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How to Eat Healthy: Benefits of a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet

By Elly Hollenhorst

 

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” -Michael Pollan

 

Nutrition can be quite confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. Focus on eating a wide variety of whole plant foods and don’t worry about being perfect. The latter advice is key, especially when transitioning from a processed food- or animal product-laden diet to a more health-promoting, plant-based diet--keep yourself successful by celebrating your journey and your progress rather than your perfection. Just as Dr. Henry Emmons recommends to acknowledge your moments of happiness amplify your joy, I can strongly attest to that same principle applying towards acknowledging your feelings of success and pride in your progress.

I believe knowledge is empowerment, and that is no less true for nutrition. Let’s briefly dive into the what and why behind eating plants and provide you with the best scientific resources to make you feel confident on your journey to eating...

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What You Need to Know About Caffeine

calm focus joy sleep Mar 13, 2019

By Henry Emmons, MD

“Life is short. Stay awake for it.” Caribou Coffee nailed it with that promotional tagline. It’s funny, memorable and a widely shared sentiment. If we want to get the most out of life, if we don’t want to miss anything, caffeine offers a safe, legal and increasingly pleasurable way to feel more enlivened.

I have nothing against caffeine. In fact, I personally love it. I’ve given it up several times over my life, thinking it might have negative health effects on me. But each time I’ve come back to it, finally accepting that I just plain enjoy it. I like the effect it has on me, the flavor, the ritual and the communal nature of sharing a cup of coffee with someone.

I believe that the research on the health effects from caffeine come out mostly on the side of it having an overall positive impact on health. It’s a legal stimulant. It can temporarily improve energy, focus, even mood. So long as it is not used in excess, it...

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Hemp, Marijuana, CBD, and THC: What They Are and When to Use Them

calm focus joy Jan 21, 2019

 By Tim Culbert, MD

Hemp, Marijuana, CBD, and THC... what's the difference? Can any of them help with anxiety? Depression? Do they make you high? Learn the basics below so that you can decide if any are right for you.

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Hemp, Marijuana, CBD, and THC

Cannabis is thought to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses. These sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils, and textiles. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp.

Other varieties of the cannabis plant were identified as psychoactive (causing euphoria or the “high” experience) and were bred selectively for medical, recreational, and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that now known as marijuana.

While hemp and marijuana are both...

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Adaptogens and Nervines for Resilience in Body and Mind

calm focus joy sleep Dec 20, 2018

 By Tim Culbert, MD

Adaptogens and nervines can support resilience in body and mind. These substances are generally well-tolerated and can help your system adapt more skillfully when faced with stress. 

What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are typically plant-derived substances that work to balance your body and mind. You may also hear them called “adaptogenic herbs.” These substances can help your body adapt to physical, chemical, environmental, and emotional stress; and can also exert a normalizing effect on bodily processes.

Adaptogens Can Help

  • Increase blood flow in the central nervous system.
  • Increase the release of helpful brain chemicals such as nerve growth factor and BDNF.
  • Modulate brain waves.
  • Support neuroplasticity.
  • Boost the production of neurotransmitters.
  • Prevent cell damage.
  • Eliminate toxins.
  • Balance the stress response of the adrenal system.
  • Quiet the mind and body.

Common Adaptogens

  • Ginseng.
    • American ginseng (panax quinquefolius) can help...
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The Window of Tolerance

calm joy Dec 04, 2018

  By Tim Culbert, MD

The Window of Tolerance

The "Window of Tolerance" is the optimal zone of arousal where a person is able to thrive in everyday life. This zone has been described by Drs. Dan Siegel and Pat Ogden as “sailing within a river of wellbeing where we are able to respond to all that comes our way with equanimity-without being thrown off course" (learn more here).

 

When you find yourself outside of this desirable zone (e.g., a nerve-wracking social situation), then your nervous system gets revved up and you can become emotionally over-reactive and quick to anger. Or, you may go the other way, and shut down or withdraw.

As the saying goes, "You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails." So how can you adjust your sails when you find yourself outside your window of tolerance? You can use awareness, grounding, and mindful breathing skills to help you get back in the zone for more optimal functioning.  

The...

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Winterize Your Brain Kit: Support for Seasonal Affective Disorder

calm joy Nov 20, 2018
 

It's here! The kit to get you through winter without that mind-body crash has arrived. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is common in winter. The Winterize Your Brain Kit includes key supplements and tools that work synergistically to help you create more warmth, light, & happiness- even during the coldest & darkest days. Learn more about your kit below.

Watch the video above and learn more about the kit here

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Outdoor Therapy and Grounding Techniques for Mental Health

calm focus foundations joy Sep 28, 2018

 

By Tim Culbert, MD

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

-John Muir

Where do I go when I feel burned out? I head to the mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and desert landscapes for rejuvenation and a sense of calm. That simple step of heading outside almost magically shifts my internal landscape. I think of this immersion in a wild environment as “swimming with the senses.”

As a physician, I’ve sought out the scientific support for how these healing effects of nature take place. It's a free activity, there are no side effects, but is it just good for me or is something my patients should do too?

Well-known authors, poets, political leaders, and healers from all over the world have understood this connection between health in mind, body, and spirit, and the natural world. I love Seth Adam Smith’s...

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How To Meditate Properly [For You]

awaken calm focus joy meditation Sep 21, 2018

By Tim Culbert, MD

You've likely been told that you HAVE to meditate. Perhaps even in a particular seated position, in a particular outfit, in a particularly-decorated room.

Have you tried that strict meditation technique only to discover that you're more stressed out when you finish than before you began it? 

Don’t worry! That meditation technique is just one mind-body practice and there are many others to explore that can offer the same benefits. Finding a better fit is worth your time as many mind-body practices will work to enhance your ability to deal with symptoms related to depression, anxiety, or focus. This ability is often called “emotional regulation” or “self-regulation.” At Natural Mental Health, we also refer to this ability as resilience.

Additionally, as you find practices that fit you better, you'll be more likely to practice consistently and for longer durations at a time. This is key because the time you practice and the positive...

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Understand and Balance the Chemicals of Your Mood

calm joy Sep 06, 2018

 

By Henry Emmons, MD

Let me start by saying that the field of psychiatry has greatly oversimplified brain chemistry, and I’m guilty of doing that again here. Nonetheless, a more simple way of understanding and talking about this very complex subject is necessary. A bit of understanding of brain chemistry can help you create a healthy, well-functioning brain and a good, sustainable mood.

Brain Chemistry 101

I have come to view the brain as functioning mostly through communication from one part to another. There are a series of discrete centers, or nuclei in the brain, each with a unique job to do. All of these areas need to communicate effectively with one another for the brain to work well. That is done through the flow of energy between these centers, and it is accomplished largely via the neurons. In a way, they are like electrical wires transferring energy from one place to another. Neurons are separated from one another by a small space called a...

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Single Task Challenge

calm focus joy Aug 21, 2018

In this month's newsletter (sign up here), we took on the challenge of... doing nothing for 90 minutes. A simple idea, but tough in practice. 

One way to warm up toward doing nothing is to do just one thing (doing less is the practice!). This is particularly helpful as multitasking can be a default answer to those times when you feel overwhelmingly busy. Multitasking pumps that busy energy up, but doesn't offer a return of productivity. You're actually more productive when you do just one thing at a time vs. all the things at a time.

Give this single task challenge a try and then go for the big non-doing challenge in the newsletter when you're ready. 

 

 


Find stillness or no-tasking to help ground you, support calm, and reconnect you to the present moment. Read Henry's reflection on stillness here.>>>

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The NMH newsletter goes out twice monthly. You'll receive helpful tips, resources, and special offers to optimize your mental health and create more joy, calm, and focus in your life.