Food for thought about how to live healthy!

More Stretch, Less Stress

Studies have shown practicing yoga several times weekly has many health benefits.

When you hear the word “yoga” what comes to mind? Deep breathing, weird poses and soothing music are often associated with a typical session of yoga. Unfortunately, the health benefits of yoga aren’t being stressed enough, especially to the younger generation.

While it may seem yoga is a great way to relax, it also helps the biochemistry of your body. A new study reported in the journal Diabetes Care reported that those with Type 2 Diabetes who took yoga class were able to shed more weight and easily retain their blood sugar levels contrasted to those who did not take yoga.

Researchers, however, don’t exactly know why yoga is so beneficial. Most of the medical evidence suggests that the deep breathing exercises help lower what is known as oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress occurs when byproducts of the cells’ energy usage rise to levels beyond the body’s ability to neutralize them. These “free radicals” can circulate around the body and cause organ damage. Oxidative stress has been attributed to a number of chronic disease.

Long term oxidative stress has the biggest impact on the brain and the heart. It is most involved in diseases such as heart failure, atherosclerosis, mycardial infarction (heart attack), Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and chronic fatigue syndrome.

So how does breathing cut down on oxidative stress?

The Sympathetic Nervous System, the system that controls the “fight or flight” response, is like the gas pedal of the brain’s organ control system. When the body is faced with combating a degenerative disease such as heart disease or Alzheimer’s, the SNS sends these cells into an energy output overdrive which produces these free radicals. Deep breathing stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is like the brake against the gas pedal.

There’s also controversy over the effects antioxidants have on oxidative stress. While Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, seems to help improve heart disease, there is no conclusive evidence of antioxidants having a significant impact.

If you are suffering from a chronic degenerative disease or know someone who is, yoga is a great way to improve your lifestyle. Even if you aren’t affected by a chronic disease, yoga is a great way to live healthier. Three 15-minute sessions a week is proven to help relieve stress, reduce tension in the muscles, shed weight and combat illness.

The best thing about yoga is there’s no gym or class membership required! There are several great yoga routines on YouTube you can do at home.

I picked out this video because it not only focuses on calming the body but also calming the mind. Calming the mind is what activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System and reduces stress.

Photo courtesy of organicsoul.com

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