Day 198-Wednesday's Medical Minute-The Many Benefits of Stretching

I wish there was a way to tie in my subject matter for today with the fabulous Valentine’s Day I had yesterday, but since there isn’t, I’m just going to mention that first! Whether you saw my bragging on Facebook or not, I just have to show you the lovely present my hubby bought me, along with more flowers, followed by a yummy dinner at Fresco’s Mexican Cantina.

My gold dipped rose from Steven Singer Jewelry
My gold dipped rose from Steven Singer Jewelry
This is a gold dipped rose from Ihatestevensinger.com, a truly unique gift that surprised and delighted me-one that I will cherish forever. It is a perfect red rose, dipped in 24K gold, it will never die, and every day I look at it, I will remember how special this Valentines Day was, just as if it was a piece of jewelry. (Which it is in a way) It comes from Steven Singer Jewelry and was delivered in a gold box with a special message inside. You can get a whole bouquet (one at a time for special occasions) because there are 11 more roses of different colors in the collection. I loved it and tried to make his day special as well. Of course, he is still healing, so there was no hanky panky yet, but I made his cookies and egg cups for the week, washed his clothes and got him a card and two pairs of comfy pants, since his pants are still causing him pain when he sits and the seams press on sensitive areas.

Aright, lets get to today’s post and the benefits of stretching. We all know that stretching is important, whether you sit all day or need to work out on a regular basis, stretching offers many benefits and is a healthy habit we all need to be practicing.

Greater strength- stretching increases strength by improving circulation and blood flow to your muscles, which helps muscles recover after a workout and provides nutrients to the muscles. This increased blood flow also helps prevent soreness and muscle fatigue during recovery periods.

More Flexibility- as we grow older, our muscles shorten and tighten. stretching improves range of motion decreases the chance of injury to tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues. Be careful not to over do it though, that can also lead to injury as people sometimes do in Yoga.

Good for Circulation- lengthening and loosening the muscles will help with greater circulation which improves overall health. Better circulation helps promote cell growth and organ function, lowers the heart rate and stabilizes blood pressure.

Reduces Stress- stretching relieves tension and also releases endorphins in the brain that cause feelings of calm and well being. Stretching the muscles around the neck and shoulders in the evening will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Increased Range of Motion- the best way to increase range of motion is by stretching, which will also improve balance and help prevent injury and improve athletic performance. Stretching allows for a more complete workout whether it’s swimming, jogging or lifting, increased range of motion allows for better form and muscle recruitment.

We all know as writers that sitting all day hunched over a computer will lead to poor posture and a tightening of the muscles in our back, neck and shoulders. For that reason, we need to fit stretching into our daily routines, breathing into the muscles we are working on to further increase the stretch. I learned some of that when I used to do Yoga. (Maybe I need to get back into that!) Again, just be careful not to overdo it.

Stretching can also lower your blood sugar, which may be why I see that result sometimes after stretching Stephanie every morning. This is the first thing she does before getting out of bed, due to the fact that she is confined to a wheelchair most of the day.

Taking stretch breaks throughout the day will also invigorate you, even in the afternoon, and have you raring and ready to go!

Researchers say that stretching can help with fine-muscle coordination which means people who stretched before activity were less likely to fall and injure themselves.

Stretching exercises to practice include shoulder shrugs, wrist bends, knee lifts, low lunges and the pigeon pose (excellent for loosening tight hips and opening hip flexors).

Check out my sources for this article for more helpful stretching exercises and information. prevention.com and zentofitness.com under the benefits of stretching.

I’m sure we all would do better to incorporate some of these stretches every day, in fact, I’m off to pull out my yoga mat and get my stretch on right now! Have a wonderful Wednesday and I’ll see you back here tomorrow, when it’s a little warmer, on the patio!

Day 191-Wednesday's Medical Minute- How Flax Seeds Work to Improve Your Health

Getting healthy is one of the many New Year’s resolutions people may still be working on and including flax in your diet is one of the best ways to achieve this goal. Flax is a superfood which has so many benefits, some of which are pretty mind blowing when you think about it.

Flax can be sprinkled on pudding
Flax can be sprinkled on pudding

Since the goal of many people this time of year is to get more exercise, maybe their resolution was to hit the gym. What they may not be thinking about however, is getting enough protein and fiber in their diet. To maximize your efforts in the gym or other exercise program, protein is a necessary component. Flax provides 1.6 grams of protein per tablespoon and 2.5-8 grams of fiber. Fiber is important when the goal is losing weight or reducing the risk of colon cancer. Women especially can benefit from flax in their diets since we are notoriously plagued by constipation. A daily dose of flax solves that problem by keeping you regular, just start small and don’t overdo it. Work your way up from a teaspoon to a tablespoon daily.

Exercise may be one way to beat depression, but so is including flax in one’s diet. Instead of taking anti-depressant medication, simply adding flax to the foods you eat on a regular basis can boost mood and make you feel better, due to the amino acids found within the miraculous seed. Imagine, just by having a tablespoon of flax a day in your smoothie, you could save money by not having to take medications like antidepressants, laxatives, and cholesterol lowering drugs!

Eating flax can be a big part of staying heart healthy, since it contains Omega-3 fatty acids (good fat), a tablespoon delivers 1.8 grams of plant omega-3’s. Flax also contains lignans, which can reduce plaque buildup by 75% according to some studies. Eating good fats such as these reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and research shows that consuming plant omega-3’s can normalize the heartbeat and provide ant-inflammatory benefits which help aid the cardiovascular system. This is a benefit I need to share with Miss Stephanie, who suffers from heart palpitations and other frequent arrhythmias.

Most supermarkets and health food stores carry flax, making it easily obtainable and super affordable. If you could eat something daily that would possibly reduce the need for so many medications, wouldn’t you try it? Since becoming Paleo, incorporating flax in addition to my use of some essential oils, I was able to get off my depression medication entirely. That’s a win in my book!

Flax comes in three different forms, so it’s easy to incorporate into your diet/routine. Whole flax seeds can be added to food before baking, ground flax seed and be sprinkled on top of puddings, salads or stirred into smoothies and flaxseed oil is sold by the bottle or in capsule form- all three need to be protected from light, which can cause them to go bad, I store mine in the freezer which keeps it fresh. I use ground flax the most because it’s easiest for me to use in and on my food. Another tip is not to heat the flaxseed oil if that’s what you choose to use, because doing so destroys the nutrients and minerals.

To sum it all up, flax seeds benefit your health in so many ways, it would be crazy not to use this superfood as part of your daily regimen. Go get yourself some, like Bob’s Red Mill brand, it’s a quality brand- the one I use because I trust that they take care to provide a safe, GMO certified, gluten free product. img_3856

Some of you may remember an article I wrote for VitaBella magazine on Flax: A Tiny Seed With Big Promise, I know this post was similar, however, I hope I’ve shed more light on some of the benefits I may not have covered in the article.

I hope you’ll give flax a chance to see what it can do for you. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions. Now, I’m off to the store to get more, I used the last of mine making some delicious oatmeal energy bars. My cousin sent me the recipe and they turned out great. Here is the link if you want to try them for yourself: Clean Food Crush-Healthy Homemade PB Energy Bars, let me know how you liked them!

Also, before I forget, quick update on Dave after his follow-up appt. today, he has been cleared for work, his pathology came back good (not perfect but the dr was happy) and he is progressing nicely in the doctor’s opinion. He said he should feel much better within the next two weeks to one month, and his first PSA will be taken at his 3 month follow up. Pray for a zero on that report! All in all, the news was good and his peace of mind has been restored.

Join me tomorrow for Throwback Thursday, see you then, have a blessed day! 🙂