs on the body’s own terms. Your body knows what kind of healing is priority at any given time. This is sometimes referred to as the bodies innate wisdom. Innate wisdom can be explained as the intelligence that keeps our BodyMind complex in balance and re-establishes balance (this balance is referred to as homeostasis).

Does the body need help in healing itself?

Although there are times when the body is very good at healing itself, there are many times when the body needs some assistance and guidance in healing itself, particularly when one is very stressed.

Reflexology is one of the ‘tools’ that one can use to assist with the healing process.

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Reflexology: Moving from relaxation to rehabilitation

This post was inspired by the annual TSARS national reflexology congress held in July 2016. It was centered round neurological conditions and recovery with reflexology.

It makes one realize that the benefits and effects of reflexology are overlooked. This is mainly because of the lack of scientific evidence (due to lack of funds). However, there have been a number of case studies done on neurological conditions such as strokes and brain trauma injuries with the treatment of therapeutic reflexology.[1](see below for links)

reflexology-nervous system
reflexology nervous system

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Eating the’Yin Yang’ Way

Salads are not always that healthiest option!

The field of food and nutrition is quite complex. It is no wonder people get so frustrated with diets and jump from one diet to the next. Personally, I do not believe in ‘dieting’, but rather to incorporate a way of eating with your lifestyle. Articles on nutrition are often said to be ‘contradictory’. I believe this to be because different people need different nutrition and react to foods differently. What is good for one person is not always good for another. It is difficult to incorporate everyone in a generalised write up.

There are so many lifestyle ‘healthy’ diets that are out there today. There’s the banting diet / paleo foods, rawtarians (raw food diet), acid alkaline, the low-fat diet, etc. Now, I’m not saying that any of these diets are wrong, but I don’t think any of them are completely right for the entire population either.

I recently came across an article about yin / yang balancing and thought I’d do some more research about yin and yang foods. I have found this to be one of the most holistic ways of eating. I personally find that this way of eating lives up to its nature. It is very balanced and logical. I feel many people have lost ‘common sense’ when it comes to food.

Salads for summer and veggies for winter. 

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Why are you Struggling with Weight?

Most people struggle with weight loss (or even weight gain) issues at some point in their lives. And just about everyone will have body image issues in their lifetime. One of the biggest problems with weight loss is that there is so much information out there, that one becomes confused as to what is the best protocol for themselves. Poor results from the ‘wrong diet’ leave people uninspired to continue. We are also surrounded by convenient, addictive, junk foods that make many people unwilling to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Weightloss can also become an unhealthy obsession.

The number of diets out there today is too numerous to keep track of – some diets receive a lot of popularity, some diets ‘work’ and some diets are a ‘waste of money’. Some diets can even cause much more harm than good. But a diet is not the solution, not long-term anyway.

If you want to make lasting changes, firstly, you need to identify what your motivation is to lose weight (negative or fear based-motivations are unhealthy). Secondly, what is the underlying cause of your excess weight? Sometimes it goes deeper than diet and exercise. You need to understand your body and be dedicated to being on a path to healthier eating and living that suits you.

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Kidney Essence & Aging

In modern medicine, the kidney is responsible for maintaining blood composition and removing waste and excess water from the body.

In TCM the kidney is responsible for growth, maturation and reproduction. Most importantly, our “essence” is stored in the kidneys. “Essence” is critical substance and foundation underlying the entire human life, essence generates ‘qi’ (vital energy) which turns into yin and yang energy. [1]

Kidney essence depletes as we age. A lifestyle that preserves kidney essence is ideal. Parents should be encouraged to ensure that their health is optimal before they conceive, as our initial essence / congenital essence is determined by our parents. This is referred to as our ‘congenital constitution’ / ‘acquired constitution’. Unfortunately, we cannot gain more essence, but we can preserve the essence that we have.

Essence is crucial for growth, development and normal aging. Our essence peaks at adolescence and then declines thereafter. Vitality and energy decrease as our essence depletes.  

To age ‘gracefully’ we need to look after the kidneys (or our kidney essence).

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