Here’s How Music can Cure You

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

When most of us think of music we think of it as a means of entertainment. However, the reality is that music can be so much more than entertaining, in fact, it can be used as a critical tool by medical professionals to help patients with a wide range of conditions.

Music therapy is basically the use of music to help patients with various physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Music therapy can be of benefit to people with dementia, brain injuries, respiratory problems, chronic pain and many other problems. 

Music therapy is not just given by random doctors and nurses there are professionals called music therapists who have rigorously studied this form of treatment. Music therapists work in a wide range settings including hospitals, community health centers, drug rehab centers, senior centers, nursing homes and schools. 

Here are just some of the ways that music therapy can help patients:

Regaining the Abillity to Move

Music therapy is very useful for patients who suffer from brain injuries such as car accidents, assaults, gun shot wounds, falls, stroke, lack of oxygen to the brain, etc. Often these patients are left with limited mobility. Rhythmic entertainment is used to help these patients gradually start to move again. 

Such patients are asked to listen to strong rhythmically accentuated music. Rhythmic entertainment works by locking the motor systems rhythm to an external auditory source. This works because there is actually a rich connection beteeen our auditory system and our motor system. We all have an “internal timekeeper” that helps us regulate our movements. When this “internal timekeeper” is damaged as a result of the injury the internal timing system can be retrained and the brain can gradually adjust itself and the patient can regain much of the lost ability. As an example the patient walks to the beat of the music starting off with slow tempo music and then gradually working their way up as their ability improves. 

Regaining the Abillity to Speak 

After certain types of brain injuries, some patients are no longer able to speak but music therapy can help them regain this vital ability. One prominent example of this is Gaby Giffords. As some of you may know Gaby Giffords was a member of the U.S. Congress who was tragically shot in the head in 2011. 

Due to damage to the language pathways in the left side of her brain Gaby Giffords was not able to speak after the injury. The good news for Gaby was that music, singing in particular, accesses language in a way that is different from talking.

Gaby started seeing a music therapist on a regular basis and she started being able to sing the words that she could not speak. After many regular sessions her brain started to reorganize and she gradually started to speak again!

Music therapy is a great tool for patients with damage to the left side of their brain because it helps the patient regain the abillity to speak by helping patients retrain their brain to use the right side of their brain to learn language. 

Reducing Effects of Dementia

Listening to music can help Dementia patients by bringing back memories and emotions. It can also reduce the stress of Dementia patients and it can help them more easily communicate with their healthcare staff. Listening to music can also help Dementia patients better interact with each other by discussing the memories and feelings evoked by the music.

With Dementia patients, songs from the patients young adult years (ages 18 to 25) are especially helpful because they’re most likely to evoke reactions and memories. However, unfamiliar music can also aid in relaxation and stress management.

Active participation in music can also be helpful for Dementia patients.  Studies have shown that Dementia patients who regularly sing have improved cognitive abillity and an increased life satisfaction. 

Easing Asthma Symptoms:

Active music therapy can be very helpful for children who suffer from asthma. One study compared the effects of asthmatic children singing to another group of asthmatic children who passively listened to music. The results showed that the group that sang had better breathing and overall more positive mood than the group that just passively listened to music. 

Playing a wind instrument can be especially helpful for asthma patients. Studies have shown that playing a wind instrument trains and improves the muscles involved in breathing. Playing a wind instrument can help asthma patients develop a relaxed breathing rhythm that can help them stay calm and focused during an asthma attack. Other studies have found that students who play wind instrument are more optimistic about their asthma and are less likely to have an athmaic episode. 

Helping Child Cancer Patients:

Studies show that music therapy music therapy has a positive effect on children who are hospitalized due to having cancer. Unfortunately, music therapy cannot cure cancer but it can improve the feelings of these young patients. Studies show that music therapy led students to have more positive feelings. Children who were more actively involved in music therapy (as judged by the music therapist) showed greater improvement. 

Basically music therapy can be effective in helping a young child cope with a tragic situation such as cancer. Some studies have shown that music therapy can improve the overall quality of life in these young cancer patients. 

Doctors and Music:

As a side note, in the healthcare field, patients are not the only ones who listen to music. A recent poll of 700 surgeons throughout the United States revealed that nearly 90 percent of them report that they listen to music in the operating room as it calms their nerves and helps increase the operating staffs morale. Of course, they do turn it down during the important parts of the operation.

It is amazing how much music therapy can truly help a wide range of patients without any of the negative side effects of some other treatments.

With Love,

Yasmin

Benefits of Bananas 

Hey Everyone! 

Hope you’re all well!

I love reading articles about the health benefits of different types of food and so I decided to create a post about my favorite fruit! 

I personally love bananas and I eat them on a daily basis. In fact, the other day my mom and I were grocery shopping and the store had ran out of bananas so I made her make and extra trip to another local grocery store just to buy some bananas. (Thank God the other grocery store was literally right across the street 😊) 

 Bananas are not only a delicious fruit but they are packed with a wide range of health benefits. 

Nutrients in Bananas:

The average banana is around 110 calories with 30 grams of carbohydrates, one gram of protein and fat, cholesterol, and sodium free. Bananas also include the following nutrients:

Vitamin B6

Manganese 

Vitamin C

Potassium 

Fiber

Copper 

Magnesium

Folate

Riboflavin 

Niacin

Vitamin A

Iron

Bananas and Your Heart

Bananas are definitely a heart healthy food because they contain vital nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6. Bananas also maintain heart health because they help lower the blood pressure of those who suffer from high blood pressure. 

Bananas and Healthy Children:

Bananas can reduce the chance of a child developing asthma. In fact, the results of a study conducted by the Imperial College of London showed that children who ate one banana a day had a 34 percent less chance of developing asthma. Also, research has shown that children who ate bananas (along with oranges and orange juice) had a reduced risk of developing childhood leukemia. 

Even in adults, bananas can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers thanks to its Vitamin C levels which help to reduce damage from free radicals. Also, since bananas have a high amount of fiber they can reduce ones chance of developing colorectal cancer. 

Bananas and Your Weight:

A common myth about bananas in my family was that bananas make you fat. The reality is that bananas by themselves don’t make you fat and they likely won’t make you lose weight either. However, bananas do have quite a bit of fiber and it has been shown that a diet with high fiber can aid in weight loss. 

Bananas are an excellent snack to have before, during, or after excercise. Bananas are high in glucose which means they will give you the energy you need to get through an intensive workout especially a cardio workout. Thanks to its magnesium, bananas can help prevent or relieve muscle cramps or soreness. The magnesium in bananas leads to protein synthesis which can help increase your lean muscle mass. Thanks to its potassium, bananas can help you workout longer and more easily recover from an intense workout. Additionally, bananas have a high amount of choline which is a form of Vitamin B that helps burn fat.

Bananas and Potassium:

The recommended daily intake of potassium is currently set at 4,700 milligrams. However, studies show that the majority of Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of potassium. Bananas are definitely a good source of potassium and the average banana has around 420 milligrams of potassium. Potassium aids in our overall health by maintaining fluid levels in our body. Potassium is vital for cell health because it regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of our cells. 

Bananas and Digestion 

Bananas aid in digestion thanks to their non digestible carbohydrates which helps maintain a healthy gut. Due to its unique combination of nutrients such as fiber and a cluster of fruit molecules bananas help make you more regular and they even help those suffering from diarrhea. 

Kidney Health

Thanks to its potassium bananas are also helpful in maintaining healthy kidneys. Research has shown that people who eat bananas four to six times a week have a 50 percent reduced chance of developing kidney disease compared to those who don’t eat bananas. However, as a word of caution other research has shown that if you do have kidney disease it is best to eat bananas n moderation because too much potassium can worsen kidney disease.

Additional Benefits:

Bananas have folate which can be beneficial to those suffering from depression. Studies have shown that many people who suffer from depression have a higher risk of having folate deficiency. If your taking an antidepressant it is recommended to continue eating bananas because folate can help enhance the results of the medication. 

Bananas also have tryptophan which leads to seratonin. This means that bananas can potentially help reduce some of the stress and anxiety that you may be going through and put you in a better mood. Also, thanks to tryptophan bananas can also help you get a better night of sleep.

Easy to Find and Easy to Eat

Here in the United States bananas are among the most popular fruits even more so than apples and oranges and in my personal experience they are pretty inexpensive as well. If you’re lazy like me, the great thing about bananas is that you can easily peel them and enjoy the tasty and healthy treat. Of course, there are many different ways you can include bananas in your diet and although I always throw the peel away, while I was doing reeearch for this post, I have learned that in many cultures the banana peel is used in cooking as well. The banana peel has numerous benefits as well. Some of these benefits include using the peel for beauty purposes such as removing pimples and alleviating wrinkles. 

Bananas and Beauty:

As I mentioned the banana peel can be used for pimples. I learned this trick from a YouTube video by Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty. She explained that its best to eat the banana when it’s ripe and keep the peel overnight until it’s very dark and then cut it into smaller pieces (just to make it easier to use) and rub it on your pimples. Continue to do this for a few days until all pimples are gone or until you see improvement. Other bloggers have mentioned that rubbing the banana peel on your skin may help with wrinkles as well. Due to its high water content and Vitamin A eating bananas regularly can be beneficial to your skins overall health. Finally you can add bananas to your face mask.

Ripe vs. Unripe

The truth is that both unripe and ripe bananas have their own pros and cons.

Unripe bananas are the ones that are green. Unripe bananas have a high amount of resistant starch and they’re not that sweet so they’re better for people with Type 2 diabetes because of their low glycemic index. Unripe bananas are also better for colon health thanks to a specific probiotic bacteria that they have. Unripe bananas are better for absorbing nutrients. 

On the other hand the antioxidants of the banana increase as it ripens so unripe bananas have a lower amount of antioxidants. Also since unripe bananas have a higher resistant starch content they can cause some extra bloating and gas.

Ripe bananas are easier to digest thanks to their higher sugar content and ripe bananas have more antioxidants. Research has shown that ripe bananas can help protect you from cancer because they fight abnormal cells in your body.

 On the other hand, ripe bananas lose some of their vitamins and minerals. Also, ripe bananas do have a higher sugar content so they are not ideal for those who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. 

Don’t Go Bananas Though

As with any other good thing, bananas should be consumed in moderation. Most experts recommend having no more than two bananas a day. This is especially true of those who are on beta blocking medications because they suffer from heart disease. Beta blockers can cause the potassium levels to rise in the blood and so this is why other foods high in potassium should be consumed in moderation

I hope you enjoyed this post hopefully it has encouraged you to reach for a banana the next time you’re hungry! 


With Love,

Yasmin 

The Power of Meaning 

Hey Everyone! 

Hope you’re all doing well!

I recently watched a very inspirational TED Talk titled: There’s is More to Life than Being Happy by Emily Esfahani Smith

Basically, the major point of her TED Talk is that those who are truly at peace with their lives are not the ones who chase after happiness rather they are the ones who find meaning in their lives.  She describes how the famous Psychologist Martin Seligman describes meaning as coming from, belonging to and serving something beyond ourselves, and from developing the best within ourselves. 

In her talk Esfahani Smith describes statistics about how, for many people in the U.S, the quality of life has improved by almost every standard, yet the suicide rate has reached an all time high. She attributes this to a lack of meaning and she also cites statistics that mention that those who do have meaning in their lives are more resilient, do better in school and in work and they even live longer. 

Esfahani Smith spent five years doing research about how we can find meaning in our lives and she came up with the following four pillars of meaning: (The following is a very brief description of the pillars)

Belonging: Being in relationships and having relationships in which you are valued intrinsically for who you are and you value others for who they are. True belonging comes from relationships that are based on love and they are based on your choice, you choose to cultivate belonging with others.

Purpose: Many people find their purpose through their work however, finding your  purpose is not exactly the same as finding a job that makes you happy. Purpose is less about what you want and more about what you give to others. The key to purpose is using your strength to help others. 

Transcendence: She describes transcendent states as being those rare moments in which we are lifted above the normal hustle and bustle of daily life. It is when our sense of self fades away and we feel connected to a higher reality.  In transcendent experiences you lose all sense of time and place and these experiences can change you to become a better person. For each person transcendence can come from a different source. Some people may experience it through their house of worship others can experience it through other means such as art, athletics, writing, etc. (To me personally transcendence sounds a lot like what psychologists refer to as flow). 

Story Telling: She describes this as the story that you tell yourself about yourself. We are authors of our own stories and we can change the way we tell them. She argues that our lives are not just a series of events but we can edit and interpret our stories even when we are constrained by the facts. The point of story telling is to help us reevaluate our lives and see ourselves and our lives from a more positive perspective. She gives the example of an injured football player who was left paralyzed as a result of his injury. In the aftermath of the injury, he described his life as being good before the injury and being pretty bad after the injury. After some time had passed he re-evaluated his story to describe his life before the injury as being a life in which he lack purpose and meaning and he was only concerned with himself. However, after the injury he has a greater appreciation for life and he has found his purpose in life which is to help others. 

This TED Talk was definitely an eye opener for me. Being a student of positive psychology I have read a lot of books and articles on the importance of attaining happiness and how we can be happier in fact I wrote a post a while ago about a book on happiness. I do still recommend that book and I will definitely continue to read positive psychology books and articles on happiness because I feel that there is a lot that we can learn and apply in our lives. Also, because positive psychology as a field is determined to study and understand happiness and wellbeing from a scientific perspective. 

However, it’s also really nice to know that there is something more long lasting that can help us deal with any stage or event in our lives. It is impossible for most of us to be happy all the time but having a sense of meaning, in my opinion, is much more powerful because it gives us something to rely on in moments of joy and sorrow. 

Click here to watch this TED Talk.
With love,

Yasmin

The Link Between Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Hey Eceryone! 

Hope you’re all doing well! 

I personally never drink any type of alcoholic beverage however, I know many people who swear of the benefits of drinking a glass of wine a day. Without a doubt, wine and especially red wine, does have a number of health benefits .

However, fairly recent research by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has found that drinking a glass of wine or beer a day (which is about 10 grams of alcohol) increases women’s risk for breast cancer. 

The report stated that drinking a glass of wine or beer a day increased the risk of breast cancer by five percent for premenopausal women and increased the risk by nine percent for postmenopausal women. It’s also important to mention that this report is referring to a small glass of wine or beer with about 10 grams of alcohol, however, most standard glasses are larger and have around 14 grams of alcohol. 

This report analyzed 119 studies on this topic that included data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer. 

On a more positive note, this report also found that leading an active lifestyle, by exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, can reduce the risk of breast cancer in both pre and post menopausal women. Excercise reduced the risk of breast cancer by 17 percent in premenopausal women and reduced the risk by 10 percent in post menopausal women. 

Here in the United States breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women with over 252,000 cases diagnosed this year alone. The AICR estimates that one third of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active, and maintained a healthy weight. 

As I was writing this post I received a news notification in my phone that Julia Louis Dreyfus has been diagnosed with beast cancer and she had the following to say: 

And I couldn’t agree more! 

Unfortunately, there are no fool proof ways to prevent breast cancer but it is definitely nice to learn that there are steps that we can take to reduce our chances.
With Love,

Yasmin 

Surrounded by Negative People? Here are Some Tips

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

happiness-2411764_640

While I was studying Psychology in college one of the topics that really resonated with me was the idea of emotional contagion. As its name implies, emotional contagion is based on the idea that emotions are contagious.

Studies have shown that when we are surrounded by positive people we begin to think more positively and when we are surrounded by negativity we tend to become more negative.

Before going any further, I just want to clarify that the type of negativity that I am referring to is the type of negativity in which the person is feeling negative about the world or about something that is going on in their own life and they might complain a lot to you but they are in no way demeaning you or meaning to cause you any physical and emotional harm.

Basically, emotional contagion is a fancy phrase for explaining that the type of people we surround ourselves with help determine our emotions and outlook on life.

One piece of advice that I constantly hear is that we should try to surround ourselves with positive people and distance ourselves from negative people.

First of all, I definitely think that this advice is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I think that it is certainly possible to gradually distance ourselves from negative friends, acquaintances, bosses, etc.

However, I believe that sometimes it is very difficult, if not impossible, to distance ourselves from those that are more negative. This is especially true if this person is a very dear friend, a significant other, a parent or even a child. In such instances, our conscience will not (and should not!) allow us to distance ourselves from that person.

One of the things that I have been really thinking about lately is: how can we preserve our own happiness and positive outlook without distancing ourselves from the person who is the source of this negativity?

A little Empathy Goes a Long Way

I think that sometimes we have to mentally put ourselves in their position in order to better understand where their mindset is coming from. Often, we may realize that this person has endured certain struggles and challenges that we have never been through. Or perhaps we have been through similar experiences it’s just that this person has had more difficulty coping with the challenge.

Have a Chat

This tip may not work for everyone. However, when possible, I would recommend sitting down with this individual and very calmly letting them know how their negativity is also bringing you down. Most people may not even know that their constant negativity is bothering you! Often, the last thing the loved one wants to do is to bother you or bring you down so this could perhaps be an eye opener for them.

It might be a good idea to discuss many different options during this chat. This also includes the option of that person seeking professional help if necessary.

Self-Care is a Necessity and Not a Luxury

Regardless of our situation, in this fast paced and hard-working world of ours I think that self-care is a must for everyone. We have to dedicate some time to free our minds from everything that worries us or stresses us out.

There are many different approaches to self-care since different methods work for different people. Ideally, self-care is a period of time in which we let go of the worries of the world and focus on relaxing and reflecting on our inner selves or whatever is truly important to us.

Spirituality: Spirituality can be a great means of caring for oneself. Many people swear by the calming effects of meditation. I personally love contemplation. Either early in the morning or right before bed I like to sit by the window and just think about the greatness of the universe or I often spend this time thinking about everything that I am grateful for.

I personally believe in God so when I am going through a particularly difficult time I comfort myself by praying and whenever I am happy I thank Him for my blessings.

Pursue a passion project or a hobby: One of the goals of self-care is to enable you to forget about all of your worries for a while. Pursuing a hobby or anything else that you are passionate about is a great way to relieve stress. Ideally when we are doing something that we really enjoy we are in a state of flow, where we are so absorbed in what we are doing that our mind is only focused on that task and time flies right by.

Exercise: Trust me, I know that exercising is the last thing I think of as being relaxing. However, exercise is a proven mood booster thanks to the fact that increases our brains serotonin level which helps us feel happier.

Spend time in nature: I will be the first to admit that I spend way too much time sitting behind a screen. For our own health and well-being it is vital that we give our eyes and our brain a break by spending time outside. Try to go out for a walk or simply step outside and rest your eyes by looking at a tree, a bird, or the grass. Many people swear by the therapeutic effects of camping. Or you can go on a scenic hike with your friends or solo.

Spend some “me time”: This can include treating yourself to a spa or doing something else to pamper yourself once in a while. Your “me time” could be as simple as watching a movie or your favorite show on Netflix. I realize that watching TV may not be the ideal solution however, it can definitely be enjoyable and relaxing if done in moderation.

Feel free to choose any of these tips that you feel will work best for you or feel free to come up with your own self-care activity.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

The Top Safety Precaution that Passengers are Avoiding

Hey Everyone.

Hope you’re all doing well!

crash-test-1620595_640

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that four out of five people do not wear their seatbelt when they are sitting in the back seat of a car if it is a short trip or if it is in a Uber, Lyft, or any other similar service.

The report by the IIHS found that the majority of people who do not wear their seatbelt in the back seat believe that it is not necessary to wear a seatbelt because the back seat is much safer than the front seat.

However, research by IIHS engineers and others have shown that this idea is absolutely false. In the event of a car crash unbelted back seat passengers can be violently thrown like a missile to the front.

In 2015 alone 1,018 back seat passengers died because they were not wearing a seat belt.

A separate report conducted in 2016 by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that unbelted back seat passengers were three times more likely to die in a crash.

According to the IIHS the driver can also be severely injured because an unbelted back seat passenger can slam into the drivers seat, pushing the driver into the airbag and steering wheel with a 35  mph impact.

Okay so I have a confession to make. Usually when my whole family and I ride together in a car, my parents are in the front and my two brothers and I are in the back seat. It is often the case that one of my brothers is on one side and the other brother is on the other side and I am in the middle.

I have to admit that when I am in this middle seat I never buckle up because the seatbelt in the middle is, in my opinion, uncomfortable. Although we rarely all ride together, after reading these stats I will definitely be buckling up.

Additionally, it has been reported that Princess Diana was not wearing a seatbelt on the night of her fatal car crash. According to a simulation experiment by CNN her life could potentially have been saved if she was simply wearing her seat belt.

From the bottom of my heart I would like to really encourage all of you my dear readers to please make sure to buckle up whenever you are in a car, no matter how short the trip is. Its something that can be done in a few seconds but it can save your life and even the lives of those with and around you.

With Love,

Yasmin

Study Finds 99 Percent of NFL Players Have This Disease

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

A recent study published in the JAMA medical journal revealed that the majority of American football players developed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This study is very significant because it is the largest study to ever be conducted on this topic. football-380388_640

Since CTE is a disease that can only be diagnosed after death, this study involved studying the brain autopsies of 202 football players. Out of these 202 players, 177 of them were diagnosed with CTE.

Within this sample some were high school football players, some were college football players and 111 of these were NFL football players. A shocking 99 percent (110 out of 111) of these NFL players developed CTE. Take a look at this very informative CNN article to learn more about the impact and limitations of this study.

CTE is a degenerative brain disorder which means that the symptoms will continually deteriorate over time. Currently, at this time CTE has no known cure. Aside from American Football players CTE is also found in:

  • Boxers
  • Wrestlers
  • Rugby Players
  • Ice Hockey Players
  • War veterans with a history of blast or concussive injury.
  • People who repeatedly bang their heads
  • People who have been physically abused
  • People with uncontrolled epilepsy

CTE is primarily caused by multiple head injuries which cause concussions. A concussion occurs when an individual gets a violent blow to the head which causes the brain to slam against the skull. For example, when football players get a concussion they are usually hit by speeds that range from 17 to 25 miles per hour which is more than 90 times the speed of gravity.

The impact of a concussion can cause bruising of the brain, torn blood vessels, and nerve damage. Some of the immediate symptoms of a concussion include confusion, amnesia, loss of consciousness, ringing in the ears, and nausea and vomiting.

According to the Mayo Clinic the following are some of the symptoms of CTE:

  • Trouble thinking (Cognitive Impairment)
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Depression or apathy
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks (executive function)
  • Emotional Instability
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for CTE but preventative steps can be taken. Since CTE is primarily caused by concussions it is vital to take steps to ideally prevent concussions from occurring in the first place or at least, prevent further injury after a concussion.

Many athletes can benefit from sport specific helmets and riders can benefit from bicycle and motorcycle helmets. These helmets may not completely prevent concussions however, research has shown that they can reduce the occurrence of dangerous brain injuries.

This past week many news outlets have been reporting the results of this study and I hope that this post helps to give a bit more information about Chronic Traumatic  Encephalopathy.

With Love,

Yasmin