Category Archives: Nutrition

Are You Really Ready for the Holidays?

Many people look forward to the holiday season and the start of a new year. It often provides an opportunity to spend quality time with family, take a few days off from work, or go on a winter vacation. But if the thought of holiday season gives you visions of stress and chaos, you are not alone.  While the holiday season can be a fun and joyous time, it can also be very stressful. The combined effort of shopping, attending social events, and entertaining guests can quickly become too much to handle.

The body’s reaction to stress is meant to protect us. Our natural reactions to danger or challenge can be positive, but when we feel intense pressure or feel out of control these reactions become negative stress. The “fight or flight” response from the sympathetic nervous system occurs as we react to physical and mental changes in our equilibrium. In Chinese medicine, excessive emotional stimulation or suppression causes imbalance, thereby injuring the body and producing disease. And if you read last month’s newsletter, you know that stress is one of the things that will lower your immune system.

Here are several ways to minimize stress and anxiety so you can thoroughly enjoy this festive time of year and stay well at the same time.

Nix the Sugar

Some call this the “sugar season” which officially begins the day after Halloween and goes through New Years with many occasions to indulge in desserts, festive beverages and the like. If you want to reduce stress, sugar is one of the first things to cut out of your diet. When you’re stressed, your body releases more cortisol, a hormone responsible for helping us manage both stress and blood sugar levels. That’s because when you eat sugary foods, blood sugar levels spike, and the body must release more cortisol to balance blood sugar. The problem is that increased cortisol can also cause sleep issues, decreased immune response, headaches, and unhealthy food cravings. Additionally, rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels cause feelings that are similar to stress, including anxiousness and fear.  By eliminating foods with added sugars—like pastries, flavored yogurt, and soda—and eating more whole foods, you’ll keep your blood sugar stable, boost your immune system and will have fewer mood swings, reduced stress, and a happier body Continue reading

Food As Medicine Cooking Class

You asked and I’m delivering!  Many of my patients ask “what should I be eating?”  While this can be very individual based on what’s happening with your body, there are some general guidelines that Chinese Medicine adheres to.  One of which is using food as medicine and eating with the season.  In this 2 hour workshop, I’ll be showing you how to prepare some delicious dishes that will help boost your immune system so you can stay healthy this Fall and Winter.  And you’ll get to enjoy them too.   Please join me Thursday, November 14 at 11:30 am!   Seating will be limited due to the nature of the class, so please register early to save your seat.

 

How to Stay Well this Fall

Even though it’s still hot as Hades outside, we are fast approaching the change of the seasons – summer into fall –  one of most susceptible times of the year for catching colds and flu.  The weather should be cooling soon (fingers crossed!), school has started, and activities pick up so most likely there’s more stress.  And since it’s still so hot, you may be tempted to continue to dress lightly and eat cooling foods.   Kids are bringing colds or flu home from school so it spreads through the family and co-workers sharing it at the office.   It’s no wonder many of us are sick during this time of year.

Autumn is the season associated with the Lung and its partner, the Large Intestine. If you tend to catch colds or have allergies in the Fall, it’s important to take care of these organs! Together the lung and large intestines are related to immunity through the strength of the protective external layer of our skin. Generally, outside pathogens most easily enter through the respiratory and digestive systems, and the lung and colon are responsible for maintaining the function of these systems so that they are not penetrated by outside pathogens. According to Chinese medicine, the body’s defensive energy is directly dependent on the strength of the lung and colon.

So how do you stay well through this vulnerable time? How do you prevent catching a cold or flu and keep your family will, too? The good news – there are many alternatives to support health through this change of seasons. But you need to get on it!  NOW is the time to prepare.

Change your Diet

First of all, change your diet no to reflect the season to come. Cooler weather means ingesting warmer food and drinks.   Here’s what to eat:

  • Switch from salads to soups.
  • Eat cooked rather than raw fruit – consider crisps, cobblers or pies.
  • Use lots of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, and fennel.
  • Ingest root veggies and winter squash.
  • Increase protein intake.

Here’s what to avoid:

  • Cold, refrigerated or iced drinks
  • Dairy
  • Raw foods
  • Smoothies
  • Cold juices
  • Ice cream and other iced/cold foods

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Living With the Season – Late Summer

It’s Late summer which means hot, muggy weather and heat-breaking afternoon thunderstorms. Late summer is considered one of the five major seasons in Chinese Medicine and we find it useful to look to Nature as a guide to understand how life (human, animal, plants, etc.) is affected by the seasons.

In August, Nature is undergoing its last burst of growth before harvest time. In Chinese Medicine, Late Summer corresponds to the nurturing Earth element, so the next few weeks are an important time for self-nurturing and self-cultivation. This a powerful time for us to use the last bit of Summer’s energy to fully ripen and transform.

If you are wondering how seasonal energies influence our physical well-being, read on.

Associated with the Earth element, are the Stomach and the Spleen. These organs are responsible for transforming food and drink into what what will become the energy, Blood and Fluids the body needs for all bodily functions. You can easily assess whether your Stomach or Spleen are in harmony with the seasonal energies of Late Summer. When the Earth Element is in balance we are able to nourish ourselves and those around us in a supportive manner. In balance, the Earth element gives us strong muscles, vibrant energy and the ability to think and study clearly. Out of balance the body is weak, the muscles become flaccid and soft, there is often obesity and problems of the digestive tract. If you experience nausea, stomach flu, IBS, weight gain, blood sugar disorders, or are low on energy, your Stomach and Spleen may be out of balance. Continue reading

Keeping Cool in the Summer Heat

The Summer season filled with abundant energy, long days and sunshine. This is the most yang time of year. Summer is about expansion, growth, activity and creativity. According to Chinese medicine, Summer is associated with the element of Fire. In human anatomy, the heart, mind, and spirit are ruled by the fire element. Top priority should be given to the heart, mind, and spirit for staying healthy in summer.

Keeping Balanced during Summer

The heart’s main function is to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body. In Chinese medicine, mental activity is also associated with the heart including our memory, thought processes, emotional well-being, and consciousness. This is a time to use our energy to realize our life’s greatest potential as we find joy in our hot summer days and warm summer nights. When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound. When the Fire element is out of balance, we may see depression (too little fire), or chaos/mania (too much fire). Agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia are symptoms that there is an imbalance. Taken to the extreme, summer heat can cause you to suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke with symptoms such as fainting, dark-colored urine, rapid heart rate, confusion, throbbing headache, red and dry skin. Seek immediate medical attention if these occur.

To prevent these problems, I recommend that we take full advantage of the long summer days. Some suggestions include:

  • Awakening earlier in the morning and going to bed later in the evening.
  • Resting at midday when heat is at its highest.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids. This is key to balance the heat of fire and eliminating any toxins.
  • Adding pungent flavors like spicy foods, garlic and ginger to your diet. These cause you to sweat, which actually functions to cool the body
  • Keeping your diet light and avoid heavy, greasy or sugary foods. Eat in moderation.
  • Refrain from anger; keep calm and even-tempered.
  • Seek Chinese Medicine when you feel out of balance.

Diet – Keep it cool

In summer, indigestion can easily occur, so a light and less-greasy diet is recommended. This is the perfect season to introduce some cool foods into your diet. Cooling foods can clear heat, reduce toxins, and generate body fluids. Cooling foods are those you typically find during this time of year – lettuce and other greens, cucumbers, and watercress are some of the coolest. Fish and seafood are also cooling, while most meats are warming.
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June is Men’s Health Month

Take advantage of my free offer below…

June is Men’s Health Month and with Father’s Day coming up, now is a great time to stress the importance of men’s health. Let’s face it, men smoke more, drink more alcohol, make riskier choices and put off seeking healthcare. Some aren’t even aware of what their health risks are. When men are aware of health concerns important to them, they can do a better job of taking care of themselves.

Here’s why I think it’s important to discuss this topic.

  • Men are 24% less likely than a woman to have visited a health care practitioner incouple on bikes the last year.
  • Men who are overweight, obese, or physically inactive are at greater risk for high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
  • 40% of men are smokers compared to 9% of women. Smoking can not only cause cancer, but can cause erectile dysfunction and damage to the DNA in sperm which may lead to infertility.
  • Men make up over 75% of suicide victims in the United States. Depression may be different for men. Emotional and physical tension are signs of stress and may put you at risk for anxiety, depression and other health problems.
  • Over 50% of men in their 60s and as many as 90% in their 70s or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
  • Men are more frequently diagnosed with serious digestive-related conditions because they are less likely to seek help for heartburn, acid reflux, and other digestive symptoms until they have become a real problem.

Making Healthier Choices

Making healthy choices includes consulting health professionals and becoming educated on the preventative measures that are important for your health. This includes diet, exercise and positive mental health. Here are a few things you can do to improve your health. Continue reading

5 Tips to Improve Fertility

If you’ve been trying to conceive and it’s just not happening, give these tips a try to improve your chances.  Of course I’m ready to help you too with Acupuncture,  Herbal Medicine and Nutrition Therapy.

  1. Clean up your diet – Focus on organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains and lean proteins.  Minimize processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and sweets. If you have PCOS, minimize sugar and refined carbohydrates. 
  2. Warm your belly – some cases of infertility can be from “cold” in the uterus, so try warming your abdomen gently during the time after your period until ovulation. Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on low-medium for 20 minutes in the evenings.
  3. Go easy with exercise – If you are used to intense workouts, you may want to cut back. Research shows that intense exercise more than four hours a week can decrease fertility, so reduce the intensity by 25-30% and try replacing one or two sessions with a gentle yoga or Pilates class.
  4. Avoid drinking or eating cold foods. Cold can slow circulation around the abdomen and uterus.
  5. Increase the quality of your blood with Chinese red dates, beef soup or beef, boiled eggs, beets and goji berries.

Recipe of the Month – Salmon with Immune Boosting Mushrooms

Mushrooms are packed with healing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that destroy infections, slow down aging, and regenerate nerve cells. Asian mushrooms are best and shitakes are probably the easiest of them to find at your local market. Try this healthy recipe from Eating Well magazine to add some immune boosting power to your diet.

Seared Salmon with Mushroom-Shallot Sauce

  • 4 (4 ounce) fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced shitake, cremeni or button mushrooms
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse the fish; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Measure thickness of fillets. Cook the salmon in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes per ½-inch thickness or until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork, carefully turning once halfway through cooking. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
  2. Add mushrooms and shallot to the same skillet. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and carefully add wine, mustard, and thyme. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined and heated through.
  3. Place the salmon on serving plates and top with the mushroom sauce.  Serve with a side of vegetables.

Living a Healthy New Year

Ancient advice for health during Winter says “Desires and mental activity should be kept quiet and subdued, as if keeping a happy secret. Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep the skin covered.” With the cold weather, hibernation of animals, decrease in plant life, and few daylight hours, winter was the toughest season to maintain health in the ancient world.

Even though the #1 New Year Resolution is weight loss, the winter months really aren’t ideal to try and lose weight. Make Health a PriorityWhy? Because human health has long been considered to be closely tied to nature. As organic creatures, it stands to reason that we humans are affected, directly and indirectly, by the natural environment including weather, climate, or duration of daylight.

These factors, particularly less daylight and our natural instinct to hibernate, make losing weight more difficult and frustrating which leads us to give up on that goal altogether. Less sunlight means we aren’t getting as much vitamin D. It appears that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage—so calories you consume are stored in fat cells rather than being used for energy. A second factor is an increase in melatonin, the hormone that signals your body that it is time to sleep, and is triggered by darkness. Since winter means less hours of daylight, melatonin levels tend to increase and increased melatonin is associated with increased appetite. It can feel like a losing battle. Continue reading

Prepare to Take Back Your Health

Did you know that nearly 80% of New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned by February?  December is the perfect time to reflect on the goals you set in 2018 and think about where you’d like to see yourself in 2019.

Whether you have some health condition that you want to resolve, or if you simply want to remain well, here are three healthy living resolutions to try in the new year to “take back your health”. The key is to set goals that are small enough to be doable, but big enough to still give you that feeling of satisfaction when you realize it’s March (or even November!) and you’re still going strong.

1. Weight Loss – This is probably the #1 New Year’s Resolution.  Unless you have a critical health condition that demands you shed some pounds, a better idea may be to simply resolve to make healthier food choices.  One of the key ways to do this is to surround yourself and your family with healthy options to expose them to nutritious foods. The more involved your family is in planning and cooking healthy meals, the more likely they are to eat them, so try planning a weekly family menu together.  When shopping, stick to the outside aisles at the grocery store where you find fresh fruits and veggies, and stay out of the center aisles where all of the processed foods live. Try to resist the temptation to buy Johnny’s favorite cookies, or Dad’s diet soda and opt for healthier options instead.  You can make these changes incrementally so that it doesn’t feel so much like an exercise in deprivation.

If your current health situation (or someone you care about) requires shedding some pounds in the new year, then check out my Weight Loss Gift Basket that you can give to someone or to yourself.   Continue reading