Make It a Happy & ‘Green’ Halloween!

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There is a lot to be scared of during Halloween with all the ghosts and demons roaming about, and the last thing you want to think about as you are busily preparing for a great night of festivities, is the hazardous health risks that you may be exposing yourself or your child to. There is an abundance of toxic chemicals out there that are associated with Halloween costumes and decorations that you might not be aware of.

The shelves are always stocked during Halloween time with make-up and cosmetics that help you transform into scary spectacles. Continue reading “Make It a Happy & ‘Green’ Halloween!” »

The Motivating Power of Music Can Change Your Health!

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I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like some type of music.  It can evoke the gamut of emotions, from happy to sad, or it can make you want to lie down and rest or get up and burn a few hundred calories on the treadmill.  It can sharpen your vision and memory, quicken or slow down your heart rate, and reduce stress levels.  In fact, music can dramatically impact your health and, quite possibly, your life. Let me tell you how.

The Motivating Power of Music

Recently, scientists studied the responses of study participants to various types of music.  It was found that music can really affect your mood, help you concentrate and prepare for an exam, relieve stress, or run (and win!) a race. Listening to music has real effects on different parts of your brain – they actually “light up” on PET scans in response to music.

Further, their studies showed a real causal relationship between music and the reward system centers of the brain.  This is part of the brain that responds to stimuli of things that are good for you, or make you feel good, – like food, light, sex – and reinforces those behaviors so that you’ll do them often.

Although everyone responds to music – whether it’s classical, rock, or New Age synthesizer – you respond differently than your friend or even your family member.  Yet, a recent (2011) Canadian study showed that listening to your favorite type of music almost always positively alters mood.  It does this by boosting the feel-good hormone, dopamine that gets activated in the pleasure center of your brain.

There are even new digital sound apps for your phone that you can tune into to help you focus, relax, or energize. They work by sending binaural beats – two different beats in each ear – to create a third sound that stimulates different areas of the brain.  The stimulation creates different brain waves with different effects.  For example, if you’re stressed out, you can stimulate your cerebral cortex to produce slow, alpha waves to calm you.  If you want to concentrate, or study for an exam, you can stimulate your brain to produce faster beta waves which will energize you and help you to focus.

Music can also help you lose weight by stimulating you to exercise more.  A study out of Brunel University in West London revealed that listening to upbeat, driving-rhythm, steady metronomic-beat type music can up your exercise endurance by 15%. It also helps lower your perception of effort during exercise as well as increasing your exercise efficiency 1%-3%.

How to Reap the Health Benefits of Music

When I was in my medical residency, a fellow surgeon, listened to soothing, classical music while performing surgery. She told me that it helped relax her and helped her to focus.  Since then, researchers have proven through studies that, indeed, music can help calm you, elevate your mood, thereby decreasing depression; it can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and even help relieve pain and anxiety by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

One study showed that listening to classical music boosted the immune system by increasing immunoglobulin A.  This positively affects your mucous membrane response to viruses, bacteria, and other microbes.  The immune system association was also associated with decreased heart transplant rejections.  New Age music, though, did not have the same effect.

In 4 out of 5 trial studies out of the Cochrane Collaboration, it was shown that listening to music, as a form of psychotherapy, worked better than talk or drug therapy.  Listening to music seems to also work well in helping older patients express what they’re feeling.

You may already be using music to make yourself feel, or perform, better without realizing its brain-stimulating advantage.  Here are some things you can use different types of music for:

  • Pain management – studies show that listening to slow, calming music can reduce pain of arthritis and back pain by 21%. It is also frequently used during childbirth to decrease the need for medication. 
  • Reduce blood pressure – listening to calming music (Celtic, classical or Raga types) 15 minutes in the morning and at night can reduce blood pressure by 30%. People can use it as a biofeedback device to lower their blood pressure. 
  • Stroke recovery – listening to your favorite music (jazz, classical, etc) can boost recovery time.  Recent studies from Finland showed increased recovery time in verbal memory and attention span. 
  • Headache improvement – slow, flowing (non-heavy beat) type music can reduce the duration and intensity of a migraine. 
  • Exercise/weight loss enhancement  – choose driving-rhythmic beat type rock, hip-hop, trance, or New Age type music. 
  • Learning – playing an instrument, or listening to music often, can help you learn better.  It increases reading and literacy skills, enhances spatial-temporal reasoning, boosts mathematical abilities.  This occurs because of the “Mozart” effect. The 60 beat per minute pattern of Mozart and other Baroque music stimulates both sides of the brain.  This maximizes learning and retention of information.  The music activates the right brain while the left brain learns the information.  
  • Improve productivity – listening to rock or classical music helps you perform better while you work.  It helps you recognize visual images, numbers and letters faster. 
  • Sleep aid – listening to slow, light, ethereal New Age music without driving beats, or calming classical music can help you fall asleep quickly.  

 

Music is truly a miraculous creation.  It really seems to be the universal language as it has the ability to touch all people on many levels, around the world.  It’s one of the true side-effect-free treatments for anxiety, stress, depression, and high blood pressure, that I can recommend you to indulge in frequently.  It will light up your brain and help your body release feel good endorphins.  Pretty soon, you’ll be in a great mood before you know it.

Stay Well,
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

Small Changes Add Up To a Healthy Life

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Weil: • Add fruit to your breakfast: Including fruit at your morning meal provides a head start on your daily quota of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals-without lots of calories.

Just Breath!: Practice breath work or some form of slow, deep breathing for at least a minute a day to help decrease stress. When you’re driving, working or lying in bed, practice breathing deeply regularly.

• Stand more, sit less: Sitting for long periods strains your back, neck, and shoulder muscles. Stand up periodically to stretch your legs or take a phone call. Being conscious of your sitting posture and developing strong core muscles to support your spine also lessens the tendency to hunch or slouch in your chair. Continue reading “Small Changes Add Up To a Healthy Life” »

Boost Your Health With A Mediterranean Diet

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You may have been hearing about the “Mediterranean diet” which has been buzzing all over the news lately.  Touted to help you lose weight, lower cholesterol, boost immunity, and even help you live longer, you may be wondering, as are my patients, how you too can reap the benefits of this health-boosting plan.  Here’s how: Continue reading “Boost Your Health With A Mediterranean Diet” »

Beat Constipation With Food, Not Drugs

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Unfortunately, the typical American diet is sadly devoid of fiber. And if you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from gas, constipation, and bloating the lack of fiber could be placing your health in risk.

Not eating enough fiber could be the catalyst to many serious diseases such asheart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Continue reading “Beat Constipation With Food, Not Drugs” »

Summertime Protection for Mom and Baby — Inside and Out

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(ARA) – Whether relaxing beachside on vacation, picnicking in the park or strolling through the neighborhood, warm weather offers many opportunities for outdoor fun. However, these activities can lead to dehydration, sunburn and fatigue if you’re not careful. Continue reading “Summertime Protection for Mom and Baby — Inside and Out” »

The Amazing Health Benefits Of Antioxidants

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Of all the things we have to concern ourselves with, preventing “internal rust” is not likely to be on your list. However, it should be as it’s one of the most important things you can do for your health not only to stay looking and feeling younger but to avoid serious disease. Continue reading “The Amazing Health Benefits Of Antioxidants” »

Bad Chemistry: Exposing Health Risks of PFCs

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Did you know that 98% of Americans have been exposed to perfluorochemicals through the water supply? What does this mean exactly?

Perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, are an industrial chemical that are persistent in humans and the environment and have been linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, damage to the immune system and elevated risk of cancer and heart disease. Continue reading “Bad Chemistry: Exposing Health Risks of PFCs” »

New Map Shows Hot Spots in Global Food Crisis

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Washington, DC – Volatile food markets and food insecurity contributed to the civic unrest that recently brought down Egypt’s president. To better understand the unfolding reality of global food price volatility, ActionAid (an international anti-poverty agency operating in 50 countries) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) today released an interactive map showing which countries are at highest risk of a food crisis due to recent food price hikes. Continue reading “New Map Shows Hot Spots in Global Food Crisis” »

New Guidelines Help Make Better Food Choices

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Last week (Jan. 31, 2011), the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were announced Agriculture Secretary TomVilsack and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius. The new guidelines are the federal government’s evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. Continue reading “New Guidelines Help Make Better Food Choices” »

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