Tag Archives: Health and Fitness

Health, Wealth, and Happiness

All happiness depends upon courage and work.

For a little while I’ve been trying to work out what is really important in Life.  In as simple terms as possible, what is that we all strive for, what do we really want, what is life all about, really?  So help me, I came up with; Health, Wealth, and Happiness.

I don’t think these desirable states of being are even on the standard Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  However, I believe that you can’t have good health, sufficient money to live reasonably well, and sufficient contentment to deem yourself happy, unless the criteria within Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is also being met.  You know, Maslow was much smarter than just drawing pyramids, he was also a deep thinker when it came to the science of happiness.

The only happy people I know are the ones who are working well at something they consider important.  ~  Abraham Maslow.

Wishing people health, wealth, and happiness used to be a very common toast in my part of the world.  Perhaps these days some people may turn their noses up at the ‘wealth’ part ~ most likely those people have never know what it is to be dirt poor.

  • Health.  By this we really mean having Good Health, for the great majority of your time on this Earth.  But, like all things, good health is a paradox.  In comparison to our forefathers we are all in good health, but future generations may well look back and pity the standards of health and fitness we know today.  For my personal health I like yoga and long walks.
  • Wealth.  Conspicuous wealth isn’t so important, but having enough money to comfortably meet the criteria of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is desirable.  Money may not be able to buy you love, but money will get you a fair amount of sex.  Money gives you freedom from many worries.  Having a little spare cash creates opportunities.  Personally, I’d rather be miserable with a few pounds in the bank than miserable and broke.
  • Happiness.  The great imponderable.  For many of us happiness comes from being fit and healthy, and having enough money to be free from many worries.  Happiness is also not having a host of negative emotions; anger, envy, fear, jealousy, lust…  There are as many ways to real happiness as there are people on this planet of ours.

I found real happiness the day I stopped being a wage slave.  Happiness also comes from not being pestered by idiots, such as your boss.  Phone calls from telemarketing people, Google filling my screen with crap and not what I searched for, Facebook targeting me with advertisements for things I’ve long since moved on from, and people with clipboards wanting to talk with me in the street ~ all of these things seem designed to disrupt my health, wealth and happiness.  I have a simple answer for those leeches~ fuck off, and please don’t keep in touch.

Perhaps there is no nirvana, perhaps having Health, Wealth, and Happiness is an oxymoron.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.  ~  Shakespeare.

Being at peace with myself, knowing that I’ve not been a leech or a jerk, means that I can go to bed at night feeling somewhat happy.  But, like most people I’m never totally satisfied with my day’s endeavours.

On the other hand, I can easily walk a dozen miles a day, I can do yoga on the beach in the sunshine, I eat well, I have no money worries, and don’t go to bed feeling like crap.  So, perhaps real Health, Wealth, and Happiness is possible after all.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

yoga for men is cool

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Stay Young ~ Eat Walnuts

A dog, a wife, and a walnut tree, they more you beat them the better they be.

It looks like a simple change to our diet, like eating a few walnuts a day, boosts our health in some amazing ways.

I’ve long thought that eating nuts was a good idea, and now some scientists at the Louisiana State University agree with me.  After some experiments they say that eating a couple of ounces of walnuts a day improves your digestive health.  Seems it’s all to do with prebiotics again, and that walnuts have their beneficial effects by nourishing the friendly bacteria in our gut, helping them to thrive and multiply.

These good bacteria have anti-inflammatory properties, and chronic inflammation is now thought to be central to the onset of arthritis, various cancers including prostate and breast cancer, depression, early aging, various heart / circulatory diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

It’s better to get the nutrients for healthy skin from food, not supplements.  Salmon, walnuts, blueberries, spinach…  lots of my favorite foods happen to be amazing for skin too.  ~  Gail Simmons

Scientists and nutritionists say that the health of our digestive tract is central to the health of our whole body.  Walnuts act as a prebiotic, meaning that eating these nuts helps keep our digestive system healthy.

Gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.  ~  Professor Lauri Byerley.

Walnuts and hazelnuts are just about the oldest tree foods known to man; their importance going at least at far back as 7,000 BC.  Walnuts in particular;

  1. Help with weight loss.
  2. Improve good sleep if eaten late at night~ walnuts contain lots of melatonin.
  3. Are good for your hair, in fact eating walnuts may help prevent hair loss.
  4. Are very good for your heart and circulation.
  5. Help to lower your bad cholesterol.
  6. Help to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  7. Makes your skin healthier.
  8. Can keep senile dementia at bay.
  9. Help to prevent various cancers, especially breast and pancreatic cancers.
  10. Will help you to live a longer, healthier, and less stressful life.

Personally, I firmly believe that eating almost any type of nuts and seeds is a beneficial addition to one’s diet, but walnuts may be better than most as they are the only nut that contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acid.  And, as we already know, omega-3 fatty acids are good for us.  Walnuts also have a lot of protein, fibre, phytochemicals, and antioxidants in them.

Walnuts are a tree nut, along with Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, pine nuts and pistachios ~ each of these has it’s own nutritional properties, (I can’t abide macadamia nuts and I hate pecan pie).

Walnuts have the vitally important amino acid l-arginine, which give loads of benefits to people with heart diseases, or who may become prone to suffering from heart and circulatory problems.

These almost magical nuts also contain neuroprotective compounds, such as vitamin E, folate, and melatonin.  Research shows that eating a half a cup of walnuts a day may stave off senile dementia.

Allegedly, walnuts also make men more sexually potent, and are good for pregnant women…..

There is one nut which is not generally thought to be quite so healthy; peanuts.  These are legumes anyhow, and basically legumes are either peas or cattle food.  The main reason that early farmers grew legumes is that they improve the soil, and not because they’re good to eat.

Nevertheless, there are health benefits to be found from the humble peanut; they’re full of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, the anti-aging molecule resveratrol, and phytosterols that help reduce bad cholesterol.

Nuts and seeds are a far better snack than the other disgusting crap many people munch on, especially late at night.  So don’t snack on potato chips, crackers, popcorn, blue cheese, ice cream, doughnuts, pretzels, candy, chocolate, cookies, cake, s’mores…  have some walnuts instead, or almonds, or hazelnuts, (or any nuts and seeds).

The good news is, that glass of red wine you like late at night is good for you too.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

always buy organic walnuts

A Mediterranean Diet is Good for You

Is there anything a Mediterranean Diet can’t cure?

Specifically, I wonder if a Mediterranean diet can help to cure this terrible head-cold I’ve suddenly contracted?  Or more likely stop me from catching a cold in the first place? Well yes it could ~ but only if I really upped the amount of raw garlic I eat.

A diet rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic, and nuts protects our bodies and our brains, especially as we get older.  However, to get the most benefit from a Mediterranean diet we also need to cut down on alcohol ~ one drink a day for women, (try not to spill it, and drink red wine, not white), and one or two drinks a day for men.  Lucky for me I don’t drink at all these days.  But, a glass of red wine every day is actually very good for you.

It isn’t only the Mediterranean peoples who ate that type of diet, the Vikings did too, and nobody ever accused a viking of being a sickly wuss.

Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.  ~  Hippocrates

People from the Mediterranean region have longer life expectancies and are generally healthier than people from Northern Europe and the United States of America.  The United Kingdom ranks 19th and the USA 31st in terms of average life expectancy, (out of 183 counties listed).

People from around the sunny Mediterranean have lower risks of suffering; Alzheimer’s disease,  type 2 diabetes, cancers, colitis, depression, heart diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and strokes.  Trust me, you do not want to get type 2 diabetes, and you really, really, don’t want to have a stroke.

A proper Mediterranean diet isn’t all baguettes, pizza, pasta, and roasted lamb with lots of herbs.  A healthy Mediterranean diet consists of the region’s fruits, vegetables, (especially leafy greens like spinach), seafood, olive oil, cheese, and a couple of glasses of a robust red wine.  These are all anti-inflammatory foods.

But you also need to add a lot of fresh air, sunshine, and lots of physical activity to the mixture to obtain the most benefits.  If you are not already doing so, then you should walk 10,000 steps a day, both to improve your health and help prevent an early death.

Modern scientific evidence suggests that many, (some), of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet accrue directly from all the good olive oil included in just about every recipe, dish, meal eaten around the Mare Nostrum.

Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, (MUFAs), which are supposed to be good for you ~ at least the Mayo Clinic says that MUFAs are good for you.  In fact the well-respected Mayo Clinic says that olive oil is good for you ~ in moderation.

So; your Mediterranean diet should include;

  • The very best extra virgin olive oil you can get.  Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on Earth.  Only ever buy extra virgin olive oil.
  • Fresh fish.  The oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards, and sardines are full of vitamins D, B, omega 3 fatty acids, and selenium.  Eating oily fish a couple of times a week is said to help prevent; arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, prostate cancer, schizophrenia, and blindness / impaired vision.
  • Green fruits and vegetables.  It seems that eating green plant stuff can reduce the risk of cancer, helps maintain strong bones and good teeth, and promotes the health of your eyesight in your senior years.  Popeye was right all along, spinach is good for you ~ and so are kale and dandelion leaves.
  • Garlic.  Everyone knows that Mediterranean people eat a lot of garlic.  The Ancient Egyptians used garlic as a medicine.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed a hell of a lot of garlic.  The health benefits of garlic include; fighting off allergies, keeping bacterial and viral infections at bay, improving your skin, prevents colds and sore throats, reduces the risk of thrombosis, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, helps prevent type 2 diabetes, reduces cancer risks, helps beat anaemia, and improves your sex life, (if she can stand the smell).  If you can manage it, eat raw garlic, especially if you have dental problems.
  • Nuts and seeds.  Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are good for your heart.  It seems nuts and seeds contain lots of unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, fibre, vitamin E, and something called L-arginine.  Allegedly L-arginine does wonders for your sex life.
  • A glass of a robust red wine, (when I was drinking I would always choose an Italian red).  The health benefits of red wine were known as far back as the ancient Egyptians.  It seems a regular glass of red wine boosts heart health, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of degenerative diseases, helps reduce he risks of type 2 diabetes, stops you being so obese, and may prevent Alzheimer’s

However, some things about the Mediterranean lifestyle are very, very bad for you. Men from the Mediterranean coasts of; Spain, France, Corsica, Italy, Greece, (and less desirable places like Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and Albania), smoke far too much, drive like maniacs in unroadworthy heaps, drive when they’re drunk, and sleep in the afternoons when they’re drunk.  In medieval Hell-Holes like Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt you will just get ripped off and / or assaulted / shot / blown up.

And yet, parts of the Mediterranean are among the most beautiful, most magical, most spiritual places on this Mother Earth.  Guys, take your girl there, soon and often.

I’m glad I am a woman who once danced naked in the Mediterranean Sea at Midnight.  ~  Mercedes McCambridge

A Mediterranean Diet is not only good for you, it has some utterly fabulous, great tasting recipes.  Mix Mediterranean with Paleo and you may well have the perfect diet for your health, fitness, well-being, and gustatory satisfaction.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

get robust red wine delivered

How to Stay Healthier and Live Longer

Life is not merely being alive, but being well.

If you adopt a healthy lifestyle, not only will you feel better, you will also add ten or more years to your life.  But, what is a healthy lifestyle?  Turns out that not smoking, (nor abusing prescription or street drugs), drinking booze only in pretty strict moderation, and keeping to a healthy weight are the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle.

Smoking and drinking may look cool, for a short while, but after a short while those pastimes will turn an attractive women into a cackling, wrinkled, old hag.

The reason fat men are good-natured is that they can neither fight nor run.  ~  Theodore Roosevelt.

Personally, I would add another three things we should all do if we want to be fit and healthy well into our senior years; get plenty of good quality sleep, get plenty of appropriate exercise, and eat a good, healthy diet.  Therefore, if you don’t want to suffer a horrible and early death, from this moment on you should;

  1. Stop smoking.  Stop smoking weed too.  Smoking is dirty, disgusting, anti-social, and it will kill you in a selection of particularly nasty ways.
  2. Drink only in moderation.  If you regularly take more than a couple of drinks in an evening, if you empty a bottle of wine in a couple of days, if you have a cupboard full of half-empty bottles of spirits ~ then you have a drink problem, and eventually it will make you very ill.
  3. Don’t be fat, don’t be obese.  It is very easy to stuff yourself with burgers, take-outs, canned food, and other unhealthy crap calories.  Type 2 diabetes will make you very ill, and then it will kill you.  There are three foods / ingredients you should never, ever, knowingly have in your diet;  sugar-free / diet soda, high fructose corn syrup, wheat, wheat flour, wheat products.
  4. Get plenty of good quality sleep.  Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you feel tired and grumpy.  Lack of enough proper sleep causes accidents, makes you stupid, kills your sex drive, and puts you at greater risk of; heart disease, heart failure and heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.
  5. Take enough appropriate exercise.  Just a daily walk can add 7 years to your life.  You don’t need to join an gym and lift heavy weights.  Both yoga and tai chi have a myriad of health benefits, improving your balance, control, fitness, flexibility, reducing the risks of falls, sprains, and other injuries, easing pain, and reducing the symptoms of depression.
  6. Have a good quality and healthy diet.  And, there are lots of cool diets to choose from; Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, Pritikin…  The key is don’t eat junk, have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, eat slowly and chew your food properly, and don’t stuff yourself at every opportunity.

Americans and the British are much less likely to live long and healthy lives than do the inhabitants of most industrialised western countries, and it has nothing at all to do with the standards of medical care in the USA and the UK.  In fact, the Japanese have the highest average healthy life expectancy in the world ~ and it doesn’t have anything to do with either sushi or rice.

Japanese people give attention to health in all aspects of their daily life.  Professor Kenji Shibuya.

Some things you can do today to work towards that fitter, healthier, happier life in your senior years are;

  • Change your attitude ~ tell yourself, convince yourself, that you will be fitter, healthier, stronger, more capable, filled with self-confidence, and more self-aware.
  • Get your blood pressure checked.
  • Eat a better diet ~ stop eating junk.
  • Stop knocking back the booze in the evenings.  Especially DO NOT drink just before you go to bed.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Start exercising.  There are both mental and physical benefits to regular exercise ~ at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week.  Walk, (at least) 10,000 steps every day.
  • Walk don’t drive.  Learn to drive in a slower, calmer, more relaxed manner.
  • Don’t get stressed.  Practice meditation and mindfulness ~ just relax.
  • Don’t hang out with people who eat junk, smoke, drink, and slob about just watching sports TV all day.  Stay out of pubs, bars, and down-market restaurants. If you can’t do those things you need to get to an AA meeting.
  • And for goodness sake, stay out of hospital.  Hospitals are incredibly unhealthy places to be for very long.

These are all simple lifestyle changes, and each one is pretty easy on it’s own.  Taken together these lifestyle changes will make a massive difference to your health, fitness, and happiness.  As a side effect you will stop throwing huge hunks of change down the drain.

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.  ~  Paul Dudley White.

Being angry, hateful, jealous, negative, stressed…, will all damage your physical, mental, and emotional health.   In fact, just believing you are healthy cuts your risk of an early death by three-quarters.

Mens sana in corpore sano ~ a healthy mind in a healthy body.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

you can buy this book from Amazon

Overcoming Stress

All of us have to accept some anxieties.

Back in the day, when I was working all the hours God sends, I suffered terribly from the effects of stress.  Everyone around me suffered too because I was bad-tempered, impatient, irritable and moody.

We all experience stress, to a greater or lesser degree.  In fact without some stress we couldn’t function ~ our minds and bodies need a little stress to feel alive.  However, too much stress is bad, and far too much stress can kill you.

Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.  ~  Hans Selve

The proximate causes of stress and distress vary from person to person, but the usual suspects are:  Bad News, City Life, Too Many People, Mindless Bureaucracy, Being Discriminated Against, Bullying, Work, The Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, Dysfunctional Relationships, Failed Relationships, Sex, Sexual Dysfunction, and the Death of Someone Close to You.  And then you might have your own particular reason to feel that you’re under intolerable stress.  Of course, there is also a chance that you are seriously mentally ill with something like Borderline Personality Disorder.

People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies.  Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.  ~  Marsha M. Linehan.

The warning signs that stress is adversely affecting your mental and physical health are;

  • Apathy and Depression
  • Chest pains
  • Crying
  • Diarrhoea
  • Drinking too much
  • Headaches
  • Inability to relax
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Intolerance of and over-reacting to noise and disturbance
  • Irritability and a bad temper
  • Lack of concentration / brain fog / poor memory
  • Palpitations (oh Gods, did I suffer from heart palpitations!)
  • Tiredness and an inability to get things done

The symptoms associated with stress are in themselves so distressing that they are likely to make you even more stressed.

Many of us will approach our doctor if we feel under intolerable stress and are suffering from one or more of the very serious symptoms listed above.  What your doctor is most likely to do is prescribe you some powerful psychoactive drugs; Celexa, Cymbalta, Klonopin, Lexapro, Librium, Paxil, Prozac, Tofranil Valium, Viibyrd, Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft… to name but a few of the very powerful chemicals your doctor could give you.

All of these drugs come with a load of side-effects, from tiredness, to sexual dysfunction, to feelings of dread, to wanting to commit suicide…  Reading the leaflets that come with these drugs can be a very sobering experience.  In my experience these drugs will either detach you from reality so you don’t worry about anything at all, or they will have an adverse effect.

If you’re lucky, then your doctor will also / instead refer you to some ‘talking therapy’ such as; Cognitive Analytic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Gestalt, Group Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, and Psychoanalysis.  Alternatively you could take yourself off to a 12-step group like Alcoholics Anonymous.

I love going to my AA meetings and I don’t think I will ever stop.  ~  Davina McCall

Drugs act fast, but all they do is mask the symptoms and make you ill from the nasty side-effects. Talking therapies and 12-step meetings will eventually make you well again ~ but the key word there is ‘eventually.

So what can you do to help yourself overcome stress?

Breathing is good.  I mean slow deliberate breathing with serene and peaceful visualisations is good.

When I was under extreme stress I would take myself off to somewhere quiet, maybe into a church or public garden or down to the beach, stand or sit, or lie down comfortably, and really slow down my breathing, and at the same time I would breathe very deeply.   Concentrating on my breathing I would listen to the sound of each breath, imagining it was the gentle sound of soft surf washing in and out on a white sandy beach under a blue sky.  My breathing in and out exactly matched the sea gently washing in and out.  After just a few minutes of this breathing exercise I always felt immeasurably more peaceful, and ready to face the next thing the day was going to throw at me.

Learning how to relax is the cornerstone of helping yourself to overcome stress.

‘Ha!’  You say; ‘If I knew how to relax I wouldn’t be so stressed…’

Breathing exercises are recommended by doctors and psychiatrists everywhere as a method of relaxation to overcome stress and anxiety.

Being better organised also helps alleviate stress.  The best way to begin being better organised is to start writing things down, keep a journal, keep your diary and day-planner up to date, make lists, always have a to-do list, never go shopping without a shopping list…  If you think of something you need to do, write it all down and then stop worrying about it.

Break big tasks into a number of smaller parts, and write a list of those smaller tasks with the date and time they need to be completes ~ then stop worrying about it all.

Learn how to say NO.  Being at everyone else’s beck and call all the time is a sure-fire way to put yourself under extreme stress.

Stop using social media first thing in the morning, or late at night, and especially don’t look at crap like Twitter and Facebook when you are pressed for time.

Learn how to love yourself.

Get plenty of good quality sleep.  It’s hard to sleep when you’re under stress.  If you really have insomnia, then it may be worth asking your doctor for something to help you sleep.  But only rely on sleeping medication for a couple of weeks ~ these drugs are addictive.

Make reducing the stress in your life your #1 project, something you practice all the time, every single damn day.

Extreme stress can make you extremely ill, and it’s well-known that happy people are healthier than stressed-out and unhappy people.  Make ‘don’t worry, be happy, and start living…‘ your daily mantra.

Happiness is a choice.  You can choose to be happy.  There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.  ~  Valerie Bertinelli.

And please, please don’t resort to booze or recreational drugs, they make things worse very fast, and you can trust me on that one.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

click on the book

prebiotics for health

With good digestion all can be turned to health.

Most people know about probiotics ~ which are ‘good’ bacteria mostly found in dairy products such as live yogurt.  Many of us buy products containing probiotics in order to improve our health.  The snag is, which among all the myriads of bacteria in the probiotics we buy are actually ‘good’ for our own unique body and gastrointestinal tract?  When we take probiotics we are taking on trust that whatever is in the live yogurt we’ve just bought will benefit us ~ and it might not.  Most probiotics in products such as yogurt are proprietary strains of bacteria created in a laboratory, and yet they are not subject to regulation.

Putting probiotics into foods that don’t naturally have the beneficial bacteria might not make these products healthier, higher quality, or worthwhile additions to the diet.  ~  Dr. Patricia Hibberd

In any event, some of us can’t abide yogurt and most other dairy products that might contain probiotics.  Milk makes me feel sick.

So what’s the alternative?  Turns out it’s prebiotics which act as a fertiliser for the ‘good’ bacteria that’s already in our gastrointestinal tract.  Prebiotics help your own ‘good’ bacteria to grow and stay healthy.  Prebiotics have many benefits that makes them a better idea than probiotics.

Why should I care one iota about the bacteria I’m carrying around in my intestines?  It seems that the bacteria in our gut has a major influence on our health and general well-being.  Some of the smart people in white coats aver that the bacteria in our intestines are even more important than that ~ allegedly our bacteria even affects our moods and behaviours.  Some say that our gut bacteria is our body’s second brain.  And, that the way people think is linked to the bacteria in their gut.  All I know is that if I eat the wrong stuff I feel slow, lethargic, and miserable.

All disease begins in the gut.  ~  Hippocrates

It’s the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut that actually digests most of the food we eat, looks after our immune system, and protects us from seriously harmful bacteria.  Our ‘good’ bacteria are essential for our good health.  Without these ‘good’ bacteria we can become prone to nasty illnesses such as; acne, early aging, autism, asthma, allergies, cancers, cardiovascular problems, colitis, anxiety and depression, diabetes, obesity, stress, ulcers, vitamin deficiency…

I need to look after my ‘good’ bacteria, and one way to do this is to eat high-fibre foods rich in the prebiotics that act as a fertiliser for the ‘good’ bacteria already in my gut.  There’s a long list, but mostly these prebiotics are raw vegetables which are quite indigestible; raw Jerusalem artichoke, raw dandelion greens, raw leeks, under-ripe banana, raw garlic, raw asparagus, raw chicory root, raw wheat bran, and onions any way you like them.  (Thank the Gods for the onions and banana ~ the rest of that list looks yuck.)  Also honey is a very potent prebiotic, as is unpasteurised apple cider vinegar, (such as Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar).

Turns out that sushi containing cooked and cooled rice is a rich source of prebiotics.  I hate sushi.

Almost nothing influences our gut bacteria as much as the food we eat.  Prebiotics are the most powerful tool at our disposal if we want to support our good bacteria ~ that is, those that are already there and are there to stay.  ~  Giulia Enders.

Prebiotics have several well-documented health benefits;

  • Improved digestion.
  • Enhanced immune system.
  • Better uptake of dietary calcium and magnesium.
  • Stronger bones, increased bone density.
  • Cancer prevention.
  • Reduced risk of dementia and other neurological disorders.
  • Reduced risk of high blood pressure and strokes.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes.
  • Better controlled weight and appetite.
  • Improved bowel regularity.
  • Better balanced hormones.
  • Reduced propensity to anxiety and depression.
  • More energy and better concentration.

Your body is colonized by a vast array of microorganisms that modulate every aspect of your health and physiology, moment to moment, and you can optimize your health by nourishing and protecting these microbes.  ~  Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. Mercola

If you want to make the most of an increased intake of prebiotics, then under no circumstances drink diet soda, eat anything made with wheat flour, have too much refined sugar, drink too much booze, eat pasteurised flavoured yogurt, buy cereal bars or breakfast cereals, eat chips, (crisps), of any kind, and especially never have anything with high fructose corn syrup in it.  High fructose corn syrup is highly addictive and extremely bad for you.

In fact, whether you’re eating more prebiotics or not, don’t have anything listed in the preceding paragraph ~ all of those things are very bad for you.

The conclusion is; taking probiotics is most likely a waste of time, and could possibly be doing you harm, especially if you take your probiotics as a yogurt drink.  Conversely, eating foods rich in prebiotics will most likely improve your health and help to stave off several nasty, or even life-threatening illnesses.  For fitness in body, mind, and spirit, as well as improved health overall, it’s worth fertilising the ‘good’ bacteria already in your gut with prebiotics.

Luckily for me a Paleo diet is supposed to good for giving you lots of prebiotics.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

click on the picture

to buy apple cider vinegar

Why walk 5 miles a day, every day?

When it comes to walking, it’s all good.

In case you hadn’t heard, there is a health and fitness trend that says walking 10,000 paces a day is good for your body, mind, and soul.  For me, ten-thousand paces equates to about 5 miles on level ground, and will usually take me the best part of two hours to accomplish.  Which begs the question; is it really worth my while to devote two hours a day, every day, just walking to somewhere, or even to nowhere and back again?

Well, actually, yes it is, and these are the reasons why.

Let’s start with something scientific and anatomical ~ blood flow in the legs.  The circulation in our feet and legs only works because we use our calf muscles, and because of non-return valves in the veins.  If we sit still, we have bugger-all blood flow in our feet and legs ~ which is why there’s a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis during long flights.  If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, you are in danger of developing poor circulation, which is nasty.

So if you want to have healthy circulation, one of the things you can do is just get out of your chair, and walk.

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty.  She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.  ~  Ellen DeGeneres

Walking more, whether it’s to go somewhere, or for leisure, or part of your health and fitness programme is an easy way to be more active without all that unpleasant sweating, huffing, and puffing that comes with some other forms of exercise.   A brisk walk is classed as moderate-intensity activity, and does count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.  Walking is a form of exercise that’s easy to fit into your daily routine, for example instead of taking the elevator up a couple of floors, take the stairs.

If you’re not used to taking much exercise, then don’t start off by trying to walk 5 miles.  The Mayo Clinic recommends that you add 1,000 steps a week to your baseline average.  This means you are going to need a pedometer, and the first thing you should do is measure how many steps you take in an average day.  Very Well says that if you are an average American you will most likely be walking 5,000 steps in an entire day, (HA! I don’t believe a word of that, I’m certain the average Californian walks about 2,500 steps a day.)

The respected Mayo Clinic is very keen on walking as a form of exercise and even has a 12-week walking schedule based on work done by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The benefits of walking include improving your blood pressure, energy, happiness, mental health, skin tone, sleep, stamina, strength, stress levels ~ as well as reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, joint problems, obesity, a stroke, and nasty diseases in general.  On top of that you are going to look and feel a hell of a lot better.  The key to walking for health and fitness is to build walking into your daily schedule.

These days I am keen on meditation and mindfulness, but I find it difficult to meditate in the traditional fashion.  So, I meditate during yoga, and I also practice a form of walking meditation.  I have never been taught, nor led through yoga meditation or walking meditation, these are mindfulness practices which just came naturally to me.

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.  ~  Friedrich Nietzsche

All of us should also do some strength exercises, at least twice a week, particularly as we get older.  Personally I like to do some yoga, but I also add an isometric workout into my daily walk.   This two-for the price of one routine means that I make the most use of the couple of hours I spend in the fresh air and sunshine, (we sometimes get sunshine in England).

You don’t have to believe me that walking 10,000 steps a day is a good idea.  Just google 10,000 steps and you will come across loads of articles by people such as the well-respected Dr Mercola who say that walking 10,000 steps a day is a basic requirement for good health and fitness.

In life a couple of things now scare me; having a stroke and developing dementia.  If I can improve my chances of avoiding these life-destroying conditions, then a couple of hours walking every day seems a small price to pay.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Yoga for Men

Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.

Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think.  When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’.  In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.

It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga.  Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress.  And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength.  All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit.  Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.

Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult.  Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration.  Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.

Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity.   Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk.  I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner.  Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm.  Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga.  Who knew?

So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.

The Tree.  This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core.  Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness.  Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus.  The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.

~

Downward Facing Dog.  Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that.  This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest.  It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and  body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings.  For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.

~

The Bridge.  This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex.  The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen.  This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told.  When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.

~

The Plank.  I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength.  Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude.  There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes.  The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands.  Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.

~

The Warrior.  This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t.  The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body.  For me it also works the arms and shoulders.  More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly.  Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing.  The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.

Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff.  I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day.  And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.

However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you.  There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes.  (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me).  Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women.  Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Walking Meditation

Through meditation the higher self is experienced.

True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance.  You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.  ~  Juvenal

To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being.  Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit.  I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.

When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members.  Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you.  ~  Steve Maraboli.

One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day.  Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.

When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’.  But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd.  These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’.  With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man.  To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day.  We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.

If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku.  This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness.  Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.

However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and  ever-changing sky.  Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness.  The clouds fire my imagination.  The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.

Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities.  I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people.  Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself.  Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.

The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good.  Empty your mind of all immediate concerns.  But most of all, walk.

Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so.  Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out.  Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health.  Never settle for less.  ~  Edmond Mbiaka.

Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy.  Walking does little for strength and mobility.  For that I practice yoga.  I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me.  Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit.  Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit.  If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.

We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.

I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

aches pains and sprains

A sprained wrist can hurt a lot more than you’d think.

A little while ago I sprained my wrist ~ the doctors told me this was a moderate injury, put some strapping on and told me to keep my wrist immobilised for three days.

Quite wrongly I assumed that the worst I’d suffer was a little pain, and that I’d recover in a few days.  Turns out that it hurt like hell, (especially at night).  This minor injury also stopped me from doing some very ordinary things like tying my bootlaces, as I mentioned in another recent post about disabling problems.  If that wasn’t bad enough, today, two weeks on from the injury the pain is bad enough that I’ve had to imobilise my wrist again.  One feels quite helpless when you can’t pick up a coffee mug with your right hand.

I don’t know what this goes to prove except that as one gets older we take longer to bounce back from ‘minor injuries’, or that a sprain is much worse than people think, or that without one’s dominant hand life is quite difficult, or all three of those things.  (Last year I broke a few ribs and recovered from that injury with no problem at all.)

So, if you sprain your wrist it’s going to hurt worse than you expect, and it will take a while for you to get better again.

Oddly, my teddy bear Marmaduke is fine after coming out with a sympathy sprain.

~

dscf0036jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

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