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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 in 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoid drinking or eating cold foods. Cold can slow circulation around the abdomen and uterus.
- Increase the quality of your blood with Chinese red dates, beef soup or beef, boiled eggs, beets and goji berries.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the salmon on serving plates and top with the mushroom sauce. Serve with a side of vegetables.
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. Why? 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
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
Many people get the occasional heartburn or diarrhea from time to time, but when digestive problems become more frequent or continue for a longer period, it’s time to do something to address them. Do you have digestive issues? Some of the more common problems include:
- or some combination of the above
Causes can vary widely and may include emotional stress, poor dietary habits, antibiotic or drug use, or toxin exposure.
Chinese Medicine views the digestive process a little differently than the way we think about it in Western medicine. Continue reading
By following these five tips, you will improve not only your digestive health, but your overall health and well being.
- Eat warm foods. Did you know that the stomach functions the best when we put warm food into it? Iced beverages and cold foods, like frozen desserts, actually stress the stomach. Cold foods and liquids put out the “digestive fire” needed to efficiently break down your food and make nutrients available to your body.
- Eat less. Eating only until we are 70% full is best for optimal digestion. Your stomach needs some room to digest the food you consume. This maximizes the nutrition you get from your food, and can even help you reduce weight. Recent studies have shown that in addition to cognitive benefits, eating less can increase longevity, improve the function of the nervous and immune systems, and reduce incidence of several diseases that are prevalent in our country, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, kidney disease, neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune disease.
- Eat in a calming environment. Like most Chinese medical practitioners, I recommend eating a meal in a relaxing environment (without reading/ watching the news etc) because this provides the optimum environment to process your food. When we eat while stressed or tense/anxious/angry/depressed etc, there is an impact to the Stomach causing the Stomach to ‘rebel’. This usually leads to nausea, vomiting, heartburn, or that sick feeling of having a knot in your stomach.
- Eat light at night. Eating bigger, heavier meals late at night contributes to food stagnation, causing stomach discomfort and bloating. Long-term food stagnation can contribute to a feeling of heaviness and fatigue, and a tendency toward obesity and poor health. Morning is the time of day digestive organs have the most strength and ability to digest food. In the evening (after 8:00 pm) the strength of these organs is at their weakest and our ability to process and metabolize food is greatly diminished.
- Light exercise helps promote digestion. An old Chinese saying is “Walk a hundred paces after a meal and one can live ninety-nine years.” By taking a short stroll after a meal, you help your body move the food through your digestive system and can even lower your blood sugar. This is especially important after the evening meal when our metabolism is somewhat slower.
If you are finding it hard to arrange your schedule for a Wellness Visit, here are a few tips for helping you to cope until you can come in.
- Leverage coping skills – Whether it’s meditation, breathing exercises, acupuncture, yoga, hiking, biking or another way you relieve stress, begin to manage difficult emotions and associated stress before and during this transition back to school. The idea is to balance mind and body so that you are better able to handle whatever is thrown your way. We also offer Stress Free Tea, based on a Chinese Herbal Formula used to calm stress, anxiety and depression for over 900 years.
- Get into a routine ASAP – Begin to introduce the changes before school starts back. Keeping a regular bedtime and healthy diet, while making time for relaxing playful activities are all helpful to establish a regular routine that can reduce chaos, stress and anxiety.
- Encourage healthy eating – We all know that our diet can affect both our physical and mental health. Highly processed foods that consist of high sugar, soft drinks, and nutrient poor foods can increase anxiety and depression. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and high quality proteins are important for a healthy immune system (which BTW begins in the gut).
Most importantly don’t wait until things are out of control to take action. I hope you find these tips helpful and that you will think of me when you need help.
The heat is on! In Chinese Medicine, Summer is the Fire Season and is related to the heart, blood vessels, Small Intestine and the emotions. The heart is in charge of memory, consciousness, thinking, sleep and speech. It’s not too uncommon when there is an imbalance during the summer that we see symptoms such as anxiety, inflammation, heart palpitations, and insomnia. In nature, it’s easy to see that extreme heat withers and dries plant life, and we too can easily become overheated during the summer months. By practicing these 5 tips you’ll keep your fire in check during the summer.
- Hydrate. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during the summer, especially if you sweat a lot. If you work outside or sweat profusely, you may also need to add electrolytes. Coconut water (unsweetened), fresh watermelon juice and water with cucumbers added will all help replace electrolytes.
- Eat lightly and simply. Skip the heavy meals and use a few simple ingredients in your meals. Prepare vegetables by steaming or lightly simmering. Our tendency is to go for salads, but don’t overdo it with cold and raw foods because they weaken the digestive system. Visit your local farmers market to see what is in season and focus on including those ingredients in your meals. Look for brightly colored vegetables and fruits. Greens help cleanse the arteries and cools the heart. They also help control anxiety. Try our cooling Cucumber, Watermelon and Mint Salad.
- Sweat a little. A light sweat will help to cool the body and prevent overheating. While it may seem counter-intuitive to eat spicy, pungent foods such as hot peppers, fresh ginger, and horseradish during summer, they will bring body heat to the surface creating sweat, thereby cooling you down. But heavy sweating causes to much fluid loss.
- Go easy on the ice. Iced drinks, ice cream and frozen treats weaken the digestive system, hold in sweat and heat, and contract the stomach inhibiting digestion.
- Slow down. Focus on calming the heart through slow yoga, soft music, breathing exercises and meditation. Relax.
Summer is a time of activity, travel, and play. Enjoy it!
Makes 4-6 servings
- 2 cups cubed cucumber (English or Persian)
- 2 cups cubed watermelon (de-seeded)
- Juice of 2 limes
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- Salt to taste
Combine above ingredients in a bowl. Serve slightly cool. Optional: Sprinkle crumbled goat or feta cheese just before serving.
Chef’s note: If making salad ahead of time, do not add lime juice and salt until just before serving.
From The Chopra Center.