Sleep: Top Priority For Your Health

What is the most productive action you can take for your health?

What is the most productive action you can take for your health? Most people would probably not answer “sleep more”. We have grown to think of time spent “just sleeping” as unproductive time, but in actuality, scientists have discovered that our brains are just as busy at night, if not busier, than they are during the day. So what are our brains and bodies so busy doing while we are “resting”?

What is the most productive action you can take for your health?

When you power down from the day, your body actually goes to “work” by repairing and regenerating overnight. By getting the right quantity and more importantly, the right quality of sleep, you empower your body to promote physical healing, mental acuity, and even improve your psychological health by allowing the brain to attend to other areas of the body that might need some help. Proper sleep might just be the most holistic thing you can do for your overall health and wellness.


Rest and regeneration for better overall health:

During sleep, your body goes to work repairing the “armor” that protects your body every day—your immune system. In your brain there are immune cells called microglia that are known for fighting infections, repairing damage and reorganizing the connection between nerve cells. A recent study found that microglia are primarily active during sleep. In addition, the body also produces white blood cells at a higher rate during sleep, boosting the body’s immune system and making it better equipped to fight viruses and bacteria.

In the deeper stages of sleep, your brain signals your body to lower your blood pressure, slow down your breathing and relax your muscles. Your brain then floods your body with growth hormones and works on tissue growth, blood vessel repair and muscle development. At the same time, the brain is also better able to regulate “stress hormones” like cortisol.

Improving your sleep will also go a long way to improving your brain health. During sleep, your body goes into detox mode. When you sleep, your brain increases the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid flushes out the harmful waste proteins that build up in the brain cells. (1) Getting rid of these and other toxins may even help decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Let’s appreciate how truly amazing it is that all of these critical functions are being re-balanced and repaired during a time we normally associate with “nothing happening over here” Your body is the most advanced “machine” ever created. All you have to do is set yourself up for success by making small changes to improve your quality and quantity of sleep. Not always easy to do in today’s world, but the return on investment is priceless.


How much sleep do you really get?

So now you know just how important sleep is to feeling great and performing better on a daily basis. But one obstacle we may face is our own perception of how much sleep we need and whether we are even close to getting the right amount of shut eye each night. This is because human beings are really terrible at estimating how much sleep they actually get. Most of us either overestimate or underestimate our hours of sleep, scientists say. (3) Those who get the least amount of sleep overestimate their time sleeping the most! Even if we have an accurate picture of how much sleep we need, the next obstacle is making sure that the hours of sleep we’re getting are of good quality, and consistency over time.


Quality Control: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Not only is it important to get enough hours of sleep, it also matters how much time you spend in what is referred to as “deep sleep” also known as “delta sleep” or “slow-wave sleep”. It is during deep sleep, that glucose metabolism increases and the pituitary gland secretes human growth hormones and other hormones that restore energy, regenerate cells, increase blood supply to the muscles, promote growth and repair of bones and tissues and strengthen your immune system.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of solid sleep a night. If you are not hitting this mark there are some simple things you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep:

  • Have a consistent bedtime schedule, going to sleep and waking at the same time each day.
  • Limit clutter, noise, and light in the bedroom.
  • Exercise, but not right before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine nicotine and alcohol late in the day.
  • Keep your bedroom a comfortable, slightly cool temperature.
  • Get your brain prepped by starting the relaxation process at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Try putting away the phone and picking up an old book; or closing your eyes and listening to some music.
  • Limit blue light from electronics before bed.

Want to know if you’re getting the right quantity and quality of sleep to feel your best every day? Let our Genesis coaches give you a complimentary coaching session to assess your sleep habits, and make recommendations on how you can improve this critical area of your life…starting tonight!


How Stress Manifests into Poor Health

When people think about the most common lifestyle factors that contribute to disease, they will likely point to poor diet, lack of activity, or smoking. But very few people realize that chronic stress is the leading factor in disease and illness. Many of the daily habits, routines, and even relationships that we often take for granted as unavoidable, may be causing a greater toll on our health than we realize.

Your stress response system is brilliantly designed to handle short term acute stressors – like a predator chasing you. It’s the classic “fight or flight” scenario—you’re on a morning run, you see a bear in your path. You register the threat and a whole cascade of events begin: your body releases glucose into your blood, your heart rate spikes, and your blood increases coagulation so that the heightened levels of energy and oxygen can help you run or fight. Systems that are not needed for a life and death fight like digestion, reproduction and immune responses go dormant. You are primed to survive.

But what happens when you experience stressful situations that do not pose a life or death threat? And what happens when these stressors are present for a much more prolonged period of time than your stress response system is designed to handle? Your brain does not know the difference between stressors like predators and stressors like deadlines, traffic, or financial pressure. These types of stressors are ongoing, so the stress response is triggered so often that it gets stuck in the “on” position.


The same systems designed to help when you are escaping a short term threat begin to do long term damage when left in the “on” position for an extended period of time. Inflammation, meant to heal, causes a whole range of damage in the body. Increased blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Your immune system doesn’t know who the good guys and who the bad guys are and begins to attack itself resulting in autoimmune conditions.

Chronic stress also leads to behaviors that may seem to alleviate stress in the short term, but actually lead to serious long term health risks. Smoking, drinking, and overeating are all common coping behaviors that people tend to rely on to manage stress. Beyond physical health, your mental health also suffers. Anxiety and Depression are triggered by stressful events.

Since there is no end to this type of stress, it is cumulative and builds into what researchers call your allostatic load or the amount of stress you are carrying around with you. It is subtle and you may not even think you are “stressed”, but science shows that as allostatic load increases, disease and mental disorders increase as well.

Chronic prolonged stress also disrupts our body’s work/rest cycles. You know you need sleep to recover from the activities of the day. You know you need recovery time from strenuous workouts. But how often do you pay attention to the amount of stress you are carrying, and what you are doing to manage it?


Pushing through the stress may make you look strong on the outside, but it is beating you up on the inside. Your adrenal system controls your stress response and when it is overtaxed, it wears down and dysfunction occurs. Your body is so busy controlling the effects of chronic stress that it has less and less time to work on restoring health. Your sleep quality and mood go down, inflammation, anxiety and pain increases all in an effort to signal you that something is amiss.

Recent scientific research is finding that Telomeres can be excellent indicators of your overall heath and longevity. Telomeres are sections of DNA at the end of your chromosomes that protect your genetic information like the plastic tips of shoelaces protect them from fraying. Telomeres have been found to be a strong predictor of longevity. Both chronic and perceived stress have been linked to shorter telomeres in studies connecting heightened stress with shorter life spans.

So in today’s world where stress seems inevitable, how does one go about protecting oneself from the disease inducing effects of stress? Not surprisingly, the same healthy habits and behaviors that typically go out the window during times of stress (making time for exercise, focusing on healthy eating, prioritizing proper sleep), are the very things needed to get your body back on track to feeling better and living longer. Making time for yourself by scheduling workouts, planning a hike with a friend, fueling the body with healthy food, and allowing the brain and the nervous system to “re-set” through sleep are all strategies that can not only reduce stress, but also lead to better health and a longer life. Seeking social support, exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation techniques are all important ways to lighten your allostatic load.


Finally, just as we now know that the overactive stress response eventually leads to poor health and chronic disease, the single most helpful thing you can do to help your body in times of stress is to make sure you are helping your body “switch lanes” and down-regulate by getting the proper quantity and quality of sleep. Yes, if there is a magic bullet for stress, sleep would be it. So if you have been dealing with a lot of stress recently, set some small daily goals that are achievable: commit to eating healthier meals at regular intervals, make time to be active, establish a bedtime ritual that will help you get to sleep on time. By creating new habits to help yourself manage stress, you will feel a sense of commitment which will then lead to a greater sense of positivity in your life.


Gut Bacteria: The “Good Guys”

For many years, bacteria has earned a bad reputation but recent scientific research is showing us we need to look differently at our relationship to these tiny “good guys”, especially those that live in our gut.

Did you know that we have more bacterial cells living on us and within us than actual human cells? This surprising and little known fact emphasizes the critical role that microbes play in our overall health. What may be more surprising to learn is the fact that the key to your overall health may be found in your GI tract, and in how your gut and these microbes interact.

The gut contains a vast and diverse amount of microbes, also known as the “microbiome”. The microbiome is made up of more than 500 different species, comprising over 3 pounds of bacteria. However, not all bacteria are created equal. Some “good” microbes contribute to our health while others promote disease. Because of this, recent research is pointing to the fact that the health and balance of these bacteria are directly related to the health of the gut and therefore the entire body.


In a healthy gut, good bacteria help break down food, absorb nutrients, and filter out toxins. According to Dan Peterson, assistant of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, also explains that “certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut”.

Conversely, when the gut is out of balance and has too much bad bacteria, this environment lends itself to inflammation, toxicity, and eventually disease. Many common conditions and serious diseases start with and thrive in an unhealthy gut. Just to name a few: arthritis, IBS, chronic fatigue, dementia, and cancer. Junk food, antibiotics, and stress are just some of the things that can cause bad bacteria to flourish and knock the body off balance.

The good news is that you have the power to heal your body and change your own microbiome by “feeding” the good bacteria and “starving” the bad through common sense diet and lifestyle changes. Dr. Mark Hyman recommends a 4-step strategy to bringing your gut and your body back into balance:

-REMOVE: bad bugs, drugs and food allergens.

-REPLACE: needed enzymes, fiber and prebiotic

-REINOCULATE with good bacteria (probiotics)

-REPAIR the gut lining with omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, glutamine and other healing nutrients.

The gut has a very long memory. If as a child it was necessary for you to go on antibiotics over and over, the depletion of good bacteria could still be an issue today. If you just recently cleaned up your diet but ate fast/junk food for many years, your gut may not have recovered from that damage. If you get sick often even though you are doing all the “right things”, it could be because your gut is out of balance and thus your immune system is not getting the strength it needs from a healthy and balanced gut biome.

Follow Dr. Hyman’s strategy, get good sleep, and get your gut biome tested. There are quality tests out there that are affordable and easy to do. Reach out to me at for additional information.


The Gut: Your Body’s 2nd Brain

The Gut: Your Body’s 2nd Brain

We often assume that the brain is the only organ sending control messages to the body, but recent research suggests that your gut may have just as much to say when it comes to the overall health and wellness of your entire body.

Gut health is a topic that has gained increasing momentum in the health and wellness community over the last decade because we now know that gut health may start in, but ultimately extends far beyond, the gastrointestinal tract.

At the core of gut health is the “gut microbiome” which is the ecosystem of microorganisms living in the small and large intestines. Author Simon Cheng refers to the microbiome as “a ‘bacteria Thunderdome’, in which good and bad bacteria are in there, battling it out.” When in balance, these microorganisms keep the body regulated and healthy. However, when the pathogenic bacteria (the bad guys) outweigh the probiotic bacteria (the good guys), this leads to an environment in which the body can no longer process food properly to extract the necessary nutrition for all of its many functions. In short, Cheng explains that without a healthy microbiome, “a healthy diet will not nourish you if you don’t have sufficient good bacteria.”

To explain the far reaching impact that gut health has on the body at large, Ty Bollinger writes about the effects of an unbalanced microbiome and the many disorders and illnesses that were previously thought to have very little, if any, link to gut health: depression, allergies, autism, weight gain, and compromised immunity. This is because these microorganisms are responsible for much more than just digesting food. They are responsible for regulating hormones, protecting your immune system, balancing your mood, producing vitamins, and ridding the body of toxins. Furthermore, because most of these disorders are not typically associated with gut health, the root cause may be overlooked or treated by pharmaceuticals when the real remedy may be food itself.

One of the newest areas of research is how gut health plays a role in mood and behavior. Simon Cheng explains that serotonin, “an anti-depressant neurotransmitter” is not made by the brain but “is in fact mostly produced by the gut.” In this sense, your gut has an important role when it comes to emotion and the way that external messages are processed, hence the expression “gut feeling.” But, if your gut does not have a healthy and balanced microbiome, then your body’s interpretation of outside stimuli may be incorrect.

The good news is that improving your gut health is rather simple. Think of it as increasing the good guys and limiting the bad guys. First, increase the good guys by adding a probiotic supplement to your diet and consuming prebiotic foods with your meals. Some delicious options for prebiotic foods are beans, broccoli, yams, sauerkraut and potatoes. Second, limit the bad guys by eliminating toxins in your food as well as your environment. Toxins include, but are not limited to, soaps, lotions, medication, processed foods, some animal proteins, refined sugars, and even the air we breathe. These items feed the bad bacteria living in your intestines and perpetuate poor health. While these changes to your routine don’t seem like much, they will impact your longevity and overall quality of life in big ways!


Mindset: Striving for Inner Peace and Contentment

Mindset: Striving for Inner Peace and Contentment

Is the pursuit of success and the pursuit of inner peace compatible? We often associate inner peace and contentment with lack of motivation or even laziness, while we associate success with relentless drive and tenacity. Let’s explore the possibility that the two can complement each other, rather than contradicting each other, contrary to what many of us believe.

Contentment comes from a mindset of positivity- of being consistently rooted in happiness and satisfaction, regardless of outside circumstances. When we make a daily practice of mindfulness, positivity can lead us to new opportunities by giving us faith in the fact that we can and will thrive regardless of obstacles. As quoted in James Clear’s analysis, “When you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that proved that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.” When we think positively, we open our hearts and minds to new experiences, new relationships, and new ways of living. There are many practices that can encourage inner peace and positivity, but the following are a couple of our favorites!

Mindful Meditation:

While there are many ways to meditate, the practice that promotes the most contentment is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation requires us to be in the present moment and focus on our experiences, blessings, emotions, and sensations. When we focus on all we are thankful for in our lives, our perspective is often transformed from lack to abundance. Typically, this practice requires us to be aware of our breathing and our physical body. While your meditation practice can be as long as you wish, there is research that supports consistency is more important than duration. Even a 5-minute practice each morning can increase your positivity and contentment!

Mindset Shift:

Research tells us that most people lean toward either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset can be limiting, while a growth mindset can create expansion and opportunity simply by shifting how we think. Carol Dweck, leading researcher on growth and fixed mindsets and on what determines success, writes in her book Mindset about her findings. She describes a growth mindset on her website as being “based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” This mindset empowers us to believe that we can change, learn, and grow and that we aren’t limited by our innate talents or knowledge. Whereas, a fixed mindset is “believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.” The fixed mindset ignores feedback from others, often gives up when challenged with setbacks and avoids change. In this sense, our thoughts can either limit us from, or lead us toward success.


Regular exercise and healthy eating also have the power to impact inner peace. Moving your body and fueling it properly impacts brain function and perspective. Remember, a content life is ours if we want it, but we have to make decisions that support happiness and positivity.

We hope that adding a few minutes of daily meditation, adopting a growth mindset perspective, and moving and fueling your body properly will establish a solid foundation of contentment and inner peace, upon which you will take positive steps toward success.


Mobility: Stand up! Your Life Depends on it.

Mobility: Stand Up! Your Life Depends on it.

Most of us are attached to our computers and phones because our jobs and lives require it.

However, the posture we resort to while typing, texting, or scrolling has many physical and mental repercussions. We know that identifying the problem only gets us so far; that’s why we are committed to providing real life strategies and finding solutions that lead you to optimal health.

There are real detrimental muscular and skeletal consequences for poor posture. Some include lower back pain, muscle atrophy, and poor circulation. If left unchecked, these seemingly small problems can grow into significant and sometimes catastrophic health issues. Poor posture can cause cardiovascular diseases because a misaligned spine leads to constricted blood vessels; constricted blood vessels impacts oxygen levels in the blood and can ultimately cause clotting and disease. In addition, we often neglect to consider the spine’s intimate relationship with the nervous system. If your spine is out of alignment, so is your nervous system. Yet because most nervous system functions lack pain sensors, something may not be working properly and you wouldn’t even know it.

Another unintended and often unrecognized consequence of poor posture is how others may perceive us. Imagine a person with excellent posture. This person will likely be perceived as confident, capable, and self-assured. Conversely, imagine someone with poor posture. This person may be perceived as being quiet, timid, disengaged or apathetic. These examples show us how posture is a powerful way we send a message to the world about who we are and the kind of energy we emanate.

Now that we have identified some of the consequences of poor posture, what can we do today to make positive changes toward standing taller and feeling stronger? Throughout your day, whether at work, at home, or on the go, utilize the checklists below to will improve your posture in seconds:

When sitting:

  1. Are both feet on the ground?
  2. Can you sit back with proper lumbar support?
  3. Are your shoulders back?
  4. Are your core muscles engaged?
  5. Can you easily access your keyboard and mouse without hunching over?
  6. Are you taking breaks? Get up from your desk and get moving!

When standing:

  1. Are both feet firmly on the ground?
  2. Are you standing tall with shoulders back and core engaged?
  3. Are you moving? When possible, take a 5-minute walk outside!

While these practices might be difficult to remember and utilize at first, soon they’ll become habitual and second nature. Not only will these quick corrections change the way you feel, they will no doubt change the way you interact with people and how they perceive you.


Brain Health: Give Your Mind What it Deserves

Brain Health: Give Your Mind What It Deserves

Brain health impacts physical and cognitive efficiency. Studies show that people who have good brain health are less likely to be diagnosed with diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s. In addition good brain health promotes strong heart health and impacts just about every aspect of our human existence.

Brain Health Index, or BHI, is a measurement that is seldom used outside the health and wellness world. BHI measures social, emotional, physical, nutritional, and medical factors’ impact on your brain and evaluates your current health. While we might think that the aforementioned influences are segmented into their own categories, each one intersects with the other and greatly impact our brain health.

Here are four easy ways to increase your Brain Health Index starting today:

Rest Your Brain: According to The Cleveland Clinic, your brain processes 70,000 thoughts a day. Even on our least productive days, our brains are working hard. That is one of the reasons why it is so important to get proper sleep each night. How you prepare for rest also impacts your ability to rest, so consider making a list of your next day’s objectives before bed so that you can quiet your mind and sleep well.

Feed Your Brain: One very simple way to help promote brain health is through food. Most people attest that food has the power to make us either feel lethargic or energized. Foods rich in antioxidants help to fight harmful oxidation in the brain, which can dramatically help our brain’s overall health. In addition, eating colorful vegetables and fruits ensure that you’re getting the necessary vitamins and nutrients to nourish your brain. Eat the rainbow- go for tomatoes, oranges, bananas, spinach, and blueberries!

Train For Your Brain: Being physically active helps your brain stay alert and healthy because of the increased blood that flows to the brain when the heart pumps faster. This blood flow promotes brain cell growth and connectivity!

Entertain Your Brain: Simply put, go have some fun! Increased levels of dopamine are released when we are doing fun, social things. Spending time with friends, going to the beach, and even riding a rollercoaster can help our brain health.

Implement these few simple habits in order to improve brain health and overall longevity. If you’re interested in learning more about BHI or are interested in taking a BHI test, register here!


The Caveman had it Right: Our body’s Internal Clock

The Caveman Had it Right: Our Body’s Internal Clock

Modern man, in the grand scheme of evolution, is but a blip on the radar, yet for some reason we think we can outsmart millions of years of human development without any consequences. Just as the sun balances the moon and day balances night, so must we live in balance with these rhythms in order to really achieve optimal health. Here is where I believe the caveman had it right.

Before mankind was motivated by deadlines and enslaved by technology 24/7, the caveman worked during daylight hours and slept when it was dark outside. This simple concept is now what’s known as the Circadian rhythm, or the body’s daily cycle. Just as earth would be greatly impacted if the sun never set, or if it was always night, when we as humans are disconnected from the earth’s natural patterns, we disrupt and confuse our bodies on a deeply physiological level. While this schedule might sound archaic and out of touch with the demands of modern life, following the caveman’s lead could actually lead you to your best life

Circadian rhythm disruption impacts sleep, hunger, and energy. Dr. Satchin Panda is a leading scientist in Circadian studies. For years, he has examined how molecules, genes, and cells keep the body on the same circadian clock. He discovered that, “a section of the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) lies at the center of the body’s master clock and gets input directly from light sensors in the eyes, keeping the rest of the body on schedule.” Dr. Panda has drawn a connection between how these light sensors pick up on the blue light found in mobile devices, and the impact it has on our sleep. Simply put, when our bodies sense light, albeit artificial, it is sending a message to your brain that it’s not yet time to rest.

Dr. Panda also found links between disruption of our Circadian rhythms and weight gain, inflammation, and cancer. Ultimately, Panda’s research concludes that unbalanced circadian rhythms have lasting effects on health and specifically sleep.

So, can looking back to “caveman days” actually propel us forward to a better way of living? The great news is yes! You have the power to reset your internal body clock. First, we must look at our behavior and how we define “productivity.” Many “productive” people get tons of work done at night; we respond to emails, catch up on marketing strategies, surf social media, and obsess over our calendars. But what many don’t realize is that this very practice of “productivity” reaps negative rewards. The junk light, or dirty electricity, that is expelled through phones, laptops, or tablets is your body’s primary enemy when it comes to circadian rhythm regulation, nighttime metabolic functioning, and healthy sleep. You see, the body has two specific operating systems: AM functions and PM functions. When it is light outside, your body has a checklist of things to do that differ from its nighttime checklist. If we allow ourselves to be surrounded by light, even when the sun has gone down, our PM mode will be disrupted and health and vitality are negatively impacted.

The good news is that you can reset your circadian rhythms with a few simple alterations to your daily routine. I think of it as wake up, get up, power down, wind down:

1) Wake up, Get up: Follow the patterns of natural light; when the sun rises, so do you. Intentionally expose your eyes to the natural light as a way of alerting your body that it’s time to wake up.
2) Power Down, Wind Down: While not everyone will be able to go to sleep at sundown, start winding down by eliminating those external “messages” in your environment that tell your body it’s still daytime. For example, eliminate artificial “junk light” by powering down the television, computers, cell phones, harsh lights, and other electronic stimuli. Avoid eating late at night which revs your body up rather that winding it down. Create new habits by finding relaxing activities such as listening to music, jotting down some daily reflections, or meditating.

You’ll sleep better at night and feel better during the day. Pretty simple, right? The caveman would agree, but then again he had it right all along.