One day you wake up with a tremor in your thigh. Then, it’s an annoying twitch in your eye. You notice it’s harder to pick up grocery bags. You begin to feel weak, even clumsy. Your doctor passes it off as stress or fatigue due to your challenging work schedule. You’re not convinced and you push for further testing. After ruling out other possibilities, you learn you are among the estimated 2.3 million people who have Multiple Sclerosis.
A disease of the nervous system, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) develops when an inflammatory process in the body attacks the delicate myelin sheaths that insulate nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. This results in scarring (sclerosis) of the nerve tissue, ultimately, damaging and blocking nerve impulses that control muscle strength, sensation, coordination, and vision.
While the exact cause of MS is not known, experts agree that it’s characterized by an altered immune response. Environmental triggers, infections, and heredity may play a role. MS can affect young children and the elderly, but is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 40; it’s two times more likely in women.
Symptoms vary widely but often include:
Fatigue and dizziness
Weakness and loss of coordination
Numbness or weakness in the extremities
Electric-shock like sensation with certain head motions
Significant changes in vision or complete loss of vision
Other symptoms can include slurred speech, muscle spasticity, paralysis, and problems such as loss of bladder control.
Working with a Holistic Physician
Managing MS is an ongoing and often lifelong process. Whether treated conventionally or holistically, it involves changes to lifestyle and health habits. The goal with holistic treatment is to go beyond addressing symptoms and strive to identify the underlying cause in order to restore optimal well-being for each patient.
A holistic doctor’s approach includes a physical exam, lab tests and a thorough medical history, including any significant infections or illness. It also addresses nutrient imbalances, food allergies/ sensitivities, and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, weight management, stress, and exposure to toxins. Treatment may also include:
A Diet Rich in Antioxidants. Dietary intake of foods rich in the antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E helps the body reduce oxidative stress, which is damaging to cells. These vitamins help slow the damage done to the nervous system.
Supporting Energy Levels with B-vitamins. People with MS tend to be deficient in B-vitamins, which support nerve structure and function. Vitamin B-12 is critical for shielding the nerves from the worst damage caused by free radicals, as well as for energy production.
Creating a Healthy Lifestyle. Includes eliminating smoking, reducing use of alcohol, managing stress, and creating opportunities to experience joy and renewal from life’s daily hustle.
Strengthening the Neuromuscular System. People with MS can, and should, exercise. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong are excellent ways to strengthen the body and the neuromuscular pathways for movement, balance, and coordination. At any level of MS, exercise can be performed, whether with assistive devices, in a chair, or with the aid of a trainer or physical therapist.
Water Therapy for Pain and Stress. For swimmers and non-swimmers alike, getting in the water is great for MS. It reduces stress on the joints, muscle pain, mental stress, and fatigue. Epsom salt baths may also provide comfort. Another “water” therapy that may be considered is constitutional hydrotherapy. In general, hot baths, saunas, and whirlpools should be avoided unless otherwise recommended by your doctor
Homeopathic Remedies. Intricately individualized, homeopathic remedies are selected based on symptoms, severity of disease, lifestyle factors, a patient’s level of vitality, environmental toxin exposure, and a patient’s ability to comply with a treatment plan.
Detox. Because exposure to toxins in the environment can play a role in triggering MS, it’s important to follow a physician-guided detox plan. This can include modifying the home/work environment and limiting exposure to known toxins.
In partnership with a holistic physician, with commitment to a treatment plan and attentive, personalized attention to symptoms and underlying causes, people who have MS can live highly functional lives and even heal from MS.
“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”– Joyce Meyer
Sweet and tangy pineapple – who can resist its juicy, vibrant flavor? Not too many of us: pineapple often ranks as one of America’s most in-demand tropical fruits.
Pineapple (Ananas comosus) contains two important enzymes, pancreatin and bromelain, that help break up protein molecules for easier digestion and absorption. Besides being anti-inflammatory, these enzymes help reduce the level of circulating immune complexes (CICs). High levels of CICs occur in a number of autoimmune diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis. Rich in Vitamin C, pineapple also provides antioxidant protection and support for the immune system.
Pineapple season runs March through June, but some markets may have them available throughout the year. Look for one that has a sweet aroma at the stem end, is free of soft spots, bruises or darkened “eyes.” It’s also good to choose one that is heavy for its size. While larger pineapples yield more edible flesh, there’s usually no difference in quality between a large and small fruit. You often get more flavor in a hefty, smaller pineapple. Cut the fruit within two days of purchasing. Once cut, chilled pineapple retains its nutrients for up to a week. You can also freeze pineapple chunks for use in smoothies, fruit water, and ice pops.
Since cooking pineapple can destroy the enzyme action important for the body, it’s best to eat fresh, raw pineapple, or dried (dehydrated) pineapple without added sugar or sulfites. Another good option is frozen pineapple, no sugar added. Raw pineapple is ideal to use in dishes such as relish, fruit salads, dressings, smoothies, and yogurt. If you do choose to cook with pineapple, add small chunks or medium-size slices toward the end of the cooking process. Better yet, top warm food with chilled pineapple and enjoy!
When you want to add sweetness to an entree, put Pineapple Relish at the top of your list. It’s perfect with fish tacos, or to accompany any meat or vegan protein dish that’s got a lot of mojo for your tastebuds.
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh serrano chile, including seeds
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
Combine all ingredients and serve immediately. Store leftovers for up to three days.
The Power of Potassium for Muscle and Nerve Function
Potassium is a mineral that, once inside the body, operates as an electrolyte. Potassium ions carry a positive charge that the body uses for neural and muscular function. The average adult needs 4,700 mg of potassium daily compared to only 200 mg of sodium. Unfortunately, for most people, our eating habits fill us with too much sodium (3,300 mg a day) and not nearly enough potassium. This imbalance can cause muscle cramps, as well as problems with nerve transmission, hypertension, fluid balance and cellular function throughout the body.
Conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis are marked by changes in muscle tissue, including strength, tone, and resiliency, as well as the inability to generate strong nerve conduction. Too little (or too much) potassium in the blood has a significant impact on the strength of nerve impulses and muscle contraction for both the heart and skeletal muscle.
When your body is receiving enough potassium, blood pressure and fluid levels stay in optimal balance, providing protection against stroke, kidney stones, and more serious muscle or nervous system conditions.
Great sources of potassium include cooked beet greens, Portobello mushrooms, avocado, spinach, kale, salmon, bananas, and yams. Taking too much potassium can lead to kidney damage or even heart arrhythmia. You’ll want to consult with a holistic physician regarding the right dose for you.
Among the most nutritious of berries, Black Currants (Ribes nigrum) were once a forbidden fruit in the United States. Native to Europe and Asia, it was believed that the berries spread a fungus that killed pine trees. Fortunately, we know better today and have discovered the many health benefits of this herb. Important compounds and nutrients found in black currant include antioxidants, vitamin C and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
GLA is an unusual fatty acid that is not available in many other dietary sources. It works as an anti-inflammatory and has been used in managing several autoimmune disorders, as well as health conditions where inflammation plays a significant role. Because it’s an adaptogenic herb – meaning it helps support your adrenal system – it can work with your body to modulate the effects of stress.
For nutritional supplementation, black currant is available in tea blends, oil, pill and capsule form. When using black currant medicinally, it can take up to eight weeks to see changes.
Because it can impair blood clotting, produce soft stools and mild intestinal gas in some people, be sure to check with a holistic health provider before adding a black currant supplement to your health regimen.
You know you should do it, but in a rush, you often skip it: Stretching. It’s important to your health, regardless of how intensely you do – or do not – exercise Regular stretching helps increase muscle flexibility, which is one of the important factors of fitness. Muscles that are limber have better reaction times, help protect joints, support posture, and reduce stress and body aches.
Additional benefits of stretching include:
Increased range of motion around the joint
Enhanced blood flow circulation throughout the muscle
Enhanced performance in physical activity (for work or play)
Prevention of injury to muscles and joints, including the back
Improved recovery time and reduced soreness after a workout
Styles of Stretching:
Static Stretching: Involves holding the body in a particular stretch position for 10-30 seconds. This is most beneficial after you exercise. You often do a lot of static stretches in a gentle yoga class.
Dynamic Stretching: Active movement that gently warms the muscles as they stretch, but you don’t hold the stretch. This is the type of movement done before exercise or sport. The movements might mimic those being done in an exercise routine, but at a slower and more deliberate pace. If you watch pro athletes before an event, you’ll see this type of stretching.
PNF – Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation: Involves actively contracting and relaxing specific muscles in specific patterns. For example, a “hold-relax” pattern places the muscle in the stretched position for a few seconds and is followed by contracting the muscle without moving the joint. Other PNF patterns involve contraction, stretch and relaxation for different lengths of time and in differing order. PNF is commonly used by physical therapists, athletic trainers and athletes. It can be done with a partner’s assistance or on your own (possibly using props such as straps or blocks, as in a yoga class). The muscles that respond best to PNF are the ones we often overuse and/or neglect, making them most prone to injury: hamstrings, glutes (your squatting muscles in the butt), back, and shoulder muscles.
To learn more about the type of stretching that best addresses your needs, consult your physician and/or an experienced physical therapist or chiropractor. You might also consider working with a yoga teacher certified in Yoga for MS or an exercise specialist/trainer certified in water fitness or medical exercise.
Fever phobia is fairly common among parents of young children, and even some adults when they become sick. We worry that something serious is going on. Most often, that’s not the case.
Fever occurs when our body’s internal thermostat (an organ in the brain called the hypothalamus) shifts our body’s normal set-point upward, indicating that something is out of balance. It can be brought on by a virus, bacterial infection, heat exhaustion, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, teething, pain and vaccinations just to name a few. Symptoms may include:
Chills and shivering
Headache and muscle aches
Loss of appetite
While these symptoms are uncomfortable, be comforted knowing that fever is a natural and beneficial response of the immune system. It plays a key role in helping the body fight off infections and can even help strengthen immunity. It typically resolves on its own.
You should know . . .
For infants, toddlers and young children, a slight fever generally will go away with attentive care and holistic therapy such as those outlined in this newsletter. However, for infants younger than two months, fever should be discussed with your family doctor.
If a child is unable to hold eye contact/seems unresponsive, has intense neck pain or uncontrolled vomiting, seek emergency medical care. Adults should seek emergency care if they become confused, experience abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, intense head or neck pain, or have a seizure.
Children between the ages of six months and five years might experience febrile seizures. The seizure is triggered by a rapid change of temperature. About one-third of children who have one febrile seizure will have another one, most commonly within a year. This is generally not harmful and unlikely to cause long-term damage. If a seizure occurs, loosen tight clothing and gently hold the child on the ground in a safe area to prevent injury.
Holistic, Gentle Ways to Manage Fever
Since most fevers resolve on their own, don’t be quick to reach for over-the-counter meds to lower it. Instead, consider the following simple therapies aimed at supporting the body’s innate ability to heal and restore balance.
Fast the Fever. Never feed a fever. The body’s resources should not be diverted to digesting food while it’s fighting fever. Drink clear broth, homemade electrolyte replacement drinks, water or suck on ice cubes.
Keep a Journal. Record when the fever started, temperature, how you measured (oral, ear, rectal, etc.), and note any symptoms. Be sure to measure temperature consistently, not with different instruments each time (note differences in recording methods). Also, note if there was exposure to anyone who’s been ill. List all medications, vitamins and supplements taken. You’ll need this if you have to see the doctor or go to the ER.
Use Hydrotherapy. This home remedy increases comfort while supporting the body’s ability to lower temperature. It involves the use of cold towels or sheets with a wool blanket over top and all wrapped around the body. Details are in the therapy section of this newsletter.
The bottom line is that a fever is the body’s attempt to restore balance. Your holistic practitioner may have other suggestions and strategies for supporting the body through a fever so be sure and check in with them!
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”– Helen Keller
Broth: Health Benefits Approved by Mom
From Mom’s best health advice – to holistic doctors everywhere – soup broth tops the list of healing foods to eat when you’re feeling sick or simply need a soothing, light and nutritious meal.
Varieties of soup broth include vegetable, fish, chicken, beef and bone broth without meat. Make your broth by simmering the ingredients, straining off the solids and saving the liquid. Overall, broths don’t contain much protein, are low in carbs, and abundant in nutrients. For robust flavor and nutrition power, you want the broth to include a variety of veggies and herbs such as carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms, onion, spinach, leeks, broccoli, green beans, bay leaf, turmeric, ginger, parsley, and pepper to name a few.
The soothing effect of drinking warm, steaming broth happens to be an effective way to loosen up mucus when you have a stuffy nose and it can ease irritation from a sore throat. Broth helps provide what the body needs to prevent dehydration and manage nausea. This is because broth contains many minerals, including potassium, sodium, and calcium, which are important to hydration and heart and muscle function. Broth also contains Vitamin A which is important for immunity. The wider the variety of veggies and herbs included in the broth, the more robust the vitamin and anti-inflammatory power.
Consider this soup-broth bonus: it’s not only good for you when fever hits; the endless varieties of broth offer health benefits when you make it a frequent part of your usual diet.
Dr. Henry Bieler was a visionary American physician who advocated for the treatment of disease through diet. He believed the primary cause of disease is not germs, but imbalances in the body caused by lifestyle, including poor diet. His famous broth is rich in potassium and sodium. It supports the healthy functioning of the liver and the adrenal glands. This broth also provides nourishment for the body when feverish.
4 medium zucchinis, chopped
3 cups string beans, ends removed
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 bunches parsley, stems removed
1 quart filtered water
sea salt to taste
*Use organic veggies when possible, or local and in season.
Place water, zucchini, string beans, and celery in a stock pot.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are softened but not overcooked. Spoon the mixture into a blender, add a handful of parsley, and liquefy. Pulse a few times to get it started. Make sure you hold onto the lid.
One pot of broth will create several blender batches. Have a pitcher or jars on hand to fill as you blend. To thicken the broth and enhance the healing properties of the broth, add a teaspoon of ghee to each blender batch.
Skip the Gatorade and Make Your Own Electrolyte Drink
Why use a commercial electrolyte replacement beverage when you can make your own and know that it will have far greater benefits and less sugar and chemical additives than anything sold in stores? An electrolyte drink is essential for rehydrating after intense training or competition in the heat, for hydrating a day or two before a sports event, and for preventing or recovering from the dehydration caused by illness.
16 ounces filtered water
1 large or two small oranges
1/3 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 tsp liquid trace minerals *optional
1 Tbsp raw honey (use maple syrup for children under 12 months of age) *optional
Juice the orange and the lemon.
Mix the fresh juices with the sea salt, honey (maple syrup), and optional trace minerals.
Blend the juice mixture with filtered water in a tall glass.
Serve electrolyte replacement at room temperature, NOT cold as this inhibits absorption.
Sip and drink half within about one hour. Consume the rest as needed.
Refrigerate remainder of juice. Use within 2-3 days. Remember to bring to room temperature before drinking.
Just a glance at the lavender-hued petals and deep crimson center of Echinacea flowers can brighten a gloomy day. That’s probably why this wildflower is a staple in many gardens. Plus, with many medicinal uses, echinacea is a wonderful addition to your home apothecary, especially during cold and flu season.
Historically, Native Americans used echinacea for more therapeutic purposes than any other herb. Fresh root was chewed to numb a toothache while juice made from the roots was used in baths and salves to treat skin irritations and even snakebites. By the mid-1800s, American herbalists were using it to treat cold, cough and other respiratory symptoms. Usage in America declined in the 1900s but picked up in Germany where much of the research on the herb has been done.
Today, echinacea is one of the most well-studied herbs. Herbalists and physicians from many different countries use it for the treatment of the common cold, flu, cough, sore throat and fever. While many believe echinacea can be used to prevent illness, it’s more effective at reducing the intensity and length of a cold by about two days. Echinacea also helps boost immune function thereby enhancing the body’s ability to resist infection.
Echinacea can be taken as a tea, tincture or in capsule form. Daily use of tea is a wonderful addition to your relaxation ritual. When taking echinacea to combat a cold, it’s best to take it at the first sign of illness. Ask your holistic physician which form and dose of echinacea is best for you.
When an adult is struck down with fever, we make our way through the misery. When a child runs a temp that just doesn’t come down (or keeps rising), you want to have every reasonable remedy at the ready to help make the child comfortable. The hydrotherapy remedies described below are also suitable for adults but our focus is on children.
“Magic” Socks at First Signs of a Fever
Typically done at night before sleep, this therapy can really boost immune function. Wet a pair of thin cotton socks and wring out well. Put on wet socks and cover with a thick pair of wool socks. Snuggle up in bed and allow the body to dry the socks through the night. This can also be done during the day as long as the person is lying down and resting until the socks have thoroughly dried.
Cold “Magic” Towel Remedy to Reduce Mild Fever (99-102 degrees)
Place a cold, well-wrung out towel on the abdomen and cover it with a wool blanket. Leave it in place for 20 minutes as the body warms up the towel. This will reduce temperature by one degree or return to normal temperature if the body is ready. If fever is 102-103 degrees, this method can still be beneficial or try the remedy below.
Spanish Mantel (or Magic Carpet) Remedy for Fever over 103 degrees
Since the fever is higher and the child’s discomfort is greater, a full body wrap is used. Wet a sheet in cold water, wring it out well, and wrap it around the body; then, cover in a wool blanket. This will bring the fever down by two degrees or the fever will break.
When fever is over 99 degrees, the child must be on a liquid fast, drinking clear broth, homemade electrolyte replacement drinks, water or sucking on ice cubes. Food requires digestion which generates heat that causes temp to rise. The body doesn’t use resources for digestion when fighting a fever so either your youngster will wind up nauseated as food sits in the gut or the fever will persist much longer than if fasting.
The liquid fast should continue until the temp stays below 99 for at least six hours. With very high fevers, this could take a few days. At this time, introduce homemade vegetable soup or other foods suggested to you by your holistic practitioner.
The child may lose a pound or two, but once free of fever and return of appetite, they will regain that weight.
Seek emergency care immediately if you are unable to manage the fever, if an infant has persistently dry diapers, or if a child becomes lethargic or unresponsive. Never hesitate to get help.
In 2017, the most popular New Year’s resolution was to lose weight and eat healthier. However, only 9.2% of all people who set resolutions actually reported feeling that they were successful in achieving what they set out to.
Make a Change for Better Health in the New Year
Have you set an intention to make better choices around diet and exercise in the New Year? Kudos for recognizing a change needs to be made and committing to it! As you begin to adopt new, healthier behavior, remember that change is a process. Be kind and patient with yourself. It takes about six weeks for a new behavior to become ingrained in our lifestyle, whether it’s exercising, eating more veggies and less meat, or limiting those sodas you’ve come to love.
Success involves creating plans for moving forward, as well as for for managing those inevitable setbacks. Here are some simple strategies to help you achieve your goals.
Know Your Why. Write down why you want to adopt a particular health behavior or change a poor one. Motivation is an important predictor of behavior, so be honest with yourself. Think deeper than just wanting to fit into smaller clothes – examine how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. Connecting emotion to your “why” strengthens your motivation and willingness to stick to the goal: I’ll feel healthier and stronger and more confident when I lose weight and fit into a smaller size.
Find Your Tribe. Enlist the support of loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Working toward a goal together provides social support that makes it easier (and more fun) to stick with making the change. You might start by telling the people closest to you what you are doing and why. Ask people for specific help: When you see me reach for a third cookie, please say something. Tell people what you need as you start and keep them updated as you progress.
Have a Plan and Be Flexible. Anything you want to achieve isn’t about finding the time, it’s about making the time – and that’s a choice in your power. Look at your daily and weekly routines to identify blocks of time when you can exercise or prepare meals in advance. It may mean getting up 20 minutes earlier or getting off social media. Do it. Make actual appointments with yourself and keep them. Planning also means knowing your environment – at home, work and play – and being aware of triggers that could put you off course. Examples: bring your lunch instead of going out; take a walk before eating; reduce temptation by removing salty, fatty snacks from the house; shop for food mindfully, staying in the outside aisles of the store where the food is typically healthier. And be flexible: life happens and things will get in the way. Those are temporary shifts. Get right back to your health routine the following day or as soon as possible.
Set Reasonable Goals. If you need to get up earlier to exercise, don’t start with an hour – start with ten minutes. Every five days increase by five minutes until you’re awake early enough to do the kind of workout that you want. Starting with small, reasonable goals makes them more attainable and gives you a sense of achievement. And that’s important when you’re first making a behavior change. Every small success builds up to bigger achievements.
Celebrate! In your plan, note the markers at which you’ll celebrate success. Incorporate a small reward for weekly successes and a bigger reward for milestones (e.g., 3 weeks of exercising daily, or losing the first five pounds). Rewards need not be expensive; rather, make them meaningful for you – and not food based unless you’re going out to a great new vegan restaurant.
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin
With a nutrient profile similar to kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, arugula is an excellent alternative to these other cruciferous vegetables. Its distinctive, almost peppery flavor, makes arugula easy to enjoy and you’ll easily boost the flavor and health power of a meal when you add in this Mediterranean leafy green.
Arugula is high in the following vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin C, A, and K: these antioxidants play a role in protecting cells from free radical damage (oxidation). Vitamins A and C also support a healthy immune system. Vitamin K is involved in the body’s blood clotting process and plays a role in bone health, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
Folate (a B vitamin): supports the production of DNA and is very important in a healthy pregnancy and fetal development.
Calcium and potassium: minerals that have many functions in the body. Both are involved in producing strong muscle contraction. Calcium is important to bone and tooth health. Potassium, an electrolyte, is essential for healthy heart and nerve function and it helps maintain healthy sodium levels in the body.
Add arugula to a salad, rice and other grains, or use in your main meal in lieu of parsley or other herbs. With its lovely leaf shape, flavor and edible flowers, arugula can add pizzazz to many dishes.
In this simple, seasonal and healthy salad, peppery arugula is combined with crisp apples, toasted pecans, red onion, and dried cranberry. A vibrant lemon vinaigrette complements this flavorful plant-based dish. It’s a perfect beginning to your lunch or dinner. To make it a main dish, consider adding crumbled goat cheese, white beans, chickpeas, or tofu for your favorite protein. Serves 4.
1/2 cup raw pecans
7 ounces arugula (organic when possible)
2 small apples (1 tart, 1 sweet, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise)
1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
2 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)
1 large lemon, juiced (1 lemon yields ~3 Tbsp or 45 ml)
1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1 pinch each sea salt + black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and arrange pecans on a bare baking sheet.
Bake pecans for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and deep golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
While pecans are toasting, prep remaining salad ingredients and add to a large mixing bowl.
Prepare dressing in a mixing bowl or mason jar by adding all ingredients and whisking or shaking vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
Add pecans to salad and top with dressing. Toss to combine and serve immediately. Serves two as an entrée and four as a side.
Store leftovers (dressing separate from salad) covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (though best when fresh). Dressing should keep at room temperature for 2-3 days when well sealed.
Co-enzyme Q10: Vital to Energy Production in the Body
Very rarely is a substance so important – and prevalent – in the human body as is Co-enzyme Q10. As critical as it is, however, our body’s ability to make CoQ10 peaks at about age 21 and steadily declines as we age. By the time most of us are in our 80’s, our natural source of CoQ10 has declined by 60-65%. Stress, medical conditions and drug interactions, especially statin drugs, can contribute to its depletion. While foods such as beef, pork, chicken, organ meats and fatty fish are good sources of CoQ10, it’s nearly impossible for our diet alone to make up for loss from age-related or external factors.
Here’s why maintaining healthy levels of CoQ10 is important: it plays a role in fueling the energy production mechanism in every cell of our body and helps maintain optimal functioning of heart muscle and blood vessel walls. As a potent antioxidant, it protects the integrity of the cells, keeping oxidative stress at bay – essential for bolstering the cells against disease and the aging process. Research shows CoQ10 benefits people who are in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. It also has been shown to improve the symptoms of congestive heart failure in some patients.
Signs of CoQ10 deficiency can vary tremendously from person to person and may include fatigue, muscle pains and / or spasms, joint pain, headache, frequent and long-lived illness and poor memory. There are tests available to check CoQ10 levels. If you’re deficient, consider taking a supplement. An interesting fact: because CoQ10 is present in just about all body tissue, the scientific name of the supplement is ubiquitous Quinone, or Ubiquinone.
There are two forms of CoQ10 supplements: Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol, both of which are generally recognized as safe for adults. Ubiquinone is the most studied form in all research prior to 2006. Ubiquinol was developed to offer the same benefits as its predecessor but with greater stability in capsule form – the preferred form used by most people. The ability to produce and absorb CoQ10 changes with age and health status. Talk with your holistic practitioner about the the amount and form best suited to your needs.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is an ancient remedy for detoxifying the body, relieving pain, and supporting the health of red blood cells, the skin, and sound sleep. It’s also highly regarded for promoting mental clarity and spiritual resilience, making lemongrass a useful “mind-body herb.”
For the physical body, lemongrass has long been used for treating arthritis, fever, and anemia. It’s also used to support healthy digestion. Lemongrass is high in antioxidants, which help protect the integrity of the cells. Holistic physicians often use lemongrass in the management of anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
For the spirit, lemongrass oil is an excellent aromatherapy ‘rescue remedy’ for times when you are struggling to accomplish something but are weighed down by procrastination or lack of clarity. Diffusing lemongrass oil or burning lemongrass incense or candles can bring you clarity of purpose and focus on a task while warding off interruption.
Lemongrass has a vibrant lemon-like flavor and aroma. When you want to add pizazz to an entrée, use fresh or dried lemongrass in your broths, meat, poultry and seafood dishes and enjoy added health benefits. And, when you need to invigorate and clarify your thinking, lemongrass has much to offer: Enjoy it as a tea, in an herbal salve or lotion, and as a tincture. Check with your holistic practitioner for the best way to use lemongrass for your wellbeing.
So Many Apps, So Little Time: Which Fitness & Diet App is Best for You?
Sticking to diet, fitness or other wellness goals can be made simpler by using some of the many popular apps on the market. A well-designed app can help you stay motivated, track progress, and provide reinforcement for even the smallest successes. With thousands of apps available, the hardest part is figuring out which ones are best for you.
The majority of diet and fitness tracking apps are not regulated by a governing agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration, unless it’s considered a medical device. Be prepared for some trial and error in testing out apps; but before you get to the road-test stage, keep the following tips in mind.
Essential Features of Quality Apps
Key features to look for in an app designed to track eating and exercise behavior:
user-friendly, intuitive platform that displays data that is relevant for you;
ability to set a goal and get visual or other feedback (e.g., alerts, stickers) so you can see your progress and feel a sense of achievement;
tools for positive reinforcement/accountability (e.g., social networks, contests);
accuracy of data entered and how it is tabulated, including calories, nutrients, steps, miles, etc.
Apps that monitor dietary intake of macro and micronutrients (e.g., calories, protein, fat, sodium, sugar, vitamins etc.) should have a comprehensive food database. Make sure the database includes foods you typically eat.
A physical activity app is best if it accurately tracks the activity you enjoy and will help you stick with it over time. For most people, it may be helpful to find a fitness app that allows you to track a variety of activities (e.g., walking, weight training, or swimming) and encourages you to increase total movement each day. Others may want to gather robust data for more intense training such as distance running. There are also many apps that will take you through a basic workout right on your phone. As your fitness level improves, you can always change or upgrade the app.
Quick Tips for Choosing a Reliable App
When viewing an app in the iTunes or Android store:
Read reviews to see if the app performs as advertised.
Look at the date the developer updated the app. It should be updated regularly, at least within the last 3 months.
Visit the developer website for the app:
Look at the developer team. Ideally, you want to see medical advisors, not just engineers, with appropriate health/medical credentials
Be realistic about what is promised:
Steer clear of apps that claim to diagnose or treat as well as those that suggest you take a certain drug or supplement, or encourage restrictive diets or excessive exercise.
According to Make A Difference Day Survey (ICM Research 2004), 63% of 25 to 34-year-olds say volunteering helps them feel less stressed and half of people (48%) who have volunteered for more than two years say volunteering makes them less depressed.
Mindful Gift Giving: Tips for the Holiday Season
For many of us, gift giving is the biggest stress of the holiday season – from finding time to shop, to selecting the right gift, to getting the best price. We struggle emotionally knowing gifts often hold symbolic meaning for the recipient; yet, not having other ideas, we go to our default mode of shopping big box retailers for the “latest and greatest.” We do this despite the fact that these products tend to become outdated or lose their appeal within days.
This year, try your hand at mindful gift-giving: it can ease your stress, bring you greater joy, often costs less, and allows you to honor friends and family with gifts that are thoughtful and personal. It’s a way to say, “I thought of you” rather than “I shopped for you.” Here’s how it works:
Sit with a pad and paper (put the devices away) and make a list of the people you’re giving to this year. Leave space between each name for notes.
Jot down what you know about the person: their likes, their hobbies, their hopes, dreams and passions. What are their pet peeves? How do they spend their time at work, at play? Do they volunteer; what causes are important to them? Do they have an unmet need that you’ve observed?
Let your mind wander for a bit, exploring ideas related to what you know about the person. Imagine gifts that help solve a problem, support a hobby, enhance a sense of community. For those that require a purchase, set a price range within your means. You don’t have to buy gifts to fulfill big dreams, but it’s likely you can find or make something that holds meaning for the recipient.
Before you participate in the Big Box Rush, consider some of these ways for meaningful gift-giving:
The Gift of Presence. Do you know an overworked single parent? Make your gift a double: a gift card to a spa or salon while you watch the kids. A lonely friend or neighbor? Make up a gift certificate for time together, your treat: lunch, movie, theater, museum (you get the idea).
The Gift of Service, Skill, or Talent. Maybe someone needs help around their house. Or your unique skills. If you sew, make a gift card offering to sew for someone. If you draw, paint, take pictures, or are an excellent cook put these talents to use in the form of a gift or offer to teach them your skill. Another idea: a coupon book for services, such as rides, lawn maintenance, housekeeping, pet watching, that can be used throughout the year.
The Gift of Memories. Write a note, a poem, or create a collage of photos and captions of experiences you’ve shared with someone. A memento of times together is a wonderful way to give a gift that lasts forever.
The Gift of Igniting Passions. If you know someone who talks about wanting to learn to paint, buy them a series of classes. Or a how-to book and some supplies. On the other end of the spectrum, if your mother-in-law hates grocery shopping, buy her a month of meal delivery service.
A little mindfulness and creative thought can add joy and meaning to the process of gift giving during the holiday season or anytime of the year.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Holiday Digestive Support: Ginger
Around the holidays, or anytime you’ve over-indulged, consider sweet and zesty ginger for nourishing the digestive organs. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a knobby, horn-shaped rhizome with a long history of supporting metabolism, aiding digestion and reducing inflammation. It helps heal upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, motion sickness, and morning sickness.
Current research indicates that ginger stimulates the production of enzymes in saliva and along digestive pathways. Biologically active compounds in ginger bind to receptors in the digestive tract, which seems to be instrumental in minimizing the sensations that create nausea and indigestion. Ginger also plays a role in the breakdown of starches and fatty food. All good things when your tummy has gone sour.
There are many fresh and dried preparations for ginger including tincture, extracts and capsules prepared in different strengths; consult with a holistic physician to determine your medicinal needs.
Ginger is also available as a “chew” or lozenges and tea infusions, all of which are ideal for upset stomach. Don’t forget to try a cup of homemade Ginger Ale, enjoyed with a side of Gingerbread, both prepared with a freshly grated ginger rhizome.
Who doesn’t love this old-fashioned favorite holiday dessert? Just thinking about the aroma of warm gingerbread wafting through the air is bound to put you in a festive spirit. Enjoy gingerbread after your meal or with your morning tea.
Ingredients for Bread
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup boiling water
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger or gingerbread spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
Ingredients for Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ or glazing sugar (or Swerve)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ square pan.
In a large bowl, blend the sugar, molasses, water and butter, stirring until the butter melts. When the mixture is lukewarm, add the baking soda, salt, and egg.
Sift together the flour and spices, and add to the wet ingredients. Gently stir in the crystallized ginger.
Pour the batter into the pan, and bake the gingerbread for 25 to 28 minutes, or until it tests done with a clean skewer in the center.
Remove from oven and turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
While cooling, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar and vanilla, then stir in the crystallized ginger. Apply icing as desired.
Have you ever wondered how the macronutrients in food – fats, carbohydrates and proteins – get where they need to be in your body? This is where digestive enzymes come into play: they move macronutrients, vitamins and minerals out of the digestive tract and into the bloodstream where they participate in functions such as growth and repair. If the body is deficient in these enzymes (due to genetics, illness, or food allergy), food cannot be properly digested.
Major Digestive Enzymes:
Proteases break down protein into amino acids and peptides.
Lipases break down fat into three types of fatty acids.
Amylases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.
Other enzymes target specific sugars:
Lactase breaks down the sugar in milk.
Maltase moves maltose, which is produced from starch, and converts it into glucose that the body uses for quick energy.
Sucrase works on sucrose and converts it into other sugar molecules.
Deficiencies in digestive enzymes often result in gastrointestinal distress after eating food that contains a starch, fat, or protein the body cannot break down. For example, if you’re deficient in lactase, you’ll feel ill (bloating, cramps, gas) after eating dairy products.
Digestive enzymes are naturally present in many foods. Pineapple and papaya are rich in proteases and can help ease symptoms of IBS. Mango and banana contain enzymes that break down starches. Other excellent sources of digestive enzymes include kefir, sauerkraut, honey and ginger. To reap the benefits, eat these foods at their peak freshness and chew mindfully as saliva activates many enzymes. Eat fruits raw as heating destroys the enzymes.
When treating digestive dysfunction, food allergy or sensitivity, a holistic physician may recommend dietary changes along with enzymes in pill form. Many factors influence how you should take these enzymes (before, during, or after a meal). Your holistic practitioner can help determine how digestive enzymes can best support your health.
Peppermint for Home and Health during the Holidays
Aromatic peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used for centuries to add flavor or fragrance to foods, cosmetics, toothpaste and mouthwash, soaps, candles, and scented products for the home. Several different cultures also use peppermint leaves, oil, and fresh or dried powder in holistic health preparations.
As a traditional remedy, peppermint is used to awaken the mind and help relieve fatigue. Consider lighting a peppermint scented candle during the busy holiday season. Peppermint is also well known for relief of symptoms associated with the common cold and indigestion; it works by calming the stomach muscles and improving the movement of bile through the digestive system. Some scientific studies indicate that peppermint can improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Because the menthol component of peppermint acts as a decongestant, peppermint essential oil is a good choice for use in a diffuser, as a chest rub, or added to a warm bath. Dried peppermint leaves make for an excellent infusion for tea.
It is possible to be allergic to peppermint. Even though it can ease digestive complaints, it may not be appropriate for people who have acid reflux (GERD). Like many other herbs, peppermint can interact with other herbs, prescription medicine, or supplements. Peppermint can affect respiratory function in young children; it should not be used without the supervision of a trained medical aromatherapist. Be sure to consult your health practitioner before adding any form of peppermint (oil, capsule, tea) to your health regimen.
Lower stress, higher self-confidence, and enhanced social relationships – sounds like the health benefits of exercise, right? Surprise! Those benefits also come from volunteering. Whether you’re working at a food shelter, giving time as a literacy mentor, or helping out after a natural disaster, the many ways of doing good for others is also good for your health.
In general, people volunteer because they believe helping those who are having a harder time in life can actually make a difference. That alone makes those who volunteer feel good about themselves, about others, and about their community. But there’s much more to it; research shows that the “happiness effect” of volunteering enhances social, emotional, and physical aspects of health and that these benefits increase as we age.
Strengthens community ties
Builds in-person social networks to create genuine friendships
Reduces feelings of loneliness
Enhances professional networks and job opportunities
Strengthens emotional stability for those with and without mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD
Contributes to a sense of purpose
Lowers stress and tension
Enhances brain function
Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Promotes being physically active
People who volunteer tend to take better care of themselves; they typically have lower rates of heart disease, depression and anxiety. These health benefits don’t just apply to adults. They apply to kids and teens as well. As noted earlier, the benefits continue as we age and become even more pronounced for older adult volunteers.
So, find a cause (or two) that is meaningful for you, involve the whole family in volunteering, and celebrate all that it does for others and for you!
Between your nose and brain, you can smell and “remember” at least 50,000 different scents.
Take A Holistic Approach to Antibiotic Resistance
When it comes to our health, there are two schools of thought: the Germ Theory and the Terrain Theory. Understanding the differences is critical, particularly because it involves the use of antibiotics, which should be used sparingly and for the right reasons. So let’s examine this often confusing topic.
The Germ Theory asserts that, regardless of the state of our health, germs that can cause disease will, indeed, cause disease. That’s because the germ is responsible for our illness and not the overall state of our health. Traditional medical practice calls for identifying and destroying invading germs, including bacteria (but not by viruses including cold and flu) through the use of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics are often over-prescribed and germs are mutating to survive them.
On the other hand, the Terrain Theory, embraced by holistic practitioners from a wide range of medical fields, asserts that germs that can cause disease will do so when the body is more susceptible and that the more healthy we are (the terrain) the less likely we will become ill; if we do, we will become less ill. In other words, when the body’s internal environment is at its best, then immunity, metabolism, and detoxification are at their strongest. Consequently, the body is less susceptible to illness and has the best defense against “disease causing” germs. Antibiotics are used sparingly and primarily in life-threatening situations.
It’s important to understand that taking antibiotics does not contribute to building immunity; they are prescribed for treatment, not prevention, and there is the real threat of resistance.
Antibiotic Risks and Drug Resistant Disease
When prescribed judiciously by doctors and used properly by patients, antibiotics can save lives by destroying bacteria or stopping it from reproducing. Despite the wonders of this medicine, there are significant problems:
20% of people experience side effects including gastrointestinal, kidney, menstrual, and joint abnormalities after taking antibiotics. Risk for side effects increase with each additional ten days of use.
About 10% of people are allergic to antibiotics.
In the U.S. more than two million illnesses per year are caused by resistance to antibiotics, resulting in 23,000 deaths when these drugs fail to work.
Antibiotic resistance (AR) means that the germ targeted by the medication has mounted defenses that render the drug ineffective even when taken properly. Situations and conditions that present the greatest risk for AR include:
Overuse of antibiotics
Not taking the medicine as prescribed
Long hospital stays
Working in parts of the world that lack proper hygiene
Not having the ability to meet essential nutritional needs
Improperly handling raw meat, consuming contaminated meat, crops, or water
Contact with infected individuals
Protect Your Internal Terrain from AR
Healthcare is faced with a dangerous rise in antibiotic resistance, making the more holistic “terrain approach” to battling germs vital to preserving health. Here’s what you can do:
Take a probiotic supplement, a quality multivitamin, follow a quarterly detox regimen, get adequate sleep, and eat a variety of whole foods
Filter your water (drugs disposed of at landfills can get into groundwater supply)
Limit your intake of sugar and processed foods (these lower immune function)
The unfortunate truth is the “kill the germ” perspective is failing. We will reach a point where we do not have effective antibiotics. By bolstering the internal terrain, a healthy and vibrant person can mount the immune defenses necessary to protect their health.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
Apple Cider Vinegar: A News-Worthy Remedy
Over the years, the media has paid lots of attention to apple cider vinegar (ACV) and for good reason. An ancient health remedy, it’s known as a panacea for what ails us, aiding in weight loss, managing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, lowering cancer risk, supporting digestion, and facilitating natural detoxification. It was used by Hippocrates as an antibacterial cleanser for wounds and has a long history of use by holistic physicians, particularly for its natural antibacterial properties, stemming from its fermenting process.
ACV is produced by fermenting the natural fruit sugar in crushed apples (or cider) into alcohol. Specific strains of bacteria are added to the alcohol, creating enzymes and acetic acid – the active compound in any vinegar. Acetic acid can destroy bacteria or prevent it from multiplying and spoiling foods. Probiotics and other plant compounds in ACV may help support immunity. For those who like to keep things natural and chemical-free around the home, ACV has many other uses, including conditioning the hair, cleansing the skin, gargling to soothe sore throat, and as a household cleanser.
Whether you are making ACV at home or buying from a store, the dilution ratios vary depending on whether you’re adding it to water or tea, using it to wash food, or for cleaning around the house. Because ACV contains a pungent acid, these ratios should be discussed with a holistic health practitioner. Improper mixing can result in stomach upset, reflux, or aggravation of preexisting digestive or skin condition. Most importantly, do not drink undiluted ACV.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, reach for Garlic Oxymel, an age-old immunity boosting remedy. Oxymel means “acid and honey” and is indicative of its two main ingredients (honey and apple cider vinegar). Traditionally used to help make certain herbs, such as garlic or onion, more palatable, drinking just 1/2 to 1 cup per day of this tonic will help the medicinal properties of garlic go down easily.
1 fresh garlic bulb (do not use pre-peeled or minced garlic)
4 c. water
1/4 c. raw honey (locally sourced or regional is best)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
Optional: 1 T. finely minced, fresh ginger root
Peel and finely chop garlic cloves. Let the chopped cloves sit for about 10 minutes, then add to the water in a large pot with cover, heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer until garlic is very soft – about 20 minutes. Leave cover on pot, remove from heat and set aside to cool at least 1 hour.
Once cool, add honey and vinegar; mix well. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
When ready to drink, gently reheat on the stove. If desired, add minced ginger root.
Note: This remedy is not for use in respiratory illnesses where heat, such as fever, predominates.
It’s fairly common knowledge that antibiotics kill some of the health-promoting bacteria that live within your gut’s complex ecosystem. Taking a probiotic supplement can support the way gut flora work together to keep that ecosystem – and you – at the healthiest.
Antibiotics are used to kill both the pathogenic bacteria that should not be present in the body and the pathogenic bacteria that normally reside in the body in very small numbers but which have “overgrown” for some reason. Unfortunately, while antibiotics are targeting the unwanted pathogenic bacteria, they often disrupt (or destroy) the balance of “good” gut flora. The result: gastrointestinal upset. Up to 20% of people using antibiotics experience antibiotic-associated diarrhea. The longer you use an antibiotic, the more damage that is likely to occur in the gut ecosystem. Some people can experience severe symptoms that progress to inflammation of the colon, which can become life-threatening.
This is where probiotics come in. With an estimated 80% of your immune system located in your gut, taking a probiotic on a regular basis is a good idea for most people, and especially important while taking antibiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, thus strengthening immunity. And they can help prevent that antibiotic induced diarrhea.
Which probiotic is right for you while taking antibiotics? That depends on your age, general health, current symptoms of illness, and the length of time you have been using any antibiotic medication. Probiotics come in different strains of bacteria, as well as different forms (e.g., liquid, capsule) and are usually refrigerated to preserve the integrity of the microorganisms. The selection of the strain of probiotic you should take – especially while taking an antibiotic-is very important. Just as important is making sure that you take the probiotic at a different time of day than when you take antibiotics and to continue taking the probiotic even after you have finished the antibiotic. Your health practitioner can determine which probiotic formula and dosing strategy is best for your needs.
Desert Parsley (Lomatium dissectum), also known as Toza Root, is a traditional Native American herbal remedy for colds, flu, pneumonia, viral infections, asthma, tuberculosis and many other conditions. Used in the Southeastern states during the influenza pandemic of 1917, positive results have been documented, particularly among Native people, who recovered more quickly because of their use of the herb.
Among naturopathic physicians, Lomatium is one of the most useful natural antimicrobial herbs for eliminating bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can cause infection. It’s also shown to be effective against a variety of pathogens including several types of Staph, candida, and E.coli. It acts as an expectorant, helping loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract and relaxing the mucosa to decrease spasmodic cough.
Lomatium is typically offered in a tincture that is dosed differently based on an individual’s needs and the condition being treated. When using desert parsley for medicinal purposes, such as to fight a cold or flu, it can be taken in pill form, tincture, tea, or finely ground root powder added to a steam bath. Supplements should be taken under the care of a holistic physician because improper use of Lomatium can cause nausea, blood thinning and may interact with prescription medicine.
Protecting yourself against infection can be done naturally. But where do you begin?
Foremost, if you suspect you have an infection (you’re coughing, expelling mucus, are feverish, etc.), now is not the time to experiment: You absolutely should be working with a holistic doctor to treat the infection. If your current aim is to boost your body’s natural protection against infection, a variety of herbs and essential oils, as well as good old soap and water, can do wonders. Use this brief overview as a starting point for an in-depth discussion with your natural health practitioner.
Food Extracts. Certain food extracts contain antibiotic properties. For example, cranberry extract is a useful remedy for urinary tract infection. Honey is one of the oldest known food-based antibiotics, dating back to ancient Egypt and Israel.
Herbal Extracts. A variety of herbal extracts have antibiotic properties and are often used in tincture, capsule, powder (e.g., tea) form, depending on the herb and the intended use. Among the herbs are goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape root, Echinacea, and Lomatium.
Essential Oils. Thyme, basil, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils have a variety of bug and germ fighting properties. Additionally, citrus fruit oils (lemon, lime, orange, bergamot) have health-protective benefits. Essential oils should never be consumed and should always be used in a diffuser or diluted with a base oil, such as almond oil.
Soap and Water. The FDA has ruled that companies can no longer market “antibacterial soaps.” The risks of adding chemicals, including triclosan, to washing products are greater than any protection when compared to regular soap and water. How does soap help protect against bacteria? When you vigorously rub your hands and lather the soap, it loosens bacteria from the skin. Simple, effective, and all natural.
There are many natural remedies in addition to those listed and most don’t have a wide body of clinical research behind them. It may take time before medical science catches up with the long history of use documented in traditional medicine. There is potential for drug-herb interaction, so it’s important to work with a health practitioner who is well trained in the pharmaceutical properties of botanical products.
A single human brain generates more electrical impulses in a day than all the telephones of the world combined.
Supplemental Knowledge: Should You Take Nutritional Supplements?
Of all the holistic health products available, nutritional supplements are the most widely used, consumed by people of every age and every lifestyle. While supplements should not be used as a replacement for healthy lifestyle choices, (whether prescribed by a physician or self-administered), even those of us who eat well and maintain active, healthy lives, will benefit from taking certain supplements. Here’s why:
Mineral content in our food is decreasing due to a combination of soil depletion and chemicals used in conventional farming and food production.
Our busy lifestyles lead us to consume convenience foods that are overly processed and low in nutrients. Foods “fortified with” are not equivalent to nutrients found in whole foods (or even in a high-quality supplement).
The majority of the U.S. population has poor dietary habits. Barely 1 out of 10 people consume at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day.
We are under more stress and often surrounded by environmental toxins, which increases the body’s need for nutrients.
Antibiotics are overused, leading to dysfunction in the gut and affecting immunity.
Certain medications, including birth control pills, can impact how the body assimilates nutrients.
Most importantly, every biochemical process in the body relies upon vitamins and/or minerals as ‘cofactors’ to facilitate processes that help maintain physical health and achieve optimal performance. When there is even a mild deficiency, or a problem with absorption of nutrients, those processes cannot take place and can lead to chronic illnesses including Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and PMS.
The Top 5 Nutrients for (Almost) Every Body
Based on the above reasons, and because there is solid research on their benefits, the following nutrients are often recommended for most people. A holistic physician who interprets nutritional analysis can help you determine which nutrients are best for you: how much, for how long, and in what form (e.g., capsule, liquid).
Multivitamins provide ‘dietary insurance’ for our modern lives. Since there are a wide variety of formulas, some with herbs, consult with a holistic practitioner about which is best for you.
Omega Oils, known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), usually come from fish but can be obtained from vegan sources (flax, chia, hemp, borage). EFAs are associated with lower risk of heart disease, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers, and can protect against cognitive decline.
Probiotics support the growth of friendly gut bacteria and help protect against diseases such as eczema, allergies, digestive conditions, and yeast infections.
Trace Minerals are found in perfect balance in mineral-rich ocean waters. Just very small quantities of these elements are important to good health. Since erosion has led to nutrient-depleted soil, supplementing with liquid trace minerals is the best way to obtain these elements.
Green Superfood Supplements are concentrated servings of nutrient-dense vegetables and other superfoods, such as moringa, kale, chia, chlorella, and maca; they provide important micronutrients and plant nutrients (e.g., antioxidants) that support a healthy immune system.
Emerging research also supports supplementing with Vitamin D, certain B vitamins, magnesium, and selenium.
These recommendations do not apply to all people nor for long term use (some supplements contain wheat and other allergens, and some may provide more nutrients than an individual needs or can tolerate). Remember, dietary supplements are intended to support and enhance your diet and lifestyle. Partner with a holistic physician to make the best choices for your health.
“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.” – James E. Faust
Turnip Greens: A Powerhouse for Good Health
Like their leafy green cousins, turnip greens contain an abundance of nutrients important to good health. Scientifically known as Brassica rapa, turnip greens are a cruciferous plant in the same family as other nutrient-dense vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage. Cruciferous plant consumption is associated with lower risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disease.
The entire turnip plant is rich in vitamins and minerals, but the greatest proportion of nutrients are found within the leaf blades. These nutrients include the antioxidant Vitamins A, C, E and K; B vitamins; calcium and folate. What really makes turnip greens a powerhouse for supporting good health are the antioxidants, which help the body fight inflammation and play a major role in cancer prevention, healthy aging, and a heart health.
One cup of turnip greens packs a whopping 600% of your daily requirement for Vitamin K, which helps keep bones strong and plays an important role preventing osteoporosis. The carotenes, including beta-carotene, found in turnip greens help support eye health and protect against eye disease such as macular degeneration.
When selecting turnip greens, buy as fresh as possible and opt for organic if available. Look for deeply colored leaves that don’t show signs of wilting or damage, such as spotting. The greens are often sold while still attached to the large white root. You can roast the roots and use the greens for stir-fry or add to soups or stews.
Loaded with a natural peppery flavor, Turnip Green Soup is a Southern favorite and a hearty addition to your Fall menu. Perfect for lunch or a light supper, paired with a salad and jalapeno cornbread, or enjoy a smaller serving as a starter to a multi-course dinner.
1 lb chopped fresh turnip greens
16 ounces organic chicken broth (or more, as needed)
10 ounces stewed tomatoes
4 ounces roasted green chilis
16 ounce can navy beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 lb smoked sausage, diced*
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup sliced carrots
2 tablespoons organic olive oil
Pinch creole seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
*Vegetarian Option: You can use large chunks of Portabello mushroom, look for a vegan sausage at a health food store, or create your own vegan sausage.
Chop, slice, dice, or drain everything first.
To a large pot, add the first seven ingredients over medium-low heat.
In the meantime, saute the sausage, garlic, and onion in the oil until sausage is lightly browned and onion is desired tenderness. Add it to the turnip pot on stove. Add carrots and desired seasonings to taste.
Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, adding more chicken broth if needed or desired.
Wouldn’t we all like a little (or a lot) of superhero power now and then to help us scale life’s various mountains? If you’re nodding “yes” right about now, think Iron, a mineral critical to the circulatory system and life-sustaining functions. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the blood and is essential to powering the energy levels required for all physiological processes in the body.
Most people acquire sufficient iron from their diet, but a supplement may be needed by those who have strenuous physical regimens or who experience frequent blood loss (e.g. from heavy periods or inflammatory bowel disease). Foods containing the highest sources of iron are liver, organ meats, red meat, dark turkey meat, and shellfish. Legumes, certain seeds, and dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, do provide iron but you’d have to eat quite a bit, nearly every day, to obtain sufficient amounts.
If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet, headache, rapid heart rate, or unusual non-food cravings, you may be anemic and require an iron supplement. It’s important to have your iron levels tested before starting a supplement because iron can build up in the body (a condition called hemochromatosis). This can lead to life-threatening health problems involving the liver, heart or pancreas. A simple nutrient analysis done by blood test indicates if you are deficient; other tests can determine if you have difficulty absorbing iron provided by a healthy diet.
Because there are many ways to increase iron levels, consult with a holistic health physician who can recommend the right method, and if a supplement is needed, the correct form and dose for your needs.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and you might think that’s because of the essential role it plays in building strong bones; calcium’s importance, however, goes beyond preventing fractures and osteoporosis. It also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems. Numerous studies have established a relationship between calcium intake, absorption and assimilation and a person’s risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, insomnia, and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
Eating a wide variety of whole foods is the best way to get the calcium your body needs for growth, maintenance, and repair. Even though dairy products contain and are fortified with calcium, foods derived from cow’s milk may not be the best choice for many people because of allergies, intolerance and other digestive concerns. Other valuable sources of calcium include almonds, dark leafy greens, legumes, and and nuts such as almonds. Be aware that just because you’re consuming the recommended amount of calcium daily does not mean your body is absorbing and utilizing it properly.
Recommendations for a calcium supplement vary by age, gender, and development (e.g., puberty, pre or post-menopause), and are influenced by health issues, lifestyle habits and taking certain prescription medicines. Different forms of calcium (e.g., carbonate, citrate) are absorbed differently by the body. Check with your holistic health physician to determine if you need a calcium supplement, and which form and amount is best for you.
They go by names such as Vitamin Drip Bar and Liquid Vitamin Lounge. You’ve probably seen the store front right next to your local Target. What they’re selling is nutrient IV – as in intravenous – therapy. Its claims range from being able to boost your low energy, spice up your libido, and instantly recover from a cold or a hangover, to improving chronic health conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and even immune disorders.
Does it work?
To be clear, for decades IV therapy has been a critical part of medical care, serving as an efficient and immediate solution in cases of dehydration, severe illness, and organ damage that inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Nutrient IVs deliver vitamins, minerals, and amino acids directly into the bloodstream. It’s typically used when a patient’s condition can result in a nutritional deficiency if treatment is not provided. This works very effectively for its intended purpose. But…
These days, ‘IV infusion therapy’ has grown in cult popularity like a vaping lounge. Mobile IV clinics and store fronts offer quick cures and transformative wellness benefits. Proponents claim IV nutrient delivery is necessary because taking high doses by mouth is simply not possible because digestion limits absorption. Really?
By definition, a nutrient is something found in food, which we eat and our bodies break down at a rate appropriate to need, and ultimately put to use for the optimal function of the body. That is what nature intended and it works very effectively so long as illness or injury does not interfere with nature’s beautiful design.
Bypassing nature’s design via IV cocktails puts nutrients into the bloodstream very quickly and in very high amounts. This can stress vital organs, not just in the digestive tract, but also the liver, pancreas, and even the circulatory and nervous systems. Just as concerning is having a technician who has inadequate medical training deliver a nutrient cocktail that potentially interacts with other medications a person may be taking.
There is a role for IV nutrients in medical treatment as well as in holistic health treatment of a select few medical conditions for patients who are carefully screened by qualified holistic physicians. For the rest of us otherwise healthy folks, we need to do as Mother Nature intended and obtain our nutrients through a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods or nutritional supplementation – and there’s no hype about that.