How Small Everyday Choices Can Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Disease: Dr. Stork Recap

April 9 2013 | Exercise | General

Dr. Travis Stork stood in front of 2,000 people last week at Nature’s Sunshine’s National Convention and presented his solution to better health. It was based on two messages:

  1. Inflammation is the biggest health threat today 
  2. Good health comes from making small, simple choices every day. 

Those simple messages encompass a lot, and can have far-reaching effects on one’s quality of life. 

Inflammation: A Health Care Dilemma


It’s no secret that inflammation is a major health issue for many people. Stork thinks it alone is responsible for the majority of illnesses, and it’s something that can be prevented by taking responsibility to make health a habit.

“One in in two of us have a chronic illness, and seven out of 10 deaths are caused by chronic disease, which means we have chronic inflammation,” Stork said. “A lot of these diseases are preventable.”

Those diseases, he said, start with a poor diet, which leads to inflammation, which leads to a variety of problems. Some include:  

  • Obesity causes inflammatory processes in the body, that if not addressed, will lead to other illness
  • Inflammatory conditions can lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, strokes and major depressive disorders 
  • Kids who eat three or more fast food meals a week have increased risk for asthma and hay fever. More of these kids are diagnosed with Type II Diabetes 

“It’s truly become a health care dilemma,” he said.

Not surprisingly, fast food is a main culprit. The cycle of eating fast food, however, can be difficult to break. Here’s what Stork says happens when you eat fast food: 

  • Dopamine pleasure hits a high
  • The body produces insulin 
  • Fat cells multiply in number, releasing cortisol. 
  • Blood pressure rises
  • Inflammation rises
  • The only thing that makes you feel better is the next meal
  • All the sugar, fat, and salt is designed to cause addiction

Good Health Comes from Small Choices

Stork really drove home the point that consistent, small choices are what will drive a healthy life. 

“We are in control of our health. In so doing, we become role models for others,” he said. “We make these subtle, seemingly inconsequential decisions every day that affect our health.”

Some of those decisions he mentioned are eating a healthy breakfast every day, flossing teeth, putting on sunblock, regular exercise, and of course, making wise decisions on the food we eat. 

“Eighty percent of Type II diabetes are thought to come from lifestyle choices,” Stork said.

Healthy Living Starts in Two Places: the Kitchen and Movement

Stork said we currently live in a health care system that is focused on treating diseases instead of preventing them; that we take care of problems after they happen and not before.

"Let food be thy medicine. Hippocrates was onto something,” Stork said. “Healthy living starts in the kitchen and studies show that lifestyle (exercise and diet) can decrease your chance for many cancers and can decrease the recurrence of cancers.” 

He told the story of his father who was 60 pounds overweight and on medication for much of his life. The medication he took was to treat his symptoms.

“Not once did he ever have a conversation with anyone about how he could reverse his condition. "Sometimes we oversubscribe when the best thing to do would to write a grocery prescription," Stork said.

Why Exercise Makes You Smarter [infographic]

February 19 2013 | Brain Health | Children's Health | Exercise | Infographic

Exercise might be as crucial for your brain as diet is. In fact, studies show a lack of exercise doesn't just affect the body. It also has significant affects on growing brain cells. Mice that ran 3 miles each night doubled their hippocampus size over time.

OnlineCollegCourses put together a nice graphic to show how exercise increases the performance of the brain, especially in youth. Some of the stats below include:

  • In elementary kids, 40 minutes of daily exercise caused an average IQ increase of 3.8 points.
  • The fittest students scored 30% higher on tests than average students (less-fit students scored 20% lower)
  • Those who regularly play sports show a 20% improvement in math, science, english and social studies
  • Fit 18 year olds were more likely to go onto higher education
  • Students who worked out before class improved test scores 17% on average
  • Employees who exercise regularly are 15% more efficient

How Working Out Can Make You Smarter Infographic

Why the Best Medicine Might Be Your Right and Left Feet

January 16 2013 | Brain Health | Exercise | General

Put your left foot in front of you right, and then your right foot in front of your left, and then repeat.

That's called walking. And it could be the best thing for your overall health. 

The historian Geroge Mcaulay Trevelyan wrote in 1913 that his two doctors were "My left leg and my right." 

The truth in that statment is coming to light every day with new studies and reports. The Guardian published an article titled, "Walking could protect brain against shrinking," based off research published by U.S. neuroligitsts who monitored 300 volunteers over 13 years. The report says walking may ward off a variety of conditions, such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

In the study, those who walked the most cut their risk of developing memory problems by half. And it suggested people try to walk 9 miles a week, the optimum distance for "neurological exercise."

Those that walked about 9 miles a week had larger brains and dimentia or cognitive impairment was 50% greater on those who only walked short distances. 

"Our results should encourage well-designed trials of physical exercise in older adults as a promising approach for preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease," Dr Kirk Erickson, of Pittsburgh University, who led the study said. "Brain size inevitably shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. "But if regular exercise in midlife could improve brain health, thinking and memory in later life, it would be one more reason to make regular exercise in people of all ages a public health imperative."

Why Sitting is Killing Us


Image via

The dangers of sitting might be equal or greater than the benefits of walking. 

In a Gizmodo article, "Sitting Is the Smoking of Our Generation," Nilofer Merchant lays out the case against sitting on our tush all day. Merchant writes:

"After 1 hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90%. Extended sitting slows the body's metabolism affecting things like (good cholesterol) HDL levels in our bodies.

"Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly tied to 6% of the impact for heart diseases, 7% for type 2 diabetes, and 10% for breast cancer, or color cancer. You might already know that the death rate associated with obesity in the US is now 35 million. But do you know what it is in relationship to Tobacco? Just 3.5 million.

"The New York Times reported on another study, published last year in the journal Circulation that looked at nearly 9,000 Australians and found that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11%. In that article, a doctor is quoted as saying that excessive sitting, which he defines as nine hours a day, is a lethal activity."

Physical inactivity has also been labeled a public health issue, and the health risks of physical inactivity are similar to smoking, according to the US National Library of Medicine

So, what can you do to move your body? 

A good start might be to putting your left foot in front of your right foot more often. Get to the gym. And when you're not in the gym, hit the stairs instead of the elevator. Interrupt sitting whenever you can.  Stretch more. Walk around at lunch time. On a phone call? Pace around the room instead of plopping down on the chair. Look for every excuse to move your body. Stand up for your right to stand up.  

Need more motivation? 

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, wrote: "Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, too, put his health down to shoe leather, writing: "I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out."


The One Real Secret to Being Healthy

January 4 2013 | Exercise | General | Infographic

The year 2013 is only a week old. Anything can change in a week, and many may have already broken their new resolutions. Whether you're still staying strong or are looking to start over again this new week with a commitment to be healthy, here's some simple advice:  


Are you healthy? If you are, keep doing what you're doing. Keep going to the gym, eating right and taking the right nutritional supplements. If you're not sure if you're healthy or not, take the Nature's Sunshine health assesment here. 

If you know that you're not healthy, and you want to be healthy, change something! It's really that simple. Your body reacts quickly to positive changes. But you've gotta be serious about them. 

"Your body's like a piece of dynamite. You can tap it with a pencil all day, but you'll never make it explode. You it it with a hammer, bang! Get serious, do 40 hard minutes, not an hour and a half of nonsense." -- Jason Statham.  


Want this graphic on your site? Just paste this embed code into your blog:

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6 Simple New Year's Health Goals Anyone Can Do

December 28 2012 | Body System Health | Exercise | Family Health | General | Nutrition | Weight Management

In the memoir, "What the River Knows," Wayne Fields writes this nursery rhyme:

“The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”

             -- Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990”

Fields' book was a beautiful and poignant memoir; a meditation on families and aging, and a whimsical response to what time, and streams, and those we care about bring into our lives.

In the nursery rhyme, he struck a simple chord for anyone searching for health and well-being. He mentions 6 simple doctors: sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise and diet. Improving on even just one of them would be a noble, and reachable, resolution for the New Year. We examine each one below:

Get More Sunshine

Now, we're not talking about tanning. With the Sun, there can definitely be too much of a good thing. However, that fiery ball of radiation that climbs into the sky every morning can be just as good for your health as it is damaging.

"Being out in the sun boosts our mood, improves sleep, and promotes vitamin D production," says James Spencer, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "There's no controversy about that."

An article in U.S. News says the Sun can help you get better sleep; can make you happier by increasing serotonin (psychiatrists often recommend that depressed people spend 30 minutes of the day in the sun); may give you protection from autoimmune diseases and asthma; and can lesson the symptoms of Alzheimer's. 

Drink More Water and Eat More Water-Based Foods

There might be too many benefits of drinking water to list here. But some of the benefits as cited by MindBodyGreen include: increased energy, promote wieght loss, flushes out toxins, improves skin, aids digestion, supports the immune system, a natural headache remedy, prevents cramps, much cheaper than flavored drinks. A six-year study also suggests that people who drink more than 5 glasses of water per day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack than people who drank less than 2 glasses per day.   

But aside from drinking more water, don't forget putting more water-based foods into your diet. The more fruits and vegetables you consume, the more nutrition you'll get and the better you'll feel.  

Get More Rest

A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week. A short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power, reports the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch also says a good night sleep supports learning and memory; metabolism and healthy weight; safety and better performance in daily tasks; a better mood; cardiovascular health; and a strong immune system. Go here for more information on herbs and natural supplements that support rest and relaxation

Breathe Better and Get More Oxygen

Diaphragmatic breathing

Oxygen is arguably the most important substance for our health. If we run out of it, we'll die in minutes. It's important we get enough oxygen to keep our body and organs functioning correctly.

We breathe more than 20,000 times a day. It is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we die, so it makes sense to become good at breathing. Soldiers master different types of breathing to perform in life or death situations -- whether it's to calm down, to increase endurance or to wake up and have more energy. In Yoga, correct breathing is not just crucial to supply the various organs enough oxygen, but to also to help rid the body of waste and toxins. 

Oxygen is critical to our well-being, and any effort to increase the supply of oxygen to our body -- and especially to the brain -- will pay rich dividends.

Get More Exercise

The benefits of exercise are obvious: stronger muscles and bones, a healthier immune system, better weight, higher metabolism, stress relief, warding off depression, etc. But it also might make you smarter. A recent article in the New York Times claims that the size of the human mind increased over time because of the necessity of exercise for early humans.

"The broad point of this new notion is that if physical activity helped to mold the structure of our brains, then it most likely remains essential to brain health today," says John D. Polk, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-author, with Dr. Raichlen, of the new article. "And there is scientific support for that idea. Recent studies have shown, he says, that 'regular exercise, even walking,' leads to more robust mental abilities, 'beginning in childhood and continuing into old age.'”

There seems to be a direct, and even an evolutionary, correlation between a healthy body and a healthy mind. This gives an even more powerful incentive to be active in 2013. 

Eat More Whole Foods

Diet and exercise are probably the top two resolution goals made every New Year's. But, instead of a diet plan that is doomed to fail, it might be more realistic to focus on eating better.

Eat more natural foods, more vegetables, more nuts, more fruits, more lean protein, more essential fatty acids like fish and avacados, and make sure to get the right herbal and vitamin supplements to fill in the holes.  Don't eat processed foods, refined flours, conventional frozen meals, and cured meats with byproducts. Instead, eat more whole foods that are as close to nature as possible, including high-fat foods grown the way nature intended. If you have difficulty getting enough whole foods, consider shakes like Nature's Harvest, which is full of vegetable protein. 

13 Tips For Healthy Aging

December 11 2012 | Brain Health | Exercise | Family Health | General | Nutrition | Sleep

The fountain of youth … a magical elixir that prevents aging, illness and death. 

It sounds great, but for those of us with a more realistic outlook on life, we can do simple things right now to feel good and to help give our bodies their best shot at longevity.

Here are 13 of them:


13 Ways to Age Healthy


1. Stay active. Keep moving. Walk, work in the garden, play tennis or golf. Do anything that sounds fun if you can. Not all of us will be skydiving on our 80th birthday, but regular activity keeps the circulatory and respiratory systems in better shape, burns calories, warms us up, and helps lower the risk of debilitating diseases. And it’s good stress therapy.

2. Use your brain every day. Do mental math, crossword puzzles, jumbles, etc. Keep those neurons firing and active to help preserve healthy neural pathways. Also eat brain foods and brain supplements known to support brain health and function.  

3. Antioxidants. Fight cellular damage to your skin, eyes and circulatory system by getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet. These nutrients have extra electrons that neutralize dangerous free radicals caused by sunlight, pollution, radiation and other things in our environment. Choose colorful fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens like spinach, purple and red fruits, orange and yellow veggies, tomatoes, dark chocolate and more. Or drink your antioxidants in a potent beverage like Thai-Go® or in a supplement like Super Orac.

4. Put things on your calendar. Look forward to a concert, a family gathering, lunch with friends, etc. Australian researchers found that elderly people who are more social live longer compared to those with fewer friends.

5. Drink plenty of water. Proper hydration keeps blood and waste moving and helps the kidneys flush toxins and waste out of the body.

6. Take a nap! Naps may help combat stress in the body. One study of 24,000 people found that those who take a nap regularly are 1/3 less likely to die from heart disease than those who don’t get regular naps. 

7. Go fishing. At the dinner table that is. Fish provides important essential fatty acids, including omega 3s and 6s, that are often lacking in our diets. These EFAs support circulation, heart health, brain health, blood pressure and more.

8. Eat less. Cutting back on calorie consumption by 20–25% is enough to increase your lifespan markedly. Instead of filling your stomach, fill your time with learning, moving and socializing.

9. Get a little nutty. Adding uncooked nuts and seeds to your diet adds important trace minerals like selenium and the essential amino acid tryptophan. The former helps quench free radicals and eliminate heavy metals, and the latter helps with both mood and sleep.

10. Pray. A 12-year study of adults over 65 shows that people who attend religious services more than once a week had stronger immune systems that those who did not attend services. They were also less likely to die. Worshipping together creates strong social bonds between friends, which may boost health.

11. Sprinkle on the seasonings. Shakespeare was right. Rosemary is for remembrance. Cooking with herbs like rosemary, sage and turmeric can help improve mood and memory.

12. Watch your waistline. Being overweight puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and other unwelcome conditions. Stay active and eat smart to keep your weight in check and disease at bay.

13. Invest in a healthy future. Get a physical once a year, and stay on top of your recommended health screenings.


Sources: WebMD


8 Body Hacks to Live a Longer, Healthier Life [Infographic]

November 28 2012 | Brain Health | Exercise | General | Heart Healthy/Cholesterol | Infographic | Nutrition | Respiratory Health | Sleep

Note: This article is being reproduced for its educational value only. It is not intended to promote a particular manufacturer or brand of dietary supplement.

The human body is a biological miracle, and can respond quickly to basic rules like diet and exercise.

Jason Statham, English actor and former diver, said,

"Your body's like a piece of dynamite. You can tap it with a pencil all day, but you'll never make it explode. You hit it once with a hammer, bang! Get serious, do 40 hard minutes, not an hour and a half of nonsense."

This graphic (below), which was created from information at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, outlines 5 areas to focus on to live a longer, healthier life. It mostly focuses on what may be a plague of our time: Chronic Inflammation, which is often the cause of things like heart disease, obesity, and cancer. 

Inflammation is caused by a number of factors, including a poor diet, high insulin levels, stress, lack of sleep and consistent physical activity. The graphic also goes into areas other than diet and exercise, such as intellectual, emotional and mental health. Don't ignore that part of a holistic health plan. Mental health can greatly help your overall health, including chronic stress, fatigue and well being. 

In addition to this graphic, Dr. Melina Jampolis in this interview talks extensively on the Mediterranean Diet and how it can support inflammation.  

Health Tips for Healthy & Longer Life (Infographic)

[Via: Geeky Stuffs]



What You Should Eat When Working Out [infographic]

October 30 2012 | Exercise | Infographic | Nutrition

Effective workouts demand complete nutrition. If you don't eat right, you might be wasting a lot of hard work in the gym.

About a year ago, Greatist came out with this graphic below, which offers simple guidelines to help you make the right choices to fuel -- or refuel -- your body before and after a workout. It covers how to manage your nutrition whether your doing strength training, cardio, or both. 

For post and/or pre workout nutrition, also check out these Nature's Sunshine Supplements:


Guide to workout nutrition



5 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

September 18 2012 | Exercise | Weight Management

Woman runs through mud

Proper nutrition through a balanced diet and appropriate food supplementation lays a great foundation for health. But it will only take you so far.

For optimal health, regular exercise is a must. Although "regular" is much easier said than done. 

Even though most people recognize the need for exercise, making and keeping an exercise habit is challenging for a lot of us. Here are a few tips to help you develop this essential habit.

Make It Fun

There’s no one “right” way to get your exercise, so don’t feel like you have to lift weights or run for miles each day. Exercise can be anything from walking briskly around your neighborhood to dancing in your living room. 

If you don’t like doing certain activities, calling it “exercise” won’t make it any easier. In fact, you’ll be even less likely to keep at it. Find an activity that you enjoy and stick with it.

Start Small

Most people jump right into their next fitness routine and go full bore for 45 minutes to an hour, and then within a week they’ve already given up because they’re too tired, sore and miserable to want to do it again.

Don’t let this happen to you! Ideally, you’ll want to exercise for 20-30 minutes a day. When you’re first starting out, however, go for 10 minutes at a time.  Set smaller, near-term goals that you know you can reach to build your confidence and your stamina. As you become more accustomed to regular activity, increase you workload accordingly. 

Reward Showing Up

Whether it’s a quiet soak in the tub, a night out, or a sweet snack—don’t go overboard here—you’ll want to incentivize your exercise routine by rewarding yourself with a special treat. At first you might set rewards just for having exercised.

As you get into your habit, reward yourself for reaching certain milestones or achievements.

Schedule Exercise for Quiet Time:

Make exercise a priority by scheduling it for times with minimal distractions. If you know your friend usually calls around 6 p.m. and that they’ll talk for an hour while you work on getting dinner ready and help the kids finish their homework, then don’t schedule your exercise for 6:15. 

Things will always come up—that’s just part of life—but by limiting interruptions, you’ll greatly increase your chances of sticking to your habit. 

Get a Buddy:

We’ve all heard that misery loves company. Well success does, too. Finding someone to exercise with, whether it’s your spouse, a friend, or even your kids, is a great way to strengthen your commitment. 

Developing any good habit—not just exercise—can be a challenge, but having a plan makes it much easier to tackle. For more ideas on how to make and keep your exercise habit, check out this article

It’s also important to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to build muscle and support an active lifestyle. Click here for suggestions on supplements that give your body the right nutrients for your activity levels.  



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