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Reduce your toxicity load. A hundred years ago we were exposed to 10 environmental toxins on a daily basis. Today it is over 10,000. We have the same liver trying to keep up with the extra work. Minimizing these toxins and supporting liver function and waste removing organs is essential.
Most of the pollution we are exposed to is indoors. Carpets, furniture, sealants off gas. Lotions, make up, soaps, perfumes, etc, are all full of chemicals, many of which are absorbed through the skin. Cleaning products, plastics, food chemicals, etc. all have to be dealt with and eliminated. The liver needs the vitamins and mineral cofactors for detox enzymes and needs to be able to keep up with the workload. The lungs, intestines, and kidneys need to be working optimally to eliminate the metabolic and environmental wastes. Deep breathing (health tip #1), drinking water (health tip #2), eating lots of veggies for fiber and nutrients (health tip #4), relaxing when eating to improve digestion (health tip #5) all support removing wastes and liver function.
Castor oil packs also stimulate liver detox and intestine detox. As an added bonus they optimize immune function and are relaxing. Placing a few tablespoons to start on a cotton flannel and applying it over the belly from the bottom of the ribs to the top of the hips is ideal. Then add heat in the form of blankets, hot water bottle, or heating pad (heat is not needed in summer months) and sit or lye down and relax for 45 minutes. Most people prefer to do these a bedtime. I recommend at least 5 nights a week.
Pregnant women and people with abdominal cancer should not add heat to the castor oil packs.
Be part of a community. Feeling loved, having close friends, and being part of a community have all shown to lower the effects of stress and the risk of developing chronic diseases, especially heart disease. This is evident in the quality of people’s lives as well as statistically through research studies. Along with implementing the other health tips, love and relationships are important factors in reaching higher levels of wellness. The key is choosing healthy relationships and to continue to nourish them.
Play every day. The first thing that gets cut from our schedule when we get busy is our play time. People will say, “There just isn’t enough time.” It is essential to make time, because play nourishes the spirit and feeds the soul.
Kids always find it funny that I have to write prescriptions for adults to play. It has a profound impact on our level of health. Incorporate 15 minutes minimum that are nonnegotiable to have fun EVERY DAY and play.
Think positive about yourself and your life. Thoughts affect our physiology. Thinking about something we don’t like or don’t want to do, such as public speaking, causes increased heart rate, sweating, stomach pain, nausea, etc. A study was done several years back that showed 80% of the average American’s thoughts about themselves everyday are negative and self critical. This does affect our physiology, our health, and quality of life.
Self reflection and critique of ones actions and performance are necessary for improvement. I am not recommending living in a state where there are never any negative or critical thoughts. We can, however, look at something we did, see how we could do it better in the future, and move on. What most do is to focus and obsess on the negatives and are not willing or able to let them go. These toxic thoughts accumulate.
I recommend thinking of two positive thoughts for every negative one. ”Yes, we could have done that better, but we did do this and that perfect.” Whether it is ourselves or our life, focus on the positives. To improve health and quality of life focus on solutions not problems.
The flu season is from October to April with February typically seeing the highest number of cases. This year has already been particularly bad for the flu. Here is what you need to know to prevent getting it or dealing with the infection.
Colds vs. Flu
Both colds and flus are viral infections meaning antibiotics will not help. Both infections cause sore throats, congestion, cough, fatigue, and runny noses. Unlike a cold, flu symptoms usually start suddenly; there is often a fever of 101 or better, chills, head and body aches, and intense fatigue. Both are contagious and are spread through respiratory fluids, snot and spit, either directly or on contaminated surfaces.
There is no such thing as the stomach flu. The influenza virus only infects cells in the respiratory tract. Kids with the flu sometimes experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea as a result of their fever and the body diverting its energy to fighting the virus. What most people call the stomach flu is an infection of a different type of virus such as adenovirus, rotavirus, norovirus, or bacterial food infection.
The best ways to prevent the flu are to avoid exposure, strengthen barriers and immune function, and maintain internal conditions that are inhospitable to the virus. Dr. Rudolph Virchow astutely said, “Mosquitoes seek the stagnant water, but do not cause the pool to become stagnant.” The internal conditions of the body based on diet, waste elimination, and stress can promote or hinder infections.
- Avoid sick people, unless they are your kids.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water and avoiding diuretics like coffee, black tea, soda, and alcohol. Dehydration leads to cracked mucous membranes and an open door for the virus. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily as long as you do not have heart or kidney problems.
- Sleep 8 hours a night to keep from getting run down.
- Reduce stress, which suppresses the immune system. Deep breathing with the exhale being twice as long as the inhale will help.
- Daily castor oil packs improve immune function and waste elimination.
- Cook with fresh garlic and drink Echinacea and elderberry tea, which have anti-viral and immune stimulating properties.
- Take vitamin D and daily probioitcs to support immune function. Daily probiotics have been shown to decrease respiratory infections.
- Avoid sugars, grains, juices, dairy, soda, and processed foods as they create virus friendly conditions.
- Eat a variety of vegetables and wild caught fish/fish oil daily,
Of the hundreds of strains of flu, scientists pick three for the flu shot each year. Flu shots do no guarantee immunity. Studies confirming effectiveness and safety are not conducted prior to administration to the public. The prestigious Cochrane Collaboration is an international group of medical doctors who evaluate research studies for validity. In 2010 they reviewed 36 studies on flu shots and found they reduced infections by a whopping 1%. Put another if 100 people were vaccinated only 1 case of flu would be prevented. Then there is the issue of adjunct ingredients and preservatives such as formaldehyde (formalin), spermicides, disinfectants, antibiotics, thimerosal, MSG, and egg protein. I do not recommend flu shots for everyone.
The flu is a virus. Antibiotics will not help. Staying hydrated, rest, and a fever are essential. Yes, a fever is the body trying to kill the virus and optimize immune function. Taking anti-fever medications prolong the illness. Herbal medicine, homeopathics, and hydrotherapy are very effective treatments to manage symptoms and speed recovery. As these therapies are treating the person not the virus, they need to be prescribed based on each person’s individual case. Diathermy to the chest breaks up congestion and enhances immune function in the treated area. All of these are services we provide at The Source Wellness Center.
Dehydration can lead to the body being overwhelmed and dying. Influenza can also weaken the body allowing opportunistic viruses and bacteria to overgrow, often leading to pneumonia. Young children, the elderly, and immune compromised people are at the greatest risk of being overwhelmed and weakened by the flu.
Move your body daily. We are designed to move. Physical activity keeps us moving, helps reduce stress, improves memory, causes endorphines in the brain to be released making us feel good, reduces depression, reduces body fat, and the list goes on.
I recommend 45 min a day. That being said, not all exercises are right for everyone. The same goes for what time to work out. This can be determined based on the persons temperament. Also, exercise needs to be done in moderation. It can become a negative source of stress as well as lead to joint brake down in excess.
The key to maintaining an active lifestyle is to find the types of physical activities and exercising you enjoy.
Relax when you eat. You are not what you eat but what you absorb. Relaxing when you eat allows you to absorb all the delicious healthy foods from health tip #4.
Most people spend their life in a stressed fight or flight/sympathetic dominant state. This shuts our digestive system down. We don’t need our energy going to our gut when we are running from or fighting a bear. While we are in this state, we don’t digest well, we don’t absorb our nutrients, and we change the ratios of bacteria living in our gut. We promote an environment for non health supporting bugs in the gut and elsewhere. If we are relaxed, we are in a rest and digest or parasympathetic state that promotes good digestion.
Digestion starts in our brain 15-20 minutes before we eat. As we think about what we want, prepare it, and smell it cooking our brain is reaving up our gastric juices if we are in a parasympathetic state. To get in this state requires us to focus our attention on the food. Stop doing everything else and take the time to cook and savor the food. We should cook our own meals as much as possible. Smell the food as it is cooking. Think about how good it is going to be. Don’t cook with a microwave. Sit down and relax while eating with people you like. No driving, TV, reading, or stressful conversations with meals. Chew each bit 31 times to liquify it. This mechanically breaks the food down making it easier to absorb and helps the brain stimulate digestive juices. Drink fluids between meals and not with meals to prevent dilution of stomach acid. Roughly 30 minutes before meals and 60 minutes after meals is ideal. Put the fork or spoon down between bites to give your brain time to determine if you have had enough. Deep breathing (see health tip #1) puts us in a rest and digest state, so before, during, and after meals is a great time to do deep breathing.
Food is big topic. First, get the processed, chemical, dyed, preserved foods and beverages out. Eat whole foods, as much local and organic as possible. Local is more important than organic due to nutrients lost post picking. For those in areas with short growing seasons frozen is the next best thing. Avoid canned goods due to the sodium and bispehnol A (a whole other topic).
Eat lots and lots of vegetables of each color each day with each meal, even breakfast. People often seem repulsed by the idea of vegetables with breakfast. When I ask if they like omelets they say yes. I ask what they like in their omelet and they give a list of veggies. Usually I don’t have to point out the connection. By eating veggies of each color we get a variety of minerals, vitamins, fiber, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients. Eat a mix of raw and lightly cooked veggies to minimize nutrient damage and loss.
Eat a small amount of animal protein at each meal, ESPECIALLY breakfast, to stabilize blood sugar and the adrenal glands (stress glands). Here is where I aggravate vegetarians and vegans, which I was one for five years. Humans are physiologically designed to be omnivores. We have binocular vision (eyes in front) like all other meat eating mammals. We have canines and incisors for ripping and tearing flesh (Not my fault). We also have molars and premolars for crushing and grinding vegetables (also not my fault). How the animals were fed and raised is essential. Feed lot animals fed an unnatural diet, kept in dirty inhuman conditions, pumped full of antibiotics to keep sick animals alive long enough to slaughter should be avoided. The same goes for farm raised fish. These animals increase inflammation and toxicity. Wild caught fish and grass fed free range animals are ideal.
Grains, even whole grains, should be avoided completely or eaten sparingly depending on the person. Humans are not designed to eat large amounts of grains as our society does today. While the gluten free diet is very popular, and gluten does affect the majority of people to some degree, most people who cut out the gluten then eat the same amount of gluten free pasta, cakes, cookies, breads, etc., as if they were a health food. They are high in starch, a stored from of sugar, which disrupts our blood sugar and strains our adrenal glands. Phytic acids in grains leach minerals from us.
Little to no dairy (except butter which is just the fat). Pasteurization kills the probiotics and enzymes in milk. Pasteurized dairy is dead, devitalized food. Some people can tolerate small amounts of unpasteurized dairy from cows or goats. Keep in mind no other mammal drinks milk after infancy and none drink another species’ milk.
Eat healthy fats. Most people do not get enough omega 3 essential fatty acids (anti-inflammatory) found in wild caught fish, grass fed meat, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Raw olive oil, avocados, coconut, and butter from grass fed cows are also healthy fats. Yes butter is a health food as long as it comes from healthy animals. Toxins end up in fat, so animals that are raised in toxic conditions produce toxic rich meat and dairy. Crisco, margarine, soy oil, and corn oil (and animals fed corn and soy) should be avoided as they lead to inflammation (as do sugar/starches and damaged fats from cooking at too high a temperature).
We need the right balance of fats. Most people get too much animal fat and omega 6 fats (corn, soy, sesame, sunflower, vegetable oil) which increase inflammation, which causes tissue damage. Chronic inflammation leads to chronic diseases like cancer, heart attacks, strokes, auto immune diseases, etc. Omega 6 fats do not start off inflammatory, but when we eat them in excess the processing enzymes can’t keep up and they spill over into an inflammatory pathway. Feeding animal corn and soy increases their omega 6 levels. Ideally we should have an omega 6 to 3 ratio of 1 to 1 or 4 to 1. The average feed lot cow and American have a ratio of 25 to 1.
Fruit does not digest well with protein and veggies and is best eaten between meals by itself. I recommend eating fruit in moderation due to the sugar content. Fruit juices, even all nature and no added sugar varieties should be avoided for the same reason.
Food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies should be identified and removed from the diet. This varies from person to person and can be identified with muscle testing and lab tests. Wheat (gluten), dairy, soy, corn, egg, yeast, night shade veggies (potatoes, tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, yams), and nuts are the most common intolerances. We test to find which if any are a problem.
Cook with fresh herbs. Thyme, rosemary, oregano, garlic, turmeric, etc. have a myriad of health benefits from anti-parasitic to anti-cancer. Plus, they increase the flavor and taste of the food.
Nuts, seeds, and popcorn can be hard on our ileocecal valve, which can cause muscle and joint pain, headaches, tinnitus, bursitis, allergy like symptoms, and the list goes on. Often when we wake with pain and blame it on sleeping funny, it is due to an irritated ileocecal valve. Grinding nuts and seeds to a fine powder, chewing them to the point of a liquid, or only eating a small hand full a day can reduce the risk causing ICV symptoms. Spicy foods, alcohol, chocolate, black tea, coffee, and food intolerances can also cause ICV irritation.
Potatoes and yams are high in starch (sugar) and should be eaten minimally. Beans and legumes also are high in starch and should be eaten in small quantities. They also are high in indigestible proteins and mineral stealing phytic acids, which is why they should be soaked, sprouted, or fermented before eating. This breaks down those proteins and makes the beans easier to digest and the nutrients more absorbable. Traditionally, this is how beans were prepared, but it takes more time so our faced paced society stopped the practice.
I could go on when it comes to food and nutrition, but that gives you plenty to digest. Pun intended.
Get good sleep every night. Sleep is when our bodies heal and rejuvenate. Many people get the bare minimum of what they need to function. To maintain and elevate our level of health we need more than the minimum. We really do need eight hours a night.
It is not just the hours of sleep. It is when and how as well. It is ideal to go to sleep between 9 and 11 pm. In nature that is the time of greatest energy storage. For every hour we sleep before midnight, we get double he rejuvenation. Getting eight or more hours after midnight does not provide the same health benefits.
Sleep in complete darkness, other than the moon. Street lights, alarm clock lights, and DVD player lights all stimulate the pineal gland affecting our hormones and circadian rhythms. Use an awake light or turn the alarm clock towards the wall. Use black out curtains to keep out the street and porch lights. Leave them open the night of the full moon, the night before, and the night after to stay in synch with the moon and the rhythms of nature.
After deep breathing, the most important health tip is to drink water. The best source of water is water. Coffee, soda pop, caffeinated tea, iced tea, sports drinks, juice, and alcohol containing drinks don’t count. If the taste of water is an issue, some fresh squeezed juice from a lemon or lime can help.
Drinking adequate water every day flushes wastes from the body, including the space between cells. This improves cellular function. It also improves memory and brain function. Water will help keep the muscles and skin supple.
Most people are functioning in a state of dehydration. They are able to keep going in this state, but over time can lead to health issues. A general guideline is to drink half the person’s weight in ounces. A 160 pound person would drink 80 oz daily. People with heart conditions or kidney disease should not follow this recommendation and should consult their doctor on appropriated fluid intake.