About Us

About Dr. Urban

Dr. Urban has been practicing Chiropractic for over 22 years now. Dr. Urban is a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa (1991). He has built and maintained successful Chiropractic practices in Nebraska, Colorado and now in Hawaii on the beautiful island of Maui in Kahului.

Dr. Urban is proficient in the “GONSTEAD” art form of adjusting the spine.The Gonstead Method of Chiropractic care was developed by Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead of Mt Horeb, Wisconsin beginning in 1923. He refined his unique system over a 55 year period. The Gonstead Method focuses on being as specific as possible with the examination and treatment of the patient. Every patient is a unique case with specific subluxations and must not be given the same course of manipulation. The Gonstead practitioner believes that chiropractic care is not scientific unless the adjustment is specific.

“Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.”
- Hippocrates

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic is a powerful, effective and natural way to get and keep yourself  healthy. Chiropractic recognizes the body’s innate ability to heal and it’s my position to help support this.

It is through “specific” spinal adjustments that subluxations (misalignments) can be corrected so that normal movement/positioning and function can help to improve upon the sensitive communication (nervous system function) that is so vital to your body’s potential to heal. When the spine is in alignment and the nervous system is functioning properly, your body knows how to heal, regulate and adapt appropriately to the many external stressors of everyday life.

Dr. Urban prefers to work with what is right within you (the intelligence of the body) then to focus on what is wrong with you (your symptoms). As you grow older, you should grow healthier…a realization that is often overlooked given our current medical mainstreams disposition on health!

Dr. Urban takes great pride in delivering a “specific” spinal adjustment to his clients. His approach does   NOT treat everyone with the same twisting of the neck and lower back from both the right and left and the middle back from top to bottom. This approach could potentially harm inpiduals with an inappropriate impact to the joints of the spinal column that can result in “neurological insult”. Dr. Urban prefers to access each of his clients inpidually so to skillfully perform an appropriate “specific” spinal adjustment with the least amount of force that is carefully delivered to adequately address his client’s structural and neurological needs.

It is amazing what one adjustment can do if applied right.
Clarence Gonstead, D.C.

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James P. Urban D.C.
444 Hana Highway. Suite #213
Kahului, HI 96732

Office Hours:
(Mon,Wed. & Thu.)
9am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm.
(Tues & Fri)
9am to noon.

Click Here to download “New Patient History Form”

Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing that truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to work.
Albert Schweitzer, M.D.


Mark W.

If you want to have more energy, feel stronger, and sleep better then do yourself a favor and give Dr. Urban a visit. I wasn’t looking for long term solutions for my chronic neck and back issues but just a short time after my first visit his reasonably priced, results driven, comfortable and effective treatments have more than paid for themselves. Mahalo Dr. Urban!


Holli M.

I first went to see Dr. Urban about a problem I was having with my ankle. He was very kind and informative and spent time talking with me, as I was a little nervous because I had never been to see a chiropractor before. I left that day with no more pain shooting up my leg!!! I returned to see Dr. Urban because I felt I was having a problem with my hips. We discussed looking at my spine to see if that may be causing the imbalance. I obtained an X-ray of my spine so he could further evaluate with an actual “blueprint”. The X-ray was eye opening!! Due to the position of my coccyx and several other vertebrae I realized that my body/nervous system had been existing in a state of dis-ease. We developed a plan to try and put things back into their proper alignment. After several visits I could feel a noticeable change, but the most UNEXPECTED and AMAZING thing happened. The area of my spine that had been most effected was my low back (lumbar). The nerves in this area affect the reproductive system. After years of a really intense menstrual cycle I had a complete and total shift !!!!! No more cramping, no more back pain, my cycle shortened from seven days to about four, and my PMS was worlds better!!! At first I thought it was just a coincidence, but it has been four months now and as a woman I can say I wish someone had told me sooner that a little chiropractic work could help with horrible menses!!! This was really amazing to me. It has also been quite rewarding to feel my body returning to a place of ease and comfort. Dr. Urban is very professional, yet easy to talk to. I would definitely recommend Dr. Urban to anyone who would like holistic chiropractic care. Thanks for the magic Dr. U

Debbie D.

Dr. Urban is a wonderful kind chiropractor who is knowledgeable and very skilled. He also does a wonderful energy technique that is very relaxing. He has helped me very much with my frozen joints due to R. A.  Blessings, Dr. Urban.

Anson P.

I’ve been receiving chiropractic care from Dr. James Urban for about a year now, and have been very happy with the results from his care, i have seen other doctors, and have very little relief from pain in my back and neck, Dr. Urban has help me to get some of my strength back in my arms and also relieved some of my discomfort, in my back, by opening up some of the nerves that seem to be blocked, i’am very happy to have found someone like Dr. Urban to give me back the quality of life i have now, thanks again.

Cynthia C.

I was referred to Dr. Urban by a friend and have been very happy with the results. I had seen a couple other chiropractors on Maui, but was never satisfied with the results. Dr. Urban offers compassionate, personalized service and he makes himself available after hours to address emergency situations. I highly recommend Dr. Urban to help you get back to feeling good again.

Eileen B.

As a part-time Maui resident, I was seeking a chiropractic doctor who had been trained in the Gonstead method. At home in New Mexico, I had been undergoing regular chiropractic treatment for chronic pain in my neck and left shoulder. Continuing this treatment was important in alleviating the problem while I was on Maui. So happy to find Dr. James Urban…upon reviewing my X-ray, he began adjustments which have resulted in huge gains in the mobility of my neck, along with significant pain reduction. Dr. Urban clearly explained what was going on in my hip, spine, and neck, along with his plan of action and adjustments necessary to achieve better alignment. I highly recommend Dr. James Urban for your chiropractic wellness choice on Maui.

Anjelika K.

When I first came to see Dr. Urban I was suffering with chronic discomfort due to a nerve impingement in my cervical spine. After exploring many alternative modalities I found Dr. Urban’s approach very effective, and I feel improvement after each visit with him. Dr. Urban has an exceptional insight into this medicine, his touch is very therapeutic, and most importantly he cares about our long-term health and not just fixing the problem in the moment. Thank you for your care Dr. Urban.

Renee T.

I just moved to Maui this year and needed to find a good chiropractor. I have been getting chiropractic care since 2005, so I was already familiar with what my body needed. I searched google and found Dr. Urban. What a god-sent. He is awesome! He really listened to my concerns and addressed them head on. He has helped me so much that now I have my husband seeing him too! And the best thing is that he’s very flexible with scheduling an appointment. I can call him the same day and get in! And he has this new appointment reminder that texts me a reminder 30 min before my appointment so I don’t forget. Very convenient. I highly recommend Dr. Urban!



12 Ways To Appreciate Life And Connect With What You Love

12 Ways To Appreciate Life And Connect With What You Love

We all have this amazing ability to connect to everyone and everything around us. We are capable of doing it so intimately and innately, that it’s a wonder how disconnected we have become from each other and our world. Learn how to tap into what you’ve always had…the power of bonding, connecting, celebrating, appreciating and loving all that you are and can be.

1. A New Day
Making simple, conscious decisions about your everyday life can influence your physical and mental well-being. Following through on the right resolutions about your health and lifestyle choices is not difficult, especially if you have a firm idea of areas you want to improve, and understand that small, gradual steps typically have better results than cold-turkey or all-or-nothing approaches. Take some time today to consider areas of your life you would like to improve. You may want to be healthier, more generous, less stressed, or just more optimistic. Once you determine your goals, create a timeline and attach some simple steps. Consider your strengths and how they can help you on your path, as well as your weaknesses and ways you can work around and with them. If, during your progress, you take a step backward, keep looking forward. Most goals are reached with both good and bad days playing a part!

2. Enjoy the company of People In Your Life
Be mindful of constructive criticism. Learn to have patience and tolerance for others and respect their ideas, even if you disagree. Help your community so you can feel happy about yourself. Appreciate the little things in life. Help keep your community clean and encourage others to do so as well. Feeling good in your surroundings will help you feel good in other aspects of your life. Provide comfort, company, or help for your neighbors- whether that is visiting an elder weekly or maybe helping with yard work, a little love goes a long way. The knowledge must be in effect for the good of all. Each individual can be guided by the collective decisions of the community; be willing to take advice. You can also gather everyone to celebrate certain occasions together- it always turns out to be fun and you’ll gain friends in the process. “A genuine friend is someone who loves or likes another person for the sake of that other person.” -Aristotle. Establish quality friendships that will last a lifetime. As Epicurus was quoted through the Principal Doctrines; “Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship.”

3. Appreciating Art
When was the last time you went to an art gallery, museum, or simply walked down the street and appreciated the public works of art that surround many of us? Viewing art is a wonderful way to raise your spirits. Paintings, sculpture, architecture and other forms of art can please the senses and nourish your nonphysical being. They can also inspire creativity and excitement, and can be savored as a tangible expression of history. Next time you see an interesting building, a challenging sculpture or a provoking painting, take a few minutes to look at it from different angles and enjoy the feelings you get from it.

4. Live Life to The Fullest
Ever wanted to go rock climbing? Go ahead. Make a list of 50 things you want to do. Life is full of adventures. Try hard and never give up. Whenever you get a chance to try out something new- Do it! Epicurus taught us, “pleasure is the absence of pain.” This concept is an important one; neglecting to do what we feel passionate about can cause mental, emotional, or even eventually physical imbalance or pain. Living a healthy and happy life means taking care of not only our immediate needs, but our wants as well. So, reject regret and take those once in a lifetime opportunities. Live passionately. Remember that we live our day to day lives in preparation for moments of pleasure and grasp these moments even when they are not planned for. But remember to also practice moderation. Extremes may lead to an unbalanced life. Learn to prioritize and don’t sacrifice virtues for temporary pleasure- it won’t be worth it in the long run.

5. Bonding with Pets for Health
If you’re a pet owner, you won’t find it surprising that pets can instill a sense of well-being in people. Studies have shown that pet owners, particularly the elderly, have lower blood pressure, are less likely to be depressed and have higher self-esteem than people who don’t have pets. Among the more tangible rewards: A 1999 study in New York, Missouri and Texas found that medication costs dropped in nursing homes that allowed pets. In another study, 70 percent of the families surveyed reported an increase in happiness and fun as a result of acquiring a pet. In 2000, the American Heart Association’s study of stockbrokers found that those who had the companionship of a dog or cat experienced a calming of the “stress response” that can contribute to high blood pressure. After learning the results of the study, many of the pet-less stockbrokers decided to invest in a pet of their own.

6. Can Laughter Help Heal?
Many health experts have long recommended using positive thoughts as a way to lessen or prevent the effects of illness and disease. Pessimism has been linked to a higher risk of dying before age 65, while expressing positive emotions, such as optimism, is associated with lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol, better immune function, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. If you’re a pessimist – or know someone who is – try the following:

Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep.
Express your emotional reactions honestly so you can effectively deal with what’s bothering you.
Confide in someone – your mate, a good friend or a trusted relative.
View the cup as half full instead of half empty.

7. Celebrating Friends and Family
When it comes down to it, friends, family, loved ones and acquaintances who make you feel more alive, happier, and more optimistic are some of the most important treasures in life. All the money and power you can imagine are not likely to be as satisfying as good conversation, trust, dependability and laughter. Today take a moment to think about the special people in your life, and ways you can keep those relationships strong. Make it a priority to spend some time each week with at least one of them – whether by phone, e-mail, in person, or through a letter. Human connectedness is a powerful healer, one we should all share in.

8. Connecting with Nature
Part of optimal health is experiencing the beauty and spirituality of the outdoors. If you think of nature as a hostile force that is separate from yourself, you will go through life unnecessarily afraid and cut off from one of the great sources of spiritual nourishment. Whether you connect with nature on wilderness trips or on lunch breaks in a city park, you should take the opportunity to slow down a bit and observe the infinite variety of her ways. Try to make plans to spend an entire day outdoors this month and see how this experience heightens your awareness of nature and her precious resources. Being a part of nature can show you how much more there is to life. Know there is something bigger out there in the universe and search for your truth to find meaning in things hard to understand. Don’t fear death, it is a part of life that we all will experience. Make every moment count.

9. Learning to Forgive
Forgiveness is beneficial not only mentally but physically as well. People who forgive tend to be less angry, depressed, stressed out and anxious, and have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who hold grudges. If you tend to have a hard time letting go of a grievance, consider that forgiveness does not mean you have to forget an incident, but rather that you can place a limit on how it affects you and your relationship with another, and that you benefit from the process as much as the person you have the grudge with.

10. Reconnecting with Yourself
Multiple commitments and hectic schedules can cause upsets to your daily life. To stay balanced, relaxed and calm, it’s necessary every so often to regroup and decompress. Read a book, start an art project, work in the garden or treat yourself to a massage.
If you find that the demands on your time are overwhelming, don’t be afraid to politely say “no” when someone asks you to do something. Learn your limits. You can’t do it all and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Be a little selfish once in a while by scheduling “me time” – it will help keep you in touch with yourself in the year ahead.

11. Rejuvenate Your Spirits
Been feeling stressed out after watching or reading the news lately? A “news fast” – avoiding news on the television, newspaper or the Internet for a few days or even a week – may help renew your spirits. It is a good way to gauge how you react to and process news, and how the news affects you.
If it seems outlandish, consider the following:

Both local and national network news have increased their emphasis on crime, even as U.S. crime rates continue to decline. This is particularly true of local news.
Studies show that violence, death and other negative images can provoke changes in mood and aggravate anxiety, sadness and depression.
Feelings of depression and sadness can lead to a negative view of your own life.

Perceiving the world as violent, unsafe and hostile can have negative effects on your body, as well. By taking a news fast, you can develop a more conscious relationship with the media – and promote greater mental calm within yourself. When you spend more time in harmonious mental states, your body will function better, and anxiety and over-stimulation may be minimized. Give it a try!

12. Hypnosis for Weight Loss?
Is hypnosis magic? No, but it certainly can help with weight control. Steven Gurgevich, Ph.D., an experienced hypnotherapist teaches integrative medicine practitioners that mind-body techniques can be very helpful for reinforcing motivation, self-discipline and willpower. They can also help people change their behavior and attitudes about eating, physical activity, shopping for food and restaurant dining. According to Dr. Gurgevich, the suggestions offered to your unconscious mind during a hypnotic trance can remove psychological obstacles to weight loss and strengthen the ego, as well as encourage changes in body image, metabolism and the body’s set point (its comfortable weight).

SOURCE: PreventDisease

Toxins in the Food Chain, And Why Quality Supplementation is Necessary

Toxins in the Food Chain, And Why Quality Supplementation is Necessary

When it comes to supplements, the series of questions that individuals ask most frequently relate to their necessity. Do we not get all of the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food that we eat? And if we eat a regular, balanced diet, is that not enough to keep our bodies healthy and fit?” If you were to ask those questions prior to the turn of the 20th century, or even into the first quarter of the 20th century, the answer would have been yes. But today, given the fact that we do not have pure food anymore, the answer is no!

Today, our oceans are in terrible shape. The fish that we catch have high levels of poisons and toxins. The Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration have released minimum weekly levels for fish consumption. Women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to become pregnant are recommended to eat up to 12 ounces of fish per week. The major problem with this advice is that mercury is abundant in many types of fish, and no level has been found safe, so these toxins will to be transferred from mother to fetus.

On the land, farmers use GMO seeds, and cross contamination can go on for miles. Did you know that over 80% of US corn and cotton crops and 94% of soy crops are genetically modified? GM sugar beets were introduced in 2008, and within the first year, 90% of the sugar beets grown in the U.S. were genetically modified (GMO)–that is 80% of the world’s supply.

In the soil, a study published in the scientific journal Entropy has revealed the long-term effects of glyphosate, which is most widely utilized in Roundup herbicide. The study found that Roundup could predispose humans to conditions such as obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.

In plants, Roundup interferes with a biochemical pathway called the shikimate pathway. While this pathway is not found in humans, it is found in bacteria, such as the bacteria found in a human GI tract. In the bacteria, amino acids such as tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine are depleted, which, in humans, can contribute to the diseases mentioned above.

Chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are used on a regular basis. These chemicals go into the root of the plant and eventually become part of the plant themselves. This is very concerning when we talk about rice, corn, soybeans and other food staples that are consumed around the world in large quantities.

In chickens, another study found that glyphosate could predispose chickens to carry higher levels of Salmonella or other harmful bacteria. In fact, the beneficial GI bacteria were susceptible to glyphosate, while the harmful bacteria were resistant to it.

Chickens, cattle, and pigs from birth are injected with steroids and antibiotics to allow for quicker growth, so they can go to market earlier.

These chemicals do not break down, and end up entering our bodies, only to accumulate as toxins within our own system. This accumulation of antibiotics leaves us resistant to antibiotics and susceptible to a weakened immune system to the point that common bacteria could become fatal. This overload of antibiotics leaves medication ineffective, and pharmaceutical companies have not introduced a completely novel antibiotic since 1987. Because of this, we’re losing ground and not keeping pace with superbugs’ ability to develop resistance to the current antibiotics.

Interestingly, this is why so many people today think they are allergic to gluten, and why Crohn’s and Celiac disease are so abundant. People are not allergic to gluten; they are allergic to toxins – we do not have pure food any longer.

As the selection of non-GMO products decreases, it is all the more important that we take the power into our own hands in order to build a healthy immune system to ward off the detrimental effects. Globally we are fighting for our health, and that is why educated choices must be made in the food we eat, and the therapeutic quality of the supplements we take. The lifestyle we plan on leading must be approached proactively; this is not only necessary, but critical in order to having healthy life.


SOURCE: PreventDisease

Improve your skin health and avoid skin cancer naturally

Improve your skin health and avoid skin cancer naturally

For millions of people, around the world, perfect skin seems like a distant dream. The American Academy of Dermatology reveals that acne affects 40 – 50 million Americans, at a cost of over $2 billion per year. Every year, in the United States, 5 million people are treated for skin cancer – at a cost of over $8 billion. But, here’s the main point, all of this is preventable!

Conventional medicine is TOTALLY WRONG about skin cancer

What is the cause of skin cancer? According to the Mayo Clinic, skin cancer is caused by “damage to DNA in skin cells results from ultraviolet (UV) radiation found in sunlight and in the lights used in tanning beds.” And, not just the Mayo Clinic, just about every conventionally-trained medical doctor believes that sunlight causes skin cancer.

Yet, we have epidemiological studies that show people living closer to the equator (with plenty of sunlight exposure) have a statistically lower risk of getting skin cancer versus people living at higher latitudes. And what about all of those cases of skin cancer NOT associated with sunlight exposure?

Even though Western medicine promotes the fear of the sun – they admit that ‘other factors’ that cause cancer include: a weakened immune system, medical radiation and certain toxic substances like arsenic. Treating cancer with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation will NEVER address the root cause of disease – which can be found in poor dietary and lifestyle habits.

The American Cancer Society toots the same horn by warning people that sun exposure, age, skin color, race and other ‘uncontrollable’ factors increase the risk of getting cancer. Yet, buried within their own educational material, they admit “immune suppression” IS a cause of cancer. The thoughtless pattern of fear mongering, disempowering information and dumbed-down nonsense is abundantly clear.

Not a single mainstream outlet will talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the room, in terms of skin health. Our immune system is under attack from all angles, including poisonous farming and food production practices; an overabundance of heavy metals in our food supply; toxic substances in household cleaning products, home furniture and building materials; the list goes on and on. Skin cancer, itchy skin, rashes and acne – all represent ways that the body is trying to deal with excess oils and toxins.

To add insult to injury, we have weak (corporately-controlled) politicians that legalize the sale of cancer-causing substance found in vaccines, unhealthy beverages and so many other items – too many to list here.

The skin is vitally important for optimal health. As the largest organ of the body, our skin keeps us hydrated; helps to prevent infections and warns us of potential harm from heat, cold and pain.

3 natural ways to create perfect skin – all the years of your life

1. Avoid chemicals.

Obvious, but can’t be emphasized enough, before you use lotions, potions or nutritional supplements – one MUST eliminate the consumption of toxic substances found in conventionally-produced foods and personal care products. In other words, be a conscious consumer and spend your money wisely on safer, all-natural products.

2. Keep well hydrated. Often overlooked, it’s not just about drinking clean, pure water. Be sure to eat plenty of water-rich vegetables and fruits – on a daily basis – to keep the skin well-nourished. Avoid heavily-processed foods (loaded with sodium), which will surely dry out your skin and accelerate the aging process.

3. Eat lots of antioxidants. Antioxidants, like vitamin C, have been shown to prevent wrinkles and premature aging by preventing free radical damage. Eat organic blueberries, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, kale, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables – on a daily basis.


SOURCE: NaturalHealth365

Random Acts of Kindness Can ‘Change the Brain’s Chemistry’

Random Acts of Kindness Can ‘Change the Brain’s Chemistry’

Have you ever wondered if someone with even the hardest exterior could learn sensitivity and love? A new study shows that we can be trained to feel compassion for others just like we learn many other skills.

Researchers at the University of Wiscons in Madison discovered human kindness is teachable, and what’s more – it can change how the brain works, making acts of kindness in others and ourselves more commonplace.

We’ve been told through the ages that we need to develop compassion for our fellow humans and other sentient creatures on this planet, but that emotional state has been difficult to pin down scientifically. Motivating altruistic behavior in people was a big puzzle – until now.

Researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has proven that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. It is one of the first studies of its kind to prove that training given to adults in compassionate behavior results in more frequent bouts of altruistic behavior, and changes in our neural systems that address compassion do in fact transpire.

The full report is published online in the journal Psychological Science.

Helen Weng, a graduate student in clinical psychology and lead author of the paper answered a fundamental question about whether or not we can train compassion into people. She said:

“Our evidence points to yes.”

In the study, the investigators trained young adults to engage in compassion meditation, an ancient Buddhist technique to increase feelings of empathy and compassion for people who are stressed and suffering. Participants envisioned a time when someone has suffered and then practiced wishing that his or her suffering was relieved. They repeated phrases to help them focus on these compassionate feelings such as, “May you be free from suffering. May you have joy and ease.”

The participants in the study started with those that might be easiest to imagine being freed form their suffering – close family members, or a dear friend. They then practiced expanding these compassionate feelings to a complete stranger, and even themselves. Finally, they were trained how to extend these feelings to a ‘difficult person’ in their lives.

Weng explained the training:

“It’s kind of like weight training. Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

In addition to this training, the control group was also taught in learned cognitive reappraisal, a technique where people learn to reframe their thoughts to feel less negative. Additionally, they listened to guided instructions on how to do this over the Internet for 30 minutes a day for two weeks.

“We wanted to investigate whether people could begin to change their emotional habits in a relatively short period of time,” said Weng.

The true test of people’s enhanced altruistic behavior was conducted to see if they would be kind or compassionate to people they never met.

The research team then tested participants by asking them to play a game in which they were given the opportunity to spend their own money to respond to someone in need (called the “Redistribution Game”). They played the game over the Internet with two anonymous players, the “Dictator” and the “Victim.”

“We found that people trained in compassion were more likely to spend their own money altruistically to help someone who was treated unfairly than those who were trained in cognitive reappraisal,” Weng explained. “We wanted to see what changed inside the brains of people who gave more to someone in need. How are they responding to suffering differently now?”

The study measured changes in brain responses using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after ‘compassion’ training. In the MRI scanner, participants viewed images depicting human suffering, such as a crying child or a burn victim, and generated feelings of compassion towards the people using their practiced skills. The control group was exposed to the same images, and asked to recast them in a more positive light as in reappraisal.

The conclusion researchers came to by looking at brain scans at the end of the training was that people were the most compassionate when viewing human suffering, and then actively sending empathy to those individuals.

The study abstract concluded:

“These results suggest that compassion can be cultivated with training and that greater altruistic behavior may emerge from increased engagement of neural systems implicated in understanding the suffering of other people, executive and emotional control, and reward processing.”

There was increased activity observed in the inferior parietal cortex, a region involved in empathy and understanding others. Compassion training also increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This activity was connected to better communication with the nucleus accumbens, brain regions involved in emotion regulation and positive emotions – so when people actively sought to lessen the suffering of others, they were rewarded neurologically.

Weng explained:

“People seem to become more sensitive to other people’s suffering, but this is challenging emotionally. They learn to regulate their emotions so that they approach people’s suffering with caring and wanting to help rather than turning away. It’s kind of like weight training … we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help”

As evidenced in countless acts of kindness, the wave of good action repeats itself as others observe the act and want to join in – as their own brain centers react to the good deed. It starts with one small act, and turns into a title wave. You can start one in your community today.

SOURCE: NaturalSociety

You Only Crave Foods For One Reason

You Only Crave Foods For One Reason

Cravings can inspire you or consume you. They can lead you down the path of ill health or encourage change in what and how you eat. Once we are tuned into all the the foods that jive with our intestinal, hormonal and physiological health, we can learn to and tweak our diet to satisfy something larger that our body requirements. Defeating recurring cravings is all a matter of matching a nutrient deficiency with a healthy bioavailable source.

I know many people who self-medicate with cookies, chocolate or cupcakes. But there is always a close link between feeling down and craving carbs. It’s not always clear if a dip in your mood is the excuse for your recent junk food binge, or if it’s the other way around, but specific nutrientsa are behind many cravings.

When you hear your tummy growling or you get this “urge,” the problem is deciding whether you’re craving a food for emotional or physiological reasons or whether your body is truly hungry for food it needs.

However, many dieters think of food cravings as a weakness, but more than 90 percent of participants in a calorie-restriction study experienced food cravings at the start. And even more had cravings six months after dieting, nutritionists at Boston’s Tufts University say.

In fact, accepting food cravings and keeping them in check may be an important component of weight management, explains Susan Roberts, an energy metabolism expert at the university’s Human Nutrition Research Center.

Allowing yourself to have the foods you crave, but matching those cravings to healthy sources, may be one of the most important keys to successful weight control. Some of the most commonly craved foods among are those with high sugar plus fat, such as chocolate, and salty snacks, such as chips and French fries.

For example, a craving for chocolate may signal a need for magnesium, which can be obtained from raw nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits. Cravings for oil snacks and fatty foods may be a sign that you need more calcium from turnip greens, broccoli, kale, and raw cheese.

When someone has anemia caused by iron deficiency, a host of other symptoms usually occur before such strange cravings appear. To correct a low-iron status, eat iron-rich foods such as raisins, fish, poultry, beef, eggs, peas, beans and whole-grain bread. You can also take iron supplements. For best absorption, avoid taking them with calcium supplements or calcium-rich foods such as milk, and take them on an empty stomach with vitamin C.

Women experience greater sense of cravings than men and are more frequently on diets or restricting their diets. They also have more unstable weight, feel more frequently too heavy and want more frequently to lose weight.

Carbs, sweets, caffeine, chocolate, pop, candy, pastries, or chips; constant cravings for these non-nutritional foods point to unstable blood sugar. Not everyone with cravings is protein deficient (otherwise we would really be looking at a country-wide epidemic!), but protein deficiency and unstable blood sugar are intimately linked.

Mood is also related to food cravings but in a different way according to gender. A majority of female cravers experienced a more (depressed) mood state during the day, and a negative mood–such as annoyance, boredom, and depression–preceded the craving episodes. In contrast, men more commonly indulged in food craving in association with a feeling of happiness.

Chromium improves the body’s response to insulin — in fact, the symptoms of a chromium deficiency are similar to those with metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes. In one study conducted at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, researchers demonstrated that glucose, insulin, cholesterol, and HbA1c levels (which measures blood sugar levels over time) improved in patients with type 2 diabetes after they received chromium supplements or consumed foods high in chromium.

What biological factors may be at play to cause women to crave food more than men do?

“The gender difference observed could be due to a higher degree of weight concern in women. Social pressure for thinness–more pronounced in women–may (cause them to) more frequently restrict their diet and to follow a diet to lose weight. As these practices are associated with food cravings, they could be one explanation,”‘ said Lionel Lafay, from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France.

Another possible explanation could be that women experience a different relationship between food and mood. However, the relationships between food and mood are very complex, as is their underlying biological and psychological determination, Lafay noted.

For example, Lafay said, food craving does not appear to be a simple product of the need for calories and energy.

A chocolate craving means you have a magnesium deficiency since chocolate has one of the highest levels of magnesium as a food. Since the chocolate craving occurs just before the period, this means the chocolate craving is related to your hormones.

If you take the correct magnesium supplement or foods high in magnesium, the deficiency will go away temporarily and the chocolate craving just before the period will also go away.

People who report being hungry often crave salty foods more frequently.

Food craving may be related to a ‘desire’ and not to a ‘need’, which indicates a psychological factor requires satisfying.

Strong cravings for starchy, sugary foods often go hand in hand with being overweight, chronically tired, feeling blue or other symptoms of ill health. They can be the result of out of whack blood sugar levels, Candida (yeast overgrowth), and adrenal fatigue. These imbalances can potentially cause disease, premature aging, and us to feel far less than our most fabulous selves.

“You crave what you eat, so if you switch what you’re eating, you can weaken your old cravings and strengthen new ones,” says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, of the Monell Center.

Research shows that even after 5 days you will find that your body will yearn for your trigger foods far less, and after two weeks the cravings are nearly gone.

On a physical level, your blood sugar will begin to balance out, so your body won’t be crying out for foods that it falsely thinks will balance things out. On an emotional level, you will know that it is possible to live without those foods, and you will most likely notice some improvement in your wellbeing, which will keep you motivated.

6 Low-Calorie Snacks To Help You Manage Cravings

1. Soup
A bowl or two of broth-based soup rather than higher-calorie cream soups works well. Add your favourite cut-up veggies, plus a protein such as beans, so you have all the elements of an energy-dense, satisfying meal. Due to its thick consistency, soup takes longer to absorb keeping your tummy full for a longer time. In the winter, it is especially satisfying and comforting.

2. Dried Fruits and Nuts
89 calories gets you eight almonds and four dried apricot halves. A pretty good deal considering you’re getting something sweet, savory, chewy and crunchy. Not only that, but nuts we’ll keep hunger on the wayside than almost any other snack.

3. Smoothies and organic cottage cheese
A glass of apple or banana smoothie will surely gratify your hunger for a while. It will have a mild impact on your blood sugar levels that helps delay hunger cues and enhances weight loss. Try using coconut milk and adding chia seeds and other seeds and nuts to help control your hunger.

4. Organic Popcorn
Popcorn has the volume effect. If you have a tub of popcorn and don’t add fats (caramel or butter) to it, you can consume it without any guilt. Moreover, it gives you a lot of sensory satisfaction. Try and pop your corn in a pan with coconut oil for maximum health and results. Always make sure your popcorn is non-GMO organic. You can also munch on baked or roasted snacks such as khakra (crisp roti) without worrying about adding additional calories.

5. Raw fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories per gram compared to denser foods. To increase satiation, consume a cup of chopped water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, leafy greens and water chestnuts. If you don’t like it plain, prepare a fruit or veggies salad by adding a few drops of vinegar and low-fat salad dressing to it. Also, kamut or spelt pasta with your favourite sauteed veggies provide higher satiety.

6. Legumes
Legumes, such as split peas, lentils and beans, contain a unique blend of protein and fibre. One cup serving of cooked split peas or lentils provides up to twice as much fibre as other fibre-rich foods, such as barley, whole wheat pasta, raspberries and pears. Naturally low-fat and cholesterol-free, legumes are heart-healthy. Nutritious legume-based dishes include lentil soup, split-pea soup and chilled bean salads.


SOURCE: PreventDisease

Meditation can Grow Your Brain in Just 8 Weeks

Meditation can Grow Your Brain in Just 8 Weeks

A team of researchers led by Dr. Lazar, a neurologist and instructor at Harvard medical school, have discovered that meditating for just 8 weeks can fuel grey-matter in the hippocampus and promote brain ‘growth’. More specifically, the practice of meditation can spark measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.

For the study, 16 volunteers took part in Dr. Lazar’s ‘mindfulness’ course, with magnetic resonance (MR) images being taken 2 weeks before and after the study. After just 8 short weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation, her volunteers showed thicker grey matter in several important areas of the brain, including the left hippocampus, a small horseshoe-shaped structure in the central brain involved in memory, learning and emotional regulation.

Additional parts of the brain positively affected by just eight weeks of meditation were posterior cingulate cortex – also important for memory and emotions; the temporoparietal junction, involved in empathy creation; and the cerebellum, which helps to coordinate movement.

Study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology, said:

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany, said:

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life. Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”

Those who did not go take part in Dr. Lazar’s course experienced no such structural brain changes.

The meditation course seemed to cause the brain to form denser connections among important centers that regulate our behavior and help us to be ‘smart.’

This translates to all sorts of possible benefits – from handling stress better at work and in our lives, to conducting out responsibilities with more élan. Sure, you can cram for those finals, or beat your head against the wall trying to meet a deadline at work, but maybe some life-long meditative practices can help.

Her talk and pictures are highly motivating for those looking for an edge in their industry or who just need some extra oomph to get through their hectic lives.


SOURCE: NaturalSociety

The far reaching benefits of breastfeeding

The far reaching benefits of breastfeeding

In recent years, (again) breastfeeding has earned the national spotlight as the preferred method of feeding babies. Scientists and doctors alike have realized that their ideas of competing with human milk – using synthetic substitutes or formulas – were not going to be as successful.

Although baby formulas can replicate many of the nutrients found within breast milk, researchers continually find more benefits to breast milk in its natural form that stretch beyond nutrient intake.

Pregnant women need to know the truth about breastfeeding

”Mother’s milk, time-tested for millions of years, is the best nutrient for babies because it is nature’s perfect food.” – Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

Even, the World Health Organization admits that “if every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year.’ If you ask me, that’s an awesome statement – which validates the value of breastfeeding.

However, many of the benefits people commonly discuss pertain only to the baby. They speak about lower risks of infection, decreased chances of obesity and better bonding. What many proponents of nursing fail to advertise to new mothers are the potential benefits of breastfeeding for the woman.

Given that according to the Centers for Disease Control, less than half of babies are still breastfeeding at all at 6 months and only just over a quarter are breastfeeding at 12 months, these benefits are worth exploring.

How does breastfeeding help improve a mother’s health?

Medical doctor and lactation consultant Alicia Dermer notes that the benefits of breastfeeding begin right after birth. “Immediately after birth, the repeated sucking of the baby releases oxytocin from the mother’s pituitary gland. This hormone not only signals the breasts to release milk to the baby, but simultaneously produces contractions in the uterus. The resulting contractions prevent postpartum hemorrhage and promote uterine involution (the return to a nonpregnant state).”

Mothers who breastfeed will also experience a lifetime decreased risk of various reproductive cancers, including both ovarian and uterine cancers, as well as breast cancer. Breastfeeding baths the mother in a cocktail of hormones, which impacts how the body’s cells grow.

Studies done as early as 1999, in Iceland, found that women who breastfed for any length of time have experienced a reduce risk of breast cancer. More recent studies have indicated that at-risk women can reduce their risk by up to 59 percent by breastfeeding their infants.

Interestingly, the benefits of breastfeeding can also impact a mother in ways ranging from her bones to her mind. Studies have indicated that women who have breastfed have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and the longer a woman breastfeeds, the more she is protected.

Previously, doctors were also concerned about the potential for women developing osteoporosis due to the loss of calcium while lactating. Recently, this has been found to be a false assumption as women experience restored or even stronger bones after weaning, perhaps even reducing their chances of developing osteoporosis.

Our society needs to reconnect with benefits of a natural lifestyle

Educating mothers about how breastfeeding can help both their child and themselves can encourage increased and prolong breastfeeding rates. A study conducted on hospital practices found that the more friendly hospitals were towards breastfeeding, the more initial breastfeeding rates increased, indicating that this is a key area for potential improvement.

Proponents of breastfeeding should also focus on providing help for new mothers, supporting them when they struggle, and helping them find solutions to continue nursing. Breastfeeding tips and advice should always be given with an understanding of the mother’s situation. Pediatricians, midwives and others involved with infants, should be educated about potential complications such as tongue ties and navigating food sensitivities without damage to the nursing relationship.

Breastfeeding can help create a healthier overall population. Not only does it improve the health of the children, it can have a huge impact on the mothers. Helping women understand the full range of benefits and supporting them in their endeavor are the best ways to improve the health of our society.


Source: NaturalHealth365

The Effects of Poor Eating Habits On The Immune System Last Long After Diet Improves

The Effects of Poor Eating Habits On The Immune System Last Long After Diet Improves

While we may be familiar with the dangers of eating too much processed foods, the actual effects of this indulgence may be far more damaging to our health than previously imagined. Almost everyone knows that improved eating habits will most likely improve a range of health measures, but researchers have warned that the effects that a poor diet have on the immune system can persist even after eating habits improve.

Writing in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, the team behind the new study found that even after successful treatment of atherosclerosis – including lowering of blood cholesterol and a change in dietary habits – the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle still affect the way the immune system functions.

Led by Erik van Kampen from Leiden University in The Netherlands, the researchers used a mouse model to show that lasting changes in immune functions occurs largely because poor eating habits alter the way genes express themselves, including genes related to immunity.

The Study of Epigenetic Changes Is Paramount

These epigenetic changes in gene expression ultimately keep the risk of cardiovascular disorders higher than it would be had there been no exposure to unhealthy foods in the first place, said the team.

Quantifying epigenetic changes due to nutritional habits has been a challenge for scientists, but many are now stating the quest is even more important than acute bio-chemical reactions outside of the genome.
“We’ve long known that lifestyle and nutrition could affect immune system function,” commented John Wherry, Ph.D., deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

Biologists have suspected for years that some kind of epigenetic inheritance occurs at the cellular level. The different kinds of cells in our bodies provide an example. Skin cells and brain cells have different forms and functions, despite having exactly the same DNA. There must be mechanisms–other than DNA–that make sure skin cells stay skin cells when they divide.

The way we interact with the world changes our DNA, not just the other way around. More intriguing, one of the major ways we can change our DNA is by diet. For example, a study published in 2008 showed that exposing mice brains to as little as 6 hours of high blood sugar led to epigenetic changes that increased risk of vascular damage. These changes lasted even after 6 days of normal blood glucose, representing long-term damage after just a short blast of sugar. The research on long-term effects from short exposures is at the core of epigenetics. It’s furthered by data from another 2008 study published in the journal Diabetes.

Our genes are located on twisted, double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. At the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres. These are essentially end caps that protect our genetic data, allow for cells to divide properly and reflect how we age. High blood glucose may damage our telomeres; the ends of our DNA code. Considering that an undamaged telomere may be protective against cancer, death, and the very act of aging, any process that harms telomeres could put us at substantial risk.

“The ability of nutritional history to have durable affects on immune cells demonstrated in this new report could have profound implications for treatment of diseases with immune underpinnings,” he said — adding that research to investigate the length of such effects will be ‘critical.’

“I hope that this study demonstrates the importance of diet-induced changes in the epigenome and encourages further research into the interaction between dietary patterns, DNA methylation and disease,” added van Kampen.

Epigenetic study

The team analysed two groups of mice that had an altered gene making them more susceptible to developing high blood cholesterol and atherosclerosis. These mice were either fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet (Western-type diet, WTD) or a normal diet (chow).

After a long period of feeding, bone marrow was taken from the mice and transplanted into mice with a similar genetic background that had their own bone marrow destroyed. The recipient mice were left on chow diet for several months, after which the development of atherosclerosis in the heart was measured.

Van Kampen and his colleagues then examined the number and status of immune cells throughout the body in addition to analysing epigenetic markings on the DNA in the bone marrow.
They found that DNA methylation, an epigenetic signature, in the bone marrow was different in mice that received bone marrow from the Western-type-fed donors compared to the mice receiving bone marrow from chow-fed donors.
In addition, these mice had large differences in their immune system and increased atherosclerosis, said the team.

“We conclude that WTD challenge induces transplantable epigenetic changes in bone marrow, alterations in the hematopoietic system, and increased susceptibility to atherosclerosis,” concluded the team.

SOURCE: PreventDisease

New Study: Benefits of turmeric shown to neutralize cancer

New Study: Benefits of turmeric shown to neutralize cancer

A common spice frequently used in Asian cooking may hold the key to hindering the advancement of mesothelioma, a type of cancer found in the lining of the lung.

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and the Georg-Speyer-Haus, Frankfurt, Germany, have shown that applying curcumin – derived from the spice turmeric – in the presence of cancer-inhibiting peptides can boost the strength of a cancer-slowing protein inhibitor. It is hoped the study’s findings can lead scientists a step closer to understanding how patients can become cancer free.

Understanding the value of curcumin for cancer patients

Curcumin is an antioxidant and an active ingredient in turmeric. Antioxidants are compounds frequently found in plants and known to protect the body’s cells from the onslaught of activated molecules – known as free radicals – that are believed to cause a variety of diseases and disorders.

According to the American Cancer Society, benefits of turmeric can be illustrated by the fact that curcumin has demonstrated some anti-cancer effects in the lab by interfering with several significant molecular pathways believed to be involved in cancer presence, growth, and spread. Research results have shown curcumin inhibited the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents, according to the American Cancer Society, which added that curcumin can kill and slow the growth of cancer cells in vitro.

It has also been shown to reduce cancer growth and shrink tumors of lab animals.

Why is curcumin so effective at preventing cancer cell growth?

A 2011 study looked at the benefits of turmeric by taking advantage of the fact that curcumin stays in the intestine rather than absorbing into the bloodstream, leading researchers to investigate whether it might reduce the number of cancer precursors in the rectum and colon.

They found that smokers who consumed 4 grams of curcumin a day had fewer abnormal crypt foci following the study than smokers who took only 2 grams a day, who showed no change. Research continues on whether curcumin can actually reduce the prevalence of colon and rectum cancers – leaving patients cancer free.

Science is looking at ways to slow down the progression of cancer

In the most recent study, Onio and German investigators analyzed tissue samples of mesothelioma tumors from patients at three geographical locations across the United States, comparing patient mortality and the specific type of mesothelioma suffered.

While mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos exposure, many of the 43,000 people killed worldwide by this cancer on an annual basis have never been exposed to asbestos. While widespread, treatment options have remained limited, with less-than-optimal results.

Senior research author Afshin Dowlati, MD, Professor of Medicine – Hematology/Oncology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, was quoted in a statement by the University confirming that better ways to treat mesothelioma are necessary.

“We now understand the mechanisms that drive cell proliferation and growth in malignant mesothelioma,” said Dowlati, a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, referring to the study’s findings.

It is believed that many cancers, mesothelioma included, are triggered by the action of an intraceullular protein and transcription factor known as STAT3. STAT stands for “signal transducer and activator of transcription.” A signal transducer and activator acts as a pathway for instructing growth and survival of cells throughout the body. The term “transcription factor” refers to a protein that controls genetic information that tells cells how to perform.

Cancer is linked to the presence of STAT3 because the transcription factor has a reputation for providing misdirection that sparks the onset of human cancers and then fuels their continued growth. However, the protein inhibitor known as PIAS3, which stands for “protein inhibitor of activated STAT3,” has the ability to slow, and even block, the ability of STAT3 to spur cancer growth.

Has science discovered the true ‘anticancer’ power of curcumin?

Investigators were able to link levels of PIAS3 with STAT3 activity in each tissue sample. In addition, the researchers assessed the impact of curcumin and peptides extracted from PIAS3 on malignant mesothelioma cells in vitro.

Curcumin and PIAS3 peptides raised PIAS3 levels in the study, which inhibited the cancer-causing activity of STAT3, even killing off mesothelioma cells. These latest findings are believed to provide proof that these two compounds are effective in treating malignant mesothelioma. The research is characterized as representing the first steps toward an actual clinical trial for treatment.

A potential treatment strategy for cancer patients is on the horizon

The medical community has long observed that mesothelioma does not progress consistently in patients even when stages, grades and clinical presentation of the tumor are very comparable. This suggests that the presence of PIAS3 in patients could serve as a marker because its expression was found to have a positive impact on patient survival, based on the study’s findings.

The results have led investigators to suggest that PIAS3 activation could be a therapeutic strategy for mesothelioma patients. “Mesothelioma patients who have low PIAS3 and high STAT3 have a greater chance of dying early,” explained Dowlati. “On the flip side, those patients with high PIAS3 levels have a 44 percent decreased chance of dying in one year, which is substantial.”

The scientists believe these findings may lead to further investigation of what role PIAS3 could hold in inhibiting other cancers that are caused by STAT3 action.


SOURCE: NaturalHealth365

Truth: A Genuine Smile Can Heal You, Plus 10 Ways to Do it More Often

Truth: A Genuine Smile Can Heal You, Plus 10 Ways to Do it More Often

“Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

What if I told you that a genuine, ear-to-ear smile could start to restore a depleted immune system right now? Sure, a big belly-laugh would do even more good, but a simple smile could really heal you from diseases as difficult to challenge as cancer or as simple as the common cold.

In an issue of Psychological Science, University of Kansas researchers found that the act of smiling has a positive effect on our happiness and physical health, helping the heart recover more quickly after stressful events. They used 170 American college students in their study, even measuring ‘fake’ smiles compared to real ones.

When the facial muscles for a genuine smile in one of the test groups were activated, meaning that the muscles at the corners of the lips and around the eyes were activated (and ‘crows feet’ were produced around the sides of the eyes, often called a “Duchenne” smile), they could perform stressful tasks without spiking their heart rates. What’s more, even when they did experience an elevated heart rate from doing a stressful activity, their hearts recovered more quickly than the groups that didn’t smile at all.

The researchers determined that people whose hearts recover from stress in this manner are generally healthier long-term, as evidenced by other studies which came to the same conclusion. One Harvard Health study describes how a slower heart rate translates to a longer lifespan.

Tara Kraft, the lead author of the study and a psychology graduate student at the University of Kansas said:

“The smilers were protected a bit.”
So do the results mean we should “fake it til we make it”?

Prior research has suggested that faking a smile may actually be bad for your happiness, but in this study, participants’ facial muscles moved in the exact same way as if they were naturally induced to flash a genuine smile—and the physiological changes were not the same.

So – genuine smiles are more effective for reducing stress than fake smiles, and less stress always means less disease. Especially with heart disease, the leading killer in the U.S., this study means simply finding authentic things to smile about could save your life.

Kraft continued:

“The neat thing about this is that smiling during the stressful period also has positive benefits for your heart health for several minutes after you’re smiling, which is pretty cool. We’ve seen so much work out there showing it’s good for emotional and social health and well-being, but this really is the first study among its kind to show that smiling is beneficial to you physically.”

10 Simple Ways to Smile More Often and Prevent Disease

Want to spread some good health with smiles? Try these:

1. Smile first. It is almost impossible not to genuinely smile back at a genuine smile. Have you ever seen a complete stranger, caught their eye, and they smiled so big you almost giggled? It is almost involuntary. Try giving someone this gift today.

2. Don’t fret if you are an insomniac. Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similarly to getting good sleep,

3. Hang out with a 2-month-old baby. Smiling is a huge milestone for babies, and it is one of the first things they recognize as a social cue from their mothers since they can only see about 8 to 12 inches from their own face. A baby’s first smile is mesmerizing.

4. Tell a great joke. Humor can drive a point home, or get people to pay attention to a serious subject that they might otherwise ignore. A great joke can also make the most despondent person crack a smile.

5. Hug someone. To be truly healthy it is said that we need at least 8 hugs a day. It is likely due in part to the fact that hugs make us smile. Hugs also instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. They also boost the immune system, just like smiling.

6. Listen intently. When was the last time someone offered you their undivided attention – no cell phone interruptions, email checking, or random distractions? If you want to get a stranger to smile genuinely, or even your best friend, listen to what they are saying. Besides, listening and silence are some of the most under-utilized communication skills around.

7. Engage in a random act of kindness. This can be as simple as holding a door for someone, or paying the toll of the car behind you on a toll road. It is proven that politeness and kindness make people smile, and that those acts are self-perpetuating. In fact – positive feelings from ONE act of kindness often lasts for 3 hours after the act is committed, and happy people are more likely to perform additional acts of kindness.

8. Play more with kids. On average, small children smile around 400 times a day – at least 100 times more often than adults do. No wonder they still know how to have a good time. Those smiles are contagious, too.

9. When meeting someone for the first time, re-state his or her name. People love hearing their own names spoken. It might seem a strange way to get someone to smile, but just acknowledging them personally makes them grin. Dale Carnegie, international best-seller wrote about this in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Guess what is number two on his list of ‘6 ways to make people like you’? Smile.

10. Check out an animal’s smile. Yes, even our two and four-legged friends in the animal world smile. Animal behaviorists used to believe that an animal’s smile was no more than a collection of conditioned reflexes that moved the muscles of their faces. New thinking on the subject; however, is allowing for the possibility that animals are expressing happiness when their muscles move in this way. Both your family dog and bottle-nosed dolphins smile. Watching that happy expression on man’s best friend just might make you smile too.

Maybe all these reasons are why recent scientific studies concluded “that smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash.”

SOURCE: NaturalSociety