Dana is our resident certified holistic health coach. She writes articles to help expand your knowledge about health and well being.
WITH FRESH HERBS
Summer always reminds me of lemonade, fresh fruit and my parents garden. I always had to pick the peas and the green beans. Both offered the instant reward of eating as they were plucked off the vine, but I was always drawn to the fresh dill. My parents only used it for canning dill pickles, but dill can fulfill so many other uses. In fact, there are a number of fresh herbs that not only provide a fresh taste of summer, but also provide a cooling effect in the body.
How do foods provide a cooling effect in the body? It is called the diaphoretic effect. Which means certain chemicals in some foods can promote sweating and perspiration, our bodies natural cooling defense. Don’t worry, you won’t be having hot flashes from adding mint to your iced tea. Instead it allows fluid to move easily in the body, opening pores and cleansing everything out.
Some of my favorite cooling summer herbs are mint, dill and cilantro. They each offer many different health benefits. Here are just a few highlights.
MINT – promotes good digestion, boosts memory and can help alleviate headaches. Mint is a great source of vitamins and minerals including small amounts of potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C and A. For a cool summer salad add fresh chopped mint to watermelon or strawberries with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
DILL – has cholesterol lowering benefits, can help reduce depression and may even act as a natural bug repellent. It has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Dill weed contains vitamin A & C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Dill pairs well with salmon or trout and with egg salad. Try it sprinkled on freshly sliced cucumbers or add to plain Greek yogurt with a little garlic for a zippy sandwich spread or veggie dip.
CILANTRO – its star nutrients are potassium, calcium and vitamin K. Cilantro has strong antioxidant properties and also can improve sleep due to its natural ability to calm nerves. Cilantro is known scientifically as the “Coriandrum sativum”. According to Dr. Axe, Food is Medicine, cilantro has been shown to bind to toxic metals in our body loosening them from tissue and facilitating their elimination. You might recognize the word “Coriandrum” from the spice Coriander, which is the seed of the cilantro plant. In Ayurvedic medicine, coriander is considered to be one of the most cooling spices. So you might consider using the leaf and the seeds from this wonderful plant for the fullest health benefits.
Cilantro is most often enjoyed in fresh salsa and guacamole, but you can use it the same way you would use parsley as a garnish on your favorite salad or grilled meat. Coriander is most frequently used in Indian recipes such as curry dishes. It makes a great addition to any spice rub for your grilled meat.
Whatever your herb of choice, try multiple ones over the summer. Replace your salt shaker or preservative filled seasoning with something green!
SLEEP! - April 2017
I have been thinking about sleep lately. Not because I need more sleep or that I am having trouble falling asleep. But because my daughter and husband have always had a hard time sleeping. And there seems to be an increase in conversations within my “wellness circles” around sleep deprivation and work performance.
So it has me wondering, do our sleep patterns change as we get older? Why do some people have a hard time sleeping while others do not? Do we need more or less sleep as we age? After doing some research, it appears that most experts suggest everyone over the age of 20 needs 6 – 8 hours of sleep regardless of age.
Now what about sleep patterns and sleep deprivation as we age? According to Jack Gardner, MD, a neurologist certified in sleep medicine at the Sleep Center at Baylor Medical Center in Waxahachie, Texas many older adults have sleep deprivation that is more complex than younger adults. He suggests that insomnia is more common for seniors primarily due to health issues, concerns of aging and some medications. Gardner adds that the likelihood of sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome also increases with age. Frequent urination and the pain from arthritis are more common, too, and rob sleep from seniors.
I came upon many articles that talked about how advanced sleep phase syndrome sets in as we age. This causes the body’s internal clock to adjust to earlier bed and wakeup times. The problem then for some seniors is they tend to stay up as late as they did when they were younger. But with a change in the body’s internal clock this will only result in sleep deprivation.
So how can we all get a restful night sleep? Here are the most universal recommendations that can benefit all of us:
1. Cut off caffeine by 4 p.m. It takes four to six hours for the average adult to metabolize caffeine.
2. Create a regular bedtime routine. Go to bed and wake up about the same time every day. Creating a regular routine, whether it’s taking a hot bath or drinking a cup of herbal tea, signals your body that it’s time for bed.
3. Increase your aerobic exercise. A study at Northwestern University found that aerobic exercise resulted in the most dramatic improvement in quality of sleep, including sleep duration, for middle-aged and older adults with a diagnosis of insomnia.
Crazy for Nuts - January 2017
Crazy for Nuts
I always wondered why whole in-the-shell nuts would be readily available during the holiday season and accompanied most fruit baskets. Do they still do that or am I aging myself? My Grandmother always had a bowl full of assorted nuts. As kids we had so much fun cracking them open and digging out the meat inside with the various and assorted tools that adorned the nut bowl. Now I realize why - this is nut season!
All foods have a peak season. That time of year when they are the freshest and most flavorful. That season corresponds directly to the design of the human body and what we need nutritionally to have optimal health during that season. Take an orange for example. They are in season during the winter months. Good thing, because they are high in vitamin C. Something a healthy immune system needs to help fight off a winter cold.
Enter the nut. Our bodies were designed to desire an increase in healthy fats leading up to the coldest winter months. They provide added warmth and energy to our body. Just like a squirrel!
So what makes nuts so good for us? These little gems are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. All nuts are about the same when it comes to calories per ounce. But each is unique in their star nutrient. For example, if you need to increase your calcium, almonds are the nut for you. Potassium? Snack on Pistachios. How about healthy omega-3 fat for your brain and lowering cholesterol? Walnuts will do the trick! By the way, have you ever noticed how a whole walnut actually looks like our brain? A natural reminder that it serves our brain health well. Love that! All nuts, in moderation, can be a healthy addition to any diet.
Nuts are typically being harvested between August and November. With greenhouses and factory production, you can get them all year round certainly. But the nuts you will find in most stores and local markets now are the freshest you will get all year. Now is the best time to get the whole in shell nuts. Thus the reason for the holiday nut bowls and nut adorned fruit baskets.
But don’t let the harvest schedule deter you from eating your favorites. Bring back the tradition of the nut bowl or buy them already shelled. Stock up now and enjoy them all year long.
DON'T LET THE FLU GET YOU! - October 2017
DON'T LET THE FLU GET YOU!
Flu season is here. And the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine each year. They also recommend that people 65 years and older should also get the pneumococcal vaccination to protect against pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.1 Talk to your doctor about which vaccines specifically are right for you. But know the signs and symptoms so you can help avoid the spread of germs.
The flu is a virus that causes a respiratory infection. It can also lead to pneumonia and other complications. Signs and Symptoms of the flu may include some or all of the following:
The flu virus spreads very quickly through droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can then land in the mouth or nose of a nearby person. Or land on a surface that is touched by someone else who then touches their face. So if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or are not feeling well, you can help stop the spread of germs by following these good health habits:
1. Avoid close contact with people. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home. You will prevent others from getting your illness.
3. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
4. Wash your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Illnesses are spread most often when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits by getting plenty of sleep, following a regular exercise routine, managing your stress, eating nutritious food and drinking plenty of water.
The single best way to help prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season.
So what are you waiting for?
• Fever or feeling feverish chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue or feeling very tired
• Some may experience vomiting and diarrhea
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
SUN SAFETY! - July 2016
With warmer weather comes a whole host of outside activities. After a long winter and rainy spring I love feeling the warm sun on my skin. A quick 20 minutes on my deck soaking up the sun leaves my skin a touch pink. And how quickly I am reminded that even a short 10 minutes in the sun can cause damage to my skin. Gone are the days of baking my skin with a generous layer of baby oil or butter in my backyard. How awful does that sound now?! But the longing for beach bronze skin far outweighed any risk or concern my mother may have warned me about. Shoot, she probably did the same thing when she was a kid, ha!
We are all at risk of getting skin cancer. But I have recently learned that the odds of developing skin cancer actually go up as we age according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Not because we are outside more often than when we were younger, but because as our skin ages it loses its ability to attract a particular type of immune cell called T cells to the areas where sun damage occurs. This was reported by a 2009 study done by Professor Arne Akbar from the University College London. The result of no T cells in those damaged areas is that our skin does not heal as well, leaving it more vulnerable to skin cancer.
Tips for keeping your skin healthy at any age:
1. Use sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30. Look for brands that block both UVA and UVB rays.
2. Wear protective clothing such as a wide brim hat, UV protective sunglasses, loose fitting long pants and shirts.
3. Look for shade or use an umbrella.
4. Eat healthy well balanced meals. Antioxidants can help prevent damaging effects of the sun. So indulge in fruits, veggies and even coffee and tea are full of antioxidants.
5. Check you medications. Some make our skin more sun sensitive which can lead to a quick sun burn.
6. Drink plenty of water. Sweating is the body’s natural way of keeping our skin cool. Staying hydrated not only replenishes fluids from the effects of perspiration, it also keeps the body’s largest organ, our skin, nourished.
Since sun damage can accumulate over time, it is never too late to start a sun protection regimen. If you have areas of concern, visit a dermatologist. Enjoy a safe and sunburn free summer!
DETOX THIS SPRING WITH LEAFY GREENS - April 2016
DETOX THIS SPRING
WITH LEAFY GREENS
Spring always reminds me that it is time to clean the house. You know that deep cleaning that involves cleaning windows, airing out the house, spraying down the deck furniture and sweeping the sand and salt out of the garage. We prepare our households for the next season. Spring cleaning has become one of those things we “get use to doing”. It is part of our routine of renewal as the weather starts to warm up and the air somehow smells different. Everyone does it, I think. Shoot I even look forward to cleaning out closets and re-organizing my kitchen cupboards. All in the spirit of “a start of better times”.
Spring comes with feelings of rejuvenation, regrowth and renewal. Not to mention unstable weather and typically lots of rain in many parts of the continental US. But let’s not forget the process of rejuvenation, regrowth and renewal that also needs to take place from the inside out. Our body also needs to be cleaned out from all the winter warming food. We were so perfectly and wonderfully made that we naturally crave high fat and warming foods in the winter. Our bodies instinctively know that we need those foods to keep warm. While our ancestors naturally ate high fat foods so they would increase body fat to increase energy and insulation during cold winter months. Today we have other means of staying warm, such as a fireplace and heating blanket.
It is easy to forget about the seasons when we eat. Spring is the time of year when leafy vegetables are is peak season and represent new growth. These foods were designed for us for this time of year. After coming out of a high fat food season packed very acid foods (meat, sugar and dairy) our bodies need some spring cleaning of their own. Fat and toxins have been building up in our body all winter long. Leafy green vegetables are especially powerful in naturally cleansing our body particularly the liver and colon.
According to the Livestrong.com website, “The liver processes and eliminates many of the toxins which the body is exposed. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, turnips, collard greens, kale and seaweed are all excellent sources that aid in this cleansing process.1”
Livestrong.com suggests the greening that happens in our backyard should represent the greens on our plate. And according to an article on healthyandnaturalworld.com, the antioxidant beta-carotene and vitamins C and K help neutralize toxins and remove them for the body. Sulphurous chemicals in Arugula for example, stimulate circulation, strengthen the liver and have a mild diuretic effect.1
So this spring after you do a little spring cleaning around the house, sit down to a nice green salad and spring clean yourself from the inside out. We all know that eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables can help ward off heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and so on. After all, we are what we eat!
Integrating leafy greens in your diet helps your body eliminate fats and toxins.
Ursula Moon: Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute: "Which Green Vegetables Are Good For Cleansing The Body": October 24, 2013
© 2017 American Republic Insurance Services, LLC.
® “American Republic Insurance Services”, “Be Informed. Be Smart. Be Secure.”, and the eagle logo are registered service marks of American Republic Insurance Services, LLC.