Travel Tips

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the mechanics of travel can take a toll.  Here are some ways to help you arrive in a happier state of being!

On the plane or train:

Check bags that are heavier than 10% of your body weight.  And remember – even mules prefer a balanced load, so do your best to distribute the weight you carry evenly.

Keep your body in line with the task.   Everyone wants to get right into their seat – but take a few moments to line yourself up in front of the overhead bin or rack.  Often it’s easier to lift your bag in stages; if you can use the seat / armrest as a resting point halfway, do.   Ask for help if you need it!  PLEASE DON’T hoist your monster-heavy bag overhead, twist your torso and neck, lean forwards and push –  all while you stand on your tippie-toes!

If you stow your bag below the seat in front of yours, please cut down on the number of times you have to bend down and get stuff out of it.  There’s barely room for your feet (let alone your head!) so there’s really no good way to do it.  So try to minimize the amount of twisting you do, and don’t force bulky objects in with your feet: it’s easy to strain your lower back and legs.

Move around as much as you can!  Prolonged sitting can restrict blood flow and build up pressure in your circulatory system – especially in the lower part of the legs.  Change your position:  massage your arms and legs; move your knees up and down; prop your feet up on a book or bag; do some gentle head and neck stretches or range of motion exercises; sit up straight, arch your back, wiggle around – do something like this at least every 20 minutes.  And you can always get up and walk down the aisle…

An inflatable neck pillow can make a big difference on a long flight; if you fall asleep, you won’t feel like Quasimodo when you wake up!  Try to avoid drafts: point the air nozzle away from you to keep your muscles from tensing up.  And – of course – drink lots of water!

In the car:

Check your position relative to the steering wheel.  Are all your mirrors lined up so you can see?  Are you in the center of your seat?  Are your knees the same height or higher than your hips?  If you’re poking your head forwards, move your seat up!  Not only is this a better position for your body, it’ll help you relax the death grip on the steering wheel!  If you use a back or seat support, make sure it’s centered – and that it fits you (ask your chiropractor to check your car seat)!

Exercise while you drive: wiggle your toes; squeeze your calf, thigh and butt muscles; do shoulder rolls; rock your sit bones back and forth; tap your fingers on the wheel; sing – whatever keeps you lively.  Most importantly, take a break every hour.  Get off the road, out of the car, and get some fresh air.  Whew!

Have a wonderful trip!

posted in Healthy Living, Posture & Ergonomics, Seasonal Tips

The Hidden Cost of Pesticides

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Annually, 33,500 tons of pesticides and 3 million tons of fertilizer are used on U.S. lawns (1 ton = 2000 pounds!).

 

 

 

 

Pesticide residue contaminates air, dust, household surfaces, and carpets due to drift and track-in.

 

 

 

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides: 16 are toxic to birds, 24 are toxic to aquatic organisms, and 11 are toxic to bees.

 

 

 

Children in homes using pesticides are 6.5 times more likely to develop leukemia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: beyondpesticides.org, duke.edu, The United States Environmental Protection Agency

 

So, how can you minimize your exposure to these toxins?

  • Invest in a filter system for your drinking and cooking water, and follow the recommended maintenance schedule.  Use a metal water bottle if you can, rather than plastic.
  • Avoid highly processed food, and use the Clean 15 / Dirty Dozen shopping guide.
  • Change into house shoes or go barefoot when you get home.  This reduces tracked-in toxic debris and makes cleaning easier!
  • Remember that your skin absorbs chemicals, so shop for personal care products that won’t compromise your health.  Sadly, cosmetics are one of the worst offenders.
  • Use non-toxic soaps and cleaners inside your house.  Many good brands are now available.
  • Air your house regularly, and change your HVAC filters on a schedule.  If you use window AC units, rinse out the filters once a month.
  • Run a ventilator fan while you shower, and use a de-humidifier in damp areas of your house to discourage mold and mildew.
  • Remove the plastic from dry-cleaned clothes and let them air thoroughly before storing.
  • If you are in the market for new carpeting or furniture, avoid heavily treated synthetic or fiberboard products.  Always let new products have a chance to out-gas before use.
  • Buy better alternatives to lawn and garden pesticides: this helps our health, the pollinators we depend on, and protects our water supply.
  • If your neighbors use a lawn service, ask them to please request non-toxic products or switch to a company that does.
  • Be proactive about your health! Good diet, sleep and exercise habits support your physical health and your ability to withstand the inevitable stresses of daily life.  If you think you need a detox, please call on us: we are here to help!

An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

PDF version of this information

 

 

posted in Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

The Skinny on Stool

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Toddler Boy Sitting On Potty

The quality of your stool says a lot about you: what you’re eating, what you’re not eating, and how well or badly your gut flora and gut wall are able to process your food.  Your food is your energy source, so it’s a critical factor in your vitality.  Moreover, a large part of your immune system lives in your gut!  When that doesn’t work well, your health is at risk.

8 signs of healthy stool

  • Color: light or medium brown
  • Consistency: smooth & soft
  • Size: 1-2 inches in diameter; 4 to 8 inches in length is common
  • Shape: should be one long tube, may have an S-shape
  • Behavior: should drop quietly into the bowl in one piece
  • Smell: not overly smelly, not foul or super stinky
  • Texture: smooth, uniform; no lumps or bumps
  • Frequency: 1-2 times daily
 title What it means / Concerns
 type-1 Indicates a lack of bacteria, and insufficient hydration. Higher risk of rectal bleeding.
 type-2 Type 1 stool, impacted together by fiber and bacteria.  Can cause anal canal laceration, hemorrhoidal prolapse, or diverticulosis, and possible small intestine involvement.
 type-3 Similar to Type 2 stool, but moves through the intestine more rapidly.  Higher risk for irritable bowel syndrome.
 type-4 Normal shape for a single daily bowel movement.
 type-5 Typical for people who defecate 2-3 times daily, most usually after large meals.
 type-6

May suggest a slightly hyperactive colon, excess potassium, sudden dehydration, or sudden increase of blood pressure related to stress.  Can also be indicative high stress, over-spiced foods, water with high mineral content, or use of osmotic laxatives.

 type-7 Commonly known as diarrhea, this can be due to multiple causes.  If it persists longer than 2 days, or contains blood or dark tarry stool, please consult your health care practitioner.

Bristol Stool Chart developed by Lewis and Heaton from the University of Bristol

posted in Healthy Living, Know Your Body

Poison Ivy

 poison ivy, autumn

 

The active element in poison ivy is an oil called urushiol and it is nasty!  It is very potent, spreads easily on your skin and can be transmitted to you via your pet’s fur.  If you think you’ve been exposed to it, your best defense is a thorough scrubbing with warm, soapy water. You also need to wash any clothing or bedding that has been exposed; twice is better than once.  If your pet will let you, wash them as well.  

 

If you make an autumn bonfire, please make sure there is no poison ivy mixed in with your wood; inhaling the oil can create a medical emergency.  Difficulty breathing, a rash and swelling near eyes or genitals, or a rash over most of your body are all indicators that you need emergency medical treatment.

 

If yoPoison Ivyu missed the chance to wash off the oil and are already developing the rash, DO NOT SCRATCH and DO NOT BREAK THE VESICLES that will form on your skin.  This can be hard to resist; they not only itch, but they are also painful as they harden.  

 

But breaking the fluid-filled sac can open you up to an infection, so exercise your will power and try some remedies to cool the burn.  From start to fading finish, the rash can last up to 14 – 21 days, so you are going to want some relief.  You can bathe the rash with vinegar, you can put a paste of water and baking soda on it, you can cool it with cucumber slices.  Some people have success with a cortisone cream.  Baths with colloidal oatmeal or baking soda can ease the discomfort.  

 

Cool compresses can also help – but the best thing I found is Fels Naptha soap.  Make a heavy lather and let it sit on your skin for a few minutes before rinsing.  Repeat 1 – 2fels_naptha 2 times a day, but avoid contact with your eyes or other areas of your skin.   For me, this accelerated the drying-out process and reduced the discomfort considerably.  I also recommend supporting your immune system while you are waiting this out: I took a lot of Congaplex daily, on top of my usual Echinacea Premium and Thymex.  Anything that helps speed up this process is a very good thing!

posted in Seasonal Tips

Beautiful Skin

Oh, the skin you’re in…

Simple ways to keep your outer layer happy

Water – Hydration is essential for many aspects of bodily health, one of which is the layers of your skin! It helps flush toxins, too, so you’ll be less prone to breakouts like pimples. 10 – 12 glasses is a good baseline.

Diet – You truly ARE what you eat. A daily diet of unprocessed raw whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for healthy skin.

Exercise – Sweat is actually good for your skin, because it moisturizes and facilitates waste removal.  Plus it increases arterial flow, so you have more energy and a more radiant complexion.

Sleep – A good night’s sleep is non-negotiable for your general health, and your skin is one of the very first places sleep deprivation will show up.

Sunshine – Your skin is an amazing organ in many ways! one of which is the ability to turn sunshine into Vitamin D, a necessary adjunct to your body’s absorption of calcium. Sunlight also helps heal rashes, eczema, psoriasis and acne. So give yourself a daily dose of 10 minutes of sunshine! The early morning or late afternoon are the best times.

Stay away from tanning beds! Unless you think old dried-up leather is a good look for you, there is just no reason to waste time or money on these.

Wash off the make-up – Skin needs to breathe; if it’s clogged with dirt or make-up, it can’t rest and refresh while you are sleeping.

Exfoliate – Using a natural fiber washcloth daily will keep your pores clear and remove the top layer of dead skin cells. You can also use a gentle scrub once a week.

Moisturize – Use a moisturizer that works for your skin type. If you want to experiment, make your own! Aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, or a glycerin/water mixture can be used for oily to normal skin, while a few drops of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil is wonderful for normal, dry or mature skin.

posted in Healthy Aging, Know Your Body

The Gift of Sleep

Sleeping Family

Give Yourself the Gift of a Good Night’s Sleep!

Americans are sleeping badly: 60 million of us have a chronic sleep disorder:

  • Sleep apnea*
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Insomnia
  • Periodic limb movement

*This can be related to the functional size of the airway, which can be influenced both by upper cervical spinal alignment and temporo-mandibular dysfunction (TMJ/TMD). 

That 60 million number represents one in five Americans.  But it doesn’t include those of us who are chronically sleep deprived – and the health implications of chronic sleep deprivation are deeply serious.

Some of you may be familiar with the case of a child that’s gotten on a bad sleep schedule: they’re cranky and fretful, and they are more susceptible to opportunistic infections and illness.  We grownups are no different!  Whether we like it or not, we need a routine that supports us.

Even one week of insufficient sleep can alter the genetic activity controlling our stress and immune system responses – which means we are losing the innate capacity of the body to repair and re-build.  For example, recent research suggests that the movement of cerebro-spinal fluid during sleep removes metabolic waste around the brain; this could have extraordinary implications for a number of conditions.

 

Here are some of the specific ways sleep deprivation affects your overall health:

Higher levels of anxiety
Higher rates of depression
Higher risk of physical injury
Disrupted estrogen production (increased risk of breast cancer)
Increased susceptibility to food cravings
Impaired memory & mental processing
Impaired white blood cell production
Higher risk of high blood pressure
Higher risk of stroke
Higher risk of heart disease
Higher risk of diabetes

That’s the why; what about the how?

Sleeping-Baby

Alcohol:  after the initial sedative effect of a “nightcap”, your body has to metabolize the alcohol; this makes for a restless night, and a harder day ahead.  If you’re waking between 1 and 3 am, your liver may be over-taxed.

Stimulants:  caffeine or nicotine close to bedtime stimulates the adrenal (“fight or flight”) system; what we need is to let that system calm down so the body can rest.  Unfortunately for us chocolate lovers, it also contains caffeine.

Exposure to natural light: your daily dose of sunshine is important at every age, as it helps maintain your sleep-wake cycle.Food:  a large meal close to bedtime forces your body to work on digestion rather than rest and repair; this problem is accentuated with heavy or spicy food.

Exercise: a vigorous workout is a great general health benefit, but it’s much better in the morning or early afternoon; the evening should be reserved for gentle yoga or an easy stroll.

Bedtime routine: your body needs to de-compress from the day; try to resolve any knotty problems well before bedtime.

Bedtime environment:  let your bedroom be about sleep (not television or computing!), with a firm comfortable bed and pillows*; it’s a bit like Goldilocks’ porridge: not too bright, not too hot…

*I always ask my patients to bring their pillow(s) into the office; you’d be surprised how many people are sleeping on a pillow that is part of their neck or back problem.  Both mattresses and pillows have a shorter useful lifespan than you might think.

If you’re curious about how much sleep you need, see this post for some age-appropriate guidelines.

A good night’s sleep is basic to our well-being.  None of us can function well, let alone flourish, without it.  Not only will it benefit you, but there’s a positive ripple effect on every single person you meet during the course of your day.  So this holiday, give yourself the gift that keeps on giving!

posted in Healthy Sleep

Spicy Cajun Cabbage

Cabbage is one of the most under-appreciated members of the brassica family (which includes broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussel sprouts, bok choy and chard).

All the brassicas have powerful anti-cancer properties, with a phenomenal ability to neutralize free radicals.  An extra incentive to include cabbage in your diet is the positive effect it has on estrogen metabolism.  Low rates of breast cancer in Eastern Europe fueled research into the phytonutrient compounds called indoles, which boost the ratio of “good” estrogens in both men and women.

If that weren’t enough, cabbage delivers a big chunk of the daily vitamins and minerals we need, as well plenty of fiber.  It’s delicious both cooked and in slaw (although over-cooking releases an unpleasant sulfurous odor).  One note of caution: people with hypo-active thyroids should eat cabbage in moderation.

Spicy Cajun Cabbage

Ingredients:

Cabbage Close Up

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed and minced
  • 1 small head green cabbage, shredded

Add butter and oil to hot skillet over medium heat; then add onion.  Saute onion for a few minutes, then add garlic.  Saute a few minutes more (until soft), and add the shredded cabbage.  Keep turning over cabbage for 3 to 4 minutes; add the spices.  Keep stirring until cabbage is tender and aromatic, and done to your taste – probably about another 4 to 5 minutes.

 

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posted in Healthy Eating

10 Tips For A Better Day

10 Quick Tips for a Happier Day!

1. Drink more water: 10 to 12 glasses daily helps you digest food, detoxify & promotes healthy cell function.

2. Down-shift the caffeine: too much caffeine stresses your adrenal glands & disrupts healthy hormonal balance.

3. Eat breakfast! Your body needs protein in the morning: real oatmeal, eggs, or a fruit & yoghurt smoothie will give you some traction for the day.

4. Ban the barcodes: the food with the most nutritional content is around the edges of the store; more processed foods tend to have barcodes.

5. Take the stairs: it promotes heart and bone health – & burns a few extra calories!

6. Read more, watch less: a good book keeps your brain active and allows you to unwind in a way the television can’t!

7. Take a moment to say thank you: 60 seconds to reflect on our blessings can turn a bad day into a good one.

8. Use acu-pressure to revitalize! Apply light pressure to the space between your eyes for 10 seconds.

9. Give your feet a break: roll a tennis ball under your bare foot for a few moments to ease kinks & promote healthy blood flow.

10. If all else fails, squeeze a stress ball: put your focus on a gentle, rhythmic breath while squeezing a soft ball for 60 seconds, then repeat with the other hand. It releases tension & allows you to re-focus.

It’s your day, after all – make it as pleasant as you can!

posted in Healthy Living, Stress Strategies

Watermelon, Feta and Parsley Salad

Ingredients:Healthy Organic Watermelon Salad

  • 3 to 4 cups peeled and cubed watermelon, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely sliced flat-leaf parsley
  • Juice of 1 lime

Arrange the watermelon cubes on plates or a large platter.  Sprinkle with the feta cheese and parsley and drizzle with lime juice. Garnish with mint, if desired, and serve immediately.

 Optional Extras:

  • Red onion, diced
  • Black olives, chopped

Makes 4 to 6 salads.

Click here for a print-friendly version.

 

posted in Healthy Eating

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus

Delicious, versatile and easy to make, hummus is a healthy and inexpensive way to dress up a veggie plate, add body to a salad dressing or use as sandwich spread. This is a mild, tasty hummus you can use all year round – and it has a good balance of protein, fiber, unsaturated fat, minerals & vitamins.

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 scrubbed carrotsbigstock-Hummus--27098909
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 thick slice raw ginger
  • 1 dried red chili (optional)*
  • 1-2 tsp cumin seed
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini*
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  1. In the morning, put 1 cup of dried chickpeas to soak in 2 -3 cups of filtered water.
  2. In the evening, drain the chickpeas and place in a heavy pot with: water, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, raw ginger, red chili, and cumin seed.
  3. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat & cook for up to an hour.  The goal is tender but not mushy.
  4. Discard the vegetables and drain off the liquid into a measuring cup.  Put the cooked chickpeas in a blender with: lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt, pepper, and 2-4 tbsp of the reserved liquid.
  5. Blend until creamy; add more salt if necessary.  If you have leftover liquid, you can use it in other recipes (when cooking rice or soup, for example) – or give it to a houseplant!
  6. Serve garnished with minced parsley and red pepper, & maybe a drizzle of olive oil.

Some variations:

  • Garlic lovers can add 1 – 2 cloves of raw garlic; blend well!
  • Roasted red pepper makes a colorful and tasty addition
  • Mix in minced basil or spinach for a green version
  • Try making this with white beans instead of chickpeas

*Available at Indian grocery stores

posted in Healthy Eating

Announcements

Personal assessments of your workplace ergonomics now available! Dr. Winters will make practical suggestions that are easy for you to implement, and make a big difference in your stress and energy levels.

Talks

Dr. Winters loves to talk about posture. Have her come do a presentation for your school or community group! Recent presentation topics include nutrition, seasonal detoxification, the physical mechanism of stress (and how to combat it!), and a general introduction on working with your own body's self-regulating ability.

Talks can be tailored to the interests of your group, and generally run 10 or 20 minutes. She also offers a 50 minute class on posture for high school girls, which is both fun and illuminating!