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Do our thought patterns make us sick?

As a modern society we rarely switch off and therefore our bodies rarely return to homeostasis. Constant stress will, over time, lead to inflammation, which can be a precursor to disease.

Recent studies suggest that negative mental thought patterns can negatively affect telomeres which has an impact on our overall health.

What are telomeres? Telomeres are sections of our DNA sequences found at the ends of our chromosomes that protect genetic information from being lost during cellular division. When telomeres become too short, cells stop dividing altogether. Telomere length gradually decreases throughout our life due to a number of factors such as age, stress, a lack of sleep, viruses, toxins to name a few – but also with specific thought patterns1.

Why do some people look so youthful throughout their life while some look old before their time? Researchers have been pondering this for years. Although genetic differences play a crucial role, researchers now agree that the differences in ageing can be seen in complex interactions between genetic, environmental, lifestyle and social factors.

Ageing is a dynamic process that could possibly be sped up or slowed down, and our thought patterns go alongside these complex interactions.

Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which affects the body’s hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals responsible for happiness, and damages the immune system. Chronic stress can actually shorten our lifespan. Negative thinking has been linked to depression, chronic disease, anxiety, chronic worry and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)2.

People with a positive mindset don’t just ignore negative situations they just approach a negative situation in a more positive way. They look for a positive outcome or think the best will happen. Ongoing research is still being undertaken around the effects of positive thinking and how this affects our overall health but benefits may include: Increased life expectancy, higher resistance to illness, Reduced depression, Reduction of pain receptors, Increased life span.

Research is still unclear why people with a positive attitude experience the aforementioned benefits but one ongoing theory is that a positive outlook allows people to cope with stressful situations more easily. This reduces the potential harmful effects of stress on the body3.

Thought awareness may increase stress resilience and allow us to manage harmful thoughts. Physical and mindful activities such as meditation, controlled breathing, yoga, running, etc, can help us to build adaptability towards stressors and maladaptive thoughts.

The good news is that we have the power to actually change how we think. You can’t always control a situation but you can always control how you react to it.

• Magdalena Marvell is a Nutritional Practitioner and Founder of the Persea Clinic which helps support clients who want to optimise their health in areas such as gut health, hormonal balance, skin conditions, weight management, family nutrition. To find out more about her work please visit www.persea.clinic.

References:

  1. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370421/
  2. health.clevelandclinic.org/turn-around-negative-thinking/
  3. mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

Healthy recipes with Magdalena – Mexican Quinoa Soup

Mexican Quinoa Soup

Carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin – feel good chemical in our brain, which has a calming effect. This soup is rich in complex carbohydrates which will fill you up for longer and keep your blood sugar more stable, allowing the body to unwind and relax.

Ingredients:
• 1 tablespoon of olive oil
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 3 carrots, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
• 1 cup of cooked black beans or 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
• 3 cups of water
• 1 can of diced tomatoes
• 2 teaspoons of sea salt
• cup of quinoa (dry/uncooked)
• cup of chopped fresh coriander
• teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
• Freshly ground black pepper

How to make it:

  1. In a pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and jalapeños. Sauté until the vegetables are soft for about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the water, tomatoes, beans, cumin, salt, quinoa, coriander and cayenne pepper. Season with pepper and bring the soup to a boil.
  3. Let the soup simmer on the lower heat until the quinoa is tender for about 15 minutes. Once the quinoa is tender, add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.
  4. You can serve this soup right away or use the food processor to purée a couple cups of this soup—this helps to thicken the soup while still leaving some texture.
  5. Divide into bowls and serve with coriander or any other garnish of your choice. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  6. Enjoy!
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