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Good nutrition and exercise are the ultimate anti-aging products! (Part-2–exercise)

We offer hear in the media that exercise is a beneficial to prevent aging, but do we know to what level this occurs and how much it can benefit a person?  The answer is a resounding, “ YES! We DO!”  Recent research has been released on not only how exercise prevents aging, but they have been able to monitor to what degree exercise can benefit the human body.  Further, scientists have found evidence on the best exercises we can do to get the most anti-aging “bang for our buck,” so lets take a look at what cutting edge science is finding out about exercise and aging, and take a look at what exercises we can do to help ourselves as we get older. 

It is well known that a great anti-aging benefit that comes from exercise is better cardiac health and stronger bones.  This is achieved through moderate exercise and continued weight bearing exercise.  It is so is well researched that doctors often tell the older patients to do light weight training and continue walking to keep up their health as they age, but their are more antiaging benefits to continued exercise that aren’t common knowledge.  Here’s what the latest research says. 

In a landmark discovery published in the journal,  “Preventative Medicine,” it was reported in July 2017 that research showed that exercise and physical activity decreased cellular aging by up to 9 years.  How do scientists measure a cell’s age? By their telomeres of course! ( What the heck is a telomere?). Let me explain... telomeres are on the ends of our chromosomes in every cell.  They protect our DNA in our cells. As we age and cells repeatedly divide, our telomeres shorten; DNA starts to fray, replicate weird, and cause cellular deterioration, increased aging, decreased healthy cell function, and poor DNA transcription.  Poor DNA transcription causes illnesses to manifest and aging to occur.  However, there’s great news.  In that anti-aging study, they found that regular physical activity and aerobic exercise accounted for longer telomeres, which means more protection for our DNA and our cells.  The length of the telomeres increased and were an average of 9 years younger.

In another “Earth Shattering” study, different types of exercises were assessed to see which ones helped cellular energy production by improving the mitochondria function in our cells. Mitochondria are the parts of cells that act as the “powerhouses” and assist in energy production in our body.  This biochemical process is needed to regulate cellular metabolism, sustain daily life and activity, as well as, support organ function.  What scientists found during their study was that high intensity interval training (HIIT)* not only improved heart and lung function, but it increased the amount of mitochondria in the cells helping the body to have more energy, run efficiently, and have greater cellular respiration and health.  Who couldn’t use a better metabolism and more energy as we age! 

Finally, as we age, our skin gets dry, flaky, and translucent.  Our hair turns gray, and sometimes we get very frail, but scientists are finding that this can be prevented.  

In another study published in 2014, mice were tested to see if increasing their exercise helped with anti-aging.  The scientists in this study used mice that had poor anti-aging genes and separated them into 2 groups.  One group was allowed to live a sedentary life style with no access to exercise (aka no running wheel), the other had as much access to their running wheel as they desired.  In the mice that had poor anti-aging genes that lived a sedentary lifestyle, their fur turned grey, some became very frail and demented, many lost their fur, and all had thinner skin.  Meanwhile, the mice that had access to their running wheel maintained healthy skin, healthy fur, healthy muscles, and a healthy heart.  

A similar test measuring the skin thickness in humans was done. In this study, their skin was biopsied and measured.  Those that lived a sedentary life style had thinner skin and a thicker flakier epidermis with more wrinkles, while the people that exercised had a thicker dermis, and better skin that was younger when it was looked at under the microscope.

As you can see, do to advances in science, scientists are finding that many of the keys to our anti-aging regiment are related to our internal cellular health, not only the creams we put on our skin.  We have seen that creams can help superficially, but the true long term anti-aging comes from diet and exercise.  It has been demonstrated repeatedly by scientific testing. So, if you want to age more gracefully, incorporate good nutrition and moderate exercise with strength training into your daily life and reap the rewards of more youth.

 

*HIIT is alternating moderate exercise with fast, quick bursts of vigorous exercise in short intervals. 

Sources: 

Berry, S., ‘Earth Shattering’ study reveals the best exercise for anti-ageing [sic].  The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 March 2017.

Reynolds, G., Younger skin through exercise. The NY Times. 16 April 2014.

Tucker, L., Physical activity and telomere length in U.S. men and women: An NHANES investigation. Preventative Medicine,  July, 2017. Pgs 145-151.

 

 

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Good nutrition and exercise are the ultimate anti-aging products! (Part-1–Nutrition)

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Remember that old adage, “You are what you eat!”  Through science and technology, we have realized that this is ABSOLUTELY TRUE!   Everything you eat gets broken down into tiny particles that become the building blocks for your hair, skin, fingernails, organs, etc.  If you are eating poorly, then you are giving your body poor nutrients with which to heal and rebuild your body with.   Processed foods high in sugars and bad fats, like hydrogenated oils, cause inflammation, which can lead to body aches, red, dry itchy skin, rosacea, eczema, dehydration, and a dull, flaky complexion.  These foods also do nothing for your energy, so you’ll feel older faster. Finally, foods with poor nutrient quality give your body nothing to help repair it to keep you looking young, vibrant, fresh, or youthful. Poor nutrition will cause you will look older sooner and feel the effects of aging more quickly too.  Aging may not be completely preventable, but we can certainly do it gracefully.

Some people believe that a good anti-aging skincare routine will help reduce the look of lines and wrinkles.  This is only partially true.  Consider the fact that skin has multiple layers starting with the hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue, the fatty tissue below the skin.; the next layer of the skin is the dermis, the vascularized part of the skin containing veins and capillaries, finally, we have the the epidermis, the part of the skin everyone sees.  Topical skincare products, like those in an anti-aging cream, only work on the epidermis of the skin.  That layer of skin is primarily composed of dead skin cells structured with collagen.  These cells flake off throughout the day.  

Most anti-aging creams do not make it much past the epidermis, so the treatment is only superficial and short term. The epidermis is constantly replenished by the dermis, which is the living tissue that receives vitamins and nutrients from the blood stream.  This is where the idea comes from that, “Good skin comes from within.”  If the dermis of the skin is constantly being fed healthy nutrients and vitamins to replenish itself, then the body will have to building blocks to create healthy cells and build things like collagen: collagen is what gives skin structure—wrinkles are partially caused by collagen breakdown.  A nourished, healthy dermis will lead strong collagen and a replenished healthy epidermis that will cause your skin to be radiant, dewy, and to have a beautiful glow.  Healthy blood carrying nutrients and good hydration give the skin its vibrant, youthful color.  Further, by the time the dermis layer reaches the epidermis of the skin, it will not look like the dry scales of a snake shedding by the time it gets there because the cells would have been in optimal shape.  The top layer of the skin is constantly replenished with dead skin cells from the dermal layer, so it makes sense that having a healthy interior leads to a healthy exterior.  So what kinds of nutrients do we need to age better? Let’s take a look at some of the top ones. 

 

1) WATER : Water is the life giving resource for ALL living things.  It is so important that when our scientists are looking at our galaxy (or any object in space), the first thing they do after they find something new is to look for water regardles of whether it’s a planet, a moon, or an asteroid rock!  Recently, our government spent billions of dollars to send a probe to Mars with one of the main objectives being that it search for sign of water because water means life!  If that isn’t enough to convince you water is important, then keep in mind the basics that humans are nearly 2/3 water.  We need water to keep our blood flowing freely, which in turn carries nutrients to every cell in our whole body.  Further, we need water for nearly every chemical reaction to occur in the body.  Drink your eight-8oz glasses of water per day. I can’t say it enough.  Drink more if you’re working out or it’s a hot day and you’re sweating. Clean, filtered water that is more alkaline is the best.  You can filter your own water,  buy an alkalizing water filter to achieve this, or drink bottled water (please recycle the plastic).  My favorite bottle waters are Essentia, Icelandic, and Fiji waters because they are more alkaline and support healthy pH in the body.

2) Cuciferous vegetables:  Cuciferous vegetables include things like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.  They are vegetables that contain sulfur compounds that are necessary for healthy blood flow and proper DNA transcription and replication.  Healthy DNA replication is necessary to create healthy gene expression, which is a mandatory part of preventing severe health issues and of preventing cancer.  The older we get, the more times our DNA has been replicated in each new cell.  Proper nutrients can help to ensure that the body and DNA has all the necessary ingredients needed to recreate itself in each new cell.

3) Protein:  I’m not saying go overboard on animal protein, but protein (either from animals or vegetables) is necessary in every part of cell creation including collagen and elastin production, muscle healing, and supporting connective tissue.  Connective tissue is all throughout the body and helps your body and skin keep shape.  Strong connective tissue includes collagen and elastin and helps prevent injury, drooping, and skin sagging.

4) Good fats:  I could do a whole blog on this, but I’ll try to keep it simple here.  Good fats give your body essential fatty acids it needs to help with cellular creation and brain health.  These include: monounsaturated fats like olive oil and sesame oil, Oleic acids, from avocado oils, butter, and eggs, as well as, alpha-linoleic acids found in Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, chia seeds, and walnuts.  Good fats not only give the body satiation cues so it knows that it has eaten, but they also prevent inflammation and support a healthy heart and a healthy brain.  There’s nothing more anti-aging than having all of your “faculties” in order and a healthy heart.  Nutritional fact:  It is absolutely imperative to avoid trans fats.  These have been correlated with a number of health issues from obesity and high cholesterol to high blood pressure and heart disease.  Just say no to these nasty fats.

5)  Dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) and Green Tea:  Um yes! They are delicious and high in antioxidants.  Food high in antioxidants decrease aging from the inside out by bonding with free radicals and toxins in the body so they do minimal harm.  Oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body leads to blood that can be more acidic and cause inflammation.  This is a factor in autoimmune diseases and faster aging.  Other foods that have high amounts of antioxidants are blueberries, raspberries, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and heirloom tomatoes...just to name a few of my favorites.  Eating these will help move the body toward becoming more alkaline, and decrease internal stresses that cause aging.

6) Foods high in vitamin A and beta-carotene:  Beta-carotene is the inactive form of Vitamin A.  Vitmin A is also known as retinol.  It is a great support for the skin, hair, vision, and neurological function.  It is responsible for keeping the skin firm and strong in the deep layers.   It helps with cellular structure and skin firmness by supporting cells in the dermal layer.  In addition, beta-carotene found in orange vegetables, like carrots and yellow and orange bell peppers, gives the skin a healthy golden undertone. Active Vitamin A can be found in eggs, grass fed beef, and grass fed dairy, while the inactive beta-carotene that gets turned into Vitamin A can be found in yellow/orange bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams.

So here are my top 6 favorite nutrient tips for anti-aging.  I really could go on and on, but the key really is drink plenty of water, eat whole non-processed food, and get your vitamins and nutrients by eating a wide variety of natural foods.  Here’s to your health and your anti-aging protocol getting a bump through nutrition.  

If you’d like a skincare consultation or a nutritional consultation, please feel free to call and make an appointment to learn how I can help you in your anti-aging protocol and on your health journey. 

 

Boosting the Metabolism

Your metabolism is like a fire that needs to be fed wood to keep it burning efficiently!

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Boosting the Metabolism

By: Shandalla Rigby, MSA, EAMP, Nutritional Therapist

As we head to the new year, many of us are making resolutions to lose weight and get healthier. Many of us will work our hardest to achieve these goals, but what if we could make it easier on ourselves by boosting our metabolism? When the metabolism runs higher, then we burn more calories. The goal is to optimize the burn off of calories and to maximize weight loss. This can be done in a variety of ways, but many people will lose the battle of weight loss before they start by cutting too many calories in hopes of creating a caloric deficit. This is good for initial weight loss, but it actually causes the metabolism to slow down, which is why many people end up hitting long term plateaus or gain back even more weight than they initially lost.

Obesity scientists are finding that weight loss is not as simple as calories in calories out. The human body is designed to protect itself from famine by slowing down the metabolism when there is a shortage of food. What is a diet and caloric restriction to the body? It is the absence or shortage of food calories. The body interprets this a famine. Your body doesn’t necessarily recognize the excess weight you need to burn off, but it most definitely recognizes the caloric shortage. Because of this, long term weight loss is easier to manage by eating the right foods in the right amount. Here are some of the top recommendations I give to my patients for boosting their metabolism.

1. Drink plenty of water. Most people know that replacing sugary drinks with water will help them lose weight just because you are decreasing calories from simple carbs, but what most people do not realize is that because our body is roughly 2/3 water, just drinking water speeds up the metabolism because it optimizes the body’s daily functions. Research shows that drinking water increases the resting metabolism for about an hour after you drink it. This means your body is burning more calories even when it is not doing work.

2. Consume foods high in fiber. Not only does fiber keep you fuller longer causing you to eat less calories, but it also adds fuel to the metabolism and removes toxins from the body by acting like a scrub brush cleaning the inside the large intestine. In addition, the body will spend a lot of time trying to digest fiber as it moves through the body. This in turn causes your body to burn more calories.

3. Eat more protein. This can be plant proteins like tofu or animal proteins like meat. Eating protein helps you feel more satiated, so you need less food to feel satisfied. Eating protein also causes a rise in the metabolism because it is harder to break down than carbohydrates. More calories are used for the breakdown, digestion, and absorption of protein to convert it into usable substances by the body.

4. Eat 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks per day. Like the fire in your fireplace has to be fed wood or else die out, your metabolism acts in a very similar way. By constantly feeding it complex carbs, proteins, and good fats, you are feeding your metabolic fire and keeping your metabolism running at the highest level. Research has shown that by decreasing calories and meals in severe ways (like in extreme diets) you actually cause your body to think it is starving. This actually causes the metabolism to drop and go into a type of hibernation mode storing all the calories you’re consuming to keep the vital organs functioning. To prevent this from happening, start your morning with a healthy, balanced breakfast. Then eat a small snack, followed a few hours later by lunch. Then enjoy another small snack, followed later by a small dinner. If there are 4 hours between dinner and bedtime or if you are including workouts on a daily basis, adding a 3 snack is recommended.

5. Drink green tea or oolong tea. I recommend 2 cups of tea: one at mid morning around when you would take your first break at work, then a second one in the mid afternoon around your second break after lunch. Pair with your snack to make it easier to remember. Not only has tea been shown to be high in antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and prevent aging, but studies have shown that tea gives you a quick bump to your metabolism.

6. Get a good night sleep. I recommend a minimum of 7-1/2 to 8 hours. Sleep is as important as healthy food and clean water. While we sleep, our body repairs all the damage we did to our cells throughout the day. This means using calories to make all the things we need to repair our bodies. This includes creating everything from new blood cells to making our hormones and replenishing our neurotransmitters (like testosterone and serotonin). It also allows the body to clean up environmental toxins we were exposed to, which can make us sick. Also, getting enough sleep regulates metabolic hormones and decreases cortisol levels. When our metabolic hormones are out of balance, our hunger and satiety hormones don’t function correctly, which makes losing weight very difficult. Concurrently, high levels of cortisol have been shown to cause excess weight gain—especially in the middle stomach area. A good night’s sleep helps to regulate this.

7. Lift weights, stand up more, do body weight exercises, and build some muscle. Lifting weights, standing, and body weight exercises (like lunges and squats), not only help the body build lean muscle, but helps to prevent diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes. Further, lifting weights adds lean muscle to the body, which will burn more calories when you are at rest than fat does. Also, lifting weights means your body will need to repair the muscles you are training, which translates to more caloric burn. There is one additional caveat for men to building muscle; as you age, testosterone decreases. More muscle mass means that this will keep your testosterone at a more balanced level.

8. Mix up your workout routine. By adding new routines to your workout, you keep your body from adapting to the exercises you are doing. This prevents plateaus in weight loss and maximizes your workouts. You can do this by swapping a spin class for Pilates or by doing things like adding high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your cardio days. HIIT adds short bursts of quick physical activity like plyometrics or sprints to your regular cardio workout. The switch will force your body to adapt in a different way using different muscles to keep the metabolism higher in the after burn phase of your workout. Talk about maximizing your results.

Together all these things will help to boost your body’s weight loss by promoting an increase in metabolism. The key to optimizing your metabolism is increasing your resting metabolic rate. What this means is that you burn more calories at rest than you did prior to starting these activities. This will help your metabolism even when you are doing things like watching tv or surfing the internet. More calories burned means higher weight loss, but without the after effects of the weight gain later on that follows a crash diet. These changes are meant to be long term sustainable changes to any lifestyle and only represent a few of the things that can be added.

If you have any questions or would like more information on nutrition, boosting your metabolism, and optimizing your health, please feel free to visit my website and read my blog at www.personalizedwellnessllc.com or make an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor, MD, or Nutritional Therapist.

Please do not start a new diet or exercise program until your primary care provider has determined that you are healthy enough to do so.

Further reading/Sources:

Brooks, Daniel. Good Decisions Most of the Time. Aviva Publishing,2014.

Cooper, Emily. Metabolic Storm: The science of the metabolism and why it is making you fat and possibly in fertile. 2nd ed. 2015

Rigby, Shandalla. “An Ounce of Prevention”. Personalized Wellness Blog: 2017.

www.personalizedwellnessllc.com

West, Helen. “10 easy ways to boost your metabolism”. Healthline Newsletter: 2017.

www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism

8 Ways To Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

8 Ways To Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

8 Ways To Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder
By: Shandalla L.Rigby, MSA, LMP

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

SAD is a form of mild depression that is generally thought to be due to the decrease in light as the season changes and the days get shorter.  It is also known as the "winter blues."  It is characterized by moodiness, irritability, sadness, discontent, and excess sleepiness.  Less commonly, there can be more severe symptoms such as: loss of interest, appetite changes, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

In a state like WA, where the daylight hours are very short during the winter months, it is not uncommon to see this disorder cropping up.  However, there are some very easy ways to prevent this disorder.

Get your Vitamin D checked.  Vitamin D is generated by our bodies using the sun.  It is natural for this vitamin to decrease during the shorter days of winter.  Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are very similar to SAD.  Your primary care physician can do a blood test to check your levels for you.

Take a B-Complex that includes Folate/Folic acid, Vitamin B-6, Riboflavin, and B-12.  B-Vitamins help your cells function at their optimum level.  They are co-enzymes that support your body's ATP by helping you convert your food into usable energy.  This can give you a mood boost and increase your overall energy levels.

Take a Fish Oil supplement.  Fish oil is full of good essential fatty acids that nourish the brain and decrease inflammation. Further, research has shown that taking 1000 mg of Fish Oil can be effective in combatting mild cases of depression. See your healthcare provider for a dose that is right for you, especially if you're on prescription blood thinners.

Get outside and get some natural light.  Whether it's just taking a walk, going snow shoeing, or going skiing, this will have a positive dual effect on the body.  You'll reap the antidepressant effects of a little exercise, and you'll get some natural light to help boost your Vitamin D reserves.

Exercise! I can't say this enough. So many health related issues can be handled by adding a minimal toamount of exercise.  Research has shown that brisk exercise (about 20-30 min per day) can relieve depression and its related symptoms by up to 70%.

Light therapy.  Buy a light therapy box and sit in front of it.  It mimics natural sunlight and is very versatile.  You can use it while you're reading, sitting at your desk working, or watching TV.  You can purchase one at a health retailer like Pharmaca or order it online.

Use Aromatherapy.  Diffusing aromatherapy in the air can help lift the spirits and ease depression symptoms.  The most common oils used are: orange oil, grapefruit oil, lavender oil, or eucalyptus oil.  You can use an essential oil diffuser or if you just want to keep it simple, grab a pan, put 3 cups of water in it, and add 10 drops of your chosen essential oil. Simmer on low, adding water as needed.

Enjoy your friendships.  Usually after the holidays and parties,  many of us do little socializing while winter is passing.  Recovering from the busy holiday season is a good idea, but don't hibernate for 3 months.  Make sure to schedule dinners and happy hours with friends and family, attend a class you'll enjoy, volunteer at a charity, start a book club, or go to the theater.  Anything that will help you enjoy yourself and shake off the blues.  Remember, if you're feeling lonely and have the winter blues, there's likely someone else who feels the same way.  Don't forget, you can enjoy friendships and fun in the winter too

If your symptoms seem unmanageable, please see your primary care physician for help.  There are many other ways that you can treat SAD that may work better than those I listed above.

Sources: www.mayoclinic.org
Original Article Published in The Points Living. Feb 2017. edited: 2/8/2017

This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any disorder.

Combating Seasonal Allergies

Combating Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies Got You? Try These Remedies!

By: Shandalla L.R. Seirawan, MSA, Bastyr University, Premed N.D.

It’s that time of year again in Western Washington.  Yes, it is spring; making our fair city even more beautiful with all its blooms and flowers and yes, unfortunately, allergy season.  Spring shows up with all its glory and for some, it can bring with it sneezing, watery eyes, uncontrollable runny nose, and a puffy face.  All of this sending even the bravest of us inside to avoid the pollen and to avoid being caught in public looking like a watery mess.  To help you out, I did some research and brought together the other practitioners in my office. Together, we can offer you some advice to offset this time of misery because we want you to make the most of our wonderful upcoming spring days.

Get a chiropractic adjustment: Getting regular chiropractic adjustments during this time can help to make the body perform optimally and increase the immune system, this way you are less susceptible to the onset of allergies.  In addition, gentle adjustments can open up the Eustachian tubes of the ears and release the sinuses to help decrease the misery that comes with the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Consume locally sourced raw honey throughout the year: Local honey is a great way to build up immunity over time.  The key is getting locally sourced raw honey that is created with local pollen.  Because honey contains a small amount of pollen, a you consume the honey throughout the year, the body will build up immunity to that allergen.

Reishi Mushroom tea/tincture:  Reishi mushrooms are a woody mushroom used widely throughout the world, but is well known to reverse signs of aging.  In addition, research has shown that it increases the immune system and decreases histamine and inflammatory response.

Nettle tea:  Yes, the Stinging Nettle variety.  Once dried, it loses its ability to sting, but gains the ability to decrease inflammation in the body and decreases histamine response.  Histamine is what is responsible for all the symptoms that come with seasonal allergies.  The best bang for your buck will come from wild harvested dried organic nettle leaf.  You can order whole leaf nettle from a local Seattle store online at

www.dandelionbotanical.com

just steep in boiling water to make an herbal tea, or go to Whole Foods and pick up some Nettle Leaf Tea by Traditional Medicinals.

Quercetin:  This has also been shown in preliminary studies to lessen inflammation and reduce histamine production while acting as a bronchodilator.  You can get quercetin from foods like red onion, grapes, apples, parsley, sage, green tea, and citrus.  Better yet, make a salad with some of these ingredients and poof, you have a healthy delicious allergy reducing side dish.  Or make a wonderful citrus green tea by boiling 2 quarts of water with 4 green tea bags; making sure to steep tea bags for only 3-5 minutes to prevent bitterness, remove and discard.  Once the green tea has cooled some, wash and slice a whole orange, peel included, place in the tea.  Let it rest for 1 hour to infuse the tea. Sweeten with local honey to taste and serve cool.  Now you have a great allergy busting drink. If you’d rather, you can also obtain a quercetin supplement from a Naturopathic Doctor.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): NAC is a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine.  It is well known for its antioxidant benefits.  It increases energy and is a precursor to glutathione, one of the body's natural healing chemicals and disease fighters.  NAC boosts the immune system and thins mucus is a natural allergy remedy.

As you can see there are many ways to treat and prevent allergies.  Talk with primary care physician or Naturopathic Doctor to determine the treatment that is the most appropriate for you. 

Sources: 

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/quercetin

www.everdayroots.com

http://www.drwhitaker.com/

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/reishi-mushroom

Beat the Midwinter Slump Naturally

Beat the Midwinter Slump Naturally

So it's that time of year, February, the time of year where you may be longing for spring, but it seems so far off.  The days are growing, but we haven't reached the equinox, so it's still dark more often than it is light. Maybe some of the birds are starting to show up again, or if you're in the south, they may be leaving again. Either way spring is just not here yet, and you are tired.  It's still cold, you still do not want to get out of bed bright and early to greet the day, you just want to finish your winter hibernation in peace. Well maybe this is you, maybe it is not, but it is DEFINITELY ME.  February is a drag.  So what can you do to give yourself a boost and beat the fatigue?  Well if your healthy and do not have a chronic illness causing the exhaustion, read on.  Here's some ideas for you, some will be redundant, others will be new to you.

First off, get to bed at a reasonable time, In Chinese Medicine, my specialty, it is recommended that one be in bed before midnight because according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM),  the most restorative sleep occurs between midnight and 3am.  In addition, practice good sleep hygiene.  Turn off all the lights, make sure you are not working or on your phone while you are in bed.  It is important that your brain gets conditioned to sleep when you are in your bed.

Second, aim for 7-8 hrs of sleep.  If you suffer from insomnia, see a professional.  There are several researched natural remedies to increase sleep.  From acupuncture, to herbalism, to magnesium supplementation, these things have been found to help increase length of sleep time.

Don't miss your work out.  Shoot for three times a week with a minimum workout time of 30 min.   Whether it is running or walking or going to the gym, any physical activity is going to help you rest easier because your body will burn the extra calories and sugar you may have consumed throughout the day, plus your body will NEED the rest to restore itself.  Even running stairs at work counts. (That's what I do sometimes on my break when I know I'm not going to make it to the gym).

Get your vitamin D levels checked.  Many people suffer from 

Vitamin D deficiency

 and do not even realize it.  This is because we spend so much time inside nowadays.  We're in the our offices working 8-12 hrs a day or in school or enjoying our air conditioned homes or avoiding the cold out doors.  We're just not outside like we used to be.  In addition, not everyone can synthesize vitamin D from the sun. People who are vitamin D deficient can suffer from depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and several other issues,

Get your vitamin B-12 checked.  We do not make vitamin B-12 ourselves and because our food system is largely comprised of processed foods, may people are not getting enough B-12 and are suffering from

Vitamin B-12 deficiency

.  People may also lack the enzyme to obtain B-12 from their food.

Check your cortisol levels and adrenals to make sure you're not suffering from adrenal fatigue or bombarded by excessive levels of cortisol in the blood.  This is even more important if you suffer from insomnia.  It could be that your body is releasing cortisol and adrenal hormones at the wrong time, which might be the cause of keeping you awake at night.

Finally, there are some very nice herbs that support the adrenals and give a natural boost over time.  Speak to your Naturopathic Doctor or other alternative primary care provider to learn more about the following herbs. 

Reishi Mushroom- used extensively in China for increased stamina, longevity, and increased immune function.

Rhodiola- also known as the Arctic herb, it has been used widely in the Scandinavian nations like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden to combat fatigue, restore energy, and decrease anxiety.

Eleuthro- this used to be known as Siberian Ginseng, but was not part of the ginseng family, so it was renamed.  This herb was used in Siberia, Russia where the days are very dark in the winter and used by the Russian military to improve focus, decrease activity in the adrenal cortex, and to support endurance.  This is one of my favorite adaptogens.

Triphala- This is a medicinal food blend used in India as part of Ayurvedic medicine.  It is composed of 3 plants Amla, Bibitaki, and Haritaki.  This blend is great over the long term and is used to increase longevity, decrease sexual dysfunction, build the body's natural immunity, and detoxify.

Before starting any new diet or exercise programs or starting any new herbs, please consult with a qualified practitioner because not all of these suggestions are right for everyone.  In addition, certain herbs can interact with prescription medicines, so please consult a physician if you have any chronic illnesses or are taking any prescription drugs  BEFORE you start any new herbal treatments.

For more information on combating fatigue, please check out these sources.  

K.P. Khalsa offers many natural health webinars at the following link.  Some of this information is from a series of classes I took with him as continuing education.

https://www.internationalintegrative.com/faculty/karta-purkh-singh-khalsa

http://www.curejoy.com/

http://www.amazon.com/The-Rhodiola-Revolution-Transform-Breakthrough/dp/159486294X

Are you setting Smart New Years Resolutions?

Are you setting Smart New Years Resolutions?

Happy New YEAR! How are your New Year’s resolutions coming?  Do you need a little help to get you more focused or to help you get on the bandwagon? I love New Year's with its virginal new beginnings and the idea of out with the old, in with the new.  New Years is a great time to clean up everything emotionally, mentally, physically, and to let go of the past.  It's a great time to start fresh. My niece does not understand what the big deal about the new year was, but I guess at 12, you're not celebrating too many new beginnings or enjoying that you survived another year of the challenges of life.  For me, I actually start planning for the new year right around Thanksgiving and begin implementing small changes in my life in an effort to do damage control at the onset of the holidays. In this way, I can optimize my holiday experiences. In November I added 1 extra day of working out to prevent the weight gain that the holidays tend to bring with all it's sugary sweets. I created an action plan to avoid completely blowing all the health successes that I achieved through out the year, then I use the momentum of the New Year to refine my goals and set new ones, to reflect on what I learned the past year, and to physically write down my goals and place them somewhere that I can see them everyday (like my bathroom mirror).  This keeps me motivated and focused daily on what I'm trying to do.  Sometimes I fail and drop the ball, or I lose momentum as the year continues on, just like everyone else, but the point for me is to try and improve at every opportunity possible because even if I do not achieve the full goal I originally set, my small changes and small achievements tend to stick around, so that the next time when I try to reach the same goal, I am one step closer. That being said, there are ways to set goals to help improve your chances of finally reaching what you set out to do.  Writing them down is a big step.  This can give you a chance to see the goals on paper and help you to clarify what you're trying to do.  Setting an action plan for achieving those goals helps you plan step-by-step the path that you're going to use to get to your success. There are other steps used by medical practitioners, 

entrepreneurs

, and CEOs to help them to actualize their goals.  I have included the steps for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you improve your odds, so without further ado, here's some information to follow as you set your New Year's resolutions.

S=Specific: What exactly are you trying to achieve?  I will use the example of weight loss because that is my goal this year.   My specific goal this year is to lose some of the extra weight I gained while I was in grad school.

M=Measurable:  How much do I actually want to lose?  For me, it’s 15 pounds. Goals should be measurable so that you know you’re heading in the right direction, and you know when you have achieved your goal.

A=Action-oriented:  What steps am I going to take to reach this goal?  Am I consulting with a nutritionist to get a grasp on how to eat better?  Am I going to run or go to the gym?  What action am I going to take?  For me, I feel like I have enough nutrition information to eat well, so I’m going to go to the gym 3 times a week and consult with a personal trainer to make sure I am maximizing my workouts.  Later, if I’m not reaching my goals, I will reconsider a nutritionist.

R=Realistic:  Are my goals realistic?  Seriously, this is something I see every day at the clinic I work at.  Not all goals are realistic. For example, if you make $50,000 a year as your annual salary, you’re not likely going to set a goal to save $100,000 with in the next year, so be realistic.  For weight loss, the question is, do I really have 15 pounds that I can lose?  For me, the answer is a resounding YES!  I am over weight, but that may not be true for everyone, so be realistic and seek outside help from professionals if you’re not sure if your goal is realistic.  If it’s saving money, see a financial planner; if it’s weight loss, see a doctor, you get the point.

T=Time bound: When do you want to have this goal accomplished?  There needs to be a time limit so that you know there’s a deadline for what you’re trying to do.  This also holds you accountable to yourself, and gives you a chance to check in with yourself and make sure you are on track for your deadline. 

So there it is.  My S.M.A.R.T. goal for 2016 is to lose 15 pounds in 6 months by cutting refined sugars and working out at the gym.  In addition, I can do other things to help myself achieve this goal, like tell some friends, so they can check in with me.  I can break this down into smaller bite size goals or write it down and post it on my mirror and refrigerator to remind me what I am working towards when I want to mindlessly munch food.  I can also cut myself some slack if I slip and eat a chocolate chip cookie, and remember, anything worth doing is going to be challenging.  The key is not to give up.  Remember if you slip, it’s not the end of the world because tomorrow you get a fresh start.

I hope this helps to assist you in reaching all of your goals this year.  Whether you are just starting, getting back on track, or continuing what you have already began, this can be another tool to help you along the way.  For more goal oriented information or health information, check out  more of my blog

. You can also find me on Facebook at Noor Holistic Health.  

Remember, before starting any new weight loss programs or changing your diet, please consult with a physician.

Sources:

http://www.hr.virginia.edu/uploads/documents/media/Writing_SMART_Goals.pdf

http://www.envisionexperience.com/~/media/images/blog/smart-goals.jpg

*** In an effort to avoid plagiarizing myself, it should be noted that much of the information contained here has been submitted for publication in The Points Living, Feb. 2016, magazine. 

10 Tips to Avoid Getting A Cold or the Flu

10 Tips to Avoid Getting A Cold or the Flu

10 Tips to Avoid Getting A Cold or the Flu

By: Shandalla Seirawan, M.Sc., LMP

As a natural health practitioner, during this time of year, I get asked regularly, 

"How

do you

prevent yourself from getting a cold or the flu?"

Here I'm going to reveal what I, and other natural health practitioners due on a regular basis to prevent illness.  The best offense is a good defense.  The biggest thing I do for myself is keep my immune system functioning at it’s most optimal.  Prevention is the key because once you have an illness, the only thing you can do is support the immune system, rest, hydrate, and wait until your body does its job to fight off the virus.

·

First and foremost, WASH YOUR HANDS....A LOT! I can't express this enough. If someone sneezes into their hand, opens a door, and then you touch the same door they did, BAM, you have just contacted whatever nastiness was lurking on their hands from the sneeze. Then, you scratch your nose, rub your eyes, touch something, or worse, you eat something and/or lick your fingers. Now you've just ingested that nastiness they were carrying.  By touching your eyes, nose or mouth, you just let it enter your body through the thin mucous membranes and turn you into a host.  Now you have a virus.  Wash your hands, often, especially before eating anything.  Avoid rubbing your eyes, nose, or touching your mouth without a barrier or cleaning your hands.  Most viruses and bacterium enter the body through these locations.

·

Stay hydrated, especially during those long holiday trips when it's easy to skip water. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up with water when you can.  Try to stick to the guideline of 8-8 oz glasses/day. This is easy to incorporate by filling up when you stop to get gas or using the airport water fountains.  This will give your body some well needed benefits, like the ability to have your blood move around more easily, which transports ALL your cells, including the cells responsible for boosting immunity.  Further, it helps to eliminate toxins and prevents dehydration, which can prevent travel fatigue.

·

Absolutely get 8 hrs of rest to keep your brain and immune system at maximum capacity.

·

Get a least SOME exercise 3-5 times a week. Even if it's just walking for 20 -30 minutes or running up and down the stairs at home or work. Any exercise counts. With the New Year right around the corner, get a jump start and invest in your health by getting a fitness tracker like a Fit Bit or getting a gym membership.  If you want something SUPER COST EFFECTIVE, get a plain old pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day.  Exercise has been shown to boost your body's natural immune system.

·

Take a probiotic. This contains good bacteria that increase your immune system. They are found in yogurt, kambucha, and fermented foods. This will increase the good bacteria in your intestines and prevent the bad bacteria that cause intestinal issues and other health problems from colonizing in your body.  Probiotics help your intestines stay in proper working order.  This is important because elimination through bowl movements gets rid of your body's toxins. In natural medicine, one of our main pieces of treatment to boost the immune system is to promote proper intestinal function and assist in elimination. 

·

Eat mushrooms, on everything. Or better yet, see your naturopathic physician to see if a mushroom extract is right for you. Mushrooms have been clinically proven to boost the immune system even better than the more well-known cold fighter, Echinacea.

·

Consume vitamin C and eat citrus fruits.  This time of year, I personally take 1 packet of Emergen-C and eat citrus regularly to boost my immune system.

·

Eat a lot of garlic or take encapsulated garlic. This boosts your immune system function and has been shown to be antibacterial and antiviral.  Take the encapsulated garlic as directed. You can take it with orange juice to get your vitamin C and kill the taste. The smelly kind works best, but for those who just cannot handle that, they make a garlic pill that is odorless. 

·

Get your vitamin D levels checked.  With winter coming, there's very little sun available to those located in the Pacific NW.  Our body uses the sun to create vitamin D. Without it, we're at risk for depleted vitamin D levels. This can cause depression, winter seasonal affective disorder, fatigue, chronic pain, and decreased immune function.

·

Finally, for the sweetest immune booster, my personal favorite is elderberries. This can be taken in pill form, extract form, as a tea, or in syrup.  Not only are elderberries delicious, but they give your immune system a huge bump when taken regularly throughout the season. You can sweeten your tea or water with the syrup, or take about a 1/4 of a spoonful of the syrup for the fullest flavor. Consume daily as directed for fullest benefits.

So there you have it.  A natural healthcare practitioner's guide to keeping her immune system strong.  This is in no way completely inclusive, but this is a good start as we enter the holiday season.  If it seems like too much all at once, the first 4 tips are the most important and then you can add any of the others, 1 or 2 at a time where possible.  Keep your eyes open for more tips to come on staying healthy.

I want to say that this material is meant for the average healthy adult who is not taking any medications, with no allergies or medical illnesses. Further, it is in no way meant to replace any doctor's advice or the advice of your primary medical practitioner. Consult with your physician with any questions or before adding any new herbs, health regiments, exercise, or health practices to your lifestyle. This advice is not meant to treat any illness or meant to take place of any advice, recommendations, prescriptions, or treatments from your doctor. 

Eating Healthy On A Dime

Eating Healthy On A Dime

Yes, eating healthy on a dime can be done. Especially if you're used to buying a decent lunch; by decent,  I mean those who skip the fast food chains and opt for things like gourmet soups,  sandwiches and salads. 

I hear so many people complain that eating healthy is so expensive,  but in truth,  I think they may just not know how to shop.

First let me tell you what inspired this post today. Let me start with this.  SOOO here's what happened to me this month,  my car broke down, yep, it sucks,  but it happens to all of us, but this was a bit exceptional.  Let me precise with this, being a younger 30 something just getting my bearings in life right after grad school, I know enough to save money in the event of an emergency,  but being young and just getting started,  there's not a huge amount of excess available yet.  Thankfully,  I had enough to fix my car,  but this is what my month looked like. (Please no complaints about grammar,  this is meant to be a satiric representation of the events that transcribed).

Driving, driving, driving, all of a sudden, every sensor in my car comes on, thermostat gauge jumps to "I'm on fire," just kidding, but seriously "I'm WAY over heating" Oh crap, where am I at,  great on the I-90 bridge heading into Seattle for the day. Not a good place to leave your car, because it's likely to be towed right before rush hour, so I quickly roll down the windows and blast the heat to pull the extra heat off the engine,  and take the next exit. Cognitive mapping system kicks in once I'm on the exit, and I realize, "great, I'm in one of the worst possible areas ever to be female and alone with a broken down overheating car." Ok, now what?  Keep driving, slowly taking the back roads to West Seattle until I reach the home of my Seattle mom (one of the best woman I know, she's is not my mom, but lives in Seattle, and claims me as her adopted daughter). Anyway,  by the time I arrive at her house 15 min later, my car is very steamy, very overheated, and I'm praying I didn't do major damage. Sweet, Seattle mom calls AAA and has me towed to a nearby mechanic's garage. The result?  Broken serpentine belt and water pump,  boo. That will be $600, OMG.  Tap into savings, thank you to my loving husband for the assist on that one. I finally get my car back, and I'm happy because the bus system takes FOREVER, to get me to work,  I'm talking 1.5 hrs+20 min walking,  for what is normally a 12 min,  7 mile drive.   Celebrating my survival of this short term personal catastrophe, 3 days later I'm driving and my car yells, "But wait there's more." Well, actually,  my car temperature gauge suddenly keeps reading that my car is overheating (but no check engine light). WTF CAR?  After visually checking and inspecting my car, everything seems fine. Ok, weird.  Well its time to change the oil and flush the radiator anyway, so maybe that's all it needs. Radiator fluid is low and purple instead of pink,  yes,  it's definitely time to fix that. Total due $180. Ok,  NOTHING ELSE CAN GO WRONG WITH THIS CAR BECAUSE I CAN'T AFFORD IT. Then 3 days more go by,  yay, happy car,  WRONG,  thermostat starts acting up again,  but everything still seems fine, I will get that checked this weekend. Driving, driving, driving OH CRAP,  ALL MY SENSORS CAME ON...AGAIN! "NOOOO! What now car? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU? " The car is still not overheating,  but says it's overheating, my check engine light came on with a few other sensor lights, and I'm in panic mode. "Please,  please, please just let my car be a hypochondriac because i can't afford this anymore."  So I take the car to another shop,  no such luck on the hypochondria wish.  As you can guess by now what the problem is, the thermostat sensor went out, "that'll be $225." Omg.  THANKS SWEET HUSBAND for a second assist...  AND NOW,  I AM BROKE... with 6 days left until payday. A woman has to eat.  Which leads me to the second part of this post. 

Eating healthy on a budget :)

As a woman who works in the alternative medicine and natural health industry,  I constantly preach eating healthy,  a good plant based diet,  moderate exercise, minimizing sugar,  and participating in preventative health care for the body.  Just like a car needs routine maintenance,  good fuel,  good oil,  etc etc,  so too does the body if you want to keep it functioning at an optimal level. That being said,  as a natural health practitioner,   my integrity is based on practicing what I preach. Don't get me wrong, I still eat cake occasionally,  and this may come as a shock,  but I'll indulge in a giant cheeseburger from time to time,  but over all,  I try to eat very healthy. This can add up if you don't know how to do it, but being on a VERY TIGHT budget this week which means,  absolutely no splurging. It's Sat, and I have to go to work. I have $25 to spare on lunch extras this week. What can I do?  Eating out is obviously not an option for lunch with the average cost of a healthy lunch being roughly $15 in my location. What to do,  what to do?

Time to go grocery shopping (or hit your local farmers market if you can), so here's what I did. I went to our main grocery store chain and hit the produce isle.  I basically live there when I'm in the grocery store anyway because that's where all the best healthiest stuff is. I stay out of most of the other isles with the exception of the natural food isle.  They don't have much to offer a healthy eater like me. Here's what I bought. 

1 pound of washed, chopped ready to serve organic arugula.

2 organic red delicious apples

1 bag of organic baby carrots

1 head of celery

32 Oz free range chicken broth

1 small container of humus

3 bananas

2 small avocados

1 pouch of Seeds of Change organic brown rice quinoa mix (it's already cooked,  so it's perfect for lunch)

Ginger root

Wow,  I'm impressed with myself. That's a healthy lunch for at least 3 days.

Some of you are looking at this like,  "what the hell are you going to do with this mix matched group of ingredients?" Here's what you can do.

Day one:

Yummy green smoothie:

Handful of arugula

5-6 baby carrots

1 stock of celery

1/2 an avocado

1 apple, cored

1 in piece of ginger

1 banana

Yep,  it was delicious. Some people may think this is weird because the arugula,  but I love the spicy, nutty flavor arugula provides on a smoothie.

Day two:

Soup:

1 cup of hot chicken broth (heat in microwave)

Small handful of arugula

1/4 cup of quinoa mix

Tiny amount of chopped ginger

Veges with humus:

carrots and celery with humus

Side:

1/2 avocado chopped with salt, pepper,  and lemon juice (optional)

Day 3:

Soup:

1 cup hot chicken broth w/ 1/2 stalk chopped celery,  3 chopped carrots

1/4 c quinoa mix

Salad:

1 cup arugula

1/2 chopped apple

1/2 chopped stalk of celery

4 chopped baby carrots

Whatever salad dressing, or 1-2 tsp olive oil and 1Tbl apple cider vinegar (hopefully you have dressing or something like this on hand)

This is a 3 day sample menu. I still, easily, have enough produce to repeat this menu for the last 3 days until I get paid. Healthy lunch problem solved. Woop woop!

If you'd like easy cheap additions to this menu, look in your refrigerator. I have eggs on hand that I can boil and bring to add to my menu. I also usually have a selection of Mediterranean olives in my fridge, which are a delicious addition to add some good fat.

Eating dessert for breakfast

Eating dessert for breakfast

This past month, my husband and I went on vacation.  I played my usual part of finding a hotel in our price range that included everything that we were looking for, nice clean room, good reviews, hotel shuttle, continental breakfast, etc.  In both cities we went to, I found this with ease.  The vacation was very relaxing, but, the most difficult thing for me is eating.  I like to eat healthy, no matter where I go.

One morning I was contemplating where we would eat during the afternoon.  I looked around during our continental breakfast and was exceedingly grateful for all the walking we do on vacation because of all of the simple carbs and sugar.  You see, after traveling so much in the U.S. (my husband works for Alaska Airlines), I have found that continental breakfasts are the same pretty much everywhere in America.  This time I was in San Antonio, TX, and as I observed the rest of the travelers in my hotel munching on the various offerings of this particular breakfast, I was struck by how difficult it was for me to balance my carbs from my continental breakfast with at least some protein.  I looked at the various parents with their children on spring break and wondered if I would let my children eat these foods if I am ever blessed with any.  The answer was a resounding "NO."

The continental breakfast actually accurately reflects the American breakfast on the go, which sort of answers many questions about the mid morning slump, hyperactive children in school, and why we are all overweight.  What does it consist of?  Plain bagels, sweet bagels, cream cheese, waffles with maple flavored high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sweet pastries, yogurt, sweet cereals, white toast, sweetened orange/apple juice, and of course coffee.  The healthiest things I could find in this continental breakfast was an untouched basket of apples and oranges, some peanut butter, and at the second hotel we stayed at, to my deep gratitude, boiled eggs.

As I reflected on these offerings, it dawned on me that many of these items would be considered desserts in other areas of the world, and it got me wondering, how does this compare to chocolate cake for breakfast? We tell our children, "no," to chocolate cake for breakfast and generally, we wouldn't get caught eating it before noon ourselves, but we say yes to sweet jam filled donuts and pastries; we also say yes to various chocolate cereals, frosted corn flakes and "orange flavored juice" enriched with vitamin C and a large dose of HFCS, but contains only 15% real juice.  How does this compare to the sugar intake of our basic desserts? Check this site out to find out more 

http://www.sugarstacks.com/breakfast.htm

.

After comparing Pop Tarts to chocolate cake, I found that 2, a usual breakfast for some families had nearly as many calories as chocolate cake.  It's astonishing.  If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then why are we eating so much sugar, no fiber, and little protein?  If your tired easy and get sluggish after your dessert breakfast, maybe it's time to opt for a little healthier breakfast.  Try to include proteins, complex carbs, good fats, and something with fiber to keep you fuller longer.  Not only will this help you feel sustained longer, but it will likely help you lose weight and snack less.  A smoothie with various fruits and veges and nuts/nut butter is a good start, or prepare something the night before like 2 boiled eggs, a sliced apple with peanut/nut butter, and slice of whole wheat toast, or how about a Plain Greek Yogurt Parfait with fresh fruit, a sprinkle of granola, and some toasted nuts.  On the days I have more time, I like 2 pieces of turkey bacon with 2 eggs, on whole grain toast.   All of these suggestions contain the ingredients of a healthy breakfast while minimizing sugar and increasing healthy fiber, increasing protein and good fats, and increasing vitamin intake. 

What the heck is a Probiotic?

What the heck is a Probiotic?

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in the intestines and maintain the balance of beneficial microflora in the body.  Balanced microflora maintains a healthy digestive tract, decreases chances of intestinal infection, it eases IBS symptoms like gas and bloating, and they promote a healthy immune system.  It is not a cure all, and I recommend discussing the underlying causes of intestinal issues with your PCP (primary care physician) to ensure you're taking the right probiotics for your personal needs.

How are probiotics preventative medicine? 
From a microbiological stand point, "good" bacteria reproduces and spreads throughout the intestine, colonizing the colon preventing bad bacteria from  being able to reproduce and grow in the intestines.  Imagine a busy city where there are people everywhere, it is crowded and very difficult to gain space to spread out; 2 people cannot occupy the same space. Bacteria is the same way.  Your intestines is the big busy city, the more there is "good" bacteria in the city, the less bad bacteria can spread out to occupy the space.  This prevents infection.

When should you include probiotics in your diet?
As often as you can is my answer.  Especially during the cold and flu season and/or when you are taking antibiotics.  Why?  Because antibiotics are designed to KILL bacteria, which  is great if you have pneumonia, but they are not selective in the bacteria that they kill.  They kill good and bad bacteria alike, so when you take Amoxicillin, or Cipro, or a Z-pack, you are not only killing the bad bacteria, you are killing the beneficial bacteria, so you need to replace the good ones.  I prefer food sources to supplements, and to encourage their propagation, you can eat PREBIOTICS, that's foods that the bacteria love to eat and includes anything in the garlic and onion family.

What food sources include probiotics?
The easy answer is anything fermented.  Pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, cottage cheese, cultured milk or raw milk, etc.  Anything that says "live and active cultures".  In addition, you can ferment or pickle anything, pickled eggs, pickled asparagus (recipe posted earlier in this blog), pickled peppers or any other pickled vegetables. If you make your own fermented or pickled vegetables, make sure you follow a recipe that is tried and true to ensure that you safely ferment your vegetables.  There are bad strands of bacteria that can get in food. I recommend getting a recipe so you can try many recipes safely.  Once you are familiar with how to pickle and ferment vegetables, you can have allot of fun with it.  I know I do.  You can also make your own yogurt safely and easily.  Then you can add all your own fruits or honey to your home-made yogurt for a custom made easy breakfast.  Enjoy!

Minimizing Childhood Obesity

Minimizing Childhood Obesity

I took this picture a few days ago when I was getting gas to go to the mountains and hike. When I saw this, all I could think of was, "REALLY AMERICA! Really! And we wonder why we have such a HUGE rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The only thing that could be considered of value in this picture is the bottled water in the very back, covered by many other products, and barely noticeable.

Obesity is on the rise in America, we hear about it almost every single day. The most concerning fact about obesity is how rapidly it is rising in children. This generation marks the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than their parents. It is very alarming. There are many things

WE CAN

do to help prevent this from occurring. For now, I will recommend three easy steps that you can take as a parent to prevent childhood obesity.

First, we should look at what children are eating. Not only how much "junk food," but also how much sugar children are eating and drinking. Minimizing processed foods and processed sugars (sugars added to any food that do not naturally contain it) will drastically reduce your child's chance of becoming obese. Many people consume

high amounts of sugar without realizing

it. This easily occurs when they drink juices, "fruit" drinks, and soda. Most of which contain high fructose corn syrup from genetically modified corn syrup. Sugar in small amounts and the right amounts is good for you. It gives your muscles and blood cells easy access to energy, but it is best to keep in mind that ALL of the food we consume gets broken down into its basic building blocks and much of it is released into the blood in the form of sugars during this chemical reaction. Because it is our body's ability to break down food into sugar, it is not required for us to eat excess sugar outside of our regular meals.

The second very valuable thing you can do is switch to making most of your meals with whole foods (switch to mostly organic when possible). What is a

whole

food you ask? Anything that you can buy in it's fresh form, with minimal processing, did not have to be manufactured to be created, and it is usually

ONE

ingredient. Chicken, beans, lettuce, apples, spinach, and steak are all whole foods. The goal is to MINIMALLY use processed foods. Minimize cheeses (especially American cheese), white sugars, high fructose corn syrup, margarine, chips, frozen entrees, and anything else with more than 5 ingredients. NO FOOD you eat should contain more than 2-3 ingredients that you do NOT understand or know. From here, you can take your WHOLE foods and turn them into your meals and snacks. For some great recipes, I recommend "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair. You can order her very affordable book and find many FREE and

fantastic recipes on her website

.

The final and most important thing you can do is to get your child moving and away from the T.V. Do you remember being a child and gaining your first bit of freedom through riding your bike? How about running around and playing Tag, Hide and Seek, Red Rover, etc? This is what our children are missing now-a-days. That's the perfect kind of movement. It's a cardiovascular workout disguised in fun. Most of what a child learns in their youth about health will help them to establish good, nourishing habits when they are older. Children are gaining weight, have less energy, and more difficulty paying attention in school because they are not running off their energy and getting oxygen to their brains and body through cardiovascular exercise. My oppinion is that this is prompting a huge over diagnosis of ADHD. How well do you pay attention at work when you have sat for many hours at work without getting up and moving around? How do you think these lessons and patterns of behavior established in youth will effect your children in their adult lives, especially when you are not around to guide them? I also feel children are also loosing their imagination and chronically complain, "I'M BORED!". This is despite having access to more entertainment than we could have ever dreamed of. Next time your child says "I'm bored," get up, turn off the T.V., and say what my mother said, "O.K. Get out of my house and go PLAY! I don't want to see you for an hour unless someone gets hurt," LOL. O.k. maybe you don't have to go quite to that extreme, but if they are old enough, you could tell them to go ride their bike or go th the neighbors and play with their friends. Not only could you get those extra chores done without your children in your way, but you could enjoy some well deserved peace and quiet. If you're uncomfortable with your child being outside alone, go ride with them or go swing with them (it's a great leg work out, I recommend it if you haven't tried it as an adult :O). When was the last time YOU got in YOUR work out? Plus, you have the added benefit of spending some MUCH NEEDED, interactive, uninterrrupted quality play-time time with your child, no T.V. or cellphones necessary.

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

There are many benefits to eating organic produce. The main benefit is that the food you're eating is not polluting you body with toxins and genetically modified materials. Remember the adage, "you are what you eat." If you want to be a cross pollinated, polluted, hybridization of the animal and plant world containing many toxins that aren't even identified, then by all means. If you want clean cellular energy, a body that functions at an optimal level, good memory, a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammation and a decrease in many other diseases, then I recommend switching to organic food. Food the way our grandparents and great grandparents used to grow it and eat it. Not only does organic food taste better, but it's great for the environment, great for our gut health, and contains many more nutrients than foods grown in depleted soil that use a basic non-comprehensive fertilizer to help it grow. During our elders time, there was WAY less cancer, fewer chronic diseases, very few autoimmune diseases, and a low prevalence of mental health disorders and less childhood disorders (including less autism, less childhood obesity, less Type II Diabetes, less ADHD, etc). Exercising regularly would also prevent many of these things, but that's a topic for another day.

Many people express there concern that organic food is more expensive, which is true. Anything that is higher quality is going to be more expensive than it's lower quality cousins. I mean, do you expect to pay the same for a purse you find at Nordstrom as you pay for the purse you find at Wal-mart. Probably not because the purse from Nordstrom uses higher quality materials, better craftsmanship, better detail, and is will last a lot longer than the purse from Wal-mart. The same goes for your food. Organic food uses higher quality soil in its growth because the soil is not over worked, it has better craftsmanship because it uses the full array of nutrients available in well maintained organic soil and compost to make up its cellular building blocks, which means it

contains more vitamins and minerals

, and organic food will help you stay healthier and fuller longer than cheap processed food allowing you to have a higher quality of life than before. Yes, it is more expensive, but you will pay for it now by buying better quality more nutritious food; or you will pay for it later with your health and medical bills; not to mention the environmental impact conventional food is having on our ecosystem. IF you're still skeptical or unwilling or unable to switch to a completely organic diet, then I recommend trying a compromise. Here is an inclusive list of the MOST TOXIC foods on the market. These foods contain the most pesticides and to me are just plain poisonous. Buy these foods organic and you will be doing yourself a favor. The "CLEAN 15" listed are the foods that have tested with the LEAST amount of pesticides in them, so they are the safest to buy conventionally. I would like to make a statement here, this is ONLY a list based on pesticide content, so even though corn is on the list as part of the "CLEAN 15," it is almost ALWAYS genetically modified and spliced with other things, so I would still skip that one and buy it organically. For more information on corn and the way it is grown, I recommend the documentary

KING CORN

. It is a great way to learn about how corn has come to dominate our food system and the results that have ensued from that.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically Modified Organisms

Here is a must see

video

on insecticides, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and your health. This is what our world is coming to. Profits are out weighing food safety. If you don't understand GMO's or genetic insecticides, watch this 1 minute video. It is so shocking that our governments are not protecting the people consuming these foods or protecting the farmers that are being conned into buying these seed products because they are convinced that they are safe. While watching this 1 minute video, please keep in mind that the foods that we eat are broken down into the building blocks that make up all the pieces of our body. If the DNA of our body cannot break apart and/or recognized the DNA of the plants and animals that we are consumming, how do you think this will affect the basic structure of our cells and our DNA. I would also like you to consider that cancer is caused by mutations in human DNA. If we are eating the mutated and modified DNA of the foods we consume that are not ORGANIC, perhaps part of the contributing factors to the DRAMATIC increases in disease and cancer is GMO's in our food... just a thought.

Sugar: An American Staple

Sugar: An American Staple

Sugar has become a staple in American diet. Not only is added sugar one of the main contributing factors to the obesity epidemic, but it is also responsible for the spike we are seeing in Type 2 Diabetes and people with Insulin Resistance. There is so much sugar included in food that you cannot pick up any prepackaged foods without seeing variations of this sweet ingredient on the label. BEWARE: it comes in many guises including: High Fructose Corn Syrup, corn syrup, sugar, fructose, dextrose, sucrose etc. Be ever diligent in reading labels if you are trying to cut down on your sugar intake. Pretty much anything ending in

-ose

is a sugar or sugar derivative. Sugar consumed in the form of whole fruits acts differently on the body than simple sugars and is NOT what I am referring to here. With that being said, I wanted to share with you this very interesting FREE

video seminar on sugar consumption

taught by our very own

Cynthia Lair.

Cynthia is responsible for single handedly pulling me into the world of nutrition and making me aware of everything I put into my mouth. She is part of the faculty at Bastyr University where she teaches many classes including my favorite class, Whole Foods Production. In this class, I not only learned how to cook with whole foods, but I also learned about GMO's (genetically modified food), and the many ways in which processed foods are created.

FYI

: processed foods are taken apart using many chemicals and high heat, which depletes their nutritional value rendering many of the foods we eat nutritionally deficient. This is why you see on the ingredients labels the word "Enriched". This is the way corporations put vitamins back into food after they have been destroyed through processing. Unfortunately, the vitamins added back into the food are TRADITIONALLY synthetic and do not include naturally occurring enzymes or phytonutrients. Synthetic vitamins do not act in the same way or have the same benefits of eating the whole food itself (ex. whole grain, whole wheat vs enriched white flour). I hope you take the time to watch this video and enjoy this seminar. I hope all of you learn allot that inspires you to minimize your simple sugar intake if you have not already done so.

What the Flip is an EAMP?

What the Flip is an EAMP?

I love this cartoon. It is perfect for the world we live in. As I wrap up my education at Bastyr University, I have learned the value of rest, relaxation, and complete nutrition for every person in this world. Moving forward, I hope to start incorporating not only healthy recipes, but also information I have found in research that is beneficial to my patients and the world over. Look for future posts on health and nutrition, the value of exercise, and the benefits of alternative medicine.

For now, let's start with, WTFlip is an EAMP? This translates literally to East Asian Medical Practitioner. What does this mean to the world outside the Washington State Department of Health? This title is equivalent to a Nurse Pratitioner, except in the area of Eastern (Chinese) medicine, as opposed to Western Medicine. What does this mean to you, the future clients of my practice? It means that upon graduating with my Master's degree, completing my licensing requirements, and passing my boards, I will be able to treat you as a practitioner of "Eastern" medicine. My scope of practice will include: acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, fire cupping, Chinese/Japanese bodywork, Chinese Nutrition, and the ability to recommend supplementation and dietary changes to my patients and clients. The Washington State Department of Health has given Acupunturists a new title because our scope of practice includes so much more than just sticking needles in people and only giving acupuncture treatments. For more information about our scope of practice and the VERY uninteresting ins and outs of the new title please visit the

Washington State Department of Health

. The advantage of this change is, upon graduating, I get to legally use all of the education I have payed for, and I get to address my patients and clients from a holistic stand point. To me, the foundation of health is nutrition and exercise. Everything else is an accesory we use to correct the health mistakes we have made in the past and/or should be a building block to maintain overall health of the mind, body, and spirit. Without lifestyle changes at the very heart of our life, true, long term health cannot be maintained. I look forward to elaborating on this more in the future. I am excited to be able to start using all of the knowledge and information I have gained over the past many years as a holistic health practitioner.

Bismillah.

Inspiration

I have recently had some new inspiration when it comes to health. Inspired by my extraordinary fatigue from the burn out from working and 3 years of grad school, I realized I was not going to make it to graduation next year if something in my life didn't change. I started taking a close look at my nutritional choices. I started looking for answers in my food, which is where I believe everyone should look first when it comes to health. I started watching nutrition documentaries like crazy. I have recently seen, Forks Over Knives, The Weight of a Nation (HBO), Food Matters, Sick, Fat, And Nearly Dead, and The Disappearing Bees. I have always thought I ate pretty healthy, but the more I learn about health and nutrition, the more I realize I have areas where I can definitely improve.

First off, I was a Diet Coke ADDICT. I knew it was poisonous and has been connected with everything from M.S. to Gulf War Syndrome to Cancer, but I still drank it. It turns into a similar chemical to formaldehyde once inside the body, if you want to read some research, check this article out. It contains two sources at the bottom for further investigation . After debating with myself and the advent of natural soda made with Stevia, I quit drinking diet soda. For two straight weeks I had serious body aches, neck pain, and flu like symptome (no fever, and it wasn"t the flu). I also could "smell" my body detoxing. It wasn't from lack of caffeine because I was still drinking coffee, tea, and "natural" soda. Now my goal is to quit drinking all soda by the end of the summer.

My second area I needed to change was/is a lack of breakfast. It is a work in progress that I struggle with daily, but after watching "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead," I may have found my solution. I have started juicing. I didn't know what juicer to buy, so I did a ton of research and reead reviews and finally decided that for my purposes the Breville Plus Juice Fountain . I am very happy I did. How else can I consume 2 beets, 2 carrots, 2 apples, 3 stocks of celery, and beet greens all in one setting? That was my most recent juice and it was delicious. I could never eat that amount of veges in one day, much less one setting. I am feeling better and better. I know I know, we have been taught that juice is empty calories and will add to our weight gain, which is true with PROCESSED JUICE!!!!

The juice you buy at the store is usually pasteurized at a HIGH HEAT destroying not only bacteria, but all of the nutrients and vitamins leaving only orange flavored sugar water. I am in the camp that fresh juice acts on the body in a VERY DIFFERENT way than pasteurized juice. We may not quite understand it yet, but I believe it has something to do with our body recognizing the MICROnutrients lost in processed juice, plus the vitamis and MACROnutrients entering our body from the fresh juice. If it were true that juice could make us FAT just by drinking it, then many flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodests would be obese, but most ARE NOT!!!!! They eat mostly fruits and veges and very little meat. Yes, meat has caloric density, but I do not think that it is responsible for the obesity epidemic; anyone REMEMBER the HORRIBLE Atkins Diet? People weren't obese, they had a plethora of other health problems (heart disease, kidney failure, ect), but rarely obesity. This leads me to believe that there are allot of secrets in micronutrients that we don't quite understand yet. It may be they offer a certain amount of protection in our body from fat collection and build up because the body recognizes we are not in a time of famine (if we are consuming tons of fruits and veges, then how could there be famine). We are just beginning to understand and study the protective nature of food. Fresh juice doesn't kill or break down micronutrients. I think we'll see more research in this area in the future.

I have not become a vegetarian. I have always been a flexitarian, eating more fruits and veges than meat, I am just adding to my consumption of healthy nutrients. I will keep everyone posted as I move further along my road to health and learn more. My recommendation is for Americans to start educating themselves about what they put in their mouth and learn where their food comes from. Small changes really do add up to big ones. One day soon, Insha'Allah, I will post my journey on this blog demostrating that.

For now, I strongly recommend that you watch the above documentaries. You have nothing to loose. Maybe you will learn a few things about your health and body and you can be a couch potato while doing it on your day off. What better way to learn about health,lol? or if you're motivated over summer vacation, read the books (i read too much for school, so the documentaries work for me:). I wish you all happiness and health.
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Is this scale wrong?????

Is this scale wrong??? I recently weighed myself, and I realize that I have gotten off track. Life has gotten in the way of my best intentions to eat healthy, but I am now officially 1 pound away from what I weighed at my heaviest point in life.  BOOOOO!  An OUNCE of PREVENTION is a HEALTHY weight, so time to turn over a new leaf.


So let's be honest, how much do I weigh?  I weighed in at 176 lbs on Mon at the Bastyr Clinic.  I was not very pleased.  I knew my weight had been "creeping" up since I had gone back to school 2 years ago.  All those "quick" stops for food during my SWAMPED schedule with the justification of, "I will only eat this, just this once;" has  finally added up.  What's worse, is my stress eating!  Mid-night study snacks, OMG; then there is stress eating during mid-terms; AND THEEEEEN there is eating EVERYTHING YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON during finals; (Whoever told my teachers they could only test me at the middle and the end of the quarter deserves a swift kick in the hoohaa!); oh yes, and let us not forget the "THANK F-ING GOD I MADE IT THROUGH ANOTHER QUARTER!!!" celebratory eating AND DRINKING.  It is too much... 18 lbs too much **gasp***.

Some of you who know me are going to do the math and realize that by loosing 18 lbs, I will not be at my government suggested target weight for my height, but before you say anything, I LIKE MYSELF at the mid 150's.  It is a nice achievable realistic goal for me, and I have ZERO health problems.  My blood work is beautiful and I do not look or feel poorly, so please do not post that I need to loose more because I do not agree.  O.K. moving on.

So what is my plan?  Well, first and foremost BREAKFAST!!!!!  Healthy breakfast (for example, scrambled egg whites with a sprinkle of 2% cheese and maybe some summer veges mixed in, or oatmeal with cinnamon and a little brown sugar and fresh fruit). These are easy things that take mere minutes to make with a little preparation.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am notoriously horrible about eating breakfast.  I have a terrible habit, like many Americans, of taking coffee to go as I run out the door trying to grab the million things I need to take with me and forgetting half of them do to the lack of focus my starving brain has.  Once I arrive at school or work, I spend 2-3 hours trying my best to focus on whatever is being said or happening around me until finally I get a break or get to take lunch.  At this point I am famished, grouchy, and have absolutely no focus and no patience left for even my closest friends.  Then I run to the nearest food source (yes, even fast food) and buy whatever I can find that is close to practical and somewhat affordable.  I also require that my food include some sort of vegetable, although my standard of vegetable can drop to include the rare piece of lettuce on a cheeseburger if I am desperate and exceptionally starving.  After grabbing whatever meal I can get my hands on, I eat so fast to kill the hunger pains that I barely taste the food and finally run back to class or work with food sloshing around in my stomach and feeling a bit queasy. As you can see, none of this is a recipe for good health and digestion or healthy weight. 

So that's it, that's the beginning of my plan.  After, I have successfully implemented breakfast into my life, I will reveal my next step.  In the meantime, I am going to try to make breakfast a habit, and yes, of course, cut out the fastfood and quick meals.  I will keep you posted.  What do they say, "it takes 2 weeks to make a new habit,"...?  I will let you know.

I would like to note to anyone reading this, that I do not plan to go on a diet.  I am making the life decision to choose to just make better food choices and to eat healthier.  I am a healthcare professional with a plethera of knowledge, and do to the fact that I am a student at Bastyr University, I have tons of information and doctors at my disposal, so I feel well equipped to start out on this journey. I recommend to anyone who decides to make any dietary changes to consult with a qualified healthcare provider.

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WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS FREE-RANGE CHICKEN?

WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Hold the presses! What do you mean there is no such thing as a "free range chicken?" well at least not as it pertains to the idea that it elicits in the mind. When a chicken product says "free-range," it elicits the idea of chickens running around happily on a farm eating there usual diet of grubs, bugs, and feed, just being little chickens...sorry to shatter your day dream, well my day dream anyway. Apparently, that is not the case. This week I was shocked to learn that "free range chickens" are no more free ranging (if I can coin a phrase:) than most other chickens. This week in my Whole Foods Production class I was informed that all "free range" means is that the chickens are not kept in cages, and they have access to the outdoors. If left to my own optimistic ideas, I would give the benefit to the chicken cooperation's and drum up a mental picture of a big opening into a field for happy chickens. Wrong again!

Apparently, the chickens can live in a warehouse cage free with no designation for individual space inside. Additionally, there is no regulation for the size of the outdoor area that the chickens have access to. A 5x5 square outdoor area would be suitable enough to call a chicken free range. WHAT? That isn't very free range to me. Not when warehouses have thousands of chickens running around. Apparently my Utopian idea of free range chicken translates into "pasture raised" chickens, which I do not recall ever seeing. What a shame! I was sad to hear that for all my efforts to eat chickens that at least had a happy life, I ended up being blinded by a play on words :( I suppose it is still a better choice than warehoused chickens, but for me, I now know that if I cannot find "pasture raised" chickens, I will buy organic when possible.

What is an Organic Chicken?
Organic chickens get all the benefits of being a "free range" chicken, plus, they get individual space regualtions and are fed a diet that is all organic with no GMO's (genetically modified organisms). Better yet, I am considering buying directly from the farm. Specifically, an organic farm that looks at the farm as a whole organism and treats there animals humanely. Please look at that word HUMANELY! According to the American Heritage Dictionary: Humane means- "Characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion." Isn't that what all living creatures deserve. After all, you are what you eat. If you eat poorly raised, poorly treated, nutritionally depleted food, then what are the building blocks that make up your body. I will get on my high horse about this later, but for now, get educated about what you are eating. For more information check out these links.

A farming model for the future! Out with the new and in with the old!
Thank you Crown S Ranch for reminding us that we have responsibility to the living creatures that serve as our food.
 

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Only SO SO Healthy Alternatives

I have decided to expand my exploration of healthy options from fast food restaurants to include those that are available in the restaurant industry too. I decided to go to a quaint looking restaurant near my work in Wallingford. For all of you non-Washingtonians, it is a neighborhood in Seattle :) The Varsity Inn Restaurant had a reputation for their breakfast menu, but they have recently started serving an extended lunch and dinner menu. While there, I took a long look at the menu to see what was available. Omelets, biscuits and gravy, cheeseburgers, salads and sandwiches. Your typical restaurant menu. I noticed that they had the option to order any of sandwiches with the choice of salad, french fries, or soup which, is impressive because there in no up charge for the healthier choices of soup or salad. Unfortunately on this memorial day weekend, soup was unavailable. Apparently, it is only served during the week because no one could possibly want it on the weekend during Mother Nature's extended rain festival in Seattle, but I digress. That was disappointing because that was the main choice I was hoping for. Without my healthy soup option this only left salad. Not for me, it's way too cold.

Anyhow, as I continued my menu evaluation looking for other healthy choices, a few things stuck out. For healthy alternatives they offered a mini light menu with like 4 choices, in addition, they offered a garden burger option, soy with your cappuccino, and egg beaters...EGG BEATERS (GROSS). I decided to ask the server a simple question. "Do you serve egg white omelets?" PAUSE: "Let me ask." PAUSE: "Nope, only egg beaters [for $.50 more]." Again, I reiterate, gross! Who wants to eat powdered eggs when you can remove 99% of the cholesterol and fat from an egg just by removing the yolk! I am just saying, Mr. President of the Varsity Inn Restaurant, I would gladly pay you a whole $1.00-$1.50 more for the extra trouble of an an egg white omelet, hold the egg beaters, Thanks! At least they are making a bit of an effort, which is better than most restaurants. For me, I chose the standard cheeseburger and french fries with extra pickle and a mocha cappuccino with soy. It was all pretty good. Oh well, I guess you can't eat healthy 100% of the time. Sometimes you have to have a caloric splurge :)