- Page 3 21st Century HGH Blog on Health and Fitness - Part 3
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HGH and Athletics

The human growth hormone, also known as HGH, is a highly controversial drug that is becoming more and more prevalent in the athletic community. The rumors are that it can make you faster, stronger, leaner, and an overall better competitor. However, recent studies are beginning to show that may not be true.

The human growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. The human growth hormone is responsible for growth spurts in puberty, as well as the growth of muscle and organs. A synthetic human growth hormone was developed to aid those who suffered from an underdeveloped pituitary gland or other related medical problems.

Athletes began using HGH because it was thought it would increase the rate of muscle growth as well as stamina. It seems that the use of HGH is only growing more widespread in the world of athletic competition. One of the main concerns of HGH use is that though HGH does increase cell growth rate in healthy cells, it could also facilitate the growth of unhealthy or cancerous cells, making it very risky to use.

Studies on the effects of the human growth hormone in athletic performance have been going on for at least two decades. These studies have two groups of athletes, one given HGH, the other given a placebo injection. The results were (and continue to be) somewhat surprising.

According to a compilation of various studies on HGH done in The Annals of Internal Medicine, the athletic prowess of the two groups showed little to no difference. This may lead many to believe that the human growth hormone has no purpose for athletes. However, it’s very clear that many athletes do use HGH. The question is why.

While it seems clear that the human growth hormone doesn’t directly affect performance, it may have a very prominent indirect effect. HGH’s main appeal to athletes is that they can increase the amount and difficulty of their training. By taking the human growth hormone, athletes are able to train more and take on a heavier load than without it. Therefore, their abilities increase due to the extra training they can do.

Not only does it seem that HGH can increase the difficulty and duration of the training and practice that athletes can accomplish, it also speeds up recovery time from a big event or an injury. In November of 2003, Outside Magazine enlisted journalist and ultra-endurance cyclist Stuart Stevens to actively search out and take HGH as part of an undercover investigative article. He reported that after biking 200 miles, the very next day he felt hardly any soreness, despite being extremely sore after biking that distance in previous outings.

While there is still much to be learned about the human growth hormone and its effects on athletic performance, it is still illegal to use HGH for any purpose other than an FDA approved medically necessary situation. Athletes still seem to find ways to get HGH either from disreputable doctors or on the black market. Whether human growth hormone works for athletes or not, there is still a lot of investigation to be done about it.

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Anti-Aging Drugs on the Horizon

We live in a world obsessed with staying young. Anti-aging beauty products are everywhere, marketing to women as young as their twenties to prevent fine lines, minimize pores and other various signs of aging. Cosmetic procedures to appear younger are all the rage and many women (and even men) are willing to go under the knife in order to appear younger.

The desire to remain young in appearance is not the only thing pushing forward the search for a solution to aging. People die of old age and old age related diseases every day. Remaining healthier for longer, and maintaining a high quality of life often trump the mere appearance of youthfulness.

It seems the quest of Ponce De Leon for the fountain of youth will never die. The desire to prevent or, at the least, slow down aging forges forward faster than ever in the modern world. It seems, however, that the quest has been taken up not by explorers or adventurers, but by scientists.

The ability to significantly slow down aging is still a long way off. Animal trials have to prove progress before human trials can begin, and the human trials would take decades to complete in order to measure properly the effectiveness of the treatment. Despite those obstacles, there are two drugs in development that have begun to show some promise.

Rapamycin

Rapamycin is a drug that is an mTOR inhibitor. The mTOR genetic pathway is beneficial when an animal is young, ensuring healthy growth. However, when an animal ages, this pathway seems to negatively affect mammals as they grow older.

These mTOR inhibitors have been shown in studies to slow down or delay aging effects in mice and other animals. Rapamycin’s current use is to suppress the immune system in a person receiving an organ transplant, so their body doesn’t reject the transplant.

Testing on mice showed a 14% increase in lifespan. Unfortunately, Rapamycin is a very long way away from being usable as an anti-aging drug, due to negative side effects on humans. Rapamycin can raise the risk of diabetes in humans, as well as fatigue and even mouth ulcers.

Metformin

Another drug that shows potential anti-aging effects is Metformin. Metformin is currently used as a type 2 diabetes medicine. Metformin is a biguanide. It reduces the amount of glucose absorbed from food and the amount of glucose produced by the liver, as well as increasing the amount of insulin created by the body.

Some animal studies have shown an increase in the lifespan of small animals by 5%. Metformin works on a cellular level, sending out a small amount of oxygen molecules. These oxygen molecules can be dangerous in high amounts, but in a small, steady amount it was shown to greatly increase the lifespan and quality of life in roundworms.

Though the desire for a longer, healthier life has been around for thousands of years, it seems that within mere decades significant life extension could be within the common public’s grasp.

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A Wholly Healthy You

A New Year brings new opportunities. Time to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to a healthier you in 2015. The beginning of a new year is a great time to start new habits and break bad ones. Let 2015 be your year of whole health. Here are some great tips to get you started.

Nutrition

● Start slow. Don’t make too many changes at once or you might burn out.
● Drink lots of water. Hydration is key to your physical health.
● Eat more fruits and vegetables. Swap out a serving of carbs for a serving of vegetables.
● Stock your kitchen with healthy and convenient foods. Make it easy for yourself to succeed!
● Clear out unhealthy, processed or fatty foods. Especially foods containing saturated fats and trans saturated fats. If you don’t have it readily available, chances are you won’t eat it.
● Eat breakfast, with protein and fiber. Starting your day by feeling full is key to preventing yourself from making poor nutritional choices.
● Smaller portions. Many Americans don’t realize that they regularly overeat. Go by the FDA’s proportion recommendations and you will notice a difference right away.
● Don’t eat after dinner. If you snack when you are relaxing at the end of a long day, watching TV or using the computer, you are more likely to overeat or choose less healthy foods.
● Eat plenty of greens. Greens contain a huge variety of vitamins such as calcium, magnesium iron, potassium, zinc and the vitamins K, E, C, and A.
● Eat more fruit. Fruits satisfy sweetness craving but fill you up with their high water and fiber content.
● Eat whole grains. Start subbing out white flour, refined sugar and white rice with whole grains, beans and fruits and vegetables.

Exercise

● Be consistent. Exercise every day until it becomes a habit.
● Start Small. While your motivation to get fit may be high right now, an injury or burnout as a result of doing too much too soon can put those dreams on hold. Go slowly, and steadily increase as you feel more capable.
● Set realistic goals. Don’t expect to be marathon ready in two weeks. Start with a goal like exercising everyday for a month, or doubling your mileage at the end of 3 weeks.
● Do strength and cardio, not just one or the other. Both are necessary to improving your overall health.
● Do smaller amounts when you can. Walk on your lunch break, or park in the back when grocery shopping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
● Make it fun! Exercise doesn’t have to be all treadmill and no fresh air. Pick a sport that interests you. Go to a class with friends. Keep variety in your exercise plan and you’ll keep coming back for more.

Mental Health

● Think positive. Don’t let your inner voice become too negative. It only limits your perspective and your capabilities.
● Let go of old grudges. Don’t let experiences in the past poison your peace of mind. Let them go and move on to a better place.
● Don’t ignore your emotions, listen to them. Burying your emotions can create a dangerous time bomb. Instead of ignoring them, experience them for what they are and then move on.
● Protect your self-esteem. Make a point to be around people that lift you up, and avoid people who put you down.
● Accept yourself as you are. You aren’t perfect. You have flaws and make mistakes and that’s OK. Keep trying to be better, but don’t dwell on your shortcomings. Simply strive for small improvements each day.
● Be in the moment. Don’t let little things like that “ping” from your smartphone or the buzz of the dryer keep you from experiencing the small pleasures in life as they happen. Don’t just rush around from one to-do to the next, try to savor the little things and enjoy life as it happens.

Here’s to 2015! A new year, and wholly healthy you.

Photo credit: raganmd / iW / CC BY-SA

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New Year: New Foods

One of the best goals that you can set for yourself in the New Year is a goal that affects all areas of your life: good nutrition. When your body is getting the proper nutrition it needs, you will feel better and have more physical and mental energy. Here are some nutrition goals for 2015 to get you on your way:

1. Try new foods. Ever tried quinoa? How about star fruit? A good way to get more variety in a healthy diet is to stop eating carrots sticks and apples every day and start trying new fruits and vegetables. Get out of your healthy eating rut and try something new!
2. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Your new goal is to have between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It sounds like a lot, but it’s actually a very attainable goal. And, since you’re trying new foods, it’ll be easy to fill your daily quota.
3. Reduce your intake of refined and processed foods. Sugar, white rice and white flour are fine to enjoy every once in a while, but not on a regular basis. These foods are stripped of most nutrients and benefits in the refining process. This means that when you put them into your body, they digest at a faster rate than they should, making your blood sugar and energy levels fluctuate. Also make it a point to eliminate as many processed foods from your diet. They are often high in sodium and trans fats.
4. Eat breakfast every day. Start your day off with a high fiber, high protein breakfast. This way, you’ll be less prone to feeling acutely hungry later in the day, making you more prone to poor food choices.
5. Spices for variety. When you cut a lot of sodium out of your diet, sometimes your food may begin to taste bland, since you’ve been used to the taste of processed foods. This is where a well-stocked spice cabinet can come in handy. Try new spices in your foods, so you can enjoy variety and new flavors in your diet.
6. Eat more meals at home. Restaurant food can be delicious, but it’s often unhealthy. Fast food especially has poor nutritional quality and high sodium, and trans fats that you should avoid. Make it a habit to eat more meals at home, where you can prepare food with whole ingredients, rather than succumbing to the siren calls of a hot cheeseburger and fries.
7. Check your portion sizes. Many people don’t realize their food portions are far larger than they should be. A general guideline is to have half your plate be vegetable, ¼ protein and ¼ starch.
8. Healthy snacks. A good way to keep yourself eating nutritionally dense foods is to prepare some healthy snacks ahead of time, so you have a healthy option when your stomach is growling or you’re in a hurry.
9. Avoid soda or other sugary drinks. Nothing will hydrate your body like water will. Avoid soda and other similar drinks because they contain ingredients (like sugar or aspartame) that are harmful to your body, as well as habit forming.
10. Eat seafood. Too many people underestimate the value of seafood. It’s a great way to get your omega-3 fatty acids and is a lean way to get protein.

Ring in 2015 with a fresh perspective and a motivation to eat healthier foods!

Photo credit: roseannadana / iWoman / CC BY-ND

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Get Serious about Exercising

If you are ready to get serious about your health and add exercise to your routine, sometimes getting started can be intimidating. Knowing where to start will help you get into the game and better your body – and your life.

1) Keep hydrated – Your body need water before, during and after your workout. You lose a lot of water when you’re working out, and your body needs proper hydration to regulate your heart rate and body temperature. If you do not drink enough water, you could become dehydrated or experience muscle cramps.
2) Work out every day. That’s right – Every day. Don’t push yourself to the limit every day, but make exercise a part of your life by making it a daily habit. You can work on different areas on different days, keep in interesting, but do it every day. Otherwise, it can be tempting to not start up again after a break.
3) Eat before and after– Your body needs fuel to begin the workout, and replenishment afterwards. You should try to eat 1-2 hours prior to your workout. If you choose to workout first thing in the morning, make sure you have something in your stomach. Ideally, you’ll want some protein, coupled with a slow burning carbohydrate. After your workout, have a small snack, then a larger meal a few hour later.
4) Use variety. It’s easy to find one thing, like the treadmill, and get stuck on it because it’s comfortable for you. If you only do one thing, and only do one level of intensity, you aren’t going to progress or increase your fitness. Switch it up. Do cardio, then weights, then a class. Use your options to keep yourself from getting caught in your comfort zone.
5) Cardio really is important– Most beginners find cardio to be especially challenging. However, it is extremely important. Ideally, you should do cardio 3-5 times a week, for 30-60 minutes each time. Cardio is vital because it improves your heart health, boosts your metabolism, and gives your body the ability to recover faster from workouts than if you don’t regularly do cardio. One more tip: If your cardio workout feels “easy,” you need to work harder, because you aren’t getting those benefits.
6) Stretch when you’re done– Stretching is an essential part of working out. Stretching your muscles when they are warm and pliable helps to improve your circulation and flexibility, as well as keeping you from getting injured. Be sure to stretch prior to your workout as well.
7) Protein is your best snack– When you work out regularly, you may notice your appetite increase. However tempting it may be, don’t undo all your hard work by gorging on empty carbs. Eating a protein filled snack can curb your hunger for longer periods of time, as well as fueling your muscle recovery, ultimately contributing to your growing strength.

Don’t be afraid of jumping in and giving exercise a try. While exercise is difficult for most people who are just starting out, keep moving and keep trying. Before you know it, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your body, your health, and your attitude.

Photo credit: eccampbell / IWoman / CC BY-SA

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Moringa Recipe Ideas

Moringa oleifera, or, the Moringa tree, is a tree that has been around for thousands of years. Many people have used various parts of the Moringa tree for its many health benefits, but only recently are these benefits becoming known around the world.

The Moringa tree is indigenous to India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Moringa tree is also called the drumstick tree, due to its wide trunk but small, narrow branches.

The leaves of the Moringa tree are very rich in protein and vitamins A, B, and C, as well as minerals. One hundred grams of fresh moringa leaves contains:

● 9.3 grams of protein
● 434 mg of calcium
● 404 mg of potassium
● 738 μg (micrograms) of vitamin C

The seeds of the moringa tree are high in protein, and contain 30-40% oil. The oil in the molinga seeds is high in oleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that can lower blood pressure, protect cells from free radicals and increase brain myelin (the connections in the brain).

Even more good news about moringa is that it has a very strong, unique flavor. There are plenty of recipes out there that call for moringa, giving you the opportunity to make food that’s delicious, exotic and super healthy. Here are the top 8 recipes we’ve found for moringa.

1) Shrimp Suam Moringa– A delicious combination of moringa, shrimp, garlic, onions and ginger.
2) Moringa drink– Add moringa powder to your daily milkshake, orange juice or tea in the morning. If you find the taste is too strong for you, add a little honey. It will mask the flavor some.
3) Salad–Moringa powder sprinkled over a salad gives you the nutritional benefits of moringa without being overpowered by the taste of it.
4) Moringa leaf sauce– Combine moringa leaves with peanut butter, oil, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to create a unique moringa leaf sauce. Serve over rice or couscous.
5) Moringa soup– Moringa soup is a tasty exotic soup, made with chicken (or pork), garlic, tomato and ginger root.
6) Moringa scrambled eggs– It’s as simple as it sounds! A great way to take a simple breakfast and elevate it to a new level of healthiness.
7) Moringa portobello tower– Start with a whole grain bun, add a portobello mushroom, a fresh slice of tomato, thick onion slice and grated mozzarella. Add moringa leaves on top, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy.
8) Moringa leaves with corn and onions– Another simple, delicious dish with the added health benefits of the moringa tree.

One things to keep in mind when cooking with moringa, is that you should add the leaves or powder at the last second. The less heat applied to the moringa leaves, the more nutrients they retain.

Moringa leaves are a great way to add a boost of vitamins A, B, and C, as well as an omega-3 fatty acid, potassium and protein into your diet. It has a great number of health benefits and give an exotic flair to your food. Try moringa leaves with your next meal.

Photo credit: Rui Ornelas / iW / CC BY

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Peter Thiel Using HGH in Quest to Reach 120

Plenty of people would love to add an extra year or two to our lives. So, we eat healthy, exercise and try to keep our body systems functioning efficiently. That’s not good enough for Peter Thiel, a US technology entrepreneur.

Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and high-dollar Facebook investor, has begun taking human growth hormones every day, in an effort to extend his life. Thiel hopes that these HGH pills will extend his life up to the age of 120.

Human growth hormone is a chemical produced by the pituitary gland. HGH is still something of a scientific mystery, but we do know that it regulates growth in children and adolescents, as well as bodily fluids and muscle and bone growth. HGH also regulates the body’s sugar and fat metabolism.

Thiel doesn’t rely on the HGH alone, however. He also follows a strict Paleo diet, meaning that he will not eat foods that were not around in Paleolithic times. He doesn’t eat refined sugar in any form.

The Paleo diet is also known as the “caveman” diet. The Paleo diet basics are relatively simple. You eat only what could be hunted or gathered. Fish, meat and eggs are at the bottom of the Paleo pyramid, with vegetables above it, followed by a small amount of fruits, and above that nuts.

Paleo diet followers do not eat beans, wheat or other whole grains. They also abstain from any food that has been processed. This means basically anything that comes in plastic wrapping. While Paleo is a very healthy diet, even Thiel admits “Paleo won’t get you to 120. We need technology and innovation to lead longer and healthier lives.”

As far as the daily effects of human growth hormone, Thiel says he’s noticed a difference in his bones, ligaments and muscles. He says it’s helped him “maintain muscle mass, so it’s less likely to get bone injuries and arthritis… as you get older.”

Human growth hormone is also purported to boost your sex drive, increase muscle mass, make your skin look younger and even potentially give you more energy. However, we don’t know everything there is to know about HGH, with some potentially serious problems or side effects. Testing of HGH for the purpose of maintaining a younger body is not sufficient yet.

Thiel did admit there are some studies showing that taking HGH can increase your risk of cancer. The human growth hormone encourages the production of human cells, good and bad alike. It’s possible that it could exacerbate or accelerate the growth of any cancerous or precancerous cells in his body.

Thiel isn’t too worried about cancer, however. “I’m hopeful that we’ll get cancer cured in the next decade.” A truly optimistic perspective, to be sure.

Peter Thiel’s dream to live to 120 is an interesting one. Born in 1967, that would put his potential death date in the year 2087, a year so far away it’s difficult to guess what the world will be like. If Thiel gets his wish, he has 73 years left to continue making his mark on the world.

Photo credit: Web Summit / iW / CC BY

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The Many Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a well-known, bone health superstar. What you may not know is that vitamin D has many, lesser-known health benefits that make it one of the most important vitamins you can have in your diet.

Aside from being extremely beneficial to your bones, here are some of the top health benefits of vitamin D.

1. Vitamin D enhances the intestines’ ability to absorb certain nutrients, namely calcium and phosphorous. This means more of the calcium you consume will make it to your bones, making them healthier and stronger. This also means that the phosphorous you intake will be more efficiently absorbed, thereby giving added strength to your immune system.
2. Vitamin D has also been shown to help regulate blood pressure, as well as improve other areas of cardiovascular health, including reduced risk of heart attack.
3. Vitamin D also stimulates your pancreas to manufacture insulin, which can be beneficial for those suffering from diabetes, or those at risk for developing diabetes.
4. Women who take vitamin D supplements are less likely to develop multiple sclerosis.
5. Your colon health can also benefit from vitamin D. Studies show that people who take vitamin D are less likely to develop pre-cancerous colon polyps.
6. If you are trying to conceive, taking vitamin D can increase your fertility. It can also benefit those who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which can negatively affect fertility.
7. More recent studies are showing that vitamin D can even help prevent breast cancer cell growth.
8. During the winter sickness season, vitamin D will boost your immunity, and can help reduce your risk of contracting the flu.
9. Increasing intake of vitamin D is can also aid those suffering from depression. While vitamin D deficiency is not a direct cause of depression, it can improve depression symptoms.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that most health adults take 600 IU of vitamin D per day. Individuals over the age of 71 should take 800 IU per day.

Vitamin D comes in 5 different complexes, but the ones most important for human health are D2 and D3. One of the ways our body can get vitamin D is from sunlight. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, our bodies begin to produce it.

Winter is a time of year in which there are less hours of sunlight, which is why some people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have increased symptoms of depression. Increasing your intake of vitamin D through food or supplements can help balance out the lack of natural sunlight.

Another way to get vitamin D is by making sure it’s a part of our diet. Fatty fish, such as tuna is a great source of vitamin D, as well as beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. It can also be found in food fortified with the vitamin, such as certain cereals, orange juice and some dairy products.

Remember that while vitamin D supplements can greatly improve your health, the best way for your body to absorb vitamin D is through real foods.

Consider adding vitamin D into your diet by increasing your intake of food fortified with vitamin D. If you find that getting the appropriate amount of vitamin D is difficult to do with food alone, you may find that a vitamin D supplement might suit your needs.

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Winter Skincare Tips

No doubt about it, Old Man Winter is harsh on the skin. It’s an everyday struggle to keep skin from getting cracked, itchy or scaly. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 things you need to know to keep your skin healthy this winter.

1) Use an oil based moisturizer. Your skin will absorb it better than other moisturizers, which just sit on top of the skin. Look for one that specifically says it does not clog pores, or you could just replace one problem with another one.
2) Wear sunscreen. Many people think just because it’s cold that sun damage isn’t possible, however, sun damage is just as problematic in the winter as it is in the summer. Windburn is also a possibility if you don’t cover your face when out in the cold weather. Thankfully, hydrocortisone cream will help persistent wind burn go away.
3) Wear gloves. Your hands are more susceptible to becoming dry, cracked and painful than other parts of your body. The skin on your hands is thinner, but your hands are also exposed to repeated (but necessary) hand washings. Moisturize often and keep your hands covered in the cold. Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes.
4) Avoid wet clothes. Whether you’ve been skiing or building a snowman, wet clothes are your skin’s enemy. Immediately remove wet gloves and socks, or your skin could become itchy, scaly or even have an outbreak of eczema in some cases.
5) Humidity is your friend. Part of the reason skin gets so dry in winter is because the necessary heat in your home also sucks the water out of the air. To keep this from becoming a problem, place a humidifier in your home and run it often, especially at night. If possible, place multiple humidifiers throughout your home.
6) Use heavy moisturizers on your feet. When your feet get dry and cracked, your best bet is to use a lotion that contains the heavy hitters, like petroleum jelly or glycerin. Be sure to use a gentle exfoliant to remove dead skin every so often, so there is nothing to prevent the moisture from sinking deep into your skin. Treating your feet overnight will give you the best results. For severe cracked feet, slather on petroleum jelly at bedtime and cover with socks for the night.
7) Avoid chemical peels. This one is a no-brainer. Save the chemical peels for the good weather. Your skin doesn’t need anything harsh slathered on when the weather is cold and dry.
8) No hot showers or baths. Though it’s very tempting to warm yourself up on cold days with nice, lengthy hot bath, the hot water will actually dry your skin out even more. Water temperature should stay lukewarm in the winter. If you find your skin is still dry, you may consider adding an extra day between showers every so often. Or substitute with a wash cloth scrubbing.
9) Honey sugar scrub. Using a nice, simple honey sugar scrub to gently exfoliate your scaly patches brings your good skin to the surface and makes it easier for your lotions and creams to penetrate deep into your skin. Don’t overdo it, though, or you’ll exacerbate your dryness problem.
10) Keep lip balm with you at all times. Lips are often the first part of your face to dry out. Chapped lips can be painful and at times very unsightly. Keep a chapstick or lip balm on you wherever you go, and apply frequently. Choose a stick with lanolin or beeswax as an ingredient for best results.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll have no trouble keeping your skin soft, smooth and beautiful all winter long.

Photo credit:
isaacbowen/iWoman/CC BY-ND

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Practice Mindfulness

In the chaotic world we live in, it can be difficult to slow down our pace and take note of what is happening in the moment. While recently gaining popularity and notoriety, mindfulness training has been used successfully for over 2,500 years.

Mindfulness isn’t a complicated concept. Mindfulness is living in the moment, being mindful of what you’re thinking about and where you choose to focus your attention. It’s taking a deep breath, becoming aware of your surroundings, and guiding your thoughts to a positive and encouraging direction.

To simplify, mindfulness is deciding to look on the bright side in the moment, and choosing to be kind to others, and yourself. Mindfulness is being with your thoughts as they are, not pushing them away or grabbing at them. You merely experience them and awaken yourself to the moment.

You can find the root of mindfulness in Buddhism and the Noble Eightfold Path that Buddha taught over 2,500 years ago as the path to enlightenment. Mindfulness is not, in any way, a new age fad. It’s been around forever, however in our modern world the need for it has skyrocketed.

One thing about the Buddhist roots of mindfulness is that you practice changing your relationship to your emotions. Instead of needing to immediately react to your emotions or circumstances, you quiet your mind and merely experience them. When you delay your impulse to react, you will be better able to choose how you react and with a more rational frame of mind.

In our current day and age, we are inundated with emails, notifications from various social media networks, and texts. It’s easy to become distracted with all of these demands for our attention swirling around us. However, in the end it is us who choose to give these things our valuable time and attention.

By practicing mindfulness, or by training ourselves to be mindful, we can live life more fully in the moment rather than simply by jumping from one task to the next. This give us the ability to keep stress and anxiety at bay.

When you meditate regularly in an effort to improve your ability to be mindful, then you will see a number of mental and emotional benefits. You may find you have a longer attention span, more emotional stability, or even set yourself free from the restrictions you’ve placed on your own happiness.

Elizabeth Gilbert write in her memoir Eat, Pray, Love about a friend who, when she see a beautiful place, exclaims in a panicked voice “It’s so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!” Gilbert’s thought provoking response? “It takes all my persuasive powers to try to convince her that she is already here.”

Mindfulness can help keep a person from acting as the friend in Gilbert’s memoir does. If this friend were to invest some time and mental energy into mindfulness training she might be better able to enjoy the beautiful places in the moment she is in them.

Mindfulness is not something that only benefits our minds, it can also benefit our physical bodies, beginning with the brain. Neuroscience supports mindfulness in proving that the brain is moldable, and thought patterns can be changed via persistent meditation and mindfulness training.

Mindfulness has also been known to reduce stress levels, improve chronic pain, strengthen immune functioning, lower blood pressure and even reduce the risk of heart disease. Stress is a strong link to many medical problems so it’s no wonder that mindfulness improves these things.

As with many things, practice makes perfect. The more you meditate and train your mind, the easier it will become. You are also far more likely to see an improvement in your life if you meditate every day, rather than if you limit it to once a week.

If you feel like you need outside help to engage in mindfulness training, there are plenty of resources out there. Look for a teacher who uses mediation in a way that meshes with your personal beliefs and goals.

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / IWoman / CC BY-ND