Saturday, August 4, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Air Food!

When I was studying for my Masters, I had to endure a second term of organic chemistry.
Oh! Chem.
There were moments in that term, I will remember forever - like getting bronchitis 4 times, from being so stressed, having a 104 fever and a really bad ear infection, which led to a burst eardrum, while dressing the kids in their snowsuits so they could play in the snow and I could shovel out the car & shovel the sidewalk (why we have side walks in North Jersey, I'll never quite understand) and studying at 5AM, each day, before the kids woke for school. I wish I knew about the Traditional Medicinals Immune Support Tea, back then! Now, I know, that tea and a Cold Ease when I feel the slightest bit of a cold, and it's like:
What cold, Where?
There were also memorable moments in the O-Chemistry class, when the professor would culminate a lesson and bring real life scenarios into play. This was the best part of the class. One day, he told us a story about volatile organic allelochemicals. He said that trees and plants talk to each other and communicate via these chemicals. 
How cool is that?
Hey, are you listening over there?
Fast Forward: Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing
A growing Japanese Trend (since 1986) Forest Therapy/Forest Bathing:
Shinrin-Yoku
Otherwise known as: Taking a walk in a forested or wooded area.

Benefit #1
Reduced cortisol levels, slower heart rates and lower blood pressure levels, and a feeling of being relaxed. 
Cortisol is your stress hormone, you produce lots of cortisol when when your stressed. It's simple, forests have a cool & calming effect on people. Live in a city? That's okay, research shows a reduction in cortisol levels just by looking at a forest scene.
Make it a screen saver - only 20minutes a day and benefits abound!
Benefit #2
This is so cool: 
Inhaling essential wood oils (aka: volatile organic allelochemicals
helps strengthen your immune system! 
When you walk through a forest/wooded area, you breathe in natural oils (phytoncide) that are produced by certain plants. When you inhale these natural oils, you enhance your Natural Killer (NK) cells and Anti-cancer proteins! Your NK cells are super important because they provide a rapid response to infected or stressed cells and quickly respond to tumor formations.

These natural wood oils are like plant phytochemicals, which is how plants protect themselves. Under duress, plants will increase these natural substances, which triggers other plants to increase their natural chemical defenses, too. This is how trees and plants "talk" to each other - and help each other to prepare and fight diseases, insects and even drought. Who needs GMO's?

Future studies are designed to see if Forest Therapy can lower blood sugar levels, which would be great for diabetics. These benefits would have to show impact on blood sugar above and beyond exercise alone.

In Japan, Forest Therapy is being prescribed by doctors to patients showing signs of stress. 
There are even Certified Forests and Afforested Designate Forest Therapy bases!

Feeling stressed?
Maybe you need some Air Food?
Go for a walk in the woods.
Better yet, 
Go for a trail run!
TRAIN SMART TODAY!
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