August 2019 Edition
You do not need to clean wax out of your ears unless you have an abnormal condition. Ears push excess wax out as needed.
Natural Medicine Approaches for Alleviating Earache
The splitting pain of an earache: while mostly common in children, adults can also be affected. We all know the itchy, scratchy, stuffy, feverish, achy feelings that come with a sore throat and a head cold, but ear pain is probably the worst. It starts with an overworked immune system, affecting one of our most vulnerable systems – the respiratory tract – which includes the mouth, throat, nose and ears.
Earaches can occur in the outer, inner or middle ear. When the pain is not due to a physical injury to the ear or environmental conditions (air temperature, air pressure) it’s usually associated with infection, as follows:
Outer ear infection occurs in the delicate skin that lines the outer ear canal, where infection can be caused by swimming, use of dirty headphones, or sticking objects (fingers or swabs) into this region of the ear.
Middle ear infection often stems from a respiratory tract infection that has caused fluid build-up behind the ear drums where bacteria can breed.
Inner ear infection, aka Labyrinthitis, is a disorder associated with bacteria or virus or stemming from an ongoing respiratory illness.
For decades, antibiotics were the most commonly prescribed medicine for ear infection, especially in children. Today, evidence-based medicine no longer relies on antibiotics as the first line of treatment. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has not recommended antibiotics for earache as a general practice since 2004.
Holistic doctors have long viewed ear infection as being caused by a weakened immune system that allows for germs to proliferate and infection to develop. A strong and vital immune system can mount a defense against these germs. Here’s what you can do for yourself and your children:
Maintain healthy immunity by minimizing refined sugar and processed foods and eating organic whole foods including lots of vegetables, fruits, and legumes. For extra immune support, a holistic doctor may supplement the diet with a high-quality multivitamin, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Selenium and Zinc. Dosing for children should be discussed with your holistic doctor.
Power-up the gut by eating a variety of fermented foods that are low in sugar and high in gut-friendly bacteria. Your body mounts a line of defense against germs from inside the gut. The greater the ratio of “friendly” to “unfriendly” gut bacteria, the better your immunity. Because many adults and children with a history of ear infections also have a history of antibiotic use, your holistic doctor may suggest adding a daily probiotic supplement.
Protect the ears from cold drafty air, which can aggravate already sensitive membranes and increase pain. When resting, keep the head and neck comfortably elevated.
When treating an earache, there are a number of natural medicine approaches for easing painful symptoms. Three highly effective ones include: an Ear Drop Formulation using herbs with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and decongestant properties; a Contrast Foot Bath, which draws fluid build-up away from the affected ear; and a Eustachian Tube Massagewhich facilitates the release of fluids and reduction of inflammation from the ear canal. You’ll see specific information on all three of these throughout this newsletter.
Always remember, for guidance about using these, and other approaches, consult with a holistic healthcare professional.
Food for Thought. . .
“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” – Franklin P. Jones
Garlic Helps the Body Fight Infection
For thousands of years, Garlic (Allium sativum) has been a first-line remedy used by herbalists and traditional medicine practitioners across the globe. Fondly known as “the stinking rose,” garlic has been used in the treatment of a variety of health problems, from wound care to fighting infections. Because garlic fights infection, it can be used to guard against those painful and pesky earaches in both children and adults.
Garlic contains over 200 phytochemicals that possess antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. While garlic contains several vitamins and minerals, it’s the sulfur-containing compounds that give remarkable support to the immune system. These compounds, known as allicin, alliin, ajoene, help reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. Along with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids found in garlic, these compounds make the herb a powerful medicinal for health conditions – such as earaches – when inflammation is an underlying factor.
For children, the most effective way to take advantage of garlic’s properties is by using it in an ear-drop formula. For other methods, be sure to first check with your holistic professional. For adults seeking to ward off infection, be aware that the potency of garlic supplements (powder, capsule, extract or oil) can vary widely because allicin (the active ingredient) is very sensitive to methods of preparation. For example, aging garlic to reduce its odor also reduces the allicin present and compromises the effectiveness of the product.
Though generally safe for most people, taking a garlic supplement can cause heartburn, upset stomach, an allergic reaction, and breath and body odor (common with raw garlic). Garlic should not be taken by persons who are preparing for surgery or who have bleeding disorders because it can impair the body’s ability to form blood clots.
A holistic health physician can help you determine which formula works for your health and wellness needs and how you can best help your child reap its benefits.
Home Remedy Recipe: Garlic Infused Ear Oil
Garlic is a powerful herbal remedy owing to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Olive oil is soothing and safe to use as a base for healing salves and lotions because it contains potent polyphenols which reduce inflammation. Together, garlic and olive oil can help ease the pain of ear infection and reduce healing time.
Note: If ear pain persists for more than three days or is accompanied by a fever, or if you suspect a perforated eardrum, check with your holistic practitioner before using the ear oil.
- 2 oz organic olive oil
- 5 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tsp mullein flowers
- 1 tsp St. John’s Wort flowers
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
- Glass jar – boiled clean and dry
Note: it is important to use the flowers of mullein and St. John’s Wort as this part of the plant is what is associated with having a medicinal action on the ear.
Combine everything except lavender oil in a small steel, glass or ceramic pot with a lid. Heat to approximately 120 degrees F and simmer at this temp for 1 hour; stir every 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, allow to cool for 30 minutes; using cheesecloth, strain oil into a boiled clean glass bottle. Add lavender oil. Allow to cool to body temp before using. Store at room temp.
To warm before use: place bottle in a small bowl of hot water until it reaches body temp.
To use: put 4-5 drops as often as needed into ear
Fight Persistent Ear Infections With NAC
Commonly known as NAC, N-acetylcysteine is an amino acid that supports critical functions and helps fight infection. Our body manufactures NAC using the cysteine from the foods we ingest. Sources include most meats and certain plants, including broccoli, red pepper and onion. Bananas, garlic, soy beans, linseed (aka, flax seed) and wheat germ also contain cysteine.
NAC does many good things in the body (boosts the antioxidant glutathione, liver and kidney protection, muscle performance, supports respiratory function), as well as fights persistent ear infections. Researchers have found NAC to be beneficial both as an added treatment to conventional antibiotics (outcomes were improved) and as a stand alone treatment. This is most likely because NAC has both mucolytic (breaks down mucus) and antimicrobial properties.
As a supplement, NAC comes in a variety of forms, including capsules, loose powder and liquid so it makes it easy to add it to something like apple sauce, pear sauce or a smoothie for picky little eaters. Whether you increase foods high in cysteine or you take NAC as a supplement, it is important that you first consult your holistic healthcare professional.
Mullein: A Traditional Herb for Earache
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is an herb native to Europe, Asia and North Africa and has a long history of medical use among various cultures. Early American settlers brought it from Europe because it was known for its ability to help treat ailments such as coughs and diarrhea. Over time, the antiviral and antibacterial properties of mullein have received greater attention in herbal medicine and in preliminary research for its ability to treat infections in the respiratory tract including the mouth, throat, nose and ear.
Compounds found in Mullein leaves and flowers are classified in traditional herbal medicine as expectorants (promotes the discharge of mucus) and demulcents (soothes irritation or inflammation of mucous membranes). An infused oil of Mullein flowers is a gentle and highly regarded remedy for treating ear infection in adults and children. The mullein is prepared with St. John’s Wort and garlic in an olive oil base to help ease pain during acute ear infection (see the recipe in this newsletter).
Two important cautions: never use tea tree oil in your recipe as it’s too potent for inside the ear; if a rupture is suspected or you are not sure of the cause of the ear pain, do not use an oil preparation – it can obscure a physician’s view of the eardrum.
Consult with a holistic healthcare professional to make the appropriate preparation of mullein for treating ear infection.
Holistic Therapies for Earache
Give these therapies a try the next time you or your child suffers with an earache: Contrast Hydrotherapy Foot Bath and Eustachian Tube Massage. Both are exceptional holistic therapies for soothing earache pain and facilitating the release of pressure that comes with ear or respiratory infection.
Contrast Hydrotherapy Foot Bath:
It’s hard to imagine that a foot bath can help relieve ear pain. But it can! Because of the way water acts to affect circulation, a hydrotherapy foot bath can help draw fluid build-up away from the ear. It’s an excellent way to strengthen your immune system, alleviate congestion, soothe sore muscles, and improve circulation. It involves immersion of the feet in cold and warm water for specified times. You’re probably familiar with using it for muscle injuries such as a sprain.
Contrast Foot Bath:
- Fill one basin with ice water, and another with very warm water.
- Have plenty of towels on hand as water will splash.
- Submerge feet in basin of warm water for 3 minutes.
- Immediately switch to cold water for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the process 3-5 times.
- Always end with the cold water.
- Gently dry legs and feet and put on warm socks.
- Rest for 20 minutes.
If there is inflammation or open wounds on the legs or feet, varicose veins, thrombosis or phlebitis, do not perform a contrast hydrotherapy foot bath unless supervised by a medical professional.
Eustachian Tube Massage:
Helps alleviate discomfort and pain that accompanies congestion and inflammation associated with earache and respiratory illness. It works by gently stretching the soft tissue that lines the tube and is suitable for an adult or a child. If you are not familiar, the job of the Eustachian Tube is to:
- balance pressure in the middle ear, keeping it equal with air pressure outside the body;
- protect the inner ear from nasal secretions;
- drain middle ear secretions into the area between the nasal cavity and upper throat.
ETM – DIY at home for yourself or your child:
Keep in mind that the ear may be very sensitive to touch if there is an infection, so go gently to start. Some kids may not want to be touched anywhere near or around the ear, which is understandable.
- Using your index or middle finger, feel behind your ear lobe for the bony bump. With firm, steady pressure slide your finger down until it slips into a groove between the ear lobe and the jaw.
- Follow that groove down the neck with your finger, sliding down (with the same steady pressure) until you reach the collar bone.
- For a small adult or a child, it may help to tilt your head to the shoulder opposite of the ear that you are massaging. (Ex: If massaging right side, tilt head to left shoulder)
- Repeat 3-4 times per side, about 3 times a day.
July 2019 Edition
40% of daily calories of US children and adolescents aged 2-18 come from added sugar and solid fats. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.
Listening When Your Body Talks
There is an extraordinary two-way communication going on between your body and mind that affects both physical and emotional health. The language the body speaks is in the form of symptoms. For instance, anticipating an important interview at work can make you anxious: your mind starts racing, your heart beats faster or maybe you get a tension headache. Sure, that headache might just be a headache, related to stress. But what if it’s something more?
Having no clear understanding of your symptoms can lead to a depressed mood, making the physical illness even worse. It’s important to understand your “body talk.”
Prolonged, persistent symptoms – physical or emotional – that appear suddenly and affect wellbeing are the body’s way of saying something is wrong. Suppressing symptoms hinders the body’s ability to communicate what it needs – and more importantly – hides the underlying cause. Many holistic physicians, such as Naturopathic Doctors, are uniquely trained to translate the meaning of symptoms and identify what needs to change in order for health and wellbeing to be restored.
Here are strategies to help make correlations between the language your body is using and what it means for your health.
Keep a Body-Mind Journal. Record your physical and emotional (feelings and thoughts) experiences upon waking and throughout the day. Do you feel energetic upon waking? What are you thinking and feeling in the moments when you experience physical pain? Another example is a diet diary in which you can assess possible relationships between symptoms, such as headache or stomach issues, and emotions and thoughts associated with what, when and why you eat.
Illness & Lifestyle Inventory. If you’re experiencing chronic symptoms, you may need to dig deeper to discover the initial event and triggers that have accumulated over time, resulting in the health problems you’re having today. This inventory can include experiences that put you at risk for exposure to toxins (at work, school, an accident); tragic life events; and significant illnesses from childhood, as well as your adult years. Try to pinpoint when symptoms first started, how long they existed before you sought treatment, and what steps have been taken to address symptoms.
Don’t Go to Dr. Google. Information on the Web can scare you and easily lead to an incorrect self-diagnosis. Seek the care of a holistic practitioner who can guide you in understanding your body’s talk.
Here are some tools that holistic physicians may use to understand and translate symptoms:
- Food Allergy/ Sensitivity Testing: reveals links between health conditions and the food you are eating. By removing foods from the diet that create symptoms, you allow the body to repair and heal, alleviate symptoms, and restore health.
- Gut Function Tests: helps determine problems with nutrient absorption.
- Nutrient Status Testing: identifies deficiencies that bring about symptoms.
- Physical Evaluation: assesses how your body moves, sleep patterns, and mental focusing, which can reveal factors that contribute to the presence and intensity of symptoms.
Ultimately, your body’s talk is unlike anyone else’s. With careful listening and attentive guidance from a holistic practitioner, you can discover the meaning of your symptoms and create a dialogue with the body and mind that leads to more vibrant health.
Food for Thought. . .
“The best gifts anyone can give to themselves are good health habits.” – Ellen J. Barrier
The Nutrition Power of Chicken
For those who haven’t gone vegan or vegetarian, organic, free-range antibiotic-free chicken is a nutritious and versatile choice. Check out these health benefits of incorporating chicken in your diet – a few may surprise you!
Protein Packed. Chicken is a great source of lean, low-fat protein that contributes to muscle growth and development.
Heart Healthy. Eating chicken breast (white meat), compared to beef, reduces your intake of unhealthy saturated fats, which are linked with heart disease.
Phosphorus a-Plenty. Chicken is rich in phosphorus, an essential mineral that supports the health of teeth and bones, as well as the kidney, liver, and central nervous system.
Abundant in the B’s. Chicken contains several B-vitamins, in particular Vitamin B6 which is important to the health of blood vessels, energy production, and metabolism. A typical serving of chicken also contains a good amount of niacin, which helps guard against cancer. Riboflavin (or Vitamin B2), found in chicken livers, is important for healthy skin.
Three Categories of Chicken:
- Conventional chicken is kept caged and does not move about freely; these conditions are often unhygienic. Conventional chicken is injected with hormones to quicken growth and make supposedly resistant to certain diseases.
- Free-range chicken is allowed to roam freely in the pastures.
- Organic chicken is the most expensive because it is bred freely and is allowed to eat only organically prepared grain (as per the USDA standards). It is kept in clean, hygienic conditions and is not injected with any medications to disturb its natural growth and hormone cycle. The flavor and nutrient density of organic chicken is also more robust.
Whenever possible, choose organic. It makes a difference. Shop smart and keep chicken on your menu; there’s a lot of good nutrition in that bird.
Slow-Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Easy, simmered slow-cooker chicken is perfect for a back-porch meal. To insure optimal flavor and a tender entree, opt for bone-in thighs instead of white meat which can dry out when cooked for long periods. Make prep easier with pre-peeled organic garlic, and pretty-up the platter with lemon slices and sprigs of thyme or rosemary.
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 T all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T fresh lemon juice, divided
- 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
- 40 garlic cloves, peeled
- 12 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 T chopped, fresh parsley
Coat bottom and sides of a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
Combine stock, wine, flour, butter, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk; pour mixture into slow cooker. Sprinkle chicken thighs evenly with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place thighs in slow cooker, skin side down. Arrange potatoes, garlic, and thyme over chicken in slow cooker. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper evenly over garlic and potatoes. Cover slow cooker; cook on LOW for 8 hours.
Transfer chicken to a platter. Transfer potatoes and garlic to platter with a slotted spoon; discard thyme sprigs. Sprinkle chicken and potatoes evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and parsley. Strain cooking liquid from slow cooker through a sieve into a liquid measuring cup; let stand 3 minutes. Discard any fat that rises to top of liquid. Serve jus with chicken, potatoes, and garlic cloves.
Why You Need a Multivitamin
Among the millions of U.S. adults who use nutritional supplements, multivitamin and mineral formulas are the most popular. It’s a smart choice for everyone, even active, healthy people who eat a variety of fresh, organic foods. That’s because every biochemical process in the body relies upon vitamins and/or minerals 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 cause us to become ill or lead to chronic disease. A multivitamin formula helps support the body as it confronts things such as:
- Depleted mineral content in the food supply due to soil erosion and chemicals used in conventional farming and food production.
- Hectic lifestyles that create too much opportunity for consuming overly processed, preservative-laden convenience foods that are low in nutrients.
- Failure to consume at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day.
- Inability to manage stress, which increases the body’s need for nutrients.
- Exposure to environmental toxins at home, work/school, and in transit, not to mention those lurking in the water supply and runoff into the soil.
- Overuse of antibiotics, affecting immunity and leading to dysfunction in the gut.
- Chronic illness, serious acute illness, or surgery, and use of medications that can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Your Multivitamin Insurance Plan
While multivitamins provide “dietary insurance” for our modern lives, we need to be educated on the various types and what works best for our individual needs. There are a wide variety of formulas and methods of delivery (e.g., tablet, capsule, time-release, liquid). Some formulas contain herbs, which can interact with other medications. The purity and quality of a supplement is critical to its effectiveness.
Everyone has different nutritional needs based on age, activity level, and health status. The type of multivitamin that is best for you will be different from anyone else’s, even a family member of the same age. The best way to determine what type of multivitamin or mineral supplement you need is to consult with a holistic physician.
Garlic for Good Health
Fondly known to herbalists as “the stinking rose”, Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for centuries for a variety of health concerns ranging from treatment of skin conditions to fighting infection. Today, research shows that garlic contains more than 200 phytochemicals that have protective health benefits, such as regulating blood pressure, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, enhancing immunity and working against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Garlic contains several vitamins and minerals that support health, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and selenium. It’s also rich in sulfur-containing compounds – allicin, alliin, ajoene – that help reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. These unique compounds (along with enzymes, minerals and amino acids) make garlic a powerful medicinal that helps reduce the risk for chronic diseases where inflammation is an underlying factor, such as heart disease and cancer.
Though generally safe for most adults, taking a garlic supplement can cause heartburn, upset stomach, an allergic reaction, and breath and body odor (common with raw garlic). Because it can impair the body’s ability to form blood clots, garlic should not be taken if you’re preparing for surgery or have bleeding disorders.
Be aware that garlic supplements (powder, capsule, extract or oil) can vary significantly because allicin (the active ingredient) is sensitive to how the supplement is prepared. For example, aging garlic to reduce its odor also reduces the allicin present and compromises the effectiveness of the product. Check with your holistic physician about the benefits garlic may have for you and which formula will work best for your needs.
Confused about Your Symptoms? Keep a Symptom Journal
Whether you have a known medical condition or are experiencing vague clusters of symptoms that don’t fit nicely under a given medical definition, a symptom journal can help you make sense of what you are experiencing. It provides an organized way to gather and track information related to your health.
A physician might ask you to keep a symptom journal for a specific concern or illness, such as migraine, asthma, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, arthritis, PMS, heartburn, sleep disorders, weight management, and during recovery from surgery, just to name a few.
The key information to include in your journal includes:
- Date and time
- Type of symptom (pain, numbness, nausea, headache)
- Duration of symptom
- Triggers (what brought it on, made it worse)
- Relief factors (what alleviates the symptom, e.g., medication, meditation, exercise)
- Lifestyle Notes (what else is going on in your life at the time, what did you eat/drink)
Be descriptive, but also concise on the key points in your entries. Your doctor might ask you to use a rating system for certain symptoms (e.g., 0-5 or 1-10). Be sure to do that honestly as your entries may make a difference in treatment approaches. Leave room at the bottom of each page for notes on things such as your emotional state, stressors or other factors that might contribute to how you’re feeling that day.
For a symptom journal to be most helpful to you and your physician, you need to use it consistently. If you think a symptom journal will benefit how you care for yourself and treat a medical condition, speak to your physician about setting one up.
Of the Earth Wellness Joins The Haven on 5th
It doesn’t take much for us to get excited, and our new connection in Roanoke is no different. Of the Earth Wellness will be joining The Haven on 5th this July. Dave was invited to shout it from the proverbial mountaintops on 102.5 The Mountain.
The Haven on 5th is truly a haven of collaborative holistic health practitioners. Also home to Queenpin Family Wellness individual and community acupuncture, Terravie Wellness massage and nutrition, and the delectable organic, whole foods served fresh daily in the Garden Song Cafe. Now with Dr. Dave offering naturopathic medicine and Laura offering Western Herbalism, we feel this is a natural fit. We are excited to meet our new neighborhood and community!
We are excited to announce that Of The Earth Wellness is moving from our humble farm office in Steele Creek to partner with Two Trees Acupuncture in Plaza Midwood. We will be seeing patients there Starting Tuesday October 30th.
Our New address is 1318-A3 CENTRAL AVE CHARLOTTE, NC 28205
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 10am-6pm
Scheduling and availability remain the same and we look forward to continuing your care at our new location.
Why the move?! Of The Earth Wellness is expanding to the reaches of Blue Ridge Mountains in Roanoke, VA two days a week. Managing two clinic/farm locations made it difficult to maintain our energy. Our time on Shopton Road was always on borrowed time as a rental property. Despite this, we made it our home and it was a welcome respite from years of moving that provided fertile ground for us to get our start and grow our farm and business. We are so grateful to all of you for your support during our humble beginnings.
We sold our home in AZ just over a year ago and looked for a place to call home in Charlotte. Our farm and clinic is a humble life and we are unable to afford home prices as they skyrocket in Charlotte. It was important to us to keep our homestead in tact and avoid an hour commute to work. We finally purchased our forever home in Elliston, VA where the farm will now be located. To manage our energy, practice the self care that we recommend, and to better serve YOU we decided it was time to make room for someone else to enjoy the opportunity and simplify our lives!
We will continue to serve the Carolinas in person 2-3 days a week at our partnership location at Two Trees Acupuncture. We are located in the heart of Plaza Midwood off Central Ave in the brick buildings next to Bistro La Bon & Healthy Home Market shopping center. We are in the far corner of the shopping center in building A suite 3 on the ground floor in the building across from Yoga One. We have plenty of parking either in front or behind building E. NOTE: If you are using GPS to find our location, do not include the suite number (A3). Simply input 1318 Central Ave., Charlotte NC 28205. www.twotreesacupunture.com
Over the past 5 years, it served as our home, clinic, and farm. We have made many friends, provided entertainment, education, and health services to our wonderful Greater Charlotte community. We value and honor your support during the past few years. We hope you all can make the journey and grow with us we transition into a new setting.
Dr. Dave and Laura
September 2018 Edition
According to a report from 2017, almost 6% of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians. Only 1% of the population described themselves as vegetarians in 1971.
Tips for Going Vegetarian
There’s Vegetarian. And there’s Vegan. Related, yet different. Both diets eliminate meat, fish, and poultry. Vegans don’t eat any dairy, eggs, or other products derived from animals. Sub-types of vegetarianism, however, make exceptions for certain animal products:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs.
- Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products.
Whatever your reason for choosing this dietary path – your health, concerns for the environment, or for spiritual reasons (or a combination of these reasons) – be aware of common mistakes that can adversely affect your health. Understanding these pitfalls can help you maintain a nutritionally sound vegan or vegetarian diet:
Consuming too much fruit sugar. Fruit is an important part of any healthy diet, but consuming too much fruit sugar on a daily basis can have a detrimental effect on blood sugar. Also, fruits alone fail to provide the diversity of nutrients a body needs to thrive. Balance fruit intake with veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Lacking dietary variety. Being a creature of habit, or being afraid to try new foods or recipes, can leave your diet deficient in nutrients, and your taste buds in a sorry state. You’ll have food cravings, hunger pains, and might just give up on vegetarianism. Follow those famous Dr. Seuss characters’ advice: Try New Things; You Might Like Them!
Tipping the carb scale in the wrong direction. With so many convenience foods for vegetarians, it’s easy to get tricked into thinking you’re making a healthy choice by selecting “fortified with (fill in the blank)” products over fresh foods. Many of those products are loaded with hidden sugars and sodium. Get complex carbs and grains from whole, organic food sources such as barley, wheat, rye, millet, flax. Buy dried berries and nuts without added sugar or salt.
Mismanaging your protein. Folks new to vegetarianism don’t properly combine foods to provide sufficient amounts of complete protein for their age and activity level. Many people wind up relying on protein shakes, which is not the ideal way to obtain protein. Most of your protein should come from whole, real, fresh foods. A holistic health practitioner can help you establish good, flavorful meal planning strategies.
Both vegetarians and vegans need to pay attention to the intake of nutrients lost by omitting meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. As noted above, “fortified with” foods aren’t the best because the nutrients aren’t in the most bioavailable state for the body to utilize. The nutrients most commonly lacking in vegan/vegetarian diets are:
- B vitamins, particularly B12 and B6
- Iron, Zinc and Selenium
To track your nutritional intake, try this awesome program: cronometer.com. It has both free and paid account options. To understand your nutrient needs and assess risk for deficiency, see a holistic health physician for a nutrient assessment test (details below). This simple blood test indicates if deficiencies are present and need to be corrected, as well as how to best support already good health with the right dose and type of supplements for you.
Food for Thought. . .
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Surprise Your Taste Buds with Sunchokes
On your next foray down the produce aisle, don’t overlook the wonderful sunchoke, aka Jerusalem Artichoke. These tubers look nothing like an artichoke and are easily mistaken for a strange potato!. A native North American plant, sunchokes are a member of the sunflower family.
Low in calories and nutrient dense, sunchokes provide iron, potassium, thiamin (one of the B vitamins) and a good amount of fiber in a one-cup serving. The carbohydrate contained in sunchokes is inulin, which doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar, so it’s a great option for anyone concerned about diabetes or weight management. Sunchokes also contain vitamins, A, C, and E. The most unique nutrient found in sunchokes is known as prebiotics, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate found in many root vegetables. Food-based prebiotics enhance nutrient absorption and help maintain a healthy intestinal tract by promoting growth of “good” gut bacteria, which supports immunity.
Sunchokes have a nutty, mildly sweet flavor and are delightful to eat raw – shredded or sliced into a salad or sliced and served with raw carrots and other veggies. They can be cooked in a variety of ways and added to stir-fry dishes in lieu of water chestnuts. Their flavor is enhanced when lightly seasoned for sauteing or roasting. You can also puree sunchokes for soups.
Available year-round in the U.S., prime harvest time is October through early spring. Buy tubers that are firm, free of sprouts or bruises, with a smooth, clean surface making them easier to prepare.
Roasted Sunchokes With Garlic
Simplicity can be the spice of life and this recipe offers both. Sunchokes have a delightful flavor that is enhanced in this recipe with fresh minced garlic, parsley and Olive Oil.
Roasting makes sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) tender on the inside and lightly crisp on the outside. This dish is a perfect addition to any evening meal or for a tasty, healthy snack.
- 1 pound sunchokes
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 t. sea salt
- 1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper
- 2 T. fresh minced parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Scrub sunchokes with a vegetable brush. Cut tubers into 1-inch bite-sized pieces.
- In a medium-size bowl, toss sunchokes with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange sunchokes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until the sunchokes are golden brown.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
May the Force ‘B’ With You, Vegetarian!
Vegetarianism has many health advantages, but a poorly designed diet poses significant health risks. Research shows that vegetarians (and vegans) are vulnerable to deficiencies in two important B vitamins: B12 (cobalamin) and B6 (pyridoxine).
If ever a group of vitamins could be considered “the Force” within you, it’s the B-Complex group, which synergistically supports energy production. Individually, each B vitamin – B1 (thiamin), B2(riboflavin), (niacin B3), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B12, biotin, and folate are vital to different physiological processes throughout the body. Specifically, B12 is essential for healthy nerve cell communication while B6 is necessary for hormone regulation and breaking down dietary fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
It’s difficult to obtain sufficient, high-quality amounts of food-based B6 and B12 when meat, fish, eggs, and dairy are eliminated. B12 is not present in plants, so vegetarians usually need to take a supplement. Some plants contain a “glycosolated form” of B6 that is not absorbed easily or used efficiently in the body. The aging process, a vegan diet, stress, certain medications, and illness also can alter your body’s ability to utilize vitamins taken from food.
Signs of B12 deficiency include extreme fatigue, sadness, irritability, loss of appetite, anemia, lower immunity, and increased risk for heart disease. B6 deficiency is associated with PMS, depression, and insomnia; it can lead to nerve damage in the hands and feet, which is usually reversible with proper supplementation.
A holistic health practitioner can order a blood test to determine if a vitamin deficiency exists and work with you to identify the appropriate supplement (vitamins, injection or nasal gel, or sublingual tablet), form of that supplement and dietary improvements for your health needs.
Got Sprouts? Health Benefits of Alfalfa
What makes a sprout so good for you?
Sprouting is the moment of greatest vitality in a plant’s life cycle, the phase in which the seed activates and makes its way through the topsoil and sprouts into the fresh air above. At this high point of metabolic and enzymatic changes, the sprout contains high levels of nutrients. And that’s what makes sprouts good for you, particularly Alfalfa.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a legume that is also considered to be an herb. The leaves and seeds can be used fresh, or dried for supplements, and the sprouts are enjoyed with meals. It’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K and contains several B vitamins. A good source of dietary fiber, copper, magnesium, and iron, Alfalfa contains active plant compounds currently being evaluated for benefits in women’s health, managing high cholesterol, and effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
When selecting sprouts, look for those that have been kept chilled in the produce section and choose organic when possible. The International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) seal on a product indicates the sprouts have been carefully grown and handled. Look for clean roots with a creamy white color. Buds should be attached to the stem. Sprouts should be odorless. Keep sprouts refrigerated and use within 2 days of the sell-by date on the package. Enjoy sprouts atop salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for prepared entrees.
Why is Nutrient Assessment Important?
How are your cells doing today? Don’t know? Then a Nutrient Assessment might be in order.
Here’s the truth of it: If your body is missing – or even short on – key vitamins and minerals, your cells will not perform at optimal level. This can affect your daily energy, quality of sleep, mental and physical performance at work, school, or sports and can lead to complex health problems.
Nutrient deficiency can occur for reasons other than the presence of an active illness, including:
- Inadequate intake in the diet
- Poor absorption in your digestive tract
- Problems at the cellular level, preventing proper use of the nutrient
- Loss of nutrients through intense exercise or long-term stress
- Insufficient cofactors or enzymes needed to properly utilize the nutrient
And that’s why a Nutrient Assessment is important. In holistic medicine, specialized tests are available to assess nutrient status. These tests are also known as Functional Nutrient Assessment, Nutrient Status Testing, or Micronutrient Testing. Using samples of blood, stool, urine, or hair, these tests evaluate how well your body absorbs and utilizes each nutrient assessed, along with the amount and functional availability of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants in your cells. They help identify the nutritional supplements needed to achieve and maintain good health and lower your risk for serious illness.
Even if you feel your best, a baseline nutrient analysis is good to for two important reasons:
- A healthy baseline provides a point of comparison for times when you become ill and need to assess what’s going on with your body and what it needs to recover.
- Some nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies don’t manifest in disease for a long time, even years. Having a baseline and periodic testing can help detect problems early.
Ask your holistic health practitioner about the type of nutrient testing that is most appropriate for you.