When mental, emotional demands become physical pains (Part 3)

When mental, emotional demands become physical pains (Part 3)
Updated 14 May 2014

When mental, emotional demands become physical pains (Part 3)

When mental, emotional demands become physical pains (Part 3)

In the two previous articles, I explained how emotional and physical demands cause physical pain without one’s awareness. I also showed ways to ease such pain with stretching, massage, exercise, therapeutic exercises (yoga, Tai chi…), and reducing prolonged stationary positions and sedentary lifestyles. I also discussed other health harming effects of long sitting hours, which can cause premature fatality. A well-known British study showed that the more sedentary bus drivers had twice the risk of dying of heart attacks than their more active counterparts, the conductors.
Now, I will go through the other harmful effects of sitting too long and inactivity.
Sitting still in the same position too long gives a bad posture as well, because the back muscles’ connecting tissue takes the shape of the wrong posture like in the case of hunched backs. Sedentary positions also make you fatter according to physical therapist Bill Hartman. You burn more calories when you are standing than sitting down. By sitting too long, the glutes, the large muscles become lazy with lack of movement and stop burning calories. Weak glutes result in back pain by causing the pelvis to go forward and stressing the spine. The posture makes the tummy bulge, looking more like a pregnant woman when standing. Hamilton recommends becoming more active all day and sitting less. Moving and standing are better and healthier choices for your back, muscles, and overall health.
Hence, it is necessary to use your feet more often by standing, stretching, and moving every half hour. Pace up and down the hallway while talking on the cell phone. According to a European Heart Journal study, those who took more breaks and moved away from their desks more often were thinner than their counterparts who were more sedentary. An Australian research found that employees who remain seated over 6 hours are more overweight than the more active ones. According to Hamilton, “It all adds up, and it all matters.” Even small movements count.
To complement these activities and speed up relief of back pain, one needs to have nutrition rich in healthy oils, vegetables, fruits, nutrients, and antioxidants to counteract the stress caused by the tense muscles and inflamed nerves. When pain, stress, and inflammation strike, the body responds by secreting stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. With long-term pressures, stress hormones turn against the body, depleting immunity; causing inflammation; harming organs and systems; and poisoning the body as well as exhausting the adrenal glands. When the body gets flooded with stress hormones, it stops producing the necessary hormones to regulate several important body functions like controlling inflammation and blood sugar, repairing tissue, and building the immune system. The first symptoms seen with exhausted adrenal glands are repetitive colds, chronic sinus infections, sleep loss, and fatigue. After a while of continuous stress or no relief, symptoms become more severe, appearing with allergy attacks, depressed responses, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune disorders (lupus, fibromyalgia…).
With adrenal exhaustion, the body becomes depleted, dysfunctional, and incapacitated to fight muscle pains, fatigue, and depression. How to counteract such dysfunctions? With the appropriate dietary supplements, such conditions and disorders can be reversed and health can be restored. Let us go through such a detoxifying and replenishing plan.
Meals should consist of “healthy” fats, protein, complex carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Essential fatty acids are at the forefront of all fat categories. They are the basic building blocks of the hormonal and glandular systems, brain neurotransmitters, cholesterol, reproductive glands and organs, and more. They are needed to replenish the adrenal glands and make cortisol caused by long-term stress. These fats come in two kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6.
The best kind of omega-3 fats come from deep-water fish (salmon, cod, mackerel) as well as nuts (walnut) and flax and chia seeds. Omega-3 fats have anti-inflammatory and healing properties and are the most desired for the brain, which it is very fatty.
Omega-6 fats are generally found in grains (corn, pulses (soy), and seeds (sesame, sunflower). They lose their benefits when refined or heated. Omega-3 and omega-6 should be taken in a ratio of 3 to 4 (some recommend 1 to 1) to give better stress-relieving results. Unfortunately, the modern diet is very rich in fried foods and omega-6 fats (corn, sunflower, safflower), making omega-3 fat negligible in meals.
Another important fat is monounsaturated fatty acids (omega-9) found in olive, avocado, and macadamia oils. Unlike inflammatory saturated or trans fats (hydrogenated and heated oils), these healthy fats are required to neutralize the effects of inflammatory stress hormones and to quench the body cells. The adequate amounts of anti-inflammatory fats (omega-3 and 9), protein, and low-glycemic carbohydrates (vegetables and fruits) are required to stabilize blood insulin levels. The latter exasperates stress when kept at high levels. Reasonable amounts of good fats help suppress hunger, promote a healthy metabolic rate, and prevent weight gain.
Along with omega-3 fat from fish, omega-9 fats are the healthiest fats for the cardiovascular system, heart, hormonal system, neurotransmitters, and the brain. “Healthy” fats increase the metabolism and ability to lose weight. “Good” fats burn belly fat, which causes inflammation and chronic disorders. If you are unable to have the proper dietary intake of healthy fats (omega-3-6 and-9), you should take the purified supplement.
Lean proteins are important, too, when you are under stress. Proteins from fish, seafood, lean meat, poultry, and eggs are required. Fish offers anti-inflammatory effects. Meat should not be overcooked, charred, or burned (barbecue). Carbonated proteins cause stress and lead to cancer. Grilling, roasting, baking, steaming, and stir-frying are healthier methods of cooking, provided “good” fats are used in a controlled manner. The quantity of protein should not exceed the size of the palm. Regardless of the kind of fat used, frying is very detrimental to health. Vegetable proteins like well-cooked legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are healthy when combined. Dairy (yogurt) products should be low in fat. Goat’s milk and cheese are healthier alternatives for those suffering from stress-related conditions. Cow milk has become commercialized. Cows are not fed organic feedstock and are given hormones to produce more milk and become fatter. Antibiotics (contributing to antibiotic resistance) are given to prevent infections due to their overcrowded unhygienic living conditions.
Complex carbohydrates (whole rice and grains) when slightly undercooked are less stressful on the body than refined grains and simple sugars. They control sugar and insulin spikes, preventing sugar crashes. When pure sugar and refined foods are consumed in large amounts, the body keeps pumping stress hormones and insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, thus resulting in weight gain and adrenal exhaustion. The more energy sustainable carbohydrates are the ones that come from non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, and certain whole grains. Here they are: whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat, millet, spelt, kamut…), legumes (lentils, garbanzo, soy…), raw or roasted nuts (walnut, almonds…), seeds (flaxseeds, black sesame, chia, pumpkin seeds…), sprouts, fresh raw vegetables (dark leafy greens, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, squashes, cabbage family, asparagus, eggplants, okra, raw carrots), and whole fruits (apples, oranges, papaya, apricots, prunes, plums, pears, kiwi, berries, cherries). The skin of fruits and veggies supply additional fiber and benefits and reduce their glycemic load. Gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley) or allergy producing foods should be reduced to avoid raising stress levels. Genetically engineered plants (GMO wheat, soybeans, corn) are unhealthy, therefore stressful on the body.
Next week InshaAllah, I shall continue with our discussion about healthy nutrition and lifestyles as well as supplements to counteract stress and its harmful effects on the body and health.

• The Most Dangerous Thing You’ll Do All Day, by Bill Philips and the Editors of Men’s Health
• Advice from Golf Digest Professional Adviser, Ralph Simpson, physical therapist and former fitness trainer
Individuals with medical conditions or on medication should consult their physicians when they decide to introduce anything new in their diet even if it is natural.
The previous Health Solutions articles are located at www. arabnews.com.

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From comedy to healthcare – why Bassem Youssef wants you fighting fit

From comedy to healthcare – why Bassem Youssef wants you fighting fit
Updated 24 January 2021

From comedy to healthcare – why Bassem Youssef wants you fighting fit

From comedy to healthcare – why Bassem Youssef wants you fighting fit

DUBAI: Bassem Youssef is on a mission for the masses – and the topic is definitely no laughing matter.

For the Egyptian surgeon-turned-comedian – mainly known in the region for his standup and satire – is concerned with the serious health issues the Middle East is facing.

“The rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are exploding (in this region) – the percentages were not this high 30, 40 years ago,” he tells Arab News. “I think we need to do something about it. We have been adopting the Western lifestyle of eating, and so we’re suffering from the same diseases now.



“We need to take a step back and try to modify our approach to food and our lifestyle.”

Youssef’s latest TV project forms part of that mission.

Is’al Bassem’ – which translates into ‘Ask Bassem’ – is a new weekly programme on Asharq News that focuses on “challenging traditional food myths'' whilst introducing viewers to “doctors, athletes, and influencers who have changed their lives through a balanced diet”.

Youssef, 46, who has been following a vegan diet himself for over eight years now, wants to show that the current health crisis in the Middle East can be reversed.



But he’s the first to admit that change won’t happen overnight, citing challenges such as “elevated levels of lifestyle, more money, the introduction of fast food and international chains, and people using meat as a sign of status.”

He elaborates: “I make this joke a lot – that when you talk to people about their lifestyle and food, they attack you more (compared to) when you talk about politics or religion!

“And I get that, but I’m not even criticizing what they do. I am criticizing the marketing around it; I'm criticizing the science that promotes an unhealthy lifestyle. It's really up to the people to choose.”

‘Is’al Bassem’ isn’t Youssef’s first foray into health and wellness content. The personality launched Plant B, a media portal dedicated to plant-based eating and more, in 2019.

“There has been a very positive impact, and I see it every day. I see it with people sending me messages telling me how it has affected their life for the better – that's what keeps you going,” he says. “I think this initiative has touched a lot of people’s lives, so I am quite happy and proud of it.”



No looking back

So where did this love for plant-based eating initially come from?

“I still remember the date: 15 September 2013, because it's the day that I met with my friend who had MS (multiple sclerosis), and he kind of converted me.”

On the Plant B website, Youssef explains that his friend overcame MS through changing his diet.

And while he himself went “cold turkey” in following his friend, Youssef advises against that approach, instead encouraging others to go slow and steady.

“My advice is to read and to take it in baby steps. Try and take out one group of food; (start with) dairy. If you feel better, take out a second group. I always say that any change is good.”

Going beyond TV



Youssef’s mission isn’t just reserved for what he presents on the small screen. He’s keen to turn it into something greater that has the potential to influence and improve public health policies.

“I consider ‘Is’al Bassem’ a stepping stone. Plant B was a stepping stone. And I want to actually extend that beyond the boundaries of television and media,” he reveals. “I want to make a real impact in society. I want to be able to one day speak to governments; to try to change policies; to make an impact on the way people think about lifestyle, healthcare initiatives, and healthcare policies.

“And I think we can do that. It has already been done in the United States, and I think we have an even better chance of doing it here in the Arab world.”

So is it out with the old career and in with the new? Does this mark the end of ‘Bassem Youssef: Political Satirist’?



“No, because I’m still doing comedy that is related to politics, but in the United States,” he says. “My beginning (was) in Arabic on a show called ‘Al Bernameg’ in Cairo. Now, I live in the United States, I still do comedy, and all of my comedy is still politically-oriented. But it's now done in English.”

“People judge you based on their perception of what you present and if it's still relevant to them or not... but I am the product of the environment that I live in. I'm living in the United States as an immigrant, and I speak towards that. So I hope it doesn't get old!”

He continues: “The thing with Plant B and ‘Is’al Bassem’ is that it's not a replacement... This is a side passion project that I've been doing for years. It's an addition to what I do.”