Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hold Onto Your Summer Bliss

Colleen Saidman-Yee
Yes, the sun is setting on the sweet, blissful months of summer. But that doesn’t mean we have to submit to the frenzy of fall. Here's how to continue to channel summer’s relaxing vibe long after Labor Day.
1. Go—with no destination in mind.  Day or night, go for aimless walks or drives, listening to Lucinda Williams or Jason Isbell, and letting the wind blow our hair. 
2. Bring your home with you.   Keep checking into that home that is deep inside you, especially when you’re getting tugged into intense winds of drama and business.
3. Just get on your mat every day and be honest. Whenever you think about it, scan your body and notice where there’s tension. That alone will release the tension. Know that summer will come again, and enjoy all of the deliciousness that each season brings.
~Thanks to Colleen Saidman Yee

Whiten Your Teeth Naturally

8 Benefits of Activated Charcoal

Not the charcoal to fuel your BBQ!! Activated charcoal is a supplement used to soak up toxins from your body and improve intestinal health, among other uses.
The history of activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon. For over 10,000 years, healers all over the world have been using this natural element for a variety of different purposes. In ancient times it was used to cure intestinal ailments, preserve the dead, purify water and treat vertigo. In later centuries, charcoal was the preferred method for decoloring sugar. This may not seem like a big deal in 2014, but in the late 1700's, the discovery of making sugar more white and appealing revolutionized the sugar industry. 

It wasn't until the 19th century when the charcoal became "activated", which is when charcoal is treated with oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms. And It was during this time that it was used in medicine to naturally heal people, mainly to counteract poison. The charcoal actually absorbs harmful chemicals in your body.
Today, it is used everywhere for many different things. And since it is odorless and tasteless, it makes it easy and safe for humans to consume. Here are 8 ways to use activated charcoal:
  • Hospitals and doctors use it as an antidote for drugs and poison.
  • Also used by doctors as a remedy to detox.
  • Many people take it for digestion issues – gas, bloating, etc.
  • Doctors prescribe it to help lower cholesterol.
  • Still used to purify water.
  • Some women use it in their beauty routine - as a face mask, teeth whitener, and even eyeliner.
  • For the removal poisonous substances from snake venom or spider bites.
  • It can also be taken orally in the case of food poisoning. 
Activated charcoal can cause constipation as it soaks up toxins in your digestive system so be sure to drink a lot of water.
Personally, I use it as a teeth whitener and a heavy metal detox.  For whitening, I open the capsule and pour it on my toothbrush, being careful to hold it over the sink so I don't get black powder everywhere.  For detoxing from heavy metals (which is highly recommended if you have or had mercury fillings), taking activated charcoal helps remove the dangerous heavy metal from your body by taking it orally.  
So where can you buy this miracle stuff? It is available without a prescription and can be found as a tablet or capsule in most health stores.  Happy Healing!
~Thanks to Leann Forst

Monday, August 25, 2014

Water: How Much Should I Really Drink?

How much water should you drink each day? Infographic on HealthHub from Cleveland Clinic

Coconut Sugar: Healthier Sweetener or Pretty Name for Sugar?

"It's the new it sweetener," my friend said somewhat facetiously, pulling out a small bag of organic raw coconut sugar during a recent catch-up over green tea at our favorite coffee place. "Besides, you love coconut."

True: I love unsweetened coconut milk in my protein shakes, and coconut oil remains a staple in stir-frys and other high-heat cooking.
According to Dr. Jonny Bowden in his The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, coconut provides healthy fats, including lauric acid, which are antiviral, antimicrobial, immune-boosting, and even help fight some cancers. Your body uses the easier-to-metabolize medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut to burn as fuel rather than store as fat.
Electrolyte-rich coconut water doesn't offer those healthy fats, and many commercial brands contain added sugar. Athletes who need to rehydrate post-workout should be fine with no-sugar-added coconut water, but you'll only get those healthy fats in coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, and coconut meat.
Determined to milk (no pun intended) the coconut-is-healthy buzz, manufacturers position coconut sugar as a better alternative as customers understandably grow wary about high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners. But is coconut sugar really better or just the latest hype?
Compared with table and brown sugars, coconut sugar has impressive amounts ofnutrients like zinc and iron as well as antioxidants.
Coconut sugar also contains good amounts of inulin, a type of dietary fiber you don't digest in your upper gastrointestinal tract. Instead, inulin acts as a prebiotic, feeding your intestinal bifidobacteria (a probiotic).
Among its benefits, clinical research finds prebiotics like inulin support gut health, colon cancer prevention, blood sugar balance, lipid (fat) metabolism, bone mineralization, fatty liver disease, obesity, and immunity.
One study in the Diabetes & Metabolism Journal found inulin could improve glycemic control and antioxidant status in women with Type 2 diabetes.
Nutrients and inulin aside, let's not forget coconut sugar is a sweetener. Like table sugar, coconut sugar contains about equal amounts of fructose and glucose.
More specifically, a study in the ASEAN Food Journal found coconut sugar has about71 percent sucrose, or table sugar, as well as 3 percent pure glucose and 3 percent pure fructose.
In other words, about 78 percent -- over three-fourths -- of coconut sugar is actually sugar, compared with 100 percent of table sugar. (Nutrients, inulin, and antioxidants constitute coconut sugar's other 22 percent.)
Inulin and nutrients likely lower coconut sugar's blood sugar impact. One study in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice gave participants either 50 grams of table sugar or coconut sugar (as coconut-derived D-xylose) and took seven blood samples up to two hours after ingestion. 

Coconut sugar had a lower glycemic index, a measure of how quickly a food raises your blood sugar levels, on every one of those seven samples. Researchers here determined coconut sugar had a glycemic index of about 35, officially ranking it a low-glycemic sweetener.
But not so fast: The glycemic index only measures glucose, not fructose. Whereas nearly every cell can use glucose, fructose goes straight to your liver to metabolize.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, excessive amounts of fructose elevate blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL; deplete vitamins and minerals; raise insulin resistance and obesity; and contribute to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, arthritis and even gout.
Some whole foods contain this sweetener, but fruit juices and added sweeteners are where fructose really becomes a problem.
"If you received your fructose only from vegetables and fruits (where it originates) as most people did a century ago, you'd consume about 15 grams per day -- a far cry from the 73 grams per day the typical adolescent gets from sweetened drinks," writes Mercola.
Considering fructose constitutes about 39 percent of coconut sugar, you wouldn't need much to rack up your quota and overwhelm your liver.
Simply put, coconut sugar isn't the no-guilt free-for-all some manufacturers might have you believe you can liberally spoon into your coffee, baked goods, and anywhere else you require sweetener.
Instead, a lower glycemic index coupled with slightly lower amounts of fructose makes coconut sugar, like honey, a slightly better alternative to table sugar and an acceptable occasional "proceed with caution" sweetener. Nutrients aside, it's still mostly sugar and can create similar problems with your liver and blood sugar.
If you need a healthy sweetener for your coffee or homemade salad dressing, opt fornatural alternatives like stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol, which don't raise your blood sugar, don't stress out your liver, and even provide some health benefits.
What's your go-to sweetener for beverages, baking, and any other place that demand sugar?

Additional References
Jonny Bowden, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (Massachusetts: Fair Wind, 2007).
~Thanks to JJ Virgin

Practicing Self-Love

The process of self-awareness includes loving ourselves enough to live out our dreams and create our own reality. We are “pure love” when we are born. Early conditioning and life experiences cause us to believe we are unlovable - "there is something wrong with me". The more we work on integrating past experiences and improving our self-esteem, the stronger our self-concept becomes. The more we love ourselves, the more enthusiastic we become about life. We develop the courage to be authentic and true to our ideals.

And yet, self love is one of our biggest challenges. Loving ourselves has negative connotations because people often confuse it with selfishness, self-absorption and egocentric behavior. It is often easier to love another person than our self. We don’t realize that, when we take care of ourselves and treat ourselves in a loving manner, we have more love to give. The biblical expression “my cup runneth over,” means I have more than enough for my needs.

We love our self in some of the following ways:

Accept and own all parts of ourselves.
Being true to ourselves, and living our lives authentically, includes recognizing our strengths and weaknesses; our good qualities and faults; our suffering and joy; our fears and courageous acts; etc. These dualities coexist in all of us. Recognizing and accepting them helps us integrate them into the totality of who we are.

Believe we have the ability to change any aspect of ourselves.
Self awareness means taking an inventory of our personalities, behaviors, attitudes and principles we live our lives by. We have the ability to change any aspect which does not conform to our self image. We empower ourselves by making the commitment to do so, having patience for our process, and looking at ourselves with the eyes of understanding and love.
Make peace with childhood wounds and traumatic life experiences.
The memory of a past traumatic experience may cause you psychic pain and/or make you feel wounded and scarred. Moving this memory from your direct vision, where you relive it regularly, into your peripheral vision will help you heal. You know the memory is there, but it no longer has its hold on you; you have learned so much from it. Some wounds cannot be completely healed and may resurface during stressful times. When we release the emotional pain from these experiences, space in our psyche is freed up for vitality and joy.

Identify and assert our needs, and ensure they are met.
Many of us go through life unaware of our needs, or too afraid to express them to others. As children, many of us gave our power away to well-meaning, and sometimes not well-meaning, adults. We were told how to behave, act, and feel. Most of us were not encouraged to discover our interests and preferences. Decisions were made for us, and our needs and desires were not taken into account. Many of us still have those helpless children locked inside our psyches. Becoming an adult includes taking conscious control of our lives through actions such as expressing our needs, finding solutions, meeting our own needs, etc. It is important to claim our power and not feel helpless.
Establish boundaries.
Individuals who establish emotional, physical, and sexual boundaries respect themselves enough and prevent others from crossing them. A sense of self requires physical boundaries to protect our bodies, and emotional boundaries to indicate where our emotions end and other people’s emotions begin. Emotional boundaries are necessary to separate our own feelings from those of others. Without strong boundaries we have trouble saying no and we lose touch with our needs and wants. Setting boundaries empowers us to decide what we are willing to put up with. And in so doing, we teach others how to treat us.

Have the strength to decide, on our own, what is good for us.
When faced with important decisions, do your homework. Consult with family members, friends and colleagues. Empower yourself with as much information as possible. Then spend some quiet time listening to your intuitive voice; it is always communicating with us and letting us know which is the best direction to take.
Engage in relationships with people who are supportive, respectful, loving and kind. 
Your external environment reflects your inner world. If you want to assess your sense of self, look to your outer reality. Do you surround yourself with angry, disrespectful and critical people who are toxic and drain your energy? People cannot take advantage of us without our permission. The better we feel about ourselves, the more we engage in relationships with people who treat us with kindness and respect. We feel worthy and deserving of this type of treatment, and we will not put up with disrespectful behaviors.

Give up the need for approval and to be liked by everyone; tolerate criticism. 
With low levels of self-esteem, we look for outside approval and suffer from the “disease to please.” The better we feel about ourselves, the more we can tolerate criticism and people’s disappointment in us. We no longer need to do things to please others because we want them to like us.

Create a living environment that nourishes us.
Your external environment is also a reflection of your inner process. A messy living environment (home, workplace, car) may be a reflection of the inner chaos of your psyche. As you get in touch with unresolved issues, bring them to consciousness, and heal them, your external environment will become more organized. Clutter impacts on our health by blocking energy in our bodies and minds. People often comment how much lighter they feel when they give away clothes they no longer wear. The same is true when outdated magazines are passed on to others. Do you love the things in your home? Are they pleasing to your senses? Do they reflect who you are today? When you enter your home, do you experience feelings of well-being, or is your energy drained? Answer these questions honestly. Then take action to create a living space which nourishes and replenishes you.
Honor ourselves with acts of loving kindness and respect.
Do something special for yourself on a regular basis. In so doing, you give yourself a message in which you are deserving of this special effort, and are important enough to take the time to do it. It can be as simple as preparing a quiet bath, watching a favorite movie, cooking a special meal, etc. The key is scheduling adequate time with no interruption. The message is: “I am important enough to do this for myself.”

Participate in pleasurable activities that give joy and meaning to your life. Ask yourself the question “What makes me happy?” Answer, then go out and do it!
~Thanks to Myra Giberovitch

Monday, August 18, 2014

Benefits of Cruciferous Veggies

If there's one thing everyone in the highly compartmentalized field of nutrition agrees upon, it’s the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables.
The vegan community agrees with the Paleo community. The low-fat crowd agrees with the low-carb crowd. Even the US government and the American Cancer Society are decidedly on board. Why then are cruciferous vegetables nowhere to be seen on the list of America’s most consumed vegetables? 

Before we go any further, let’s define our terms. Cruciferous vegetables are members of the brassica genus and include the following:

•Arugula (n/a)          •Collard greens, 0.10
•Bok choy (n/a)      •Kale, 0.05
•Broccoli, 4.09        •Kohlrabi (n/a)
•Brussels sprouts, 0.22   •Mustard greens, 0.08
•Cabbage, 3.32     •Radish, 0.14
•Cauliflower, 0.44•Rutabaga (n/a)
•Chinese cabbage (n/a)  •Turnip (n/a)

The numbers after each vegetable indicate per capita annual US consumption in pounds. In general, US vegetable consumption is disturbingly low, but especially with respect to cruciferous vegetables. On average, we eat only four pounds of broccoli for an entire year, three pound of cabbage, and a pittance of the rest. Really?! The real story here is the conspicuous absence of cruciferous vegetables.

The US, and indeed the entire world, is plagued by obesity, a problem that continues to escalate. A recent study published by The Lancet found that more obese people live in the US than in any other nation, including China, which has quadruple the population. Roughly one third of US adults are obese, which means unhealthy foods are displacing nutritional powerhouses, like cruciferous vegetables. The obesity problem is multifaceted and complex, and there are no simple solutions, but as we become more serious about health, both nationally and individually, cruciferous vegetables should feature more prominently on our plates. 

Cruciferous vegetables are exceptionally rich in vitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber. They also contain glucosinolates, unique sulfur-containing compounds from which they derive their pungent aromas and bitter tastes. Glucosinolates break down into various biologically active compounds, including indoles and isothiocyanates, which many researchers believe inhibit cancer. These compounds are thought to help the body eliminate carcinogens before they can damage DNA. The National Cancer Institute is cautious about calling cruciferous vegetables anti-carcinogenic, but they do say that higher vegetable consumption “in general may protect against some diseases, including some types of cancer.”

What’s the best way to cook cruciferous vegetables? In general, steaming is best. Glucosinolates are water-soluble, which means they can leach during cooking. A 2007 study demonstrated significant glucosinolate losses for boiled cruciferous vegetables, but not for steamed or stir-fried. Most of the losses for the boiled vegetables could be detected in the cooking water. I’m most fond of steaming cruciferous vegetables and tossing them with olive oil or butter, post-cooking. I also typically add a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, and sometimes a pinch of cumin. 

~Thanks to Christopher Clark

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

12 Healthy Staples, Stock Up!

1. Almond Butter: A wonderful and sweet peanut butter replacement, this works in smoothies, savory soups and sauces, cookies, or straight out of the jar.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar, unpasteurized: It’s often considered the healthiest vinegar because it has a dozen-plus uses and just as many benefits. It’s loaded with enzymes and aids digestion. You can also add a tablespoon to water with a dash of honey for a refreshing drink. Balsamic Vinegar is a close second for flavoring food.
3. Bragg Liquid Aminos: This certified non-GMO protein concentrate is made from soybeans. It’s gluten-free and has a salty flavor.
4. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is an essential saturated fat that supports immune functioning, weight loss, and digestive health with additional antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s our go-to cooking oil.
5. Himalayan Salt: An essential seasoning agent, salt is present in just about every recipe, and having too much or too little can make or break a meal.
6. Coconut or Almond Milk: A staple in clean cooking, these milks are something to always keep on hand for soups, dressings, sauces, desserts, shakes, and as thickeners. Buy them organic and unsweetened, or make your own.
7. Lemon: Okay, we had to add one item from them crisper. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a wonder. It goes in smoothies, over salads, soups, and everything.
8. Green Powders: These handy powders are a useful way to add more mineral-rich food to your meals. You can add a scoop to salad dressings, smoothies, and even desserts like cookies, energy bars, or chocolate mousse.
9. Olive Oil: Look for organic, extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles.
10. Seaweed: Mineral-rich sea vegetables like dulse, kelp, or nori can be bought in strips, sheets, or powdered. Love the spirulina!
11. Wheat-Free Tamari: A gluten-free fermented soy sauce adds a wonderful salty flavor to many recipes and stir-fries.
12. Whole-Grain Mustard: A very useful condiment, mustard can be used to create a quick, clean sauce, or salad dressing. Aim for the varieties that are sugar-free and made with apple cider vinegar.
~Thanks to Alejandro Junger, MD

Be Part of the Change by Taking Control of Your Health

No matter what kind of physician you're working with, take an active role in your health.  After all, you're the one who must live with the outcome of any chosen treatment, for better or worse. You have far greater control over your health than you think. Leading a common-sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to achieve a healthy body and mind. And if you struggle with a health problem, there are almost always simple strategies that can be enormously beneficial and helpful, if not outright curative. While conventional medical science may vacillate in its recommendations, you can take control of your health with the following approaches:
  1. Make healthy food choices: Focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods. Avoid sugar, as all forms of sugar have toxic effects when consumed in excess, and drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of chronic disease and accelerated aging.
  2. I believe the two primary keys for successful weight management are severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) in your diet, and increasing healthy fat consumption. This will optimize insulin and leptin levels, which is key for maintaining a healthy weight and optimal health.
  3. Exercise effectively and efficiently. High-intensity interval-type training is particularly beneficial for optimal health, as it boosts human growth hormone  (HGH) production.
  4. Address your stress: You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Meditation, prayer, social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using simple tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden, emotional problems.
  5. Drink plenty of clean water.
  6. Maintain a healthy gut: About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, and research is stacking up showing that probiotics—beneficial bacteria—affect your health in a myriad of ways; it can even influence your ability to lose weight. A healthy diet is the ideal way to maintain a healthy gut, and regularly consuming traditionally fermented foods is the easiest, most cost effective way to ensure optimal gut flora.
  7. Optimize your vitamin D levels: Research has shown that increasing your vitamin D levels can reduce your risk of death from all causes.
  8. Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
  9. Get plenty of high quality sleep: Regularly catching only a few hours of sleep can hinder metabolism and hormone production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss.
~Thanks to Dr. Mercola 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tortured By Hot Flashes? Take a Deep Breath.......

LayingInGrassI get asked lots of questions about what works to help with hot flashes. The truth is, the data is sparse and inconsistent. A whole lot of things have been tried (herbs, antidepressants, acupuncture) with varying degrees of success depending on the study design.
However, one technique called “paced respiration” has been shown to reduce the severity of hot flashes by 44%! No hormones; no side effects.

The “How To”

Like any new technique, paced respiration takes practice. Try to do it twice daily, for 15 minutes at a time. It is most effective if you can stop what you’re doing when you first feel the flash coming.
  • Sit in a comfortable, quiet place.
  • As you breathe, keep your rib cage still. You will be lowering and raising your diaphragm to fill and empty your lungs.
  • Inhale for 5 seconds, pushing your stomach muscles out.
  • Exhale for 5 seconds, pulling your stomach muscles in and up.
  • Repeat this cycle of breathing until you feel calm and relaxed or your time is up.

Why Does It Work?

It’s not clear exactly why paced respiration works. One explanation is that it calms the sympathetic nervous system, enhances circulation and induces a relaxation response which eases the hot flash.
This technique is one of the first things I recommend to the clients I work with who are plagued by hot flashes and night sweats. You can do it almost anywhere and it’s free. Give it a try!
~Thanks to Dr. Anna Garrett

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