7 Ways to Practice Breathwork for Beginners

7 Ways to Practice Breathwork for Beginners

Breathwork is a form of mindfulness that offers several physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Often, people develop the unconscious habit of shallow breathing, which can trigger stress in the body and simulate a fight-or-flight response. 

Breathwork exercises use deep, diaphragmic breathing to increase oxygen and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and calming the body and mind. Beginners can include breathwork in their daily lives in seven simple ways. 

1.  Diaphragm Breathing

Diaphragm breathing is a primary breathwork practice. Start by sitting or lying down. Rest one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Slowly inhale using your nose and feel your belly rise. Next, let the breath out through your mouth and feel the belly soften.

2. Box Breathing

Box breathing follows a pattern of 4-4-4-4. Inhale, hold your breath, exhale, and pause, each on the count of four. 

3. Alternate Nostril Controlled Breathing

This exercise focuses on breathing through one nostril at a time. Sitting upright, block your left nostril with your left thumb. Slowly breathe in through the right nostril, then release your hold on your left nostril and use your third finger to block your right nostril. 

Pause at the top of your inhalation before exhaling through your left nostril. Pause again, then inhale through your left nostril, and switch your fingers again, this time closing your left nostril with your thumb.

4. Ocean-Sounding Breath

Also known as the Ujjayi breath, the ocean-sounding breath is a popular yoga technique to create an audible breath. Start by inhaling through the nose. As you slowly exhale, contract your throat to make a gentle ocean sound. 

5. Four-Seven-Eight Breathing

A form of rhythmic breathing known as four-seven-eight breathing can relax the body, improve sleep, and offer mental and physical health benefits.

Sitting or lying down comfortably, inhale for four seconds. Hold the inhale for seven seconds before exhaling for eight seconds.

6. Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing slows the breath and corrects breathing patterns. Start by sitting comfortably, relaxing your neck and shoulders. Next, breathe in with your nose as you count to two, then purse your lips as you exhale through your mouth as you count to four.

7. Resonance Breathing

Resonance breathing intends to relax your body and mind while reducing anxiety. 

Start lying down with your eyes closed. Gently breathe in through your nose with your mouth shut for six seconds. Don’t overfill your lungs. Exhale slowly over six seconds, gently allowing your breath to leave your body. 

Whichever method you choose, incorporating breathwork into your daily routine can make a difference in your health.

For more health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

Why and How to Start an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Why and How to Start an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Inflammation is your body’s response to injuries, damage, and certain health conditions. If something is wrong with a certain part of your body, you will likely experience some inflammation. 

Usually, inflammation is a positive sign that you are healing and recovering. However, excessive inflammation can cause long-term health problems. Starting an anti-inflammatory diet is key to fighting off problematic health conditions. 

Why Inflammation Matters

Without inflammation, your body would not be able to repair itself when it needs to. But with too much inflammation, you are at risk for chronic health problems. Your tissues and cells can become damaged from too much inflammation over time. 

Your diet can add to or alleviate the inflammation you experience in your body. If you suffer from an inflammatory disorder, it is even more important to follow an anti-inflammatory diet to control your symptoms. 

Some common inflammatory disorders include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), autoimmune diseases, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, consider an anti-inflammatory diet to feel better and improve your overall well-being. 

Foods That Fight Inflammation

Certain foods have chemical compounds that naturally modulate your body’s inflammatory responses. To fight against excessive inflammation, try adding some anti-inflammatory foods to your weekly menu. Incorporating even a few of these foods could make a difference in your overall health. 

Try adding these foods and spices to your diet:

  • Turmeric
  • Peppers
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Turkey

Anti-inflammatory foods will help you maintain your health and prevent inflammation from damaging your healthy cells and tissues. With less inflammation in your body, you will likely feel a lot better. 

Foods to Avoid 

There are plenty of delicious, healthy foods that combat inflammation. Unfortunately, there are a few ingredients to avoid as well. Inflammatory ingredients and foods can give you more problems and worsen your symptoms. 

Avoid the following ingredients to control inflammation:

  • Refined sugars
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Simple carbohydrates
  • Processed meats
  • Sodas
  • Sweets, pastries, and breads
  • Fried food 
  • Highly processed cheeses

These foods can be harmful to your health. Avoid them, when possible, to prevent and treat inflammation. 

Discover comprehensive testing to see where you are insufficient and deficient to optimize your health. For more health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

Breathing Exercises with COPD 

Breathing Exercises with COPD 

The symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often worsen over time. As a result, patients with the condition will experience increased wheezing, mucus production, shortness of breath, and discomfort.

Regularly practicing breathing exercises can help slow disease progression and manage symptoms. In addition, breathing exercises can reduce tangential symptoms, such as anxiety from shortness of breath.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

The diaphragm is the most significant muscle of respiration. As with any other muscle in the body, exercise strengthens the diaphragm and helps it work more efficiently. 

Diaphragmatic breathing exercises help you use your diaphragm correctly so breathing requires less energy and effort.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing: 

  • Lie on your back 
  • Place one hand on your chest and one on your diaphragm, below the ribcage
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, feeling the diaphragm expand
  • Tighten your stomach muscles as you exhale 

When practicing diaphragmatic breathing, the hand on your chest should remain mostly still. In contrast, the hand on your diaphragm should move up and down with your inhale and exhale. 

Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing works to control shortness of breath, slowing the pace of breathing and releasing trapped air from the lungs.

Once you master pursed lip breathing, it can effectively calm your breath during activity.

To practice pursed lip breathing:

  • Relax the shoulder and neck muscles
  • Inhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed
  • Pucker your lips as if to whistle
  • Gently exhale through your pursed lips

In pursed lip breathing, exhalation is more critical than inhalation. While the technique does not require taking a deep breath, your exhale should take twice as long as your inhale.

Huff Cough

The body coughs to remove excess mucus from the lungs naturally. The huff cough allows you to cough effectively without overly straining your muscles. 

To practice the huff cough:

  • Sit comfortably in a chair
  • Inhale a little more deeply than usual
  • Using your stomach muscles, blow the air out in three breaths
  • While releasing the breaths, make a “ha, ha, ha” sound

While huff coughs lack the force of a regular cough, they are often more effective at removing excess mucus.

Improve Your COPD Through Breathing Exercises

Practicing these exercises daily can strengthen your diaphragm, improve shortness of breath, and release excess mucus without straining. Breathing exercises have been shown to improve the quality of life for COPD patients.

For more health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

Exploring GI Effects: How to Tell If You Have GI Issues

Exploring GI Effects: How to Tell If You Have GI Issues

Have you been struggling with symptoms like nausea, bloating, or constipation? These are common indicators of gastrointestinal (GI) issues. 

While you may think that gastrointestinal issues only impact your digestive system, they can have consequences on your overall well-being if left untreated. GI issues can lead to everything from weight loss to fatigue to brain fog.

Diagnosing the Condition

Treating your GI issues relies on getting a proper diagnosis. When it comes to gastrointestinal issues, one of the simplest diagnostic tools is a stool test. Stool tests use a small portion of the patient’s stool to look for certain indicators of disease. Things like blood, bacteria, and mucus can all be signs of gastrointestinal distress. 

One stool test is called the GI Effects by Genova Diagnostics. GI Effects uses innovative technology to analyze the contents of a patient’s stool. This can provide valuable information about the patient’s gastrointestinal system and how well it is functioning. 

The GI Effects Comprehensive Panel includes tests that evaluate your intestinal microbiome, inflammation levels, and digestive function. The test’s panel uses a proprietary scoring system to prioritize findings and track the severity of certain issues. Your stool’s biomarkers are grouped and scored in these five areas of GI function:

  1. Maldigestion
  2. Inflammation
  3. Dysbiosis
  4. Metabolite Imbalance
  5. Infection

Assessing your intestinal health in these five key areas will allow your medical providers to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses your GI issues. 

Treatment Plans

When a patient presents with common GI symptoms like gas, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, the GI Effects stool panel can be used to quickly diagnose a variety of digestive issues. This includes conditions like irritable bowel disease and diverticulitis. 

The GI Effects system is an essential tool in the diagnosis and treatment of some of the most common gastrointestinal conditions. Contact us if you would like to discover your insufficiencies and deficiencies through a GI Effects test today.

What Do Food Expiration Dates Actually Mean, and Should You Trust Them?

What Do Food Expiration Dates Actually Mean, and Should You Trust Them?

The terms “sell by,” “best by,” and “use by” are notoriously confusing. While many shoppers err on the side of caution, increasing grocery costs mean that understanding these dates can lead to savings. 

What Your Food Labels Mean

Since there’s no federal standard for food labels, laws around product dates vary by state. Here’s what you can interpret from your food labels. 

Best If Used By and Best If Used Before

The terms “best if used by” and “best if used before” do not refer to your food’s expiration date. Instead, these phrases refer to flavor and quality. Once the date after your “best by” label passes, the taste of the food may become compromised

The “best by” labels can apply to any food category, including canned, boxed, frozen, or refrigerated. 

Use By

“Use by” is a little clearer. The “use by” date refers to the last date when the food is at its highest quality. “Use by” generally only applies to perishable items, such as dairy and meat products or prepared foods. 

Sell By

“Sell by” dates are more about inventory control than expiration. You can consume foods after the “sell by” date, but they should no longer carry them in stores. Typically, dairy products are suitable for a week after their “sell by” date, and eggs are safe to consume for three to five weeks after their “sell by” date. 

Expiration Date

Food may be assigned an expiration date due to loss of function after that date – like yeast that won’t rise – or changes in the safety or texture of the food. 

Foods assigned an expiration date include:

  • Baby formula
  • Baby food
  • Vitamins
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Cake mixes
  • Baking powders

While dates are helpful to track how long you’ve kept a food, unless the dates clearly state that the food expires, the best way to determine whether a food is spoiled is by examining it for changes in smell, color, texture, or consistency. 

Additionally, the best way to keep your meats, soups, and casseroles longer is to freeze them. Bacteria can’t grow at frozen temperatures, so frozen meals maintain their safety for years.

For more health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency

Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is crucial to your body’s functioning, as it supports the operation of the muscles and nerves and produces energy. However, most people who are deficient in magnesium have few, if any, obvious symptoms. 

Chronically low magnesium can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease. However, getting enough magnesium is often as easy as adding a few magnesium-rich foods to your daily diet. 

Identifying the signs of a magnesium deficiency can ensure chronically low levels don’t cause long-term concerns for your health.

Persistent Muscle Twitches and Cramps

As magnesium supports the function of the muscles and nerves in the body, those with a deficiency are more likely to experience involuntary muscle twitches, cramps, tremors, or, in severe cases, seizures. 

Muscle Weakness and Fatigue

A magnesium deficiency can lead to a loss of potassium in the muscles, causing weakness and fatigue. While fatigue is a common symptom many people experience occasionally, a physician should evaluate persistent fatigue.

Heart Arrhythmia 

Heart arrhythmia, an irregular heart rate, is one of the most concerning symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Patients may experience heart palpitations, lightheadedness, fatigue, or shortness of breath with heart arrhythmia and should see a doctor immediately to identify the cause.

Mental Health Concerns

Magnesium deficiency can cause nerve dysfunction, leading to several mental health concerns, including: 

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Delirium 

Those experiencing fluctuations in their mental health should seek the guidance of a healthcare professional to identify the exact cause and treatment.

How to Increase Your Magnesium

Dietary changes are the best way to ensure your body has enough magnesium to function properly. Foods that are high in magnesium include:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Dry beans
  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified foods

Fortunately, only a few servings of high-quality foods can significantly affect your magnesium levels. For example, one ounce of almonds provides 20% of an adult’s daily magnesium requirements. You can also up your magnesium intake through increased water consumption. 

Supplements can also fulfill the dietary needs of those who struggle with magnesium consumption. It’s best to talk with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any symptoms of magnesium deficiency and ask if there are supplements that can best meet your needs.

For more health awareness blogs, please visit http://www.stemedix.com/blog.

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