OCTOBER 2019 WOODLYN WORD
THE POWER OF A GOOD BOOK
Did you know 24% of American adults haven’t read a book in the last year? This is a real shame. I don’t mean that in an elitist way. It’s a shame because reading is really fun. When I have free time, there’s nothing I enjoy more than kicking back with a good book. I’m a big fan of thrillers, whodunits, and murder mystery novels. There’s something fun about reading a great mystery and trying to figure out the solution alongside the characters. One of my favorite books is “Kiss the Girls” by James Patterson. This is the second book in his Alex Cross mystery series and it’s great. Cross’ niece is kidnapped by a serial killer, and he travels to North Carolina and works with investigators to help rescue her and other women who have been taken. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a wild ride. I’ve read a number of mystery series, including Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme books, but James Patterson is my favorite. He knows how to craft a
thrilling story. Plus, the chapters are only a couple pages long, so it feels like you’re flying through it. There are a few of his books I can read in a couple of hours. I’ve tried reading biographies, including “Helter Skelter” and some book about Ted Bundy, but I never got into them. Save for “Papillon," an autobiography about a man who escaped a French prison island, I find nonfiction books to be dry and boring. There’s nothing special about them. When I pick up a book, I want to enjoy reading. When my family goes on vacation, I’ll pick out four or five books to read during the trip, the kind of great reads that keep me on the edge of my seat. Back before e-books, I was stuffing five paperbacks into my suitcase. The thing is, once I finish a book and know how the mystery ends, I don’t often reread them. There was a period of time when I would leave the paperbacks behind at the end of our trip because I didn’t want to carry all those books back home. Needless to say, I was really excited
when I learned my iPad could hold 10,000 books.
I wasn’t always such an avid reader. I was 19 before I picked up a book to read for fun. My early education wasn’t great, and I never wanted to read anything as a kid. When I started working at Amtrak, I was working night shifts in the towers. There would be three-hour chunks of time when we wouldn’t have any trains coming, but you needed to stay awake and alert. I started reading to pass the time. The first book I ever read was “Carrie” by Stephen King. It was okay. It’s not my favorite book, and certainly not King’s best book, but it got me into reading. If it’s been a while since you read a book for fun, I highly recommend giving yourself some time to read. You can swing by the library or get an e-book off Amazon. I promise, it’s well worth your time. -Jim Brennan
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HOW TO MINIMIZE AGE-INDUCING ATOMS
THE FREE RADICAL 411 If you’ve ever picked up a health magazine while waiting at the doctor’s office, then you’re probably familiar with the term “free radicals” — at least enough to know that they get a bad rap from doctors and beauticians alike. But what are they, exactly? According to Live Science, free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons that have split off from oxygen molecules in the body and started to “scavenge” for other electrons to pair with. That wouldn’t be problematic, except that these atoms tend to damage cells, lipids, proteins, and even DNA along the way, and that destruction has serious consequences. As Live Science puts it, “Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and many others. They also may have a link to aging, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free-radical damage.” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to entirely avoid free radicals and the havoc they wreak. The process that forms free radicals, called oxidative stress, can be kick-started by a variety of
different substances found in food, water, medicine, and even the air we breathe, according to the Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford University. Unsurprisingly, these substances are things already considered unhealthy, like alcohol, exposure to X-rays, ozone, fried food, chemical pesticides, air pollutants, and tobacco smoke. That said, there is one molecule that is stable enough to stand up to and reduce free radicals: the antioxidant. According to a study published by Pharmacognosy Reviews, antioxidants can “donate an electron to a rampaging free radical and neutralize it, thus reducing its ability to damage.” Synthetic antioxidants exist but can sometimes have harmful side effects, so scientists advise protecting yourself by avoiding free radical triggers like alcohol, processed foods, and red meat, and ingesting natural antioxidants in the form of berries, stone fruits, olives, onions, garlic, and green and black teas. Herbs and spices like cinnamon, basil, turmeric, and fenugreek can ratchet up your antioxidant levels too. While it can’t guarantee immortality, the right diet can certainly help you stave off aging and disease, so why not start today?
THINKING WITH YOUR GUT THE AMAZING CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR STOMACH AND YOUR BRAIN
While it may seem strange to think about, the human stomach is truly a thing of wonder. Most humans only acknowledge its digestive processes, but the gut plays a much more influential role in our day-to-day lives than simply breaking down food for nutrient production; it is closely connected to our emotional states, as well. Think about it. Have you ever felt butterflies before a date, intestinal pain during moments of stress, or nausea before an important presentation? Have
you ever told someone to “follow their gut” before making a big decision? These physical symptoms are not a coincidence; they are known in the scientific world as the gut-brain axis . Your gut is connected to the limbic system, the part of the brain that processes emotions. The brain sends messages to all other organs in your body, so it’s not surprising it communicates with your stomach, too. What is surprising, however, is that the connection goes both ways. Just as your brain can relay information to your gut about excitement and anxiety, your gut can have a direct impact on the way you feel. According to a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine, when a person’s microbiome — the
diverse population of good and bad bacteria living in the GI tract — becomes significantly altered or imbalanced, psychological or neurological issues can arise. In
response to these emerging findings, dietary approaches and probiotics are being explored to see how well they can modulate a person’s microbiome and address symptoms. While research is still being conducted to determine the extent of the stomach’s influence over emotional and mental states, plenty of evidence proves the connection is real. Your stomach “talks” to you all the time, and, if you didn’t have enough reasons to pay attention to the food you eat, now you have one more thing to keep in mind. If you start thinking a bit more with your gut, your health will thank you for it!
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BE ALL YOU CAN BEE AND GIVE HONEY A SECOND THOUGHT
The health benefits of raw organic honey, which include soothing sore throats, lowering cholesterol, and treating skin wounds, have been embraced by many members of the holistic health community for decades. But with the rapid decline of the bee population in recent years, humans’ use of honey has become more controversial.
According to the New York Bee Sanctuary, bees (not just honey-makers) are disappearing for several reasons, but one of the most unfortunate contributors is the honey industry. In order to mass-produce commercial honey products, many factories have resorted to industrialized beekeeping practices, which have been deemed unethical by animal activist groups because they strip hives of their honey storage, starving the bees through the winter months. This practice, along with soil contamination and a viral infection spread by mites, led to the devastating loss of 40% of all bee colonies last year. Because most bees are pollinators, they play a crucial role in helping plants reproduce. Without the bees playing their part in this natural process, approximately 30% of the world’s crops won’t flourish. Fortunately, you can help strengthen the bee population in a few ways from your own home.
questionable quality and provenance. Instead, look for raw local honey at a farmer’s market. That way, you can meet the beekeeper to determine if their honey-rendering practices are sustainable. Then, by purchasing their product, you are helping fund their hive and enrich the local bee population. You can also plant a garden full of bee-friendly plants, like honeysuckle, strawberries, sunflowers, and cosmos, to give the bees in your community more pollen sources. Additionally, if you notice dandelions growing in your garden, leave them. They are a great food source for bees, especially in early spring before other plants have started blooming. While honey has many excellent health properties, bees are far more vital to the world’s sustainability. Do your part to help their population by researching, spreading awareness, and thinking before you shop for honey.
First, try to avoid purchasing any commercialized honey products of
CHOCOLATE- DIPPED FRUIT
TAKE A BREAK!
Inspired by Food Network
This super easy and fun way to create homemade treats provides your kids with a healthier and more delicious alternative to packaged industrial candy. As a bonus, making it is an awesome Halloween activity for your family to enjoy.
• 1 package melting chocolate • Assorted dried fruit, including apricots and mangoes
1. In a large saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. 2. Place a large, heatproof mixing bowl on top of saucepan so that no steam can escape. Place melting chocolate in mixing bowl and double boil until melted. 3. Dip half of each piece of fruit in chocolate before transferring to a parchment- lined baking sheet to rest. 4. Let cool for 10 minutes until chocolate solidifies. 5. Place in school lunches, serve at parties, and indulge in a few for yourself.
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1. COVER TITLE 1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? INSIDE THIS ISSUE 2. TIPS FOR FIGHTING FREE RADICALS LEARN ABOUT YOUR GUT- BRAIN AXIS 3. BE ALL YOU CAN BEE CHOCOLATE-DIPPED FRUIT 4. CAN YOGA IMPROVE YOUR BASKETBALL GAME? We all know that ballet is the secret behind many NFL players’ footwork skills, but did you know that yoga can offer similar game upgrades to basketball players? Fitness experts agree that if you’re trying to get better at shooting hoops, then you can benefit from regular yoga sessions. According to yoga instructor Karla Tafra, there are multiple payoffs to adding stretches like Crescent Lung, Tree Pose, Bridge Pose, and Warrior 2 to your exercise arsenal. “Basketball is extremely fast-paced, with lots of jumps, twists, turns, coordination, and sprints that take a huge toll on the joints and tendons,” Tafra told BodyBuilding.com. “Keeping them flexible and strong prevents injuries and aids recovery.”
Can Yoga Improve Your Basketball Game? NBA PLAYERS SAY YES
the protective powers of yoga. NBA stars like Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and LeBron James all regularly bend themselves into pretzels to improve their game. Love integrates an hour of yoga into his workouts two or three times each week. "Yoga teaches stretching, strengthening, and breathing, and it helps you get in tune with your body. That helps in basketball, or in any sport, really,” Love’s yoga instructor, Kent Katich, told STACK. As a former basketball player himself, Katich is intimately familiar with the sport and claims that even a couple of minutes of yoga can help in a pinch. "It's not about doing an hour of yoga every day," he said. "It's about how you feel and what you need right now."
Some yoga poses are known for building strength, while others can improve flexibility, ease sore muscles, elongate the spine, and even reduce stress. Combined into an hourlong practice over weeks, months, or years, these yoga poses can make a player lighter on their feet, quicker to duck or dive, more graceful with their reach, and more relaxed. If you’re still in doubt, take it straight from All-Star LeBron James, who has broken dozens of records on the court and is considered by many to be this generation’s greatest player.
James told The Plain Dealer, “Yoga isn't just about the body; it's also about the mind, and it's a technique that has really helped me.”
According to STACK, many of today’s top players are already well aware of
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