The Best Medication in the World

Do you ever wonder why fit people are also happier?  The women and moms who work out are also the ones who seem to have “their shit together.”  It’s true, and this lifestyle is a choice.

Physical exercise is the most powerful behavioral medicine that exists. One famous scientist once said, “If the benefits of exercise could be prescribed in a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed pill in the world.” While the countless health benefits have long been clear, few understand the profound effects that daily exercise has on mood, brain health, pain control, and anxiety.

Exercise promotes increased neurotransmitters associated with mood, but do you know how? Recent research has shown that exercise increases a trophic factor in the brain which triggers the balancing of mood related neurotransmitters. In other words, your daily run improve your mood, concentration, attention, memory, and judgment skills by rebalancing the related neurotransmitters. In fact, exercise has been shown in research to be equally effective in treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressant medication. Bearing in mind the fact that antidepressant medication is effective only 50% of the time and the health problems associated with depression, it seems natural to try exercise first unless the level of depression is severe.

Exercise also causes the body to release a natural pain killer that is chemical cousins with synthetic morphine. Take a good look at the number of “white collar” prescription drug abusers today and you can understand how powerful this natural opiate must be in altering mood and pain reduction. Have you ever watched a professional athlete complete a marathon run with some type of injury or under poor environmental circumstances? This is likely due to the naturally higher pain tolerance an athlete has when these natural pain killers are in play.

Exercise also promotes the production of new brain cells. While we once thought this wasn’t possible, we now know that theory was wrong. The same trophic factor which balances the neurotransmitters is much like “Miracle Gro” for the brain in that it promotes the manufacturing of new brain cells! This is quite exciting when you think about the number of time you’ve been told, “it’s just downhill after 25.” To this, I’d like to say, “not for me or anyone else who takes a daily run.”

Exercise also promotes the release of nitric oxide, the good free radical which promotes cardiovascular health and healthy mood. Nitric oxide is the “chai” of life, present in enormous amounts at conception and again at death. Small, consistent bursts of nitric oxide are the elixir of health and youth, and we can trigger the production of this lovely biochemical with the following behaviors: exercise, meditation, sex, healthy foods, and joy. This is the real prescription for joy and an indication that behaviors which bring us joy promote health.

Conversely, these behaviors decrease nitric oxide levels: unhealthy foods, negative thinking, sadness or depression, or exposure to toxins. Avoiding depletion of nitric oxide levels can help you maintain the benefits of the above behaviors.

In short, exercise is nature’s cure for many problems if used regularly. Like playing a new sport, you can’t go for a run and consider yourself cured. This is a process as well as a discipline, but the health benefits are free and multiply exponentially. Considering the cost offset associated with disease prevention, I consider exercise and low glycemic eating the new “healthcare reform.”  More on that later…

That’s all for today, kids.  I’m off to work and looking forward to getting outside in the sun today.

10 Health Statistics All Moms Should Know

Let’s face it.  Moms usually wear many hats, including the one that reads “nurse.”  The more you know about health, the better off your family will be.  I’ll bet you don’t know the following health statistics, and if you do, hats off to you!  You’re literally one in a million.

1. 80% of high blood pressure is known as Essential Hypertension.
Essential hypertension is elevated blood pressure that has no known medical cause. This likely means that the cause of your hypertension is chronic stress.

2. 75-85% of all medical visits and hospital stays are stress related.
Chronic stress lowers the immune system and makes us all susceptible to colds, flus, and infections. Chronic stress also triggers harmful behaviors that make us more prone to illness and accidents. Effective stress management is obviously an enormous part of creating health.

3. 50% -Antidepressant medications are estimated to be effective only half the time in treating clinical depression.
Yes, you read this correctly.  Antidepressant medication is one of the most common medical prescription drugs, and yet it only works about half the time.  Research shows that a combination of antidepressant medication and cognitive behavioral therapy is the best approach to treating moderate to severe depression.  However, exercise has been shown to be equally effective in treating mild to moderate depression.  Lastly, there are many “unpublished” studies which showed antidepressant medications to be about as effective as M&Ms in treating depression.  That’s another article entirely.

Further reading on this topic:

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20080227/antidepressants-no-better-than-placebo

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN2527622020080226

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/17/health/17depress.html?_r=1

http://www.realmentalhealth.com/depression/antidepressants.asp

http://www.drugs.com/forum/drug-information/truth-about-antidepressants-50321.html

4. 33%-About 1 in every 3 women has been sexually assaulted or abused in her life. This is horrific.

5. 25%-About 1 in every 4 women has been physically abused in her life. Also horrific.

6. 200%-Women are twice as likely to suffer from clinical depression as men.
Many of us have too much to do and too little support to do it all.  Chronic stress leads to depression, end of story.

7. 35-45% of children in the United States are now obese.
This statistic fluctuates and varies according to studies. In any case, it is a terrible way to allow our children to live.

8. 25% of Americans and Canadians are now identified as having Metabolic Syndrome, the cluster of symptoms which are generally known to be a lifestyle disease.

9. 16,400%-Prescription drugs are said to be 16,400% more deadly than “terrorists.”
This does not in any way suggest that you should stop your prescription medication. You should always speak with your physician before doing so. What it suggests to me is that many people overutilize medication interventions.

10. Too few-Cholesterol medications are the most widely prescribed medication in the US. Antidepressants are the most common prescription medication among Austrailian women.
The first line of treatment for lowering cholesterol, particularly LDL (“bad” cholesterol), is nutrition and exercise. The FDA approved statins as the second line of treatment. Most people don’t know this. If your physician offered you a statin without speaking with you about nutrition and exercise first, either your physician thought you were lazy or you or he/she is.

That’s all for today, folks.  This mom is signing off to hit the carpool line.  Remember to take care of yourself, take your Vitamin D3, and I’ll be back tomorrow. Ciao!