Diet Crazes and SAD

Should I go vegan? Or adhere to the ‘Paleo’ diet? Is ‘Atkins’ dangerous? And what is the ‘Keto’ diet? Do I need to ‘detox’ every month? Should I only eat raw foods? Should I go gluten free? Dairy free? Fat free?

food confusion

It can be maddening trying to figure out the healthiest way to eat. Especially since the Standard American Diet or SAD is, well, just that. It’s no secret that many Americans have less than ideal diets…full of overly processed foods, and way too much sugar, salt, and saturated fat. And when we’re trying to eat well on the go, we get conned into thinking a meal replacement bar, shake, or frozen dinner is a stellar option when it’s usually not.

So what’s the answer? Well, it’s complicated. There is no one ‘right way’ to eat. What might be the perfect diet for me, may not give you the level of nutrition you need. Something I may think is amazing, you might be allergic to. We are all different, which means we all have different nutritional needs.

That being said, let’s talk about some of the basics that we can all agree on (barring medical conditions, such as diabetes or Chron’s disease, which may require different guidelines). Fresh fruits and vegetables are your friends. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and glorious fiber. Most vegetables are also low in calories while high in nutritional value. Fruit generally contains more natural sugar and can be higher in calories, but is still loaded with nutrition. And there are many great options if you’re looking for low sugar content. Take berries for example – high in antioxidants and nutrients, but low in natural sugar (and delicious!). And fruit is a great option when you’re trying to satisfy a sweet tooth without loading up on refined sugar and empty calories.

For example, a bowl (1 cup) of strawberries has just 49 calories, 7 grams of natural sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and is packed with great nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, folate, magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins. Whereas a small bag (1.7oz) of M&Ms has 230 calories, 9 grams of fat, 31 grams of refined sugar, and no nutritional value. For a quick guide to nutritional information for common fruits and vegetables, go to: www.fda.gov

Fiber is fabulous! It prevents constipation, which keeps the colon cleaner and healthier, cuts down on allergic reactions to food, and helps stabilize blood sugar levels. It also helps you feel full, which is an important part of feeling satisfied. Fiber = efficient digestion.

I know lots of people who say that eating healthy is too expensive. So let’s look at our best case – worse case options for fruits and veggies. Best option: organic fruits and vegetables from your local farmer’s market or Community Supported Agriculture. This produce is picked when it’s ripe (or almost ripe), and is often more nutritious because it’s grown in more nutrient rich soil. Not always an option, I know. Most grocery stores have plenty of organic options these days. Remember, organic makes a difference not just for your health, but also for the health of our soil and planet. If organic is too expensive or unavailable, try for locally grown. If you live somewhere that’s difficult, try ‘grown in the USA’ or look for produce that had to travel the least distance to get to you. Food that has to travel long distances is picked well before it’s ripe and won’t be nearly as tasty. Buying what’s in season is another way to get the best produce at the best price. If fresh fruits and veggies are out of your price range or unavailable, frozen is your next best option. I often use frozen spinach for recipes where I need to cook it anyway. And frozen fruit is great for making smoothies. As much as you can, try to steer clear of canned fruits and vegetables. They are often loaded with sugars, salt, and preservatives.

The wonderful thing about fresh veggies is that you can do so much with them! Leave them raw and have them as a snack with hummus, make a big salad, throw them on the grill, roast them in the oven, make a stir-fry, a soup, vegetable burritos, or pot pies…the list is endless. And it doesn’t need to be fancy. Last night I tossed whole carrots from my friend’s garden with olive oil and herbs, and roasted them to go with herbed quinoa; easy, delicious, nutritious, and ready in 30 minutes.

healthy-fats

And fat? Yes, please! Our bodies need fat and cholesterol to function properly. We just need the right kind of fat. Think avocados, nuts, fish, olive oil, flaxseed oil… Many of these healthy fats also contain Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), which are important for circulation, limiting inflammation, and maintaining good blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your body functions best when it is in a state of homeostasis, or balance. So high-fat, no carb diets like ‘keto’ or extremely low-fat diets both throw the body out of balance and lead to impaired health and a depressed immune system.

Grains

What about grains? Gluten? Unless you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, bread is not your enemy. While bread is getting a pretty bad rap these days, I think we can all agree that not all bread is created equally. Stay away from processed white bread and opt for sprouted grain breads or freshly baked whole grain breads instead. In my house it’s homemade sourdough that makes us happiest. I only make it every few weeks, not only because of the time it takes, but also so we don’t over do it. It’s hard to say no to fresh bread dipped in olive oil! Practice moderation; you certainly don’t need bread with every meal, or even every day. And when you’re choosing grains, go for whole grains – think quinoa, brown rice, barley, wild rice, and oats. Eat foods made with refined grains (bread, muffins, cookies, crackers) sparingly. These can be high in calories, but won’t leave you feeling full for long. Get the recipe for a delicious whole grain (farro) salad on my Recipes page.

Most importantly, listen to your body and use your best judgment. Pay attention to how your body feels after you eat certain foods. Do you feel sluggish, or energized and upbeat, foggy, or ready for whatever comes your way? Food makes a difference! You certainly don’t have to give up cake or hamburgers, just be sure that you’re eating less junk food and a whole lot more of the good stuff.

Make your health a priority and give your body the nutrition it needs. I guarantee your body will feel better, look better, and last longer if you do.

Anger as a Risk Factor

We all get angry. We all lose our temper. But do you know how this affects your body? Let’s look at the science of anger.

When we get angry our bodies are flooded with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger the fight or flight response. This means our muscles tense up, digestion stops, and blood pressure increases. Severe anger also suppresses our ability to think clearly.

The body’s response to anger, much like stress, isn’t a bad thing if it’s just now and then. It becomes a problem, however, when it’s chronic. Chronic anger is linked to:

  • headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and skin problems

Elevated cortisol causes all kinds of problems. Too much cortisol decreases serotonin levels, which can lead to depression. It also causes loss of neurons in the prefrontal cortex, which slows down brain coordination and makes problem solving more difficult. And it kills and suppresses neurons in the hippocampus. Suppressed activity in the hippocampus weakens short-term memory and prevents you from properly forming new memories (perhaps why everyone’s version of the same argument will be a bit different).

Brain-men-at-work

It’s healthy to feel angry sometimes, but excessive focus on negative thoughts trains your brain to be angry more often. Your frontal lobe decides what’s important based on the amount of time and attention you give to it. The more you focus on negative thoughts, the more neurons and synapses your brain will make to support that negativity. Conversely, happy thoughts decrease cortisol and produce serotonin, which creates a sense of well-being. In general, happy people are more creative, solve problems faster, and are more mentally alert.

When learning to control and manage anger, it’s really important to learn to recognize the difference between things you can change, and things you can’t. My plane was delayed, which caused me to miss my connection. Was I ticked off? You bet. But as I watched the gate agent, who also had no control over the delay, being yelled at by an irate passenger, I decided to take a different, calmer approach. At the end of the day I arrived 3 hours later than planned, had time to catch up on a few emails, and finished a pretty good book while waiting for my next flight. I could have stewed and yelled and spent the afternoon angry, but what would have been the point? Letting go of negative feelings can be tough, but it’s soooo important.

Not making assumptions (I am so guilty of this) is another important one to remember. In the age of texting and emailing, tone and intent are often misunderstood. It’s important to get clarity when you need it. Pick up the phone and talk it out when you need to. If your friend/partner/spouse is short tempered with you, don’t assume they are angry with you. Ask if something is wrong or if they had a tough day. Some people don’t even realize they’re being rude or snappy until it’s pointed out.

Slow it down…. Take a breath, take a walk, close your eyes for a moment; whatever it takes to help you feel calmer. Then address whatever made you feel angry in a calm, rational manner.

breathe

Dig deep… Often times we’re holding on to anger that has nothing to do with whatever set us off in the moment. Anger begets anger. If it’s right there under the surface, it won’t be hard to find a trigger for it. Dig a little deeper and figure out how to let it go.

Practice compassion – with yourself and with others. Intolerance can lead to an increase in anger. Accept that we’re all different, and as much as you might want everyone around you to be your version of perfect, that’s just not going to happen. We all walk around with our own baggage, ideas, ideals, and grievances. Trying to see things from someone else’s point of view can often help you understand more and leave you feeling less angry.

compassion-kids

Exercise! Regular exercise helps improve mood and reduce stress. Exercise also helps burn up stress chemicals in the body and boosts production of mood regulating neurotransmitters. It’s also just feels good to release extra energy from the body. Being angry sends more energy to your muscles…use that energy to do something good for your body.

exercise runner

If you really struggle with controlling your anger, consider conflict resolution training, talk to a counselor, learn the art of meditation, or practice mindful yoga. All of these can help bring you into a greater state of peace and balance.

And remember, smiling is infectious. Even if you don’t feel like it…smile. It’s really hard not to feel a little better (and make everyone else around you feel good too) when you look so darn happy.

 

References:

Anger – How it Affects People. Betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Seeing Red: Anger Management. Experiencelife.com

The Deadly Effects of Anger on Your Health and Mind. Undergroundhealthreporter.com

Happy Brain, Happy Life. Psychologytoday.com

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

 

carbon-footprint

My “carbon footprint” – a nice way to say “how much I’m polluting”.

Whether you believe in climate change or not…it’s happening. While I concede that climate change is a natural process, we must accept our role and responsibility in accelerating the changes faster than the earth is able to adapt. Each and every one of us has a carbon footprint. Let’s take a look at how we can do our part to reduce ours, and help educate others about doing the same.

Driving: It’s convenient, it’s easy, and it’s quick. But if you have the option, consider biking, walking, taking public transport, or carpooling. Think how great you’ll feel after biking to the store; not only have you gotten fresh air and exercise, you probably didn’t even have to yell at anyone for being a terrible driver!

If you must drive, plan your trip so that you’re as efficient as possible. For example, stop at the grocery store on the way home from work instead of making a separate trip, or map out the most efficient route to run errands. I highly recommend stopping at the florist on your way home from work to surprise your partner with flowers 🙂

And drive smart; accelerating quickly wastes gas and releases more carbon into the air. Consider a fuel-efficient vehicle, or swap family cars so that the person with the longest commute takes the more efficient car. This will save you money on gas too! Speaking of saving money, keeping your tires inflated to the recommended levels and getting regular oil changes and tune-ups will also increase your fuel efficiency, not to mention extend the life of your car.

Home: Make sure your home is well insulated. This will cut down on your energy use and bills. It helps with noisy neighbors too! You can help by closing blinds or curtains during the hottest part of the day to keep out the sun in the summer months, and opening them to let in the sun during the winter.

When you replace appliances, look for the Energy Star rating. There are plenty of affordable appliances these days that are much more energy efficient than they used to be. Turn off lights and televisions when you leave the room, and instead of setting the AC to 65, use a fan to help you feel cooler. Misting a little peppermint oil into the room will help cool it down as well.

While solar panels can be cost prohibitive for many people, if you live in a place with lots of sunshine and favorable laws towards solar power, it might be worth the upfront cost. Some areas even let you sell energy back to the grid!

Food: Eat locally grown and organic food as much as possible, and focus on eating things that are in season close to where you live. Check out your local farmer’s market to see what’s growing! Remember – the longer the food has to travel, the more fuel it takes to get it to you.

Organic fruits and vegetables have become much more widely available. Unfortunately, many come from thousands of miles away. I often opt for locally grown food that does not have the organic label over organically labeled foods from overseas. If you’re worried about pesticide residue, check out this list of foods and how they rank from EWG: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

Start your own garden, or get in on a community garden and grow some of the things you love most. I live in a townhouse, but you better believe I have pots lining the driveway loaded with herbs and hot peppers. Nothing tastes better than something you’ve grown yourself. It’s a fact 😉

Limit the amount of beef and dairy you consume. Both of these take immense amounts of resources, especially land and water, to raise and process.

Make Smart Choices: Instead of buying packs and packs of water bottles, buy a water filter and refill a stainless, glass, or BPA free water bottle. If you really want to impress people, check out these amazing glass bottles made right here in the good old USA: https://www.lovebottle.com  Water your lawn/garden early in the morning or late in the evening when less evaporation occurs, and be sure to set a rain delay so you’re not over-watering.

Buy energy efficient lightbulbs, and environmentally friendly cleaners and detergents. It’s amazing how useful baking soda and vinegar can be! Consider wool dryer balls instead of fabric sheets…they help cut down on drying time, leave your clothes feeling soft, and don’t leave any of that chemical residue that dryer sheets do. And you can use the same set again and again. I get mine from an awesome family farm in NC: http://www.stoneymountainfarm.com

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle: Buy products with minimal packaging, keep reusable bags in the car for shopping, and recycle whenever possible. Use plastic bags as garbage bags, or old yogurt containers for storage or organizing. Get creative. And if you’re unsure what to do with something, ask a child – they often have great ideas for using things as toys or for projects. Once you start, you’ll see that it can be pretty fun!

Accept Responsibility: Most importantly, accept responsibility for your contribution to pollution. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect.

If there are changes you can make, make them. If you have friends and family members you can educate, educate them.

And when you’re out and about in nature, thank Mother Earth for all she provides you. A healthy planet means healthy soil, air, and water. We need all three to survive, and we’re not doing a great job protecting them. Without her strength and resiliency, we would have gone extinct years ago.

Summer Skin Care

umbrella at beach

It’s that time of year again…the sun shines a little brighter, a little longer, every day. We’ll be spending more time out at the beach, in the backyard, on the river, and outdoors in general. So I thought we’d take a few minutes to talk about the largest organ of our bodies…our skin.

Skin is amazing! It has multiple layers, filters out all kinds of harmful external elements, and protects our bodies. So it’s important that we protect our skin. The sun is most intense between 10am-4pm. If you plan to be out during that time, take extra precautions. Wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt, a wide brimmed hat, or put up a beach umbrella and hang out in the shade. If you want to catch some rays or are swimming or playing sports, be sure to lather up with sunscreen.

A few words about sunscreen: they are not all created equally, and all of them MUST be reapplied during the day. Whether you’re using SPF 15 or 50, failure to reapply after swimming or sweating will lead to a lack of protection and sunburn. In general, it’s thought that there isn’t much difference in protection after SPF 30. Still, I like to use SPF 45 because it provides good protection, but still allows me to get a nice tan. There are differing schools of thought regarding negative effects from toxic ingredients in many sunscreens versus the positive effects of not getting burned. My opinion is that using sunscreen is better than not using sunscreen. If you’re interested in healthier (safer) options, you can check out safe sunscreens on the Environmental Working Group website here: EWG Best Sunscreens

After sun care of your skin is also important. If you do get burned, aloe is soothing and healing. Your best option is to split open an aloe leaf and use the gel inside. Aloe is an easy plant to grow, and does well both indoors and out! If you don’t have an aloe plant, not to worry, aloe is widely available. Look for aloe vera gel that doesn’t have any added color, fragrance, alcohol, etc. Aloe vera gel should be clear, not green. If your sunburn is hot and you’re looking for extra relief, a cool bath with a cup of vinegar added to the water can take away the heat. And for a little extra healing, I like to add a couple drops of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil to my aloe gel before rubbing it on.

I love coconut oil as a moisturizer during the summer! I find it’s not enough for my dry skin in the winter, but perfect in the summer. It has it’s own SPF of about 6-8, but should not be considered sunscreen. I make a coconut oil-cocoa butter body balm for summer… smells delicious, soaks in nicely, and makes my skin feel super soft. Extra sweating and feeling hot and sticky can leave people not wanting to moisturize in the summer. I find lotion too heavy, which is why I prefer to use oil. It may seem counterintuitive, but oil has a way of soaking nicely into your skin. Whether you choose lotion or oil is up to you…just be sure to hydrate. Your skin will thank you!

And last, but certainly not least, the food you eat has been shown to make a difference in the health of your skin and the development of skin cancer. Let’s start with the most obvious and most easily overlooked – water. It is important to drink plenty of good quality water, no matter what time of year it is. Even more so when it’s hot…if you’re sweating, you’re losing fluid. Make sure to replace it!

I’m sure you’ve heard about antioxidants and how they are essential in fighting free radicals in your body. Your skin is no different…it needs them too. And there are so many yummy options! Take a look at some common foods high in antioxidants here: WebMD.com

Healthy fats are also imperative to keeping your skin well hydrated from within. Skin cells need fat to form protective cell walls, and it helps your skin look more youthful. The most important fat to consume is Omega 3; found in salmon and other cold water fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, flax seed and purslane (often considered a weed, this is a wonderfully nutritious plant). Olive oil also provides good fat, as do avocados.

Vitamins C, D, and B3 have all been found to be important in protecting our skin, just as Vitamin E helps keep it looking young and nourished. So eat your fruits and veggies! They are loaded with vitamins AND they are hydrating.  Some of the best are those high in beta-carotene like carrots, squash, mangoes, sweet potatoes, kale, and spinach; and those high in lycopene like tomatoes, apricots, guava, and watermelon.

Bottom line – healthy skin starts with a healthy diet. So eat well, and get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Responsibly, of course 😉

I Love Science

Science    I love Science!!           Scientist

I was raised by a neuroscientist and have friends who work as wildlife biologists, environmentalists, scientific researchers, chemists, and herbalists. Science is so amazing to me because it takes so many forms and impacts our lives in so many ways.

From making transportation safer (thanks dad!), to protecting endangered species, to helping us live in a healthier environment, to creating medicines and using natural herbs to help us fight disease and illness; science is key.

Because of science, my mom is now cancer free. Because of science, a wounded warrior has a prosthetic leg that allows him to walk again. Because of science, I know how to naturally manage and reduce the occurrence of my migraines.

I love science because it doesn’t just help us understand our past; it helps us make the most of our future. I love science because it helps me explain why and how certain herbs, essential oils, vitamins, foods, etc. help with particular issues. I love science because it helps me make better choices and decisions in life. I love science because it gives me hope for the future.

So thank you. Thank you to all the scientists out there…whether you’re trained as one or not. Thank you for asking questions, for doing the research, for caring enough to figure out how things work and how to make things better. Thank you to the scientists who are working to protect our earth; its plants, animals, and people. Because it matters. Because without science, we wouldn’t make it another 100 years. Without science, who would want to?

Oral Health and Oil Pulling

toothheartcoconut

Good oral hygiene is crucial. Not only for preventing cavities, gum disease, and bad breath, but also for maintaining good overall health. Please see article on mouth and body connection under ‘articles’, or follow link here.

I’ve recently added oil pulling to my oral health regimen. Oil pulling has been practiced in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to improve the health of teeth and gums. While sesame oil is often used, I prefer to use coconut oil. You can also use a mixture of the two.

How do you do it? Just warm up about a tablespoon of oil just until it is in a liquid form (coconut oil solidifies at cool temps), then swish it around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. I know, 20 minutes seems like a looooong time. I started with 5 minutes, and have worked up to 15. Basically, you want to swish it around long enough for the oil to pull toxins and bacteria out of your mouth.

Do not swallow the oil! It will contain toxins and bacteria that you want to remove from your body, not introduce to it. And make sure you spit the oil in the trash. It’s not good for your pipes to have that much oil going down the sink. After you spit, rinse your mouth well with warm water to make sure you get out all the toxins.

What are the benefits? A decrease in plaque, healthier gums, whiter teeth, better breath… Along with direct oral health benefits, it is thought to help with 30 systemic diseases ranging from migraines to asthma and diabetes. In Ayurvedic medicine, each part of the tongue is connected to a different organ of the body; another reason why good oral health is considered so important.

It’s OK to start out with a little less oil, and to hold it for only a few minutes at a time. It can be tough to get over the gag reflex at first, but after a few times it will seem more natural. Then you can increase the amount of oil and swish time.

Oil pulling is considered safe as long as you use good quality oil and do not swallow the oil at the end. I haven’t noticed any negative effects, just whiter teeth and less plaque 🙂

Resources:

Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/

What is Oil Pulling?: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/08/03/oil-pulling-benefits.aspx

Staying healthy through the holidays

We want to enjoy the holidays…we eat a little more than usual, drink a bit more than we should, eat a few more cookies than we’re willing to admit, and generally overindulge. On it’s own, this could just mean a few more pounds and feeling a bit more sluggish. Combine it with the stress that generally comes with the holidays, less sleep, more travel and more social events, and you have a recipe for illness. Time to start taking better care of our immune systems.

So what can we do? Remember to replenish – make sure you’re drinking enough water. We need water to help filter out all those toxins and keep our digestive systems running smoothly. Any time we have more alcohol or sugar in our diet, we need more water.  As a bonus, it also helps cut down the number of alcoholic drinks you have in an evening if you can remember to drink a full glass of water for each cocktail, glass of wine, or beer. Trust me – you’ll wake up feeling a whole lot better if you’re hydrated!

Make sure you’re still eating enough of the good stuff. It’s way too easy to reach for a cookie instead of an apple as an afternoon snack this time of year. The break room is surely stocked with sugary options. Plan ahead and pack snacks like cut up celery, carrot sticks, an apple, or banana. Add a little almond butter to make it more substantial, or grab a handful of nuts. And do yourself a real favor – instead of that donut in the morning, grab some yogurt; it has calcium, protein, and all kinds of good bacteria that your tummy will thank you for. I like to add psyllium husk (fiber) and hemp hearts (omega 3s) to mine.

Find time for you. It sounds cheesy, but it’s so important! Take the time to exercise, get a good night’s sleep, and unwind. So much of our stress this time of year is self-induced. We think we need to be superheroes. We don’t. If you don’t have time to do something, be honest about it. If you don’t want to do something, be honest about that too. And finally, be gentle with yourself. No one expects you to be perfect except for you. Let it go.

There are hundreds of herbs to choose from for support. Some of my favorites are listed below:

Great for digestion: fennel, ginger, peppermint, anise, and chamomile

Supportive and calming: lemon balm, holy basil (tulsi), lavender, and skullcap

Detoxifying: milk thistle, burdock, and dandelion

Immune boosting: elderberry, rose hips, echinacea, and oregano

As we look forward to a new year, may happiness and health continue to be yours.

Arnica to the Rescue!

I don’t just exercise because it’s good for me. I need to exercise.  It helps my restless leg syndrome, keeps my weight stable, keeps my energy up, and just makes me feel good. And I like to do fun things – paddle boarding, swimming, yoga, kick boxing… What I don’t like is running on a treadmill or spending 30 excruciating minutes on a stair-master. So when I heard a pole dancing/fitness studio had opened 5 minutes from my house, I was all over it.

Let’s go ahead and dispel some silly myths – pole dancing is not trashy, or slutty, or demeaning. It’s an incredible, challenging, beautiful art form. And when I say challenging – I mean it’s frickin tough! You need strength, grace, balance, coordination…did I mention strength? I’m the first to admit my lack of graceful transitions (I was not a ballerina as a kid), but I’m working on it. Thankfully, I’ve got the strength part going for me. And I’m using muscles I didn’t realize I wasn’t using! When was the last time your forearms were sore? Your pinky fingers? When I say ‘full body’, I mean full body workout.

The other thing about pole dancing that makes it tough is that you’re holding yourself up by your thighs, your knees, your arms…you’re pushing into the top of your foot, your shin, your forearm… I have bruises on the backs of my knees for goodness sakes! ‘Pole kisses’ as my teachers lovingly refer to them. Well, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. In fact, it’s what makes me want to keep at it. But I’m not one for bruises and sore muscles either. (you can’t tell, but I’m spinning in all of these shots)

Enter arnica salve… Arnica is well known as an external pain reliever. It’s good for bumps, bruises, sore muscles, and arthritis & joint pain. It comes in creams, salves, ointments, gels and oils. And boy does it make a difference! There are all kinds of ingredients people add to their arnica salves. I like to keep it simple: Arnica infused olive oil, beeswax, and wintergreen & lavender essential oils. Recipe Here. So now, a bruise that would have lasted a week lasts a couple days and doesn’t look so nasty. My muscles feel worked, but not painful. And I can get on to practicing things like mermaid spin, martini pose, thigh holds, and split grip spins….and pointing my toes – I must remember to point my toes!

If you live in the area and have any interest in pole fitness, I highly recommend checking out Aura Aerial and Yoga at http://www.auraaerialandyoga.com – a fun workout for sure!!

Healing Stones

Stones

The world is full of beautiful stones; gemstones, semi-precious stones, crystals… Some are obviously spectacular while others possess most of their beauty on the inside. We have birthstones, astrological stones, good luck stones, worry stones… Ever wonder why? I imagine you’ve been drawn to different stones at different times in your life – I’ve been particularly drawn to hematite, turquoise, amethyst, jade, sapphire, moonstone, tiger eye, and labradorite. While each stone has its own unique story, energy, and function, I’d like to talk about my favorite stone – labradorite.

Labradorite is treasured for its remarkable play of color, known as labradorescence. It’s blue-green, grey, gold, black, semi-translucent, and full of deep, gorgeous veins.

This is my favorite pendant in different light…

Labradorite is the most powerful protector of the mineral kingdom, and strengthens natural energies from within. It is thought to protect the aura against the negativity of this world, which is important since allowing this negativity to soak into us can cause all sorts of physical and emotional health problems.

Wearing or carrying Labradorite enhances mental and intuitive abilities. It brings out the best in people, and encourages faith in oneself. Labradorite tempers the negative side of our personality (yes, we all have one), the traits and actions that rob our energy and may produce depression or shame. It imparts strength and perseverance, so is useful in times of uncertainly or change.

Labradorite calms an overactive mind and energizes the imagination, bringing in new ideas. It is a wonderful tool for returning joy and spontaneity back to one’s life. Labradorite radiates a predominant blue crystal energy that stimulates the throat chakra, the voice of the body. When the throat chakra is in balance and open, it allows for the expression of what we think and what we feel. And let’s be honest – most of us could use a bit more of that!

Labradorite utilizes water energy, the energy of stillness, quiet strength, and purification. Blue crystals enhance any space that you use for repose, calm reflection, or prayer. In a previous blog we looked at how water can instill a sense of calmness within us. This stone helps bring forth that same feeling of peace and calm.

So what should you do with this amazing stone? Wear it, meditate with it, pray with it, or place it in a special spot in your house (labradorite is generally associated with the north part of the home). Sometimes I just rub it, like a worry stone. It doesn’t magically fix everything…but it does make me feel just a little lighter, a little happier, a little stronger, a little more beautiful.  And believe me – if nothing else, when you wear it, people will be drawn to its beauty.

What’s your favorite stone??

stones-2

Information adapted from Crystal Vaults – https://www.crystalvaults.com/crystal-encyclopedia/labradorite

Antibiotics

Antibiotics….Helpful or Harmful?

antibiotics

I’m sure you’ve heard of antibiotic resistant “super bugs” and the decreasing efficacy of antibiotics in general. Some people take a doomsday point of view – ‘we’re all going to die of simple infections without antibiotics’! Others say we should ban them all together. But what’s the reality of the situation?

Antibiotics can be useful and lifesaving. They are routinely used for surgery when people are at greater risk for infection, and to wipe out illnesses and sexually transmitted diseases that the body could not otherwise rid itself of. However, we haven’t come up with any new antibiotics since the 1980s!

The biggest problem, as I see it, is that nowadays antibiotics are used for everything! I can remember several occasions when we had that pink bubble gum Amoxicillin in our refrigerator as a kid. Think about it… Have a sinus infection? Antibiotics. The flu? Antibiotics. A sore throat? Antibiotics. A urinary tract infection? Antibiotics. And it’s not just doctors overprescribing these drugs…people use leftover antibiotics after not taking their full course of meds all the time.

Why does it matter? Well, there are 6 categories of antibiotics, and they are all used to treat different types of infections. They have different side effects, different interactions with other medications, and different treatment courses. And since some strains of bacteria can alter over time and become resistant to whatever’s trying to kill it, using the wrong drug, or not enough of the right drug, can have serious implications. In addition, antibiotics can destroy the good bacteria in the body, which allows the bad bacteria to multiply and replace them.

So what should we do? The short answer is to be more careful about what you’re doing to treat infections. Do your research! For example, antibiotics should not be used for colds. Colds are viral, and cannot be helped by taking antibiotics. Instead, help your immune system fight it off: Vitamin C, Zinc, Echinacea, and Elderberry all help boost your immune system; get some extra sleep; breathe in the steamy vapors of eucalyptus; use a neti pot to help clear out your nasal passages. You’d be amazed at the number of herbs that have antiviral and antibacterial properties. I swear by Uva Ursi for urinary tract infections, and Thyme and an essential oil blend known as thieves to prevent cold and flu. The best thing about herbs, vitamins, and minerals is that they work with your system, strengthening it to fight off invaders now and in the future.

Hope for the future? While I certainly don’t advocate using antibiotics for everyday infections, I do understand that sometimes they are necessary. The following articles have some interesting information about new breakthroughs in antibiotic research and development:

Could Ants be the Solution to Antibiotic Crisis?

First New Antibiotic in 30 Years Discovered in Major Breakthrough

Above all, be informed so you can be well.

 

Other Resources:

Are Antibiotics Really Appropriate for What Ails You? US News and World Report.

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-09-19/are-antibiotics-really-appropriate-for-what-ails-you

Antibiotics. WebMD

http://www.webmd.boots.com/nhs/antibiotics