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BEYOND

Diet and Exercise cont.

TAKE PROBIOTICS

Probiotics play key roles in digestion by helping break down food, eliminate waste, improve the lining of the digestive tract, and more. They control inflammation, support immunity, and keep harmful bacteria at bay, while producing numerous enzymes and nutrients we need for digestion and overall health. Emerging research over the last few years shows probiotics also play key roles in healthy weight management, influencing how our bodies store and utilize fat. One probiotic species in particular, Lactobacillus gasseri, is shown to reduce visceral fat (the dangerous fat around your midsection), by up to 9 percent after three months.

REDUCE STRESS

Ongoing stress raises inflammatory proteins in the body, reduces immune function, and impacts metabolism, among other negative effects. Cortisol, one of the primary stress hormones, raises blood sugar levels and can inhibit insulin production, causing the body to store glucose as fat and increasing the risks of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. One of the most effective ways to reduce stress is daily meditation practice. Even just 10 minutes a day can offer clinically significant benefits for numerous areas of health. While there are countless styles of meditation practice, one of the most profound is the ancient Tibetan practice of Shamatha meditation. Shamatha is Sanskrit for “calm abiding.” The technique

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involves focusing the breath on a specific object and letting go of all other thoughts, as attention is consistently trained on the process of breathing. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit, and pick a small object such as a pebble to place on the ground in front of you. Focus your eyes and your breathing on the object. As thoughts inevitably arise, simply acknowledge and then release, letting them slip away with each out-breath. When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breathing, visualizing each inhalation and exhalation going to and from the object.

IMPROVE SLEEP

Poor sleep habits (such as a lack of sleep or sleeping dur-

duction of melatonin, a powerful anti-inflammatory hormone that influences our circadian rhythms and supports key areas of health including metabolism and weight.

EMBRACE HEALTHY FATS

Of all the food groups, fats are the most commonly misunderstood. We’re taught to believe that our obesity problems and related conditions come from eating fats. As a result, many people avoid any kind of oils or fats in their weight management programs. However, the truth is that in moderation, fats are crucial to numerous areas of health and can help the body reduce unhealthy weight. They just have to be the right kind.

Cortisol, one of the primary stress hormones, can inhibit insulin production, causing the body to store glucose as fat. ing the day, with lights on, or right after eating a huge meal or drinking too much alcohol) can raise the risks of chronic disease, including diabetes and obesity. Disrupted sleep patterns interfere with our natural biological clocks, or circadian rhythms, which in turn affect hormone balance, immunity, repair processes, and much more. So what can we do to promote better sleep? One important recommendation is to avoid bright lights and electronics a few hours before bed, and be sure to sleep in total darkness. These measures allow the pineal gland to optimize pro-

Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs): These fats are generally liquid at room temperature, and can be found in many common oils such as flax, sesame, olive, sunflower, and others, at various ratios along with polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats. Some studies suggest that consuming foods with MUFAs can support healthy cholesterol, balance insulin, and control blood glucose. Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs): These are found mostly in vegetable or grain oils as well as fish oils. They demonstrate benefits similar to MUFAs, and essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and -6 fats also fall into this

category. They’re obtained from foods such as flax seeds, chia seeds, fish oil, and other sources. However, a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 is critical for preventing chronic illness. Modern diets are laden with omega-6 (abundant in commercial vegetable oils) and deficient in omega-3s—a dangerous ratio that can lead to chronic inflammation, free radical and oxidative damage, and related conditions. A good solution is to supplement with additional omega-3 oils to balance this ratio. Some nutritionists even recommend a completely balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 and -6 fats to address inflammation, cardiovascular health, and more. Tans fats: The worst fats are trans fats and their newest relatives, “interesterified” fats. These industrial fats are created from a chemical process designed to give oils and processed foods a longer shelf life. Trans fats should be avoided completely, as they fuel inflammation and interfere with numerous body functions. Plus, the body doesn’t recognize them and has a difficult time processing and eliminating them. As a result, these harmful substances build up and contribute to weight gain, unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels, and arterial plaque. These fundamental wellness practices have positive ripple effects across all areas of our health, including weight, vitality, and even overall sense of well-being, offering greater energy and momentum that can help keep us moving forward with a healthy weight-management program.

JANUARY 2017

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Lucky's Market Health & Happiness January 2017