Radiance Wellness Institute

Quest for longevity

Since the dawn of humanity, people have sought ways to maintain good health, vitality and to maximize their longevity. The quest for some magical substance that can turn back the hands of time and confer immortality has captivated human imagination throughout history and continues to prove enticing in our youth-oriented culture. Today we are learning from epigenetics, through making better lifestyle choices, how to age well and achieve rejuvenation and live long.

Fountain of Youth

Finding the fountain of youth is not about living forever; it is about finding the fountain of joy and serenity for this very moment that transcends time. It is about living so fully that you know you are really living. It is about loving so fully that you know you really love your life.

What we all really yearn for is to radiate with vitality and vigor, feeling good, looking good and having the resiliency associated with youth. What we all want is the abundance of natural energy―physical, intellectual and creative―that accompanies youth. These include a strong heart, clear arteries, mind fitness, muscle strength, easy movement and good posture. We can become biologically younger in all our organ systems. But the real gift will be our invigorated self seeking out new experiences, making plans, embracing change and staying flexible and resilient. We want to stay in the depth of things and radiate wellness. Improving vitality and preventing lifestyle diseases is better than even the most remarkable cure or spontaneous healing.

The Art and Science of Aging Well

Aging is a biological process, not an event that occurs at a particular time. The lifestyle choices we make at anytime in life greatly influence how well we age. The ultimate purpose of aging well is to prevent lifestyle diseases. Aging well also means having enough energy to do the things you want to do, having a positive feeling about yourself and having a sense of purpose in your life. A strong sense of purpose acts as a buffer against stress and promotes health and wellness.

Chronological versus biological age. Your birthday is not your “real” age; it is your chronological age. Your real age is your biological age, which is the age of your body―the true age of your heart, arteries, brain and muscles. Chronological age happens; you can’t change that. But, biological age is within your control. You can control the age of your organs by a number of wellness lifestyle strategies such as staying physically and mentally active, eating well, practicing relaxation, staying socially connected and not smoking.

Lifestyle choices can affect your biological age. You can exert significant control over your biological age. The latest scientific thinking suggests that up to 70% of aging is related to how you live. Biological aging is the result of the accumulation of everything you do-or not do-for yourself, the choices you make everyday about how you live. This means everything from diet, exercise and sleep to how you deal with the big and small stressors of life. Including the quantity and quality of your relationships, the choice of employment, where you live, your attitude toward life, and your self-love. Your choices and habits can, over time, make a big difference in how your body ages from the inside out. With 70% control of genetic expression, you can age well.

Perception. We need to first change our perceptions about aging. People, through generations, have enforced the habitual thinking that growing older meant a progressive decline in mental and physical capacities. It is time to stop that self-defeating, habitual thinking and revise our perceptions about aging by mastering the art of aging well. Viewing aging as an opportunity for greater wisdom, creativity, love, joy and increased mental and physical capabilities. A long life need not be one of suffering and decline but rather one of loving life, full of radiant wellness and vibrant vitality.

Acceptance of aging is one of the great secrets of aging well. Aging happens―you can’t prevent it―and it may lead to a loss of certain abilities. Your mind can maintain an optimistic and youthful attitude through mind-fitness program despite the physical changes that aging may bring. It is best to learn to accept it, adapt to the limitations and enjoy some of the benefits that may come with it. Some things definitely improve with age; wine, cheese, fine violins and old trees, which have an incredible presence. An attitude of flexibility has real magic. You can reach anything with flexibility; it is easy to accept and accommodate the inevitabilities of aging with flexibility. People who have a flexible approach to life live longer. Acceptance is the key to flexibility, which brings balance and harmony.

Lifestyle and Epigenetics

Research shows that you can actually change how your genes are expressed just by modifying your lifestyle. There is an emerging biological science called epigenetics that helps to explain how choices we make in lifestyle (what we eat, how we move and what thoughts we think) literally affect our genetic expression and, ultimately, our health and wellness, or lack thereof.

The choice in lifestyle makes all the difference when it comes to our genetic expression of health and how we age biologically. Epigenetics empowers people to take control of their health by choosing lifestyle choices that may override their genetic code and actually reduce the chance of repeating their family’s history of poor health. The awareness that you can control your gene expression could inspire you to make lifestyle changes that will make significant differences for aging well.

The fate of your health and wellness is 30% in your genes and 70%:

  • In the thoughts you think.
  • In the exercise you do.
  • In the food you eat.
  • In the relationships in which you engage with yourself and others.

Protect Your DNA. As you age and get older, the end of your chromosomes, called telomeres, shrink and become smaller. Smaller telomeres could cause lifestyle diseases (heart disease, diabetes, and cancer). Research showed that by changing your lifestyle, you can increase the production of an enzyme called telomerase, which prolongs telomeres. Comprehensive lifestyle changes can protect your DNA by making the enzyme telomerase and promote aging well by prolonging your telomeres.

Five ways to empower your body’s system into aging well and stay radiantly well:

  1. Re-energize your genes; rebuild telomeres by activating the enzyme telomerase through relaxation and adopting a wellness lifestyle.
  2. Revitalize your mitochondria for energy and vitality; foods (onions, red grapes, cranberries, tomatoes, pomegranates, dark chocolate, green tea) and caloric restriction neutralize free radicals.
  3. Strengthen your immune system; relaxation practices can activate the vagus nerve. Avocado, walnuts, olive oil and salmon stimulate your vagus nerve through cholecystochinin.
  4. Stop the sugar shock; eat more fruits and vegetables.
  5. Strengthen your stem cells; practice active relaxation and neutralize oxidative stress by eating flavonoids.

Wellness Lifestyle

 Wellness Lifestyle is a new medicine for the art of aging well in attaining and maintaining radiant longevity. Your lifestyle is the single most important factor in determining your level of wellness, which is the core foundation for vitality, vigor and youthfulness. Our version of wellness is called radiant wellness, which is a state of wellbeing in all areas of life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and economic. Radiant wellness can be created and maintained by choosing a wellness lifestyle that restores, rebalances, rejuvenates and increases your ability to feel good, look your best and prevent lifestyle diseases.

Would you like to live your golden years free from disease and frailty that you see so commonly in the elderly? Our program is for anyone who is willing to invest some time and effort to reap the reward by living healthy, happy and longer. Give some thought to mortality and live your day-to-day life with joy. Don’t wait for a wake-up call to look at your life in terms of hours of work, stress and food you eat. The most important asset and the most valuable wealth a person can have are their health and wellness.

Radiant Wellness is a comprehensive wellness lifestyle program offered as 4 Workshops: Serenity, Exercise, Love and Food (summed up in the acronym SELF, from the word self-care).

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What is it that all individual’s hearts, minds and souls desire? It is calmness of mind, balance and tranquility; we call it Serenity. Serenity is the opposite of stress. In a serene state our minds are alert, yet calm and peaceful. Our metabolism, heart rate and breathing become even slower as we become more relaxed. Learning and practicing serenity to achieve calmness of mind, balance and tranquility is the most important step toward processing and neutralizing the stress response. Serenity is not a luxury. It is essential to wellness, the process of aging well and radiant longevity.



Stress can undermine our health and wellness. Chronic stress has a widespread impact, affecting every function of the body. When we are under stress, the sympathetic nervous system prepares us for “fight or flight” (stress response), the body’s innate response to danger. Chronic stress can make us sick, exacerbating just about any health challenge: development of premature brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular problems and cancer as well as hearing and vision loss. Stress increases the rate at which our cells grow old, making us more prone to age-related lifestyle diseases manifested in shortening of the telomeres.

Chronic Stress

The stress response involves activation of the brain region known as the amygdale, which sends a signal alerting the organism to the threat. This results in activation of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis and releases a cascade of hormones including cortisol. While short-term release of cortisol prepares the organism to sustain fight or flight and fend off the attacker, long-term exposure appears to cause brain neurons to shrink. There is an association between stress exposure, with elevated cortisol levels and shrinkage of the hippocampus causing loss of short-term memory function.

Keeping a Lid on Stress through Serenity Practices

It’s impossible to control all sources of stress in your life: Eliminating stress completely is not an option. But, it is quite feasible to modify your experience of stress and change the way you react to it. Stress is not something that happens to us; it is about how we react to situations. Much of this involves the regular practice of relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, mindfulness and visualization. These simple approaches help encourage a shift from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is dominant, heart rate slows, blood pressure drops and digestion, metabolism and immunity all work optimally.

Learning and practicing serenity exercises to achieve tranquility is the most important step toward relieving stress. Instead of a stress response, you can learn how to breathe and relieve. You can learn to activate the so-called relaxation response. Here are some ways you can elicit the deep relaxation response:


Deep-belly breathing is a natural skill that everyone possesses but that often lies dormant. Reawakening the skill of deep belly breathing allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest relaxation tools and self-healing mechanisms. It is the time to start paying attention to this free, always available but underutilized tool. Deep belly breathing helps to protect you from stressors, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate; sparks brain growth.

Two Steps to Deep Belly Breathing Practice

  1. Take slow, deep, rhythmic breaths through the nose. With deep belly breathing, the diaphragm drops down, the abdomen is expanded allowing the air to rush into the vacuum created in the lungs. Then the chest cavity is expanded, allowing the lungs to fill completely.
  2. This is followed by a slow, even exhalation—two times longer than inhalation in duration–which empties the lungs completely and modulates the vagal tone by stimulating the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment rather than worrying about something in the future or rehashing something in the past. Mindfulness is about being more attentive to the autopilot way we are going through the days or making more conscious choices to notice what is here and how you want to see. Mindfulness is about doing consciously some of your daily routine activities first and expanding to be mindful every moment to become an enthusiastic student for mindful living.

Five Steps to Mindfulness Meditation Practice

  1. Sit cross-legged on a cushion on the floor or in a chair. Keep your back straight and let your shoulders drop. Take a deep breath and close your eyes if you wish.
  2. Notice your breath. Don’t change your breathing, but focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your lungs through your nostrils.
  3. As thoughts come into your mind and distract you from your breathing, acknowledge those thoughts and then return to focusing on your breathing each time.
  4. Don’t judge yourself or try to ignore distractions. Your job is simply to notice that your mind has wandered and to bring your attention back to your breathing.
  5. Start by doing this 10 minutes a day for a week. The more you meditate regularly, the easier it will be to keep your attention where you want it.


95f310345fd4de3775513cb77e707f2cPhysical activity is the most powerful lifestyle choice someone can make to improve health and wellness. A broad spectrum of benefits are conferred by exercise, including a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and some types of cancer; a lower risk of falls; and it also may help to preserve memory and cognitive function. Studies showed that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk or slower progression of several age-related conditions, less disability and better overall health and wellbeing. Regular exercise helps normalize your body’s insulin, glucose and leptin levels, which are key to optimizing your wellness and aging well by helping to prevent chronic lifestyle disease.

Aerobic exercise not only turns on genes linked to longevity, but also targets the genes that code for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), the brain’s growth hormone. Aerobic exercise has been shown to reverse memory decline in the elderly. There is an extraordinary relationship between physical fitness and mental fitness founded on extensive research from different camps. Exercise, according to the latest science, appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhances cognitive function. And, this means that there is no greater tool at our fingertips than physical movement for achieving mind fitness.

The right exercise can nudge you out of mundane life of habituation and connect you to a new life with rhythm, energy, and mind-body-spirit alignment. True exercise, properly fitted to your need, restores balance and alignment according to natural laws that govern our universe. True physical exercise is the practice of aligning yourself with your source of energy. Exercise is movement that brings you into alignment with your inner self.


The human body is designed to walk, which is the most effective and healthful form of physical activity. You can attain maximum fitness through walking. Better still, walking requires no fancy gear and it carries the least risk of injury of any form of exercise. Walking not only improves brain blood supply, it also increases the amount of brain-derived growth factor (BDGF), which protects and repairs neurons and prevents Alzheimer’s.

  1. Walk 30 minutes daily: Walking 30 minutes a day reduces the chances of premature death almost as much as running 30 to 40 miles a week. If you walk 30 minutes a day, you lower your risk of stroke, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

It is your choice to commit to a 30-minute walk a day for your health and wellbeing. Don’t wait until you develop a health problem. You will be spending more than 30 minutes a day on going to appointments, treatments, surgery, getting the medical bills paid and making your final arrangements. Instead, spend those 30 minutes a day NOW in an exercise you will enjoy.

  1. High-Intensity Interval Walking (HIIW): This involves short bursts of high-intensity walking exercise alternating with gentle recovery periods.
  • Warm up for 3 minutes.
  • Walk as hard and as fast as you can for 30 seconds.
  • Recover at a slower pace for 90 seconds.
  • Repeat the high-intensity interval walking exercise and recovery a total of 8 times.

An important benefit of HIIW is its ability to naturally increase your body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH).HGH increases muscle volume and effectively burns excess fat, promoting overall wellness. Short periods of high-intensity interval exercise have a proven positive effect on increasing testosterone levels and preventing its usual age-related decline. Additional benefits include increased insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, both of which are important for radiant wellness.


Chi-Gong (also referred to as Qi-Gong) is a Chinese system of mind-body exercise that aims to balance the flow of chi (vital life force energy). Chi is believed to regulate mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Chi-Gong exercise combines three key elements. The first key is the breath. Every form of chi-gong has great emphasis on deep abdominal breathing. The second key is slow, gentle circular and graceful movements. The third key is using mental focus and increasing mindfulness.

Five Rejuvenating Healing Sounds

  1. Stand straight, toes pointing forward, with your feet a little wider than shoulder width.
  2. Bend your knees a little; eyes looking forward; smile.
  3. Chin down and back a little to keep spine straight.
  4. Fingers are open, move arms a little outward.
  5. Close your eyes and mouth, with the tip of your tongue on roof of mouth.

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For each one of the five organs, practice the following:

  • Put your hands on the respective organ; your chin on your chest; your eyes closed.
  • Slowly, take a deep breath through your nose, extending your stomach outward.
  • Smile to that organ as you inhale and visualize it filled with the same-colored light of an organ color.
  • While exhaling, raise your head, look skyward, making the sound of that organ—moving your arms as indicated in attached photo.
  • Repeat same sequence three times for each organ.

Three General Steps to Practice Five Healing Sounds

  1. Eyes closed. Head down with chin on the chest. Hands on respective organ for minimum of 3 to 4 breaths. Meditation: Smile at the organ; imagine the color and the shape of that organ.
  2. Eyes open. Head back. Inhale deeply through nose as you move arms up to the position depict­ed in respective picture. Exhale softly, slowly and evenly while you utter the sound of the organ.
  3. Eyes closed. Breathe normally. Move arms back to the organ and smile to that respective organ. Do all steps 3 to 6 times. Double that number during the season for that organ.

Five Rejuvenating & Healing Sounds

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c9406b1a1f45734e28c16ab13b3f3c83Experience new meaning and purpose in life by understanding Love as a felt sense of knowing that you are part of the whole. When you have a deeper connection with yourself and with others, you are able to trust and therefore have the ability to connect. As a result, you invite love into your life and experience new meaning and purpose. When you connect purpose and meaning to your life, you become closer to understanding and appreciating love. It seems the harder you search externally for meaning and happiness, the more stress you are exposed to. You would be wise to begin awakening our quest and commitment to love from within.

“The search for love ends the moment we discover it to be ever-present within.” (Rumi)


Self-love is about the relationship we have with ourselves. Self-love is a positive state of mind and, when reflected outward, it is mirrored back to us. As Oscar Wilde said: “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” Finding the value within ourselves will allow us to accept and recognize others. Without self-love, how can we truly accept and honor another person? We need to make conscious decisions to love ourselves. By doing that, we are really saying that we want to come alive and we would like to shine by living a fulfilling life.


As we learn to accept who we truly are—distinct from our personality–we then have the power to move into a higher state of health and wellness physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When we have a deeper connection within ourselves and a universally extended connection (or “pure potentiality”), we trust; and that creates a welcoming space to connect with others. As a result, we invite Love into our lives and make it an integral part of our wellness lifestyle program.


“Relationship is the currency of wellness.” Life is all about relationships. Life is the experience of how we relate to people, places, things and ideas. Relationships are the mirror in which we may see ourselves. The quality of the relationship we have with other people makes a tremendous difference to our physical as well as emotional health. Intimate relationships that are authentic can have enormous, even miraculous powers to maintain wellness.

Although, our past actions define who we are, it is our relationships with our loved ones and with others that define us most profoundly. It is through relationships that we assert our personal identities, which help us to see clearly ourselves and know our true nature. Our nature or temperament is the fixed habitual way that we respond to life. This is either innate or a learned pattern. Our nature points to something deeply ingrained within us. It is an unconscious repetition rather than something reflecting a conscious choice.

Kindness Meditation

Can positive thoughts about yourself and others relax you? Will intentionally focused mental exercises aimed at goodwill generate positive emotions? The answer is yes; Positive emotions and physical health influence one another in a self-sustaining upward spiral dynamic.

Kindness meditation can support the practice of unassuming attention to help keep the mind open and gentle. It softens your heart to be more open to others. Kindness meditation practice brings about positive changes in your attitude. Systematically it develops the quality of loving acceptance. It acts as a form of self-psychotherapy; a way of clearing and relieving the troubled mind to free it from its pain and confusion. Kindness meditation has the immediate benefit of changing the old habituated negative patterns of thought.

How to Do Kindness Meditation

The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of yourself. Then you are ready to systematically develop loving kindness towards others:

Generate positive emotions of loving kindness by repeating these phrases:

May you be well…May you be happy…May you be peaceful…

May you be loved…May you be calm…May you be at ease.



dc969b5553801b9345d9037bcfab0a6bNutrition clearly plays a powerful role in determining whether you will remain healthy and energetic as you age. Along with physical activity, a wholesome balanced diet is one of the key factors in achieving longevity and protecting against chronic age-related diseases. Food is energy and information. Any food we eat communicates specific messages to our cells. The fiber in your oatmeal actually chats with your intestines telling them to contract. It then has a side conversation with your liver, pancreas and bloodstream, asking your LDL cholesterol to drop and your blood sugar to stabilize.

Nutritious and whole foods that are low in calories yet contain “good fats” have a dramatic effect on health and wellbeing. They can help prolong life by reversing the biological age. Caloric restriction protects against a broad range of age-related disease. Caloric restriction is effective in extending life and preventing disease. As you reduce calories, you also reduce insulin, the major accelerator of aging. You can live longer in good health by eating less. The next level of caloric restriction is called CRON (Caloric Restriction combined with Optimal Nutrition). Properly executed CRON supports aging well and increases vitality.

The Power of Caloric Restriction and Fasting

Research has demonstrated that many of the same health-providing and brain-enhancing genetic pathways are activated by caloric restriction. Caloric restriction increase brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates the growth of brain cells. Simply put, fasting enhances energy production through improved function of mitochondria and paves the way for better brain function and clarity in mind.

Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting turn on the gene (11C) to activate BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) production. Longevity research has exposed that eating less is what stimulates 11C. As you reduce calories, you also reduce insulin, the major accelerator of aging. You can live longer in good health by eating less.

Rejuvenation and Wellness Diet

Eat as much fresh food as possible. Choose variety; minimize your consumption of processed and fast food. Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Include good quality carbohydrates, fat and quality protein in every meal, with proper food combining.


Food Choices For Wellness & Rejuvenation

Note: Eat only non-GMO and organic.

Cold-Water Fish: Omega 3 Anchovies, Herring, North Atlantic Mackerel,Wild Alaskan Salmon, Sardines, Trout
Favorite Fruits: Fiber, Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants & Phytonutrients Apples, Berries, Cherries, Grapefruit, Peaches, Pears, Plum, Pomegranates
Fruit Fats Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, Monounsaturated Fats: Acai, Avocado, Coconuts, Olives
Spice Things Up Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants & Phytonutrients: Cinnamon, Clover, Nutmeg, Turmeric
Seeds & Nuts Fill You Up Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants, Essential Fats, Protein, Fiber & Lignins: Almonds, Flaxseed, Hazelnuts, Hemp Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts
Beans & Lentils (Legumes)Stabilize Blood Sugar Dried Beans: Kidney, Navy, Pinto, Red & Black Beans Lentils
Low-Fat Probiotic Dairy FoodsCalcium for Bone Health Acidophilus Milk, Low-Fat Kefir, Low-Fat Yogurt
Old-Fashioned Whole Grains Fiber, Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants and other Phytonutrients: Barley, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Oats
Vibrant Vegetables  Fiber, Low-Calorie/Low-Glycemic Nutrition, Anti-inflammatory Antioxidants & other Phytonutrients Basil, Broccoli Sprouts, Garlic, Kale, Mint, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Spinach, Thyme,
Fermented Foods / Gut Health Kombucha, Kefir, Kimchi, Greek Yogurt, Sauerkraut and other naturally fermented foods.


It is important to examine our lifestyle and become aware of consequences of unhealthy habits. Living a life of habituation and mindless consumption (eating, watching TV and taking a variety of toxins) disrupts mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Choosing Carbs Wisely

Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates may raise the risk of cognitive problems that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. A 2012 Mayo Clinic study pointed out that our brains do rely on a moderate intake of sugar to function; but high levels may actually impair brain function. The trick is to avoid frequent consumption and large servings of foods that are rated high on the glycemic index. Fructose, a component of most sweeteners, ranks very low on the glycemic index; but that is not a good thing. It ranks low because the body cannot derive energy from it, even though it tastes very sweet. Fructose disrupts liver metabolism and the insulin system and promotes obesity.

Reduce sugar, wheat and carbohydrates You will have clear thoughts, better sleep and improved energy. You’ll suffer fewer headaches, manage stress effortlessly and feel happier. You’ll watch the weight fall off. Specific lab tests will show vast improvements in many areas of your biochemistry. And, your brain functions at its highest level. When your body is running mostly on carbs, it is being driven by the glucose-insulin roller-coaster ride that triggers intense hunger when your blood sugar plunges, with resulting short-lived satiety. But eating a low-carb, high-fat diet will eliminate cravings and those mental shutdowns in the afternoon that often occur on carb-based diets.

Integration of Radiant Wellness Lifestyle Components

The Radiant Wellness approach is a proactive SELF-Care system that empowers you to be in charge of your own wellness. Our program integrates the 4 Components of Radiant Wellness Lifestyle (Serenity, Exercise, Love and Food) to help you to maintain an optimum state of well being and live a healthy, long life.

It is not possible that exercise and good food alone will create radiant wellness. Without Serenity and Love, it’s as if you are sitting on a two-legged chair. In this program, you will learn how to practice all your serenity tools to create mental and emotional calmness, equilibrium and peace of mind. As you accept and admire yourself through Love, you will experience new meaning and purpose for yourself, for others and for our shared home, the Earth.

Do you want to enjoy the benefits of wellness and prevent lifestyle diseases while feeling good and looking your best? Take charge of your wellness by shifting your mindset. Open yourself to wellness education and the daily practice of new wellness lifestyle habits. Integration, by practicing all four components of our full-spectrum wellness lifestyle program, is necessary to create and maintain radiant wellness.

To stay well, you must become proactive. It is time to accept responsibility and be inspired for your own wellness education. Start with small shifts in your new wellness lifestyle habits and feel the dynamic gain in your wellness levels today and in the future. Life is moving forward without hesitation; shouldn’t you be too? We at Radiance Wellness Institute are here to guide you on this vital journey, with step-by-step programs that can help you create and maintain health and wellness.


Sleep is paramount in promoting aging well. Chronically sleep-deprived people are aging faster. Sleep is the most basic biological activity. Its purpose is protective and restorative. Insomnia can affect not only your energy level and mood, but also your health and wellness. People with chronic insomnia are more likely than others to develop depression or anxiety. Good health and radiant wellness are impossible when we are robbed of sleep for very long. For many people, lack of sleep is so normal that they forget what it is like to have a good night’s sleep until they experience it again. When you begin to have refreshing sleep night after night, that’s the moment you begin to “re-plump” your body at the deepest levels: hormonally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually. Most of us undervalue the benefits of sleep, but it is one of the few assets in our lives that is totally free and absolutely essential to well-being and aging well.

Sleep Hygiene

Seven hours of sleep is the bare minimum if you want to have normal, healthy levels of functioning hormones in your body. To ensure that you are doing all that you can to maximize high-quality, restful sleep, following are some tips to getting a good night’s sleep:

  1. Maintain regular sleep habits. Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time seven days a week, 365 days a year. Prime yourself for slumber by sticking to your bedtime ritual consistently; it might include downtime, teeth-brushing, a warm bath.
  1. Identify and manage ingredients hostile to sleep. Prescription (+ OTC) medicine, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. If you are sensitive, avoid it after noon. Find out whether your medicine has sleep repercussions. Alcohol, while creating a sedative effect immediately, can disrupt sleep while it is being processed by the body; one of the enzymes used to break down alcohol has stimulating effects. Alcohol also causes the release of adrenaline and disrupts the production of serotonin, an important brain chemical that initiates sleep. Beware of imposter stimulants. Today, caffeine-infused products are everywhere. Also, certain food compounds such as colorings, flavorings and refined carbs act as stimulants, so avoid these too.
  1. Time your dinner appropriately. No one wants to go to bed on a full or empty stomach. Find your sweet spot, leaving approximately three hours between dinner and bedtime. Also, be aware of ingredients in foods that can be problematic to digest.
  1. Don’t eat erratically. Eat on a regular schedule. This will keep your appetite hormones in check. If you delay a meal too long, you will throw your hormones out of whack and trigger the nervous system, which can impact your sleep.
  1. Try a bedtime snack. Nocturnal hypoglycemia can cause insomnia. If your blood sugar drops too low, it causes the release of hormones that stimulate the brain and tell you to eat. Try a bedtime snack with a food high in the amino acid tryptophan (turkey, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs and nuts). Just watch your portion.
  2. Set the setting. Try to keep your bedroom a quiet, peaceful sanctuary, free of rousing hardware (e.g., TV, computer, phone) as well as bright light and clutter. Invest in a comfortable bed and plush sheets and maintain dim lighting. Cultivate a mood for sleep. (Sex can prepare one for sleep.)
  1. Use sleep aids prudently. The occasional sleep aid won’t kill you; but chronic use of them can become a problem. The goal is to arrive at sound sleep on a routine basis without extra help.

The Science of Slumber

Every system in the body is affected by the quality and amount of sleep we get, especially the brain. Among the proven benefits: sleep can dictate how much we eat, how fast our metabolism runs, how fat or thin we get, whether we can fight off infection, how creative and insightful we can be, how well we can cope with stress, and how we can organize and store memories. Adequate sleep (at least 7 solid hours) influences our genes. In early 2013, scientists in England found that a week of sleep deprivation altered the function of 711 genes, including inflammation, immunity and metabolism. Anything that negatively affects these three important functions in the body impacts the brain. Although we may not notice the side effects of poor sleep on a genetic level, we can certainly experience the other signs of chronic sleep deprivation: confusion, memory loss, brain fog, low immunity, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression. All of these conditions are uniquely tied to the brain.

If there is one thing we do know about sleep, it is that increasingly it becomes a challenge the older we get. Many times, medical conditions put a dent in sound sleep. As many as 40% of older adults can’t get a good night’s sleep due to chronic problems like sleep apnea and insomnia. We even have evidence now for the relationship between disrupted sleep and cognitive impairment and dementia. Older adults, who have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, report being tired throughout the day and resorting to naps. The study showed that, among the elderly with disrupted sleep–such as sleep apnea– were more than twice as likely to develop dementia years later.