Get a Good Night’s Sleep!

Mother sleeping with childWant to make 2018 your most productive and happiest year ever?  Start by giving your body and brain the repair time you need.  A refreshing night’s sleep boosts your metabolism, sharpens your edge, improves your relationships, and keeps you on track with your life goals.

So don’t shortchange yourself!  Use these simple guidelines to get the rest you need:

 

Refresh your bed:

Rotating your mattress will keep you from sleeping in a ever-deepening rut.  That’s bad for your mattress and for your back.  Give your neck a break, too: make sure your pillow fits you*, and replace it every 12 – 18 months.

Set it at 65:

We sleep much better when it’s not too hot and not too cold.

Embrace the dark:

The blue light emitted by tablets and smartphones disrupts the pineal gland’s ability to produce melatonin, so keep technology out of your sleeping space.  Even better, limit their use in the hour before your bedtime.  Light-blocking curtains are helpful, too.

Rest, don’t digest:

Eating within 2 – 3 hours of your bedtime forces your body to be metabolically active, just when you need it to focus on rest and repair.  Hydrating during the day, rather than the evening, will help you sleep all night without needing to empty your bladder.

Limit caffeine:

If you are routinely powering through the day on caffeine and sugar, your adrenal glands are in trouble.  Distressed adrenal function leads to overall hormonal imbalance and progressive system failure.  If you need help breaking that cycle, please call us.

Stick to a schedule:

Your body loves predictability!  Sticking to a routine for when you eat, exercise and sleep is one of the most productive and healthful habits you can give yourself.

Get physical – and spiritual:

Regular exercise is just not a luxury.  If walking around the block is all you can fit into your day, be sure to do that every day.  Connecting with nature and your inner voice is powerful: you’ll manage stress better, enjoy your day more, and sleep better at night.

Enlist gravity:

Posture always matters, even while you’re asleep.  Your body’s lymphatic system is a vital maintenance mechanism that drains away accumulated toxins and inflammatory cells from the brain.  Side sleeping on a supportive pillow optimizes that drainage.  Back sleeping is next best.  If you are used to sleeping on your belly, now’s the time to develop a better habit.  Using a body pillow can help.

An added bonus: sleeping with your left side down is the most relaxing position for your hard-working heart.

Don’t suffer needlessly:

If you are consistently having trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep, please reach out for help**.  You have too much to be and do in the world to operate at a disadvantage.

*I routinely help patients evaluate their existing pillows, so they Little girl sleeping in her bedknow what to look for when they go shopping.

**If the suggestions above don’t help you get to sleep, your circadian rhythm and adrenal output may need to be regulated.  If you are regularly waking up during the night, it may be that a particular organ system needs to be supported.  Please call us for an evaluation!

A PDF of this information is available here!

 

posted in Healthy Living, Healthy Sleep, Uncategorized

Powerhouse Immune Boosters

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberries – Anti-oxidant, anti-aging; neuro-protective; anti-cancer; supports digestion; heart protective; nutrient-dense; delicious source of healthy fiber

Chiles – Excellent source of beta-carotene; promotes healthy mucous membranes; contains capsaicin, which fights congestion and is anti-inflammatory; super high in Vitamin C bioflavonoids; supports white blood cell formation

Dark chocolate – Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant, mineral rich;
heart protective; improves mood

Different colored vegetables – Rich in fiber, Vitamins A, C & E, potassium, folate (essential for red blood cell formation), & many other phytonutrients; the key to good health in every season. Eat a wide variety, and strive for five (or more) servings a day.

Echinacea – Strong immunity modulator; anti-aging; anti-cancer. Best used long term; sourcing & formulation are essential, so shop for efficacy, not for price.

Fresh ginger – Anti-nausea; promotes good digestion & nutrient absorption; anti-bacterial and anti-fungal; helps prevent blood clotting; anti-cancer; traditional diabetes remedy

Garlic – Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; heart protective; anti-fungal; detoxifying;
supports healthy digestion; anti-oxidant & anti-aging

Green tea – Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant; heart and neuro-protective;
helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels; anti-cancer & anti-aging

Oranges – Rich in fiber and Vitamins A and C, along with other phytonutrients: pantothenic acid, calcium, copper and potassium. Best eaten whole!

Parsley – Excellent source of Vitamins K, C and A; rich in flavonoids, folate, and iron; contains anti-cancer volatile compounds; anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory; traditional diabetic remedy; promotes bone health

Raw local honey – Anti-oxidant; traditional diabetes remedy in conjunction with cinnamon; moderates pollen allergies; anti-bacterial when used topically; soothing to the throat; delicious energy source

Salt water gargle – Inhibits bacterial growth; balances pH; promotes healing of sores; prevents plaque buildup. A neti pot nasal rinse 2-3 times a week is a great addition to a daily throat gargle.

Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; anti-depressant; helps regulate blood sugar; heart & gut protective. Best as food, with fat (ex. coconut milk) for absorption

Water – This can be unappealing when it’s cold outside, or if you are feeling unwell, but it’s always essential to your health to stay hydrated. Try drinking it warm!

Warming broth – If all else fails and you end up with a cold or other virus, make some easy, warming broth that will help you get better faster:

Immune boosting broth:
Sauté finely chopped onion, celery, carrot and minced garlic in olive or coconut oil. Add ground turmeric, and stir to coat vegetables. (Also add fresh ground ginger, if desired.) Pour in chicken or beef broth (homemade from bones, for preference) and cook over low heat until hot and savory.
Any combination of the above ingredients that you can manage is fine; more is better.

Throat soothing tisane – Here’s a delicious way to help your throat and your immune response at the same time:

Orange ginger tisane:
Peel an orange, cut up the pulp in smallish pieces and put in large teapot. Add 1″ fresh ginger, skinned and cut in small chunks. (If throat is irritated, add 1 tsp. raw honey – local if possible.) Po¬ur boiling water into teapot; let steep 5 minutes. Pour off liquid 1 cup at a time and drink slowly.
You can make a second batch with the same orange/ginger. Eat the orange pulp, if desired.

Herbal teas to keep on hand – Here’s a short list of readily available teas to boost your mood and your health:

Traditional medicinal teas:
Breathe Easy
Echinacea Plus
Ginger with Chamomile
Lemon Balm
Throat Coat

Tulsi teas:
Lemon Ginger
Turmeric Ginger

Yogi teas:
Breathe Deep
DeTox
Echinacea Immune Support
Egyptian Licorice
Ginger
Throat Comfort

posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

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

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

What you need to know about hand sanitizers

Why use them?

Sometimes it just isn’t feasible to wash your hands.  And we all know that our hands are a vector for transmitting bacteria.  Doorknobs, gas pumps and pin pads are all touched by many, many people, and are rarely – if ever! – cleaned.

Why ingredients matter:

Trans-dermal delivery is incredibly effective, as anyone who’s used a nicotine patch can testify.  Harsh chemicals can not only be very damaging to your skin, they can also disrupt your hormonal system.  Especially for small children, who tend to put their hands in their mouths: safer is smarter.

What we recommend:

Buy a quality product.  You want a sanitizer that’s designed with your total health in mind, not just the company’s bottom line.  And don’t forget, actually washing your hands is still the best way to prevent sickness.

Clean Well Hand Sanitizer

 

EO Products Hand Sanitizer

 

CleanSmart Hand Sanitizer

Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Hand Sanitizer

                     These are all available locally (or online): try Mom’s, Trader Joe’s or Wegman’s.

 

posted in Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

8 Daily “Greats” for a Healthy 2017

Here are 8 food items that are incredibly beneficial to include in your daily diet.  They will boost your immunity and vitality, and are very protective of your overall health!

Dark chocolate

Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant, mineral rich; heart protective; improves mood

Blueberries

Anti-oxidant & anti-aging; neuro-protective; anti-cancer; supports digestion; heart protective; nutrient-dense; healthy fiber

Turmeric

Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; anti-depressant; helps regulate blood sugar; heart & gut protective

Best as food, with fat (ex. coconut milk) for absorption

 
Green Tea

Promotes micro-circulation; anti-oxidant; heart and neuro-protective; helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels; anti-cancer & anti-aging

 
Garlic

Anti-inflammatory; anti-cancer; heart protective; anti-fungal; detoxifying; supports healthy digestion; anti-oxidant & anti-aging

 
Bitter Greens

Nutrient-rich; promote bile secretion & healthy digestion; boost gut-based immunity; detoxifying; reduce sugar cravings; stimulates metabolism

 
Ginger

Anti-inflammatory; heart-protective; promotes healthy digestion; reduces fever; anti-nausea; anti-bacterial & anti-fungal; helps regulate blood sugar

 
Echinacea

Strong immunity modulator; anti-aging; anti-cancer

Best used long term; sourcing & formulation are key

 
Water

# 9 here, but truly # 1 in healthy habits: drink half your body weight (lbs) in ounces every day

 
posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

Halloween Safety Checklist

Pumpkins on front steps of home during  Halloween/Thanksgiving s

For you:

  • If you are buying a costume or wig, check the label for “flame resistant”.
  • Add reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Carry a flashlight or glow stick.
  • Always test face paint on a small patch of skin in case of allergies, and don’t wear it any longer than you must.  A skin or eye irritation can out-last the candy!
  • Decorative contact lenses can result in severe eye infections; better not to use them.
  • Avoid walking near lit candles or luminaries while wearing costumes.
  • Whatever your costume, wear shoes that fit well if you’ll be out walking.
  • Walk in groups; it’s more fun for everyone, and much safer.
  • Stay on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic. Look for cars when walking by a driveway.
  • Only visit well-lit houses, and don’t go past the front door.
  • Don’t accept any homemade treats made by strangers.

Halloween Pumpkin Witch Dog

For your pets:

  • Don’t let your pets eat your treats!  Chocolate in all forms can be very dangerous for your dog or cat.  
  • Eating pumpkin can also cause upset stomachs in pets.
  • When in doubt, call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435.
  • If you have a candle in your decorative pumpkin, place it where your pets are not likely to knock it over or investigate it with their whiskers.
  • Keep power cords for decorative lighting away from pets, especially chew-happy puppies!
  • Don’t dress up your pet, unless you are absolutely sure a) it doesn’t annoy your pet; b) it fits well and won’t get tangled up; c) it’s not constricting your pet’s ability to breathe, bark or meow.
  • Make sure your pet doesn’t dash out when you open the door for trick or treaters; it may be best to keep them in the kitchen for the evening.
  • If you take your pet with you for the evening, make sure he or she is on a lead and has a proper collar with ID tags.
posted in Healthy Living, Seasonal Tips

The gift nobody wants…

 

The plain fact is that no one welcomes a headache. Or pain anywhere, for that matter. And why would we? Pain gets in the way of whatever we’re doing, or thinking, or thinking about doing. At the very best, a headache is downright inconvenient.Stress

So why consider it a gift? Because, unsurprisingly, pain gets our attention. And a pain in the head gets our attention like nothing else. Of course, the very first idea we have is, “Get rid of it…”, followed by “as fast as possible.” This is perfectly normal, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I keep aspirin* in my bathroom cabinet, and so should you.

The obvious temptation is to dismiss the headache from our awareness as soon as it’s gone. Bad idea. Pain anywhere in your body is a friendly signal, alerting you that something is amiss. Sometimes it is more than a signal; sometimes it’s a screaming, last-ditch, about-to-go-over-the-cliff panic button that you ignore at your peril. So how do you tell when you getting a friendly “nudge” vs. an all-stations alarm?

 

What you need is a simple checklist that can help you determine why you developed that pesky headache. Then you have a reasonable basis for deciding whether it’s

a) a “one-off”, or

b) a trend you need to correct, or

c) potentially a serious situation you are going to need help with.

 

There are lots of variables and complexities to explore, but here’s a short form that’s practical and easy to use.

  1. Are you hungry?
  2. Are you thirsty?
  3. Are you sleepy?
  4. Are you unhappy or stressed?
  5. Are you over-working? or spending lots of time at a computer?
  6. Have you had your vision checked lately?
  7. Are you taking any medication?
  8. Have you been over-indulging with alcohol? or other mood-altering substance?
  9. Did you pull a muscle (especially in the neck) or over-strain during sports or other activity?
  10. Have you been in an accident, had any type of fall, or hit your head?
  11. Have you been exposed to any environmental irritants? or to any known allergen?
  12. Did you wake up with it? or did it come on during the day?
  13. Have you had this kind of headache before? Is there a pattern to it? Is it getting worse?
  14. Does it correspond to a change in barometric pressure? or to any hormonal fluctuation?
  15. Did you experience anything unusual before it started: ringing in your ears, or sensitivity to light?
  16. Does anyone in your family have a similar experience with a headache?

Some of the answers give you an immediate framework for thinking about the root cause of your headache. Dehydration is an almost pandemic problem, but easy to fix. Giving yourself the benefit of a regular and healthy diet is not as easy, but can certainly be done. Correcting ergonomics at your workstation is usually pretty simple; I ask patients to bring me pictures and we troubleshoot from there.

Other causes and linkages can be a little harder to tease out. A hormonal pattern is easier to chart than one that’s linked to barometric pressure. Migraine-type headaches don’t always have the classic presentation with a prodrome and light sensitivity. If you suspect a prescription may be the problem, talk to your medical practitioner about alternatives or interactions.

Awareness of head injuries has definitely increased, but still not enough people know that headaches can be caused by increasing intracranial pressure. This can be from a blood vessel leakage, a growing mass within the skull, or a disruption in cerebrospinal fluid flow. These are worse case scenarios, but I hope to convince you to take a headache seriously. Early warning is a gift worth having.

On a more positive note, I have seen many patients who now, I am happy to say, no longer have headaches. And that’s a wonderful thing – much better than a gift from even the best store.

 

*Preferably not acetaminophin, by the way; see Harvard Medical School’s 12 Things you Should Know about Paint Relievers.

 

Click here for a print-friendly version of the checklist.

posted in Healthy Living, Stress Strategies