Modern-day meditation

According to research, meditation reduces high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. David Goding investigates its far-reaching health benefits.

The science of meditation is at once very simple and incredibly complex. On a basic level it requires little more than inner calm and focus though it provides us with a wealth of lasting mental and physical benefits. In fact, meditation may well be the third cog in the wheel of health — along with diet and regular exercise — that provide us with ultimate health and wellbeing.

A recent US meta analysis of 20 individual studies conducted by Connecticut University found that regular meditation produced slower heart and breathing rates, improved blood flow and decreased the chance of suffering from depression and mental health issues.

These benefits are widely acknowledged to have a multitude of healthy flow-on effects, including the ability to lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood glucose levels, improve respiratory function and even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In stimulating the nervous and immune system response, meditation has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of asthma and reactions to allergens.

“Regular meditation helps you to develop coping mechanisms that enable you to deal with obstacles in life,” says Jenny Petridis, Meditation Facilitator from Prana House.

“Physically your body becomes a lot more relaxed. You don’t realise how much tension you hold in your body and most of the time we don’t breathe correctly. As well as having psychological benefits, the practice of meditation initiates changes in physiological functioning, including reduction in heart rate, oxygen consumption and stress hormones.”

The ability of meditation to reduce stress has seen its introduction to hospitals in cases of chronic or terminal illness, where it is used to reduce complications, promote immune system functions and an improved attitude by the patient. In short, reduced stress means improved health.

How meditation affects the body
Meditation has been shown to have a direct effect on the two major players of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates the functions of organs and muscles throughout the body, including the heart and the digestive system.

Firstly, it works by reducing the activity in the sympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for the ‘fight-or-flight’ response when stressed — causing heart rate and breathing to go up, blood vessels to narrow and muscles to tense up.

The effect of meditation on blood pressure is measurable and the benefits to our heart health significant. Muscle tension drops to almost nil during meditation. As pain is often tension related this results in considerable pain relieving benefits.

Secondly, meditation increases the activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, the part responsible for the ‘rest-and-digest’ response — causing heart rate and breathing to slow, blood vessels to dilate improving blood flow as well as stimulating the digestive process.

A 25-year US study conducted by the Office of Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health found that that the longer people meditated, the greater the benefits. They found that subjects that had meditated regularly for five years were physiologically 12 years younger than the non-meditating subjects. Those that had meditated for less time were physiologically only five years younger than the control group.

Backing this up is a separate study conducted by Dr David Orme-Johnson, a research psychologist at Iowa’s Maharishi International University, that found that regular meditators over the age of 40 visited their doctor 73.7 per cent less than non-meditators, had 87.3 per cent fewer admissions to hospital for heart disease and 55.4 per cent fewer admissions for tumour related illness.

How meditation affects the mind
Meditation has also been shown to significantly calm brain waves leading to a generally more relaxed and less anxious state of mind. EEG analysis shows that brain activity during meditation is actually very similar to that during sleep.

This has been shown to improve cognitive function and offer significant benefits for conditions such as depression, anxiety, headaches, stress, ADHD and insomnia.

Meditating before bedtime has been shown to be one of the most effective remedies for breaking the pattern of sleeplessness and offers a very real alternative to sleeping drugs. This is particularly relevant when you consider that lack of sleep is not only on the rise throughout the Western world but is now the number one reason people visit their GP.

When creative visualisation or guided imagery is used on top of this the results can be even more powerful.
“Setting out the positive intention in meditation really enables you to feel that you are the creator of your world,” says Petridis.

“This kind of visualisation is commonly used in the sporting arena. If you visualise yourself winning that race, you start to feel that you are actually winning the race. You are rewiring the brain and it’s as if your brain is tricking your body into doing it.”

The technique, once perfected, can be used for all manner of purposes, from simply going into your day with a positive outlook and purpose to achieving physical healing, depending on your focus. As a mental rehearsal it can be used before a stressful or potentially painful event such as surgery or childbirth in order to relieve anxiety and pain.

Getting started
Meditation is probably the best ‘self-help’ therapy you can do. Though some people find meditating a lot easier than others, everyone can achieve a meditative state with practice, at least to some degree.

“A lot of people say they can’t meditate but in most cases it’s about finding out what works for you, what resonates,” says Petridis.

There’s no right or wrong or strict rules you need to follow, you don’t even necessarily have to sit still. You could meditate while gardening or going for a walk.”
Petridis says that a lot of people get put off by the perceived seriousness and levels of concentration involved.

“A lot of people are intimidated with meditation and think they have to sit in a certain posture and there can be nothing going on in their mind,” she says. “You need to think to yourself that it’s going to be fun. Look around and see what entices you and when you do go to a meditation class don’t take it so incredibly seriously, just relax and enjoy it. Stick with it and don’t be hard on yourself and you’ll find that it will naturally happen.”

To start with, Petridis suggests setting aside 15 minutes three times a week for the practice of meditation.

“Everyone can find 15 minutes to meditate,” she says. “Find a quiet space, take some time out and concentrate on doing some deep, even breathing. Before you know it you’ll become addicted to it and you’ll probably end up increasing the amount of time you spend meditating.”

To obtain information on Buddhist centres and activities in your area go to For information and locations of Transcendental Meditation go to

For information about visualisation meditation go to

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Treatment Options for Patients with Kidney Failure

Kidney failure or renal failure is a terrifying experience, whether it happens quickly due to a severe infection or poisoning or slowly due to damage caused by diabetes. This used to be a slow death as the body choked on its toxins. However, technology allows us to replace much of the damaged organ’s function and extend the life of these patients. The two main treatments for these patients are ultrafiltration and dialysis & also we can use Lead filter, POU filter, Legionella filter for our kindney.

The Differences between Dialysis and Ultrafiltration

Ultrafiltration is similar to dialysis but it only removes water from the body. It doesn’t remove waste products like phosphorus and urea. Dialysis or hemodialysis filters blood through a filter and a dialyser. The Dialysis Quality Water removes the waste products in addition to extra water the kidneys can no longer remove. This is why dialyzers are sometimes called artificial kidneys, though they’re not as efficient or effective as a biological kidney. Dialysis machines will be the ones to remove minerals like salt and potassium from your body. This has to be done every two to three days to prevent these substances from building to up to dangerous levels.

The Similarities between Dialysis and Ultrafiltration

Both processes are intended to clean blood in those whose bodies cannot do so naturally. Before you can have either process done, the patient needs a minor surgical procedure to allow needles to connect to the blood vessels and the machine. This may be done with an AV graft or AV fistula. However, in some cases, a catheter is installed peritoneum, a membrane in the abdomen.

In both cases, the process of cleaning the blood takes around four hours if you’re cleaning all of the blood in the body. It is common to feel dizzy or cramps during treatment. It is normal to feel tired after treatment.

The major difference between hemodialysis and ultrafiltration is that dialysis ultra filters are part of any dialysis machine, but the dialysis machine does more than just remove extra water from the body. In short, dialysis machines have both ultra filters and dialysis filters. Point of entry ultrafiltration system machines only has the medical ultra filters.

When Does Someone Get Prescribed Ultrafiltration?

Patients will be prescribed slow continuous ultrafiltration or SCUF when they’re suffering from acute renal failure. No replacement fluids are used to draw wastes except water out of the body. That would be done at a later time via hemodialysis or hemofiltration. Use of a dialysis machine will lead to restrictions on how much you can drink, since the machine won’t be able to remove two or three days of excess fluid from the body in the four hour time frame if you drink too much. If there is too much fluid in the body, it can build up in your blood, your body’s tissues and even the lungs.

Are Commercial Ultra Filters Used in Dialysis or Ultrafiltration?

Commercial ultra filters are used in industrial applications, not medical ones. They perform a similar function to dialysis and medical blood filtration. The membrane filter forces fluid through a semipermeable membrane, separating protein solutions or other mixtures. Ultrafiltration membranes for commercial use are defined by their molecular weight cutoff. The filters may be applied across the fluid flow or in a dead-end mode.

What to do after a food binge

Eaten too much? Overindulged at the weekend? These tips should help you resume and maintain your healthy habits following a food blowout.

The occasional overindulgence isn’t going to harm your health, but it’s important to get back on track after a big night out.

“It’s normal to overindulge and go out and enjoy yourself on occasion, but it’s how you redeem yourself after the fact as to whether you see weight gain or weight loss,” says accredited practising dietitian and Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson Lauren McGuckin.

Try these three pieces of advice for getting back on track:

1. Let your tummy groan
Then have a light, healthy, protein-rich breakfast like an egg on wholegrain toast or a small bowl of muesli with yoghurt and berries.

2. Hydrate
Dehydration often masquerades as hunger, especially after consuming high-fat and high-salt foods, so keep a water bottle on hand throughout the day.

3. Go home-made
Research shows that the more we eat at home, the slimmer we are. Even if you’re choosing healthier options like vegetable pizzas sans cheese or stir-fries, takeaway foods are usually higher in fat and calories than home-prepared meals. Plus, portion sizes are larger to compensate for the extra hit to your wallet.

NEXT: Food blowouts busted

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Lean carrot cake muffins

This recipe for carrot cake muffins is one of Rita Catalino’s favourites! Perfect for using up fresh produce that’s past its prime and a great way to meet your vegie quota.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups almond meal
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Cinnamon
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 5 free range eggs
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dark sugar-free chocolate, grated, to garnish


What you’ll do:
Mix together the first four ingredients in a bowl. Mix remaining wet ones in another bowl until well combined. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet one and combine until smooth. You can mix by hand or in a blender for a smoother consistency. Pour into a mini muffin tin or loaf tin lined with parchment paper and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 190°C until golden brown or until a metal toothpick comes out dry.

Pro tip: “To emulate the icing on standard carrot cake and impart a tantalising contrast to the carrot’s natural flavour, try mixing a scoop of your favourite protein powder with a few drops of water and mixing to a paste. For a syrup to pour over, simply add more water or reduce the amount of protein powder. Cinnamon swirl is my favourite!”

NUTRITION: 115 calories, 8 g carbs, 5 g sugar

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6 ways to beat cravings

Retrain your brain to decrease those unwanted cravings with these 6 tips.

If your food choices disappoint your tastebuds, you’re more likely to resort to an unhealthy sweet treat to make up for feeling deprived. Here’s how you can reduce those hunger pangs.

1. Choose low-GI foods

“Foods with a lower glycaemic index (GI) of 55 or less are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels,” says Melanie McGrice, accredited dietitian and director of Nutrition Plus clinics in Melbourne. “Low-GI foods also help you feel more sated after a meal and reduce risk of weight gain and conditions like diabetes.” Every day, aim to eat five serves or more of fresh vegetables and two of fruit plus wholegrains and some lean protein at every meal.

2. ‘Healthify’ takeaway meals with homecooked makeovers

Prepare homemade burgers with wholemeal buns and stacks of salad vegetables. Make fish and chips but grill the fish and bake large pototo wedges with a dash of olive oil.

3. Downsize your utensils

“Eating soup from a teaspoon or risotto from a small entrée fork encourages slower eating, so you feel more full and satisfied after a meal,” says McGrice. Chopsticks also encourage smaller mouthfuls.

4. Mix it up

Rigid, restrictive food regimes substantially reduce our pleasure of eating, are often nutritionally unsound and increase the risk of cravings and ‘all or nothing’ thinking about food. The Dietitians Association of Australia recommends aiming to eat 20 different nutritious foods every day.

5. Top ‘n’ tail

Roberts calls this method the ‘sandwich’ technique. “You put a moderate portion of a high-kilojoule food in the middle of a meal with lower kilojoule foods that are high in fibre and protein at the beginning and end,” she explains. This makes you feel you’ve been at a banquet. Soups make good starters and salads are a nice crispy third course.

6. Don’t blow off breakfast

Eat some filling slow-cooked porridge or eggs and dark rye toast. People who skip breakfast tend to have lower dopamine levels, shows research from the University of Missouri. This may explain why they are also more likely to crave sweet or savoury food later in the day.

Words by Stephanie Osfield

NEXT: Find out how to spot false food cravings.

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Chiropractic Services

Whether you sustained some auto injury, you have back, neck, hip or joint pain or you are experiencing pregnancy-related complications, you may need the help of a seasoned chiropractor in order to reduce or alleviate the pain and keep your body in good shape. Chiropractic care refers to the non-invasive form of healthcare which encompasses a range of treatment options. Here the chiropractor normally uses hands, mechanical devices or alternative treatments to manipulate, adjust, and realign the spinal cord, joints, nerves, and muscles to their rightful positions and speed up healing. Below are some of the services you can get at a typical chiropractic clinic:

  1. Auto Injury Treatment

If you have ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you definitely understand how painful and debilitating the whole ordeal can be. For instance, it may result in injuries to your head, neck, back, legs, arms and whiplash. Others include; spinal joints, the surrounding muscles and nerves. You are therefore likely to experience excruciating pain or numbness in these areas. Though some symptoms of the injury become immediately visible, others take time to manifest. Fortunately, seasoned chiropractors usually use advance chiropractic techniques to treat these conditions, relieving the body of any pain, trauma or stress and help you on your path towards recovery.

  1. Pregnancy-Related Chiropractic Services

Pregnancy and childbirth are some of the best things that could happen in the life of any woman. However, after sometime, when the child has started growing, the body will begin to adjust in order to accommodate the new changes and this may result in back pain, hip and joint pain, and pelvic pain among other conditions. However, specific chiropractic care during pregnancy usually provides greater health potential, resulting in a much easier and safer delivery. Owasso chiropractors usually use advanced techniques such as the Webster technique which enables them to correct any sacral misalignment as well as balance the pelvic muscles and ligaments, allowing the baby to get into the most ideal position for birth.

  1. Back Pain Treatment

Back pain is another common condition that can affect people of all ages even though it is more prevalent among the elderly people and pregnant women. The condition may be caused by accidents, poor sitting and sleeping positions, aging and an imbalance in the body especially during pregnancy. Besides pain, the condition may also be accompanies by other symptoms such as stiffness and numbness in the back. However, a qualified chiropractor can help correct the condition through massage therapy, use of braces, and exercises among other techniques.

  1. Sports Injury Treatment

If you are involved in high-impact sporting activities such as rugby, soccer, basketball, gymnastics or even athletics, you are likely to sustain different kinds of injuries in the course of your training or during the game or competition. However, with the help of a qualified chiropractor, such injuries can be effectively treated and your performance enhanced. Such treatment will help to;

  1. a)  Improve your strength and flexibility
  2. b) Reduce the risk of injury
  3. c) Improve your performance
  4. d) Improve your recovery rate after a sports injury and
  5. e) Reduce pain

Other services you can get from a modern and fully equipped chiropractic clinic or qualified chiropractors in Owasso Oklahoma include; health and wellness services, shoulder pain treatment, sciatica treatment, neck pain treatment among many others. They normally use advanced, safe and effective technologies and techniques that will guarantee optimum results.

Low carb chocolate cake recipe

Treat yourself with this refined sugar-free, low carb dessert by organic, natural and low-calorie sweetener Natvia.

Ingredients (makes 16)

  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ⅔ cup Natvia
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 ⅔ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp baking soda


1. Preheat oven to 170°C and line and grease a round cake pan.

2. Combine cocoa powder, boiling water and Natvia and mix until combined.

3. Whisk eggs until light and fluffy and a pale yellow.

4. Add coconut oil and mix until combined.

5. Add flour and baking soda and mix until combined.

6. Add cocoa mixture and mix until combined.

7. Pour into cake pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until set.

NEXT: Try this protein cheesecake for another delicious treat.

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