Thursday, July 28, 2011

Massage Reduces Insomnia in Postmenopausal Women

A recent pilot study published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinics examined the effects of therapeutic massage on anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping in post-menopausal women.  This small study included 7 post-menopausal women with insomnia.  Each of the women received two 1 hour sessions of massage a week for 8 weeks.  Surveys evaluating anxiety and depression and a sleep diary were completed before during and after the 8 week study.  Researchers also used polysomnography to assess sleep quality.  Results of this study revealed that massage therapy decreased the severity of sleep disturbance related to menopause and improved sleep quality. There was also a decrease in anxiety and depression among these same women.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deep breathing for stress relief

Deep breathing is a powerful relaxation technique.  It is easy to learn, can be practiced anywhere and is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices.  The key to deep breathing is “belly breathing”, taking a full cleansing breath from the abdomen.  The next time you are feeling anxious or stressed give the following a try.
  •  Sit comfortably in a quiet place with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest.
  •  Breathe in through your nose.  The hand on your stomach should rise.  The hand on your chest should hardly  move.  If this is difficult for you try arching your back a little.
  •  Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth.
Practice this daily for 10 to 15 minutes as well as when you feel stressed.  Regular practice of techniques like this that activate the relaxation response will reduce everyday stress levels and increase feelings of serenity and well-being. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Health Benefits of Strawberries

It’s strawberry season in Maine!  This is something I look forward to every year.  Bright red, juicy berries……yum!  The use of strawberries and the strawberry plant dates back over 2000 years.  It is often described as a luxury item enjoyed by royalty.   American Indians prepared infusions of the plant leaves as treatment for stomach ailments.   The French philosopher Bernard de Fontenelle who died at the age of 100, attributed his longevity to strawberries.   

So, just what are some of the health benefits of strawberries?  Strawberries contain lots of antioxidants, which may decrease the risk of chronic disease.  They are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins including vitamin C, K, B1, B6 and folic acid.  Strawberries have been shown to inhibit COX enzymes in vitro which inhibits the inflammatory process.  Preliminary studies have also shown that eating strawberries can possibly increase anti-cancer activity on cancer cells of the breast, skin, colon and prostate.  Lots of good reasons to support your local farmer and pick a quart of strawberries.

Here is a recipe for a delicious strawberry smoothie.
10 strawberries
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 t. sugar
1 T. vanilla
6 ice cubes

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy.  You can also add other fruit like bananas.  Enjoy!!