Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Side Effects of Being Happy


Ralph Waldo Emerson said " For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness",
This is such a profound statement, and so true.

Do you know that children smile on an average of 300-400 times a day, and adults average 20,
and that there are over 60 books written on the art of being happy? When did we forget how to be

Happiness researchers ( yes there are happiness researchers) define happiness as " The overall
appreciation for your life". What that translates into is: Do you live with enthusiasm, or is everyday
just another day?

What researchers found was that happier people lived longer more productive lives, sometimes up
to 10 years longer. And even when they were sick, their recovery time was significantly faster, even
from heart surgery, fractures, and strokes.

Martin Seligman, who is the author of 'Learned Optimism', studies optimism and the effects it has
on health and longevity. What he found was that the pessimist view most situations in their life that were negative as permanent, the norm. Whereas, those who were more optimistic, saw negative situations
as speed bumps, or temporary. In following both groups for a number of years, what Seligman found was that by the age of 45, those who were more pessimistic, were already less healthy, and by age 60, had
significantly higher bouts of illness, and twice as many infectious diseases because their immune system
was compromised. That's why it is so important to listen to your inner voice. We are talking to ourselves all day long, and on average, have about fifty thousand thoughts a day. So think about this quote by Robert Allen: " No thought lives in your mind, rent free". I love that quote. There is a price to pay for every thought that enters your mind, good or bad.

Did you know that our immune system depends on the signals it receives from the brain? When we are in a state of joy and happiness we release chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, and nitric  oxide, and these have amazing effects on our body when we are happy.

Dopamine is synthesized deep in the brain, and when released, it gives you that feeling of pleasure. It makes people more talkative, excitable. Oxytocin, is known as the 'cuddle hormone', and is released when you are cuddling your child, or falling in love. Its a bonding hormone. A wonderful side effect of oxytocin, is that it also reduces inflammation in your body and stimulates the release of endorphins, which is called ' Natures Morphine'. Endorphins are released by the pituitary gland, when you are exercising ( like the runners high),
making love, or anytime you are excited. It also releases nitric oxide, which is a very powerful vasodilator.
This increase blood flow and allows for a continuance of blood in organs where it may have been previously restricted. And last, but certainly not least, is serotonin. This hormone helps maintain that ' happy feeling', and seems to keep our moods under control by calming anxiety, and even mild depression.

These are all natures chemicals, and studies have shown that our mood has a significant effect on either turning on or turning off these chemicals. When we are happier, our body has time to heal and self-repair. Now I am not saying by just being happy all the time you aren't going to be sick, but I would rather bathe my body in healthy chemicals, than those that are caused by stress. That is what I teach my clients to do, change their perception, because when you change your perception, you change your reality.

One study that I found fascinating was conducted by The University of California San Francisco, and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. What they found was that those with strong friendships, had much higher levels of health inducing hormones, than those who did not. In fact, the data showed that friendships ranked even higher than spouses, because issues like money, child rearing, and infidelity can interfere in the spouse to spouse relationship. Whereas, deep friendships are there to emotionally support you through good times and bad.

I have a friend who is Greek, and he was telling me that when he goes back to Greece, his parents who are in their late 70's, don't even begin socializing until after 10 pm and it goes well into the the early morning
hours. It isn't uncommon to live into the 90's and even 100!!  In fact, the New York Times wrote an article about a Greek Island called 'Ikaria', and it is known as ' The island where people forget to die'.

They have much lower levels of heart disease, cancer, dementia and maintain very healthy sexual lives well into their 70's and 80's without pharmaceuticals. They use herbs and food like watermelon which contains citrulline. Citrulline is converted into arginine which produces nitric oxide and that is the power vaso-dilator I talked about earlier. And we all know areas of the body that need healthy blood flow to perform at optimal levels!!

So nurture your friendships, laugh as often as you can, find something to be grateful for, and smile. It will do your body good!

If you would like more information, go to my website and under the 'Resources' tab, and there will be a wonderful article by Dr. Wayne Dyer entitled " The 7 secrets of Happiness".

Until next time.....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Can Stress Give You A Heart Attack?

I ask my clients all the time, " What are the side effects of being you?", and the majority of them
look at me like I have two heads. So I re-frame the question and ask: " If an alien wanted to take
over your body for the day, what emotions would they experience?"
Well, that brought a whole host of answers, with the top five being : Anger, Resentment, Frustration,
Hurt, and Exhaustion. I didn't see a lot of love, joy, happiness, and compassion.

The reason this is so important, is because researchers at Duke University did a study in 2004
that showed people who were otherwise considered healthy, but prone to anger, hostility,
and experienced high levels of stress, produced a higher level of a substance that promotes
cardiovascular disease and stroke.

This substance is called C-Reactive Protein. It's produced by the liver in response to inflammation,
and inflammation has recently been shown to underlie the plaque that forms inside arteries as they clog.

Duke was one of the first universities to link this combination of negative psychological responses
with higher levels of CRP in people without traditional risk factors for heart disease.

People with traditional risk factors for heart disease like obesity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension,
high cholesterol and a sedentary lifestyle, are more likely to have elevated levels of CRP,  however,
a large number of individuals without any identifiable causation , but had anger issues, had levels
two to three times higher than someone who described themselves as laid back or easy going.

Blood samples were taken from 121 otherwise healthy individuals with no known history or pre existing
condition of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking. They were analyzed and
researcher found that those who displayed negative responses were producing much higher levels
of CRP than their counterparts. Dr. Suarez of Duke who conducted the study stated: " Our findings
suggest that the development of heart disease may also be due to psychological attributes that
activate the inflammatory process. And as we all know, most diseases in the body start out as minor

So next time you get your blood checked, if you are concerned, you might want to consider asking your doctor to check your CRP levels as well. Ask for the more sensitive HS-CRP test, which is more accurate in determining a persons risk factor for heart disease.

The bottom line is this. We are responsible for our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and as Dr. Lissa
Rankin said " We write our own prescription". That means we are able to control what chemicals
we  produce, positively or negatively, and our body will react accordingly. Take control of your
emotions, find tools like deep breathing, taking a walk, or even just begin to focus on what is right
in front of you, and name it. That will get you back into the moment, and not allow your mind to
go into a state of high stress. As silly as simple as that sounds, it works because it brings you back into the NOW.

You are the chemist of your body, so mix up some love, joy, and happiness and your body will
thank you for it.

Until next time~
Dr. Linda McCarthy Ph.D

Monday, July 1, 2013

Can you write your own Rx?

Did you know that your body responds to your thought pattern? Every emotion ( E=energy in motion), sends a signal to the cells in your body to respond.

We have over 50 trillion cells in our body and according to Dr. Bruce Lipton: “Receptors are molecular “antennas” that recognize environmental signals. Some receptor antennas extend inward from the membrane’s cytoplasmic face. These receptors “read” the internal milieu and provide awareness of cytoplasmic conditions. Other receptors extending from the cell’s outer surface provide awareness of external environmental signals.”
What does that mean? It means that the cells are in effect, responding to your thoughts. In our best-selling book “ The Wellness Code”, I wrote about how your cells are listening  to your emotions and saying, “Your Wish Is My Command”. 

When you encounter perceived threats your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. That is what it is designed to do, however, we are in a perceived threat modality all day long, be it the traffic jam, stress at the office, at home, or even listening to the news.  Our bodies never have time to power down and regroup, therefore, the cells are in a protective mode unable to grow and flourish. That basically slows down the immune system, and we are susceptible to dis-ease in our body.  

When you understand that you are your own chemist, and can control the hormones in your body, you can then make the ‘CHOICE’ to react differently, or in other words, change your perception of any given situation. When you change your perception, you change your reality. Your body then has the ability to return to growth and heal itself naturally. 
There are a number of things you can do to take care of your body. One is deep belly breathing. This helps calm your central nervous system. Ask yourself “ Is this true?” Many times we exaggerate a situation and the reality is not nearly as bad as our perception. Listen to your body. What does it need?  Do you need to stretch, to hydrate yourself, or have an attitude check?   Your body doesn't know the difference between reality and imagination and endorphins will automatically pump into your body when you smile, so find something or someone to smile about.

 Remember you are the chemist of your body, you make the cortisol and adrenaline,   and your perception of any situation is going to determine the outcome of your health. You literally  are writing your own Rx Which mean YOU are in control, and I think that’s kind of cool. Only 5-8% of disorders are genetic, the other 92-95%   is environmental, and that means you hold the key to how your body is going to respond, either in love or in fear, and both have very different outcomes. Let go of that old story, and start a new chapter.