• December 19, 2014

Health Springs

Monday 02/03/2014
Exercises for February
There are exercises that are good for any fitness level and then there are those that are either too advanced for most people or results in injury if not done properly. There are exercises that work best for beginners and others that you can do repeatedly (with variations) that will continue to challenge you.

Whatever category you fall under, here are some effective exercises to pick up and a few overall ones to switch out:

Abdominal Side Plank: Great for beginners but once you can hold it for more than 60 seconds change things up and challenge your body in a different way. Once the body adjusts to an exercise the best thing you can do is switch things up to continue seeing results.

Total Body Exercise 1: Try this instead. Squat, curl to press progression (literally a squat, followed by a bicep curl then an overhead press); great for stabilization and engages the core as well.

Seated Knee Extensions: Some exercises such as this one (and exercise machines in general) target one muscle group and are not dynamic-body exercises, meaning that you’re not actively using a variety of muscle groups to perform repetitions. The more muscle groups engaged in an exercise (as with free weights) the more the overall benefits.

Total Body Exercise 2: Walking lunges or front squats use more muscle groups and have similar benefits to a seated knee extension.

Hanging Knee Raise: Same as the seated knee extensions, except with this machine if it’s not done correctly (and most people don’t perform it properly), you risk the chance of injury.

Traditional Crunches: Apart from the neck and shoulder injuries and (again) working that one targeted muscle group, crunches do work. However, if you’re doing them too fast you tend to lost proper form. You’re better off using a stability ball and engaging more muscle groups.

Total Body Exercise 3: Try a burpee with jump. Or if you just can’t give up on crunches, try an incline knee-in with hip thrust or a rope crunch; all will work the core muscles and not target just one muscle group.

Bench Press: This is a great exercise and equipment but it shouldn’t be the bulk of your exercise routine (nor should too many horizontal exercises). You want to work more body parts; too much chest exercises may lead to rotator cuff and upper body imbalance so switch it up often.

Total Body Exercise 4: To vary your chest workout try some power exercises such as a rotation chest press, a staggered-stance two-arm medicine ball chest pass or a plyometric push-up. 

What are some of your favorite exercises? Which ones can you add to this list?

Posted in Health springs on Monday, February 3, 2014 1:45 pm. | Tags: Recreation , Exercise , Physical Exercise , Muscle , Plyometrics Comments (0)

Monday 01/27/2014
The best diet for 2014

The DASH diet claims to be a “healthy way of eating and is easy to use, flexible enough for most lifestyles and contains the food preferences of most people.” But what diet doesn’t boast about that? They don’t advertise the downsides, like its all pre-packaged foods and high in sodium (or substituted with sweeteners), or if you don’t eat dairy and eggs (don’t use our diet) cause you will not get enough nutrients. So how is this diet different?

Named #1 Diet for 2014

Recently, the U.S. News and World Report publication awarded the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, the healthiest diet on the market (2014). But it does more than the name implies and maybe the answer for you. 

Benefits of the DASH Diet

Developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the diet was specifically designed to lower blood pressure without medication, but it is also great for weight-loss. Benefits include: reducing cholesterol, improves insulin sensitivity, and lowers blood pressure and the risks of heart disease including diabetes, cancer, stroke and cholesterol.

What You Can Eat

Basically, there’s very little that is truly “off the plate” on this one and the guidelines are very flexible; it doesn’t restrict any one food group either. Also, there are free recipes online to get you started.

Elements of the Diet (based on a 2000 calorie diet):

Grains and grain products (7-8 servings daily)

Vegetables, fruits (4-5 servings daily)

Low fat or nonfat dairy foods (2-3 servings daily)

Nuts, seeds, legumes (4-5 servings per WEEK)

Lean meats, fish and poultry (2 or less daily)

Fats and sweets (limited)

Downside: According to the experts, because it is a well-rounded diet there are no known health-risks associated with it.However, giving up the fatty, sugary, salty foods may take some adjustment, and foods maybe bland in the beginning (but you can use herbs and spices). Also, produce and fresh foods cost more. Alcohol consumption isn’t recommended but the diet does allow for vegan, gluten-free and vegetarians for example.

 
Resources: The DASH Diet Action Plan book, The DASH Diet Weight-loss Solution, The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook.

Posted in Health springs on Monday, January 27, 2014 1:45 pm. | Tags: Us News World Report , Diets , Health , Nutrition , Dash Diet , Weight Loss , Medicine Comments (0)

Tuesday 01/21/2014
Walking: Shorter than your favorite sitcom
So you had it out with someone at work today. Or let’s say the dog really did eat your flip-chart presentation and you have to start over. Whatever the crisis of the day is, what’s one thing you can readily do to ease anxiety and stress? You guessed it—walk it off. Sure you’ve g.this all before, right? But let’s face it: you really don’t need an instruction manual, and in just minutes a day—in less time that you’re favorite TV sitcom, you can do what you already do daily and are an expert at.

In case you forgot what it can do for you in little to no time, here are some of the (short) and long-term perks of walking.

Get it pumping. The far-reaching benefits you’ve heard about are true. Walking protects against dementia by improving blood flow to the brain; it builds endurance and improves heart and lung capacity; boosts the immune system; builds stronger muscles and supports joints; eases arthritis symptoms and depression; and increases metabolism. So why aren’t you walking again?

The 15/2 equation. Do you know if you walked for one hour per week it can combat the onset of heart disease, diabetes and cancer? According to experts just 15 minutes of brisk walking daily can add at least 2 years to your life expectancy. That’s shorter than your favorite show and you can do it on your lunch break, before work, or after dinner.

Suit up and go. Even walking slowly will burn approximately 100 calories (depending on your metabolism, body type and other factors, of course) but still it’s a simple way to begin working out again if you haven’t done so in a while. Be sure to invest in some steady, well-supported sneakers that fit comfortably and dress for the weather.

Do you walk as part of a health regime? How often do you walk and for how long? What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Posted in Health springs on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 1:55 pm. | Tags: Walking , Health , Arthritis , Cardiovascular Disease , Diabetes , Heart Disease Comments (0)

11 steps to eliminating toxins: Part II

Late year, I did a two-week intense mind-body-spirit cleanse (at a detox facility; more on this later). That was followed by a three-month at-home cleanse (it takes that long to generate new red-blood cells). Then several weeks later, I followed with an intense eight-day liquid-only colon cleanse. Why did I do it?

When toxins and impurities are removed (from the liver, kidneys, lungs, lymphatic system, skin and blood, for example), the body can more readily heal, repair tissues at the cellular level and maximize on the nutrients you feed it, just to name a few.

Here are the remaining six things that you need to do (and know about) when eliminating toxins.

Use reputable products. The Blessed Herbs colon-cleanse is amazing and it comes with everything you need to do the job right (literally). Look for these and other herbal and naturopathic methods and products because they’re the best way to conduct a cleanse. It requires some research but it’s worth it.

Go green. Most cleanses are five to seven days long (and some even require a pre-cleanse fast with only juicing—i.e. the juice from fresh, organic produce such as cucumbers, kale, carrots, spinach and collard greens). This prepares your body for a liquid-only fast.

Consume fermented foods and drinks. This aids with elimination and they are packed with the necessary enzymes to also help with digestive functions (especially if you tend to be constipated). Most are easy to make at home too.

Eliminate animal products. Avoid all packaged foods to maximize on your cleanse—especially meat. If you have dietary restrictions and cannot juice alone (and/or choose to eat meat), choose organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free poultry and fish. However, a raw food diet is highly recommended over eating any meat. Making fresh homemade vegetable soup can substitute for meals if you must eat.

Detox-rich foods: Fiber-rich foods and organically-grown fruits and vegetables including radishes, cabbage, broccoli and beets are great detoxifying foods (that you can use before and after a cleanse). Also herbal green tea and herbs such as dandelion root are great aids.

Taking care of the outside. There are several things you can do to help with a detox, including hydrotherapy, colon therapy and using the sauna to sweat (it eliminates waste through perspiration). Also, dry-brushing your skin is ideal during cleansing (and daily as well).  

If doing a detox at home isn’t appealing to you then you’ll want to read the next post. We will be discussing where to go for an intense three-week mind, body and spiritual cleanse—from what to eat, exercises to do, how to prepare raw foods and juicing, and what to do when you go at-home.

Posted in Health springs on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 8:00 am. | Tags: Colon Cleansing , Food , Detoxification , Raw Foodism , Diets Comments (0)

Sunday 01/19/2014
11 steps to eliminating toxins: Part I

If you’re feeling sluggish, have digestive problems, want to lose weight, feel fatigued, have allergies, are bloated, foggy, or simply struggling with ache, a body detox might be just the thing you’re looking for.

You’ve probably heard of eliminating toxins from your body, but do you know exactly what is meant by a detox?

The term detoxification is used to indicate the cleaning out of the body from the inside out. It consists of fasting, resting and using herbal or naturopathic products to stimulate the liver and promote elimination (and increase circulation), among others.

If you’ve ever wanted to do a detox, here are 11 things that you need to do (and know about).

Watch what you eat and drink. Abstain from alcohol, coffee, refined (and all) sugars, saturated fats and highly refined foods while cleansing. Eat sea veggies such as seaweed and raw foods that are prepared and not cooked (some people begin doing so at least a week before they begin a cleanse.)

Drink purified or filtered water only. Even though the purity of the tap water where you live might be great, drinking only filtered water during a cleanse means you’re not reintroducing harmful substances and carcinogens into your body. Drink plenty of water before, during and after a cleanse (experts recommend at least half your body weight in water.)            

Manage stress. Yoga, meditation and deep breathing help with stress and food cravings. Be prepared to confront serious food-cravings that will arise if you’re doing an extended juice-only cleanse. During my eight-day juice cleanse (last year), the food cravings were so bad I had to avoid watching food commercials on TV. Drinking lots of water helps along with fiber drinks.

Get giggly with it. One of the most important parts of a detox is movement. There are detox-specific DVDs and cleansing ones that activate the lymphatic system that you can use to aid the process. Walking and any form of light movement for an hour is recommended. You might be weak so don’t overdo it or try your usual workout routine.

Go organic. Use environmentally friendly personal care and household products while cleansing. That means no over-the-counter lotions, deodorants, body sprays and perfumes, body wash and toothpaste. If you want the best results you should be prepared and put in the work.

Have you ever considered a detox? And, if you’ve ever done one what was your experience like? Would you recommend it to a friend? Why or why not?

Posted in Health springs on Sunday, January 19, 2014 9:30 am. | Tags: Fasting , Diets , Health , Food , Detox , Water , Juice , Detoxification , Naturopathic Products Comments (0)

Friday 01/17/2014
My personal journey to “new” health

Do you have health challenges and are loking for answers? What about high-blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes? I, too, was seeking alternative, natural ways to healing for my severe allergies when I discovered a jewel that gave my health the boost it needed.  

Last summer, at the height of my worst allergy attack (and the ensuing health-related problems), I decided to take matters into my own hands. What did I do? I went on a kind of health retreat. But this wasn’t any regular “retreat.”

My naturopathic doctor recommended I spend three weeks at a place called Optimum Health Institute (OHI) in Austin (there’s also one in San Diego.) I hesitated but eventually went and the experience changed how I viewed, treated and ate food, and how I treated and listened to my body. I knew a lot about health and wellness before but what I learned at OHI changed (and confirmed) much more.

After only three days there I was already making the mind, body, spirit connection in a whole new way. My food allergies and sensitive were vanishing into thin air and I had lost weight and felt so much better (wheatgrass will do that to you; its wheatgrass heaven and OHI grows its own supply there, too).

The weekly series of instruction, workshops and cooking classes reinforced what I already knew and added new tools to my health toolbox. I attended classes on 100-percent raw food preparation, alpha meditation, lymphatic (detox) exercises and the harmful effects of certain foods and cancer.  I walked away with numerous notes on the dangers of food-combining, the digestive process and how stress and the mind affects it and the benefits, recipes (and many gifts) that a Vitamix has to offer.

From the beloved Rejuvelac (a fermented drink that’s a great homemade and natural probiotic) to learning how a mental and emotional detox should work, OHI’s natural and holistic approach helped me move forward towards better health.

Theirs is truly a raw-food diet which takes time and advanced meal planning (for soaking seeds for example). However, once I returned home and found what worked for me it became easier (e.g. the 80/20 method of eating—which means 80-percent raw and 20-percent cooked). I continued the detox at home for three months and the benefits were endless (drop me a line in the comment box and I’ll tell you all about it).

They said if you do something for twenty-one days it becomes a habit. Well, what I’ve learned at OHI Austin will stay with me for life.

I also met scores of people at the retreat who shared testimonials about how the OHI lifestyle was a life-altering experience for the mind, body and spirit (many return at least once a year for a refresher). A few said it transformed and added years to their life expectancy and turned their health challenges into health opportunities.

I think they’ll agree with me when I say the experience was priceless and gave me “new” health.

The opinions expressed here are my own and no financial or other benefits were received in exchange for this post.  Also, my experience and health benefits did not replace the advice of medical professionals, nor is this an advertisement for OHI or its services or methodology; this is solely my own personal experience.

 

Posted in Health springs on Friday, January 17, 2014 10:15 am. | Tags: Raw Foodism , Food , Health , Austin , Heart Disease , Diabetes , Severe Allergies , Optimum Health Institute , Food Allergies , Raw Food Preparation , Vegetarianism , Raw-food Diet , Diet , Lifestyle Choices Comments (0)

Friday 01/10/2014
Strut, push, pull and bend-over

Are you thinking about starting to exercise again? If you’re a first-timer or just returning to working out after a considerable period of time, it really isn’t necessary to go to the gym just yet. You can use what’s readily available to begin your workout regimen. Here's how to start.

Shake it. Do you know that walking is one of the most convenient forms of exercise because it’s easy on the joints and great for most fitness levels? With just a brisk 20-30 minute walk, you can burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health. Tip: Walk at the local park, your backyard or do loops around the living room.

Sit and press. Sit-ups and push-ups are basic conditioning exercises that work the core (or trunk) and upper body. When combined, these activities help with posture and muscle development as you progress. Furthermore, core strength is essential because it protects your lower back and promotes balance and stability. As you progress, use wrist and ankle weights or dumbbells while you walk or do core training exercises. NOTE: Don’t do more that you can safely perform and never ever, ever, compromise good posture for more repetitions (or sets).

Push back. Weight bearing movements at a few times per week increases bone density, toning, and overall strength. As with any exercise routine, remember to begin slowly, perform deliberate controlled movements, and (again) maintain good posture. You can use your own body weight and calisthenic movements at home. As you progress, you can invest in 10-15 pound weights (free-weights work more muscle groups than machines anyway). Tip: For legs do lunges and squats (with or without weights.)

Take classes. If you do plan to go to the gym, you can start slow with Zumba classes, indoor cycling, swimming and yoga. The key is not to hurt yourself as a beginner. You can invest in a home-video (Pilates, yoga, cardio and kick-boxing are great at-home workouts). Tip: P90-X is an awesome workout video—but be sure to adjust movements to your level and don’t push it too hard too fast.

Before and after. Whatever your workout, ensure you warm up and cool down. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily, and vary your exercises weekly so your body doesn’t adapt—the more you mix it up, the greater the benefit. Tip: Stretch daily. Stretching works wonders for any level athletic.

Nutrition. Eat the daily-recommended serving of fruit and vegetables—exercise without a well-balanced diet will yield little benefit. Avoid fad diets and focus instead on portion control. Tip: Calories in versus calories burned is the key to weight loss so find what works for your metabolism.

Finally, remember the secret to not gaining weight (again) and staying healthy is to develop an exercise regimen that you can stick with long-term and one that you enjoy.

Do you have any at-home exercise videos that you swear by? What other “free” workouts do you do outside the gym to stay healthy?

Posted in Health springs on Friday, January 10, 2014 8:45 am. | Tags: Human Behavior , Bodybuilding , Weight Training , Abdominal Exercise , Pilates , Gym , Health , Exercise , Nutrition Comments (0)

Wednesday 01/08/2014
6 unhealthy foods to avoid

Okay, I admit it—I’m an “everything, in moderation” kind of person because well … I love food. Secretly I think my multiple allergies are the universe’s way of keeping me in line; though I do eat the bad stuff sometimes. That being said, there are some foods I stay away from.

In fact, these foods belong in what some experts have coined “the six unhealthiest foods that you should avoid at all costs.”  

1. Potato chips and French fries. Yes, people, unfortunately it made the list. I know, I know ...

McDonald’s fries and Jack-in-the-Box crispy curly fries are great, but fries in general contain acrylamide, which is a carcinogen (and neurotoxin) that’s formed when foods are fried or baked at high temperatures. It’s also a leading cause of two types of cancer-causing compounds.

2. Soda. Aside from the caffeine and sugar (one soda has approximately 9-10 teaspoons of sugar), soda is filled with sulphites, artificial sweeteners and food coloring, and too much of it can lead to reduced kidney function, weight-gain, tooth decay and diabetes for starters.

3. Canned soup. Did you know that most canned soups are filled with tons of sodium and monosodium glutamate (MSG)?It also has BPA (an endocrine disruptor bisphenol A) which is used to prevent corrosion. It’s best to make the homemade kind with fresh fruits and vegetables.

4. Doughnuts. You probably already know that doughnuts have no nutritional value, so this should come as no surprise. No matter how fancy-looking or “healthy” sounding the variety, in essence doughnuts are made from sugar, oil, fats and artificial flavors; its pure emotional comfort food that feeds the mind but not the body.

5. Luncheon meats. Most processed meats are filled with sodium nitrite, more MSG, and numerous artificial flavorings. Don’t get me wrong, I love hot dogs and make a mean homemade version. But if you’re going to eat it do so knowingly. For one thing, sodium nitrate is another cancer-causing ingredient that can lead to “increased risk of pancreatic cancer.” Look for the nitrite-free brands instead.

6. Coffee cake and baked goods. This one is a heart breaker because it includes ALL baked goods and packaged varieties. They usually have tons of preservatives, corn syrup, artificial flavors and coloring. Again, moderation or abstinence is recommended here, too .

Did one of your favorite foods make the list? Which ones do you absolutely refuse to live without and why? What are some other foods that you avoid?

Posted in Health springs on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 6:30 am. | Tags: Food And Drink , Chemistry , Food , Monosodium Glutamate , French Fries , Snack Foods , Allergies , Diabetes , Pure Emotional Comfort Food , Food And Related Products , Pancreatic Cancer Comments (0)

Monday 01/06/2014
5 weight loss myths

The onslaught of weight-loss mega diets, quick-trick gismos, innovative doo-hickeys, and super-duper diet plan discounts are all about to flood the market and hit overdrive within the upcoming weeks. However, as you hustle to lose that post-season weight don’t believe all the hype.

Regardless of what magic pill you’re about to buy, here are five solid, tried-and-tested facts about weight-loss that you need to know. 

Myth 1: The never-count-calories-again diet. The fact is excess calories not burned-off during daily activities eventually contributes to weight-gain. It’s all about input versus output. You don’t have to “count” calories per say but to lose weight you have to burn more than you eat, period. You have to know how much you’ve burned and how much you’ve consumed (no matter the method). And, it’s a fact that most people overestimate their physical activity and underestimate their caloric intake.

Myth 2: Less meals means more weight-loss. When caloric intake is too low the body goes into starvation mode and your metabolism slows down and weight-loss stalls. You have to consistently and regularly feed your body for it to move and function. There are lots of theories out there, such as don’t eat more than three meals daily and don’t snack between meals to lose weight. But eating smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day prevents hunger, overeating, and keeps blood-sugar stable. To curb hunger and still get all your nutrients, load your plate with fruit, vegetables, beans and grains.

Myth 3: No carbohydrates, please! Some diets cut out all carbohydrates. However, diets are not lifestyle changes and that is what’s necessary to lose and keep excess weight off long-term. Once the diet is over and you resume eating regularly—you will regain the weight if you don’t watch your ratios (see myth #1.) More importantly, the body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates to function (especially the brain—it converts carbs into “brain-food.”) Seek out omega-3 fatty acids and complex carbs instead of highly-processed foods.

Myth 4: It’s all about willpower. The best way to prevent from falling off the wagon again—treat yourself occasionally. Do everything in moderation because finding that balance long-term is the true secret to leading a healthy, enjoyable and normal life. Never totally deprive yourself of the things you like. Simply use common sense and treat yourself at least once a month. Use your “willpower” to exercise consistently, shakeup your workout regularly, and stick to your weight-loss plans indefinitely.

Myth 5: Exercise alone is enough to lose weight. Cutting calories and adjusting what you eat is actually a more effective way to lose weight (if you’re already exercising.) Simply passing up on the brownies and cupcakes is easier than sweating it out on a treadmill for an hour. It takes only minutes to eat in excess, but a whole lot more hard work (and intensity) in the gym to burn it off. Consider the quality of your food by looking at the calorie density and nutritional values.

What are some of your weight-loss secrets? Are there any other myths you can add to this list?

Posted in Health springs on Monday, January 6, 2014 9:15 am. | Tags: Weight Loss , Nutrition , Diets , Health , Physical Exercise , Obesity , Dieting , Weight Gain , Medicine Comments (4)

Friday 01/03/2014
Health assessments: Five things to consider

If you’ve ever hit a wall or just feel like you’re at a dead end in your health and wellness goals, an occasional assessment of your lifestyle may help. A health and nutritional analysis is a great tool to help understand your habits and what steps you need to take to be healthier—it’s not as simple as taking a pill or using more supplements but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated, either.

Here’s a quick sample of five things (and questions) to consider:

Exercise Program: What are the elements of your workout and weekly program? How many days are dedicated to aerobic and strength conditioning? Consider flexibility training, how long you stretch, average time of daily workouts, and how often to change routines.

Body, Diet, Environment: Review medical history, diet, and life stressors. What is your body type and trouble spots? Do you smoke and/or drink? What motivates you or prevents you from exercising? Consider your metabolic rate; what types of food do you regularly consume; what’s your fat and sodium content; and which supplements and vitamin do you take. How do you handle life’s stressors?

Comforts and the Why: What are your comfort foods? What do you eat during stressful periods? Do you eat when you’re bored, lonely, depressed? How well do you manage conflict? What are your coping mechanisms and do you need to adjust them?

Go Deeper: Here’s what I wrote during my college freshman year class on health assessments: “I first started eating gummy bears during a math class. Once day I had a major breakthrough with a math problem. I think the link with candy was psychological after that. I’ve always been afraid that I was stupid and couldn’t learn …” Candy soon became an aid that promoted "successful" study habits. It led to more sweets and sugar. It took years for me to break that habit but I had to find the source and triggers in my life and confront them before I could move forward.

Make it Achievable: Behavior modification helps change learned (bad) habits. Developing realistic long and short-term goals also help. I decided to practice relaxation techniques before studying to relieve anxiety. Later, I began exploring hobbies and activities that helped relieve school stress. These were easier to implement because it wasn’t complicated or required excess steps to incorporate into my busy school life.

Have you ever done a health assessment before? How did it work out for you? Do you return to it periodically?

Posted in Health springs on Friday, January 3, 2014 10:00 am. | Tags: Health , Food , Relaxation Techniques , Nutrition , Fitness , Exercise Comments (0)

Wednesday 01/01/2014
10 steps to keep your New Year’s health resolutions: Part I

The desire to lose weight or be healthier is typically among the top five New Year’s resolutions. I’ve been there. Too many of us hit the gym with energy and enthusiasm but by midyear injury, burnout and excuses reigned supreme. So what’s the secret to keeping and deepening your health resolves?

Along with diet and exercise there has to be an internal “shift” (so-to-speak) to make the necessary lifestyle changes that’ll lead to long-term success.  For many it requires changing their mindset (physical, environmental and mental modifications). If you’re wondering where to start, here are ten steps to help you keep and deepen those promises.

Let go of comparisons. It doesn’t matter how anyone else looks or what they can or can’t do at the gym. You matter most. First find your values and goals, then focus on yourself at this very moment and what you want to achieve. You have to start at the beginning; you never know—that girl in the gym that looks toned and fit and great—may not have started out that way.  

How much do you really want it? Your health resolution should be something you really, really want to accomplish. Joining the gym and buying new workout clothes isn’t good enough. Nor is showing up at the gym every day the first month and working out for two hours daily. Start slow and small and make goals achievable. Rushing into working out (if you haven’t done so in a while will lead to injury). You have to crawl before you walk. Learn to build health blocks one at a time.

Redefine what failure means. Your past “failures” at the gym (or working out at home) do matter, but only with regard to lessons learned and how you adopt those experiences moving forward. “Failure” should only be considered at another step that brings you closer to your goal.

The secret is in the details. It’s not how much weight you want to lose but how much can you safely lose (in a given time frame). Eating 3500 less calories (per week) equals 1 pound of fat lost (per week). How much can you realistically lose in your desired time frame? What will your workout schedule look like daily? What body parts will you strength train on what days and for how long? How much cardio will you do? What will keep you motivated? How will you reward yourself? How will you avoid injury?

Forget you. Don’t worry about what others think about you. You should not give anyone else your power. You are making change and that takes time so be patient and ignore the stares and whispers and negative comments of naysayers.

Did you make being healthier (or working our more) one of your New Year’s resolutions? How do you plan on achieving them? What are the steps will you’ll take to be successful?

Posted in Health springs on Wednesday, January 1, 2014 10:30 am. | Tags: New Year Resolution , Weight Loss , Health , Gym , Energy , Diet Nutrition , Physical Exercise Comments (0)

Sunday 12/29/2013
Why talk about allergies at all?

Since the inception of Health Springs I’ve been addressing issues surrounding food allergies (among other health and wellness posts). I’ve even shared my personal struggles in hopes of shedding light on living with the condition.

But why talk about allergies at all? And, do its effects really have to control your life?

First, anaphylactic shock from food allergies can be lethal. Just this year alone, multiple individuals have suffered it effects, including the following children: Giovanni Cipriano, 14, Natalie Giorgi, 13, Connor Donaldson, 12, Ethan Williams, 14, Tanner Henstra, 11, Adrian Gutierrez, 8, and Maria Santarelli-Gallo, 12. A few were at school, some received epinephrine injections, many were aware of their allergies, but all of them died from something that was preventable and treatable.

One report indicated that, “40% of people need a second or third dose of epinephrine during a severe allergic reaction.” Research has also concluded that, “food allergies in children have increased by 18 percent since 2007 and that 90 percent of these allergies are from milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.” A 2010 study in the journal of Pediatrics also found that 8 percent of children have at least one (food) allergy.

Now, in general a fatality is unlikely if someone with serious allergic reactions receives the appropriate dose(s) of (non-expired) epinephrine quickly. But how does living with allergies affect life in general?

A new 2013 study takes sides on living with this condition. Conducted by the Imperial College of London, the study was recently published in the journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy in the UK, and suggests that allergy sufferers (and their families) are, “over-worrying about the risk of death from the condition, and that the chances of dying from anaphylaxis over a one year period is 1.81 in a million.”  In fact, it stated that “suffers are more likely to be murdered or die from accidental causes than die from a food allergy.” Researchers analyzed data from 13 global studies over more than three decades.

“(These) findings (aren’t) meant to belittle the concerns of people with food allergies,” said Dr. Boyle, one of the researchers at Imperial College. “(But) it helps put the risk into perspective, particularly as worrying about severe allergic reactions can impact a person's quality of life.”

What do you think about Dr. Boyle’s comments? Do you believe food allergies in children are overrated or are they justified? I’d love to hear what you think.

In fact, as 2013 draws to a close I like to know what else you’d like to read about in the upcoming year. What interest you in the health and wellness arena? And, what types of conversations and topics do you want to engage in at Health Springs in 2014?

Posted in Health springs on Sunday, December 29, 2013 10:15 am. | Tags: Food Allergies , Medicine , Food Science , Allergy , Allergies , Food Allergy , Immunology , Immune System , Allergen , Epinephrine , Anaphylaxis , Issues Surrounding Food Allergies Comments (2)

Monday 12/23/2013
Want to try it “raw?” Switch it up this Christmas

Have you ever wanted to try a raw meal? Or ever wondered what exactly is considered “raw?"

For one thing, raw foods are “prepared” and not cooked. Raw foodies believe the cooking process alters essential vitamins and minerals and destroys vital enzymes (such as those that aid with digestion). 

You probably already eat raw foods but don’t think of it as being raw.  Here’s one such side dish that is simple and that you can add to Christmas dinner without skipping a beat.

Latin American Cabbage           

Ingredients (yields 1 serving; increase as necessary):

1 ½ cups thinly sliced green cabbage

 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt (or pink salt)   

½ tomato, seeded and diced

¼ cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced

½ stalk celery, diced

¼ red bell pepper, diced

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons minced onion

1 teaspoon extra-virgin (first pressed) olive oil

Directions: Put the cabbage and salt in a medium bowl. Massage the cabbage for about one minute with your hands to soften it. Add the remaining ingredients and toss until well combined.

Voilà—you’ve just prepared a raw meal. Your guests will be eating a raw meal without knowing it, and it doesn’t take that long to prepare, either.

Nutritional information: Per serving: calories: 105, protein: 3 g, fat: 5 g, carbohydrate: 11 g, fiber: 5 g, sodium: 320 mg

Permission granted and recipe courtesy of Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet (2012).

Posted in Health springs on Monday, December 23, 2013 3:00 am. | Tags: Leaf Vegetables , Cabbage , Christmas , Raw Foodism , Latin American Cabbage , Foodies , Recipe Comments (0)

Thursday 12/19/2013
Salt: 6 tips to break the habit

Salt has almost become synonymous with food (well, that and sugar).  However, it seems that most packaged foods including everyday seasonings have salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) in it. Unless you cook all your meals from scratch without any manufactured ingredients, you’ll probably eat salt several times a day. 

 A study from Harvard Medical School has linked the American diet and its excessive intake of salt to “2.3 million deaths worldwide.”  They claim salt played a huge part in heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related problems and that salt-related deaths accounted for 15-percent of all heart-related deaths in 2010.  In fact, of the 30-developed nations in the study, the U.S. ranked 19th in terms of salt-related deaths (which equates to more than 400 deaths per million) and “translates to one in 10 of all heart-related deaths.”

Sadly, we can’t avoid salt together but there are steps we can take to cut down on consumption. Here’s what you need to be aware of:

  • Limit your intake of bread and rolls – they’re the number one source of sodium in the U.S. diet.
  • Be mindful of cold-cuts, processed and cured meats as they can be very high in sodium.
  • Pizza, popcorn, puffs, chips and pretzels (all the good stuff)—they should be eaten in moderation.
  • Processed poultry: raw chicken is usually injected with a sodium solution before it’s sold in groceries.
  • Pre-packaged soups, fast-food cheeseburgers, and cheese are loaded with salt to preserve and enhance the taste.
  • Man all-purpose seasonings already have salt, which adds to the salt you’re using to season food; use spices and herbs instead (but read labels as some still include salt). If you do use salt, sea salt or Himalayan (pink salt) is better that table salt.

 Also, remember sodium content on labels is per serving and not per package; read labels and do the math – it does add up. Finally, try different brand products as some have less sodium than others. And check for sugar and fat content, as well; some manufactures replace salt with either more fat or sugar or both.

With so much to look out for, do you find it tiring to keep up with all the things you should and shouldn’t do? How do you manage your salt intake?

Posted in Health springs on Thursday, December 19, 2013 7:00 am. | Tags: Chemistry , Nutrition , Salt , Sodium , Harvard Medical School , Sodium Chloride , Dietary Minerals , Sugar , Myocardial Infarction , Heart Attacks Comments (0)

Tuesday 12/17/2013
Death by body wash

There’s nothing sexier than a good smelling man … well, he also needs to be well-groomed, but smelling good is a great start. I, too, had favorite scrub-spray-lotion combinations. That is, until I had to pay closer attention to the allergens in my life.

I know what you’re thinking—how can personal hygiene be a bad thing? But have you ever considered what happens to products once you rub it into your skin?

The largest living organ in the body is the skin and it’s very porous. The same way automobile exhaust and direct sunlight is harmful, it’s the same way many conventional perfumes, soaps and deodorants have effects on the body, especially if your immune system is compromised. I have a friend with a rare form of cancer, and she learned the hard way about personal products and allergens—she can’t even tolerate unscented mainstream brands anymore.

What about you? Do you know the contents of your favorite shampoo? When next you go grocery shopping, do a random sampling then Google some of the other uses for these ingredients.

I’m not saying go all crazy and retire to the woods, wear a loincloth and kill your own food. But, knowledge is power; use it to make better choices in your overall healthcare. Include more natural-based products. Crystal stone deodorants (contains no aluminum chlorhydrate) and is a great substitute, so are pure therapeutic and essential oils, and products with herbs such as green tea leaf, flower essences and root extracts (especially for face and neck).

Sure, it’s easier said than done, and with some many “dangerous” habits and health pitfalls in today’s modern world, who can really absorb and practice it all without going bat-stir-crazy? Do you believe there’s a happy medium to be had here? Where do you draw the line?

Posted in Health springs on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 6:00 am. | Tags: Deodorant , Essential Oil , Cancer , Personal Products , Overall Healthcare , Natural-based Products Comments (0)

Sunday 12/15/2013
The “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15”

With all the talk of the long-term effects of pesticide-ridden, genetically-modified plants (GMO) and produce, comes all the confusion about what’s really organic and what are the true benefits of buying it.

Many experts believe that even if you only purchased organic, you’ll still have to eat more to get the same nutrients of yesteryear’s crops. For example, one study claims you’ll have to eat approximately eight oranges to derive the same amount of vitamin A as your grandparents did.

Why? Because though there are benefits to buying organic, experts say the concern stems from the soil—the quality and nutritional properties of our soil is now vastly depleted. You see, some farmers don’t allow the soil to “regenerate” but re-plant produce (over and over again) in the same soil. Produce is bigger, grows faster, is pest-resistant and climate resilient but because of faster turnarounds, the quality of the soil suffers and thus the produce itself.

Does that mean you shouldn’t buy fruits and vegetables or even buy organic? No, it doesn’t. You should reduce your exposures as much as possible by buying organic, but even eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The benefits far outweigh the exposure and the nutritional value in general.

So what can you do? You can lower your exposure by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choose the least contaminated produce. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG’s) Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, here’s what they recommend:  

The Dirty Dozen. These are the most contaminated fruits and vegetables (a couple items were added in 2013): apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines (imported), peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, kale/collard greens, and summer squash.

The Clean 15: These fruits and vegetables tend to be least contaminated (and doesn’t have to be organic, but please use a vegetable wash beforehand—even on those with an outer skin): asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet peas (frozen), and sweet potatoes.

Do you already buy organic? Now that you’ve seen this list, will it convince you to follow the EWG’s guidelines?

Posted in Health springs on Sunday, December 15, 2013 12:10 pm. | Tags: Pesticide , Environmental Working Group , Food And Drink , Health , Agriculture , Environment , Dirty Dozen , Vegetable , Produce , Organic Food , Product Certification , Sustainable Food System Comments (0)

Monday 12/09/2013
No more “bad” cholesterol, ever!

Heart disease has taken the life of nearly every relative I’ve known since birth. And do you know what experts claim is the major risk factor that led to their heart attacks and strokes? Yup, it was high cholesterol. If you’re like my relatives and have ever suffered a stroke, heart attack, have heart disease, or like me it’s a prevalent part of your family history—you need to read this.

After a decade, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology finally issued new guidelines for preventing heart attacks and strokes. But what exactly does this mean for you or your loved one?

For one thing, it now suggests that double the amount of Americans should take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.  

In the past, doctors gauged your *low-density lipoprotein (LDL) aka “bad” cholesterol levels as a sign that you were at risk for heart disease. Well not anymore. Regardless of cholesterol numbers, their recommendation (which includes a new formula) shifts the overall goal and focus of treatment.

Here’s what you need to know about the new guidelines for treatment:

1. The guidelines are now personalized by gender and ethnicity and include age, blood pressure, smoking habits, diabetes, cholesterol levels (even if you’re not at risk for heart disease), and family history.

 2. The focus has shifted from evaluating and treating based primarily on high LDL levels. The aim now: lower a person’s overall risk for heart disease. Period.

 3. Evaluations are broader—it includes all persons whether or not they have heart disease, those with high cholesterol levels, persons with Type 2 diabetes between ages 40 and 75, and those who score high on a new formula and are at risk of heart disease (with a certain timeframe). Hence, that means approximately one-third of Americans are now eligible for statins drugs.

 4. Diet and exercise still matter. A minimum of 40 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week and dietary changes such as more fruits, vegetables and grains (and less fatty, oily, sweet and salty foods) are suggested.

5. Specific tests and different assessment tools will be used to evaluate risk factors, and it’s recommended that doctors implement individualized behavior modification strategies (for diet and exercise) and regularly monitor patients.

Officials say medications are inexpensive and experts predict this approach will reduce the need for stents and angioplasty surgery, thus saving on medical costs.

Do you suffer with heart disease? How do you think this will affect your future medical care? Do you agree this approach is more preventative care rather than the maintenance programs of the past?

*(High-density lipoprotein or HDL is the good cholesterol that transports LDL out of the blood, thus preventing plaque buildup in the arteries.)

Posted in Health springs on Monday, December 9, 2013 12:04 pm. Updated: 9:45 pm. | Tags: Health , Cardiology , Medicine , Health_medical_pharma , American Heart Association , Low-density Lipoprotein , American College Of Cardiology , Heart Disease , Cholesterol , Hypercholesterolemia , Cardiovascular Disease , High-density Lipoprotein , Lipoproteins , Aging-associated Diseases , High Cholesterol Comments (0)

Thursday 12/05/2013
4 steps to manage holiday stress

How do you really manage all that stress during the holidays? I mean after Thanksgiving it’s seems as if there’s always more and more to do.

There’s the holiday get-togethers, the workplace parties, Kris Kringle and Secret Santa exchanges, the endless shopping for deals and sales and the perfect gifts for the kids, family and friends, the Christmas meals to prepare, decorations to put up (or switch out), the house guests to prepare for, and the New Year’s parties and celebrations to schedule. When does it stop?

Most people look forward to this time of year but not the stress that seems to accompany it. If you’re looking for some way to manage holiday stress and still enjoy the season, here are a few reminders.

1. Let bygones be bygones. Holiday get-togethers with family (or friends) aren’t the time to settle scores or bring up past grievances. If they bring up past hurts or issues, walk away. You can’t control others, only your reaction. Let it go and focus on why you’re there in the first place.

2. Be organized. With so much to do you might become overwhelmed if you don’t have a game plan. Set aside time for parties, shopping, cooking, decorating, grocery shopping—whatever it takes to help you prevent last-minute scrambling for … well, anything. It doesn’t have to be complicated either, just don’t overbook or spend all your time fulfilling obligations. You can’t do everything so set your priorities and remember to get enough sleep.

3. Penny-wise. Along with being organized comes the dreadful financial planning. But if done beforehand, you can prevent much of the after-holiday-overspending-blues. Decide in advance how much you’re really willing to spend and stick to your budget. And remember, gifts don’t have to be numerous or expensive to express your love and appreciation. Also, if you’re entertaining, it doesn’t have to be elaborate to have a good time. Have a pot-luck, use paper plates, and even buy prepared meals.

4. Remember to take care of yourself. Yes, it’s the holidays but that doesn’t mean you can eat and drink and overindulge without consequences. Get rest, exercise, and know your limits. Eat until you’re satisfied and not stuffed, and watch your beverage intake—too much alcohol acts as a depressant. Also, if you’re alone for the holidays, get out of the house and volunteer at soup kitchens, feed the homeless, and find opportunities to do community service. Helping others can be quite fulfilling and may alleviate your depression. 

What are some of the things you do to manage stress during the holidays? What would you add to this list?          

Posted in Health springs on Thursday, December 5, 2013 12:07 pm. | Tags: Christmas , New Year , Jewish Holidays , Secret Santa , Santa Claus , Christmas And Holiday Season , Kris Kringle , Stress , Managing Holiday Stress , Penny Wise Comments (0)

8 tips to eating your way to health during the holidays

It’s that time again—the-thanksgiving-through-New Year’s-weight-gain-roller-coaster-ride that we all vow to bypass every year. You just can’t get away from it. There are goodies at work, Christmas and New Year’s party.

Did you know that the average person gains 5 to 7 pounds during the holidays? Do you have a plan for avoiding the typical overindulgence this season?  If you don’t, here are eight tips to keep in mind:

1. Know that you might indulge in some (if not all of these festivities) and include that in your long-term weight-management plan.

2. Eat the turkey and stuffing, it’s okay as long as you stop when you’re satisfied and not full.

3. If you‘re a food addict or use food to stuff your feelings, know that it will take time to correct habits and that you may fall off the wagon sometimes. Maybe start by keeping a journal of your trigger foods now to help identify and avoid them later.

4. Avoid myths, don’t believe that if you ate salads or worked out extra hard for a couple of days, that it’s okay to pig-out for the two weeks. Be realistic with your goals.

5. Smaller portions are crucial here. Eat fewer and smaller meals throughout the days prior to you big holiday meals, and select nutrient-dense foods that keep you satisfied longer. On the big day, drink lots of water and choose side dishes before the main course.

6. Work out longer (and do more cardio) the days preceding holiday meals and post-celebration days. If you still gain some weight it’ll be manageable because you planned ahead. 

7. Be mindful of the little things and know that your weight gain maybe water retention (from all the salt); and remember too that one pound of fat is the equivalent of 3500 calories more per week.

8. Avoid Negative self-talk. If you ate a little too much one day, you didn’t blow it or ruined everything.  Adopt positive self-talk. “I’ll start afresh today, this very moment,” or, “I am doing better now.” Love you and be kind, forgiving and compassionate with yourself.

What other habits have worked for you? And, what are your most successfully strategies when it comes to avoiding holiday overeating?

Posted in Health springs on Thursday, December 5, 2013 11:25 am. | Tags: Christmas , Food , New Year S Day , Thanksgiving , Weight Loss , Health , Food Addict Comments (0)

Sunday 12/01/2013
How four killers shaped my life

A few things happened to me as a young adult that are the reasons why health and wellness initially became a hobby.  

The first one was only supposed to be an annual checkup … until my new doctor said nonchalantly, “Oh, no matter what you do—eat right, exercise or watch your weight—you will end up with Type 2 diabetes. You can’t run from it, it’s in your genes.” The meaning behind simple words can do so much damage.  

I'm curious, how would you react if your doctor told you this while giving you a clean bill of health?

Later, my boss gave a speech during health week that went like this, “If you’re nearing age 40 and not taking any maintenance drugs for a chronic health condition, it’s because 1) you haven’t been diagnosed yet; or 2) you refuse to take your medicine.”

Now, there are “four killers” in my family that I’m always cognizant of. Here’s the scenario: deceased relatives would first develop high-blood pressure, then Type 2 diabetes, and they’d suffer a stroke; and if that wasn’t lethal, the heart attack usually was.  

Given these factors, what would you have done in my case?

I was determined not to become another statistic, so I took classes to learn about the body, exercise and health. Also, because of food allergies, I listened more closely to my body.

Today, given my family history and (ahem, age), I’m proud to have no chronic diseases or be on any medications. I’m cautious of the four killers, but I know that knowledge is power—today’s causes shape tomorrow’s effects and what you put in is what you get out. Don't you agree?

Also, (despite food allergies) I sometimes indulge because life is about finding balance in all aspects. It’s also about being present, and taking the best care of the mind, body, spirit connection. I’ve learned, too, that the weight of words only has license because of the power I give them.  Destiny is mine to decide.

Have you had any similar experiences? How has someone’s words influenced what you did, and do you think you would be the same person today without those experiences?

Posted in Health springs on Sunday, December 1, 2013 1:29 pm. Updated: 5:27 pm. | Tags: Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 , Diabetes , Chronic Medicine , Linguistics , Hypertension , Diabetes Mellitus , Conditions And Diseases , Chronic Health Condition , Pancreas , Endocrine Disorders , Heart Attack , Food Allergies , Chronic Diseases Comments (0)

Wednesday 11/27/2013
The Thanksgiving dinner guest from hell: Part II

Have you ever had a guest over for Thanksgiving dinner who was just so nit-picky that you vowed never to invite them over again? Or what about the friend that turns down all your invitations to dine at your house?

Well, don’t take it personal, many times it’s because that person has allergies or food sensitivities and are just either too embarrassed or shy to tell you. We sometimes feel like it’s too much of a bother to list all the things we can’t have. Hence, I don’t eat out for the holidays anymore.

However, if it’s your best friend or a someone close and you really want to cook for them, here are some more tips on how to help you know what types of diets they’re on and how to plan ahead: 

Macrobiotic diet: A very healthy diet that includes unprocessed vegan foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and occasionally fish. Sugar and refined oils are not a part of this diet. Vegetables such as daikon and sea vegetables like seaweed are preferred.

Raw vegan and raw food diet: A raw vegan diet (such as the one I went on during my total body cleanse) only consumes unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). Raw foodies believe foods cooked above this temperature have lost their nutritional value and are no longer beneficial to the body. Lots of raw, organic vegetables, nuts, seeds and homemade dehydrated foods are great here. Soaking nuts, beans, grains and seeds overnight is mandatory for some raw foodies. 

Gluten-free: Excludes the protein gluten which is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Some suffer with celiac disease. Some will also eat (unprocessed) nuts, Quinoa, cornmeal, beans, seeds, fresh eggs, fruits, vegetables and some dairy products. 

Posted in Health springs on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 11:26 am. Updated: 9:35 pm. | Tags: Raw Foodism , Veganism , Raw Veganism , Quinoa , Macrobiotic Diet , Gluten-free Diet , Healthy Diet , Thanksgiving , Raw Food Diet , Vegetarianism Comments (0)

Sunday 11/24/2013
Thanksgiving dinner guest from hell: Part I

The holidays are a particularly difficult time for people with allergies. We want to partake in the festivities and great food, but the consequences aren’t usually worth it. I do indulge sometimes but over the course of the holiday season the constant consumption of wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts and highly refined foods are simply too much for my body.

How do you plan for guests like me? What steps do you take to ensure we have a pleasant experience?

I saw a cartoon once from the New York Times where all 10 Thanksgiving guests had different allergies or diet restrictions that made it impossible for the host to cater to them.  Here’s some of those examples and how you can plan accordingly:  

Lactose-intolerant: No dairy products, such as milk and milk-based products including creams, butter, yogurt and cheese (some people can’t tolerate soy or eggs, either). It’s best to ask what they can eat and if they’ll like to bring a dish they can have. Some can eat small amounts of these products in a dish or two, but more simply can’t have it in any form. Lactose is often found in boxed, canned, frozen, packaged and prepared foods. Opt for salads and sides such as green beans. Olive oil and lemon (with sea salt) also makes a great natural dressing substitute.

Vegan: No meat, dairy, eggs, seafood for most or any processed foods containing animal-derived ingredients including highly-refined foods. Raw meals and plant foods work best. There are great recipes that other guests would enjoy that fall in this category; check bookstores or go online. Include nuts and seeds, lightly steamed vegetables, and raw veggies for dinner. Some vegetarians will enjoy the sides such as stuffing, tofu, pumpkins, etc., based on the ingredients, of course.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: No beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish or animal flesh, but eggs and dairy products are fine. Note: a lacto-vegetarian eats eggs but not dairy products, and an ovo-vegetarian doesn’t eat meat or dairy but eats eggs.

Do know anyone with allergies? What are some of the meals you’ve prepared for them? Are there dishes all of your guests enjoyed as well?

Posted in Health springs on Sunday, November 24, 2013 10:00 am. | Tags: Vegetarianism , Ovo-lacto Vegetarianism , Dairy Products , New York Times , Health , Veganism , Lacto Vegetarianism , Diets , Ovo Vegetarianism , Thanksgiving , Lactose Intolerance Comments (0)

Friday 11/22/2013
I tested positive? Is there a pill for that? Part II

There I was at my doctor’s office staring at a lengthy allergy list; practically everything on it was a favorite food. His voice faded as my frustration grew.

I’ve learned a lot since then. Here are some more tips that can help you live with allergies:

What’s in this again? Cooking at home is the best way to know what’s in your food.  Plus, you’ll find when you eat out again that your taste-buds have changed – greater incentive to eat at home.

“Fast Food” restaurants: If your meal is piping hot on your table minutes after you’ve ordered it … beware. Sure, no one wants to wait an hour but there’s a price to pay if you have allergies. Many chains heat up pre-packaged foods and have little control over what’s in their meals.  I had an embarrassing experience once: “We don’t use MSG here,” yelled my waitress, after I’d asked about ingredients; multiple heads turned. Minutes later, the manager quietly told me there wasn’t any guarantee their foods didn’t have MSG in it as meals were prepackaged in an out-of-state factory.

Favorite spots: No one wants to cook every night. Further, where do you go on girls’ night out or on a date? Find places that are willing to accommodate you. If they’ll clean the grill, cook your food separately and use different utensils – keep ‘em.

Explain away: You don’t want to be reaching for an Epi-pen while on a date. Be selective – even "simple" looking meals are tricky. It’s a drag, but explaining your allergies to your server can make all the difference.   

Say what? My rule-of-thumb is, if I can’t pronounce most of the words on the label and there are more than four lines of ingredients, I move on. Skip brands with paragraph(s) long ingredients and wordy tongue-twisters. Also, pursue other brands (especially organic)—they usually make healthier choices regarding ingredients. 

What are some other ways you manage daily with food sensitivity and/or allergies? Tell us your experience. We would love to hear from you.

Posted in Health springs on Friday, November 22, 2013 4:30 am. | Tags: Allergy , Monosodium Glutamate , Fast Food , Food Allergy , Food Sensitivity Comments (2)

Tuesday 11/19/2013
I tested positive? Is there a pill for that? Part I

My food allergies took a turn for the worse earlier this year and I suffered the gravest attack yet. It felt like over the years I’d grown allergic to almost everything.

My doctor sent me to Optimum Health Institute in Austin for two weeks, and thanks to an amazing staff, I learned why my body was rebelling and what to do about it. After an intensive detox that included wheatgrass, probiotics and 100-percent raw foods, I left with all the tools necessary to mend.

Have you ever done a similar detox? Did your allergies go away?

Fortunately, you don’t have to go to my extremes to adopt healthier habits when it comes to allergies.

So what can you do? Here are some tips to start with:

  • Go raw: As much as possible—even if it’s only 20-percent raw food consumption daily, every little change helps. Avoid canned, packaged and highly refined foods. Eliminating white flour and fried foods is also a good start.
  • Watch for nightshades: This is a family of plants that contain alkaloids which can be responsible for muscle pain, morning stiffness, inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis in certain individuals. Nightshades include tomatoes (very acidic) and all peppers (including bell peppers).
  • Cycle foods: Don’t eat the same thing every day. In fact, don’t eat too much of any one food in one sitting or in one day. The more you eat one food over time, the more likely you’ll develop food sensitivities. Wait three to five days for foods to cycle out of your system.
  • What’s in your seasonings: I’m allergic to monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is found in many popular seasonings.  Switch to herbal seasonings (check labels though as they can be deceiving). Fresh sage, parsley, basil, and mint, are great alternatives and adds another layer of texture to foods.

What’s your favorite (secret) fresh seasoning? What would you add to this list?

Posted in Health springs on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 11:06 am. Updated: 2:40 pm. | Tags: Immunology , Immune System , Raw Foodism , Allergy , Food Allergy , Detox , Food Allergies , Health , Food Science , Optimum Health Institute , Vegetarianism , Lifestyle Choices Comments (0)

Monday 11/18/2013
Your child and the dreaded school cafeteria

If you have a child who suffers with food allergies, then you know how much dedication goes into cooking meals, how much deliberation goes into picking the right restaurants to dine-out. Above all, you are familiar with all the many creative ways to navigate the dreaded school cafeteria menu … that is, if you don’t already pack lunches.

Well, worry no more.

This October, federal health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines on how to handle student food allergies in schools. Finally, kids like me have a fighting chance to eat in the school cafeteria, to fit in and be more normal.

I remember how I was constantly “sick” growing up. No one could figure out why I couldn’t breathe properly, why I had the cold all the time, why I had migraines, severe cramps, chronic coughs and chest pain. Every week it was a new symptom as my body struggled to compensate. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized 90-percent of my health woes were food-related. Life grew easier as public awareness developed. I didn’t fear restaurants, company picnics, or having to stab myself in the thigh with an Epi-pen in public anymore. I had choices. Now students do, too.  

An estimated 88 percent of school-aged children have allergies and 6 percent are allergic to nuts, dairy and eggs. I think the numbers are higher because many go undiagnosed and cases are under-reported.  

Hopefully that will change as more schools volunteer to adopt the CDC’s recommendations, which include: not using foods identified as allergens in class projects, as prizes and in science experiments; training staff on the use of Epi-pens (for anaphylaxis emergencies); and designating allergen-safe zones. More importantly, your kids will no longer be excluded from trips and other school activities because of allergies.

Hence, now is the time to get your children tested and inform their schools so they can partner with you to create a meal-plan.

Do you think these guidelines will work? Further, do you think most school districts will adopt these measures? If you or your family suffer with allergies what has been your experience prior to this announcement? Do you think this move was long overdue?

I want to hear from you!

Posted in Health springs on Monday, November 18, 2013 1:00 pm. Updated: 1:45 pm. | Tags: Centers For Disease Control And Prevention , Immune System , Immunology , Education , Food Allergy , Food Allergies Comments (0)

Thursday 11/14/2013
Secrets to a happy and fulfilling life: Part II

Do you find that as you age, your values and perspectives change and frequently the things that were once important become irrelevant? If you’ve even wondered about what constitutes a happy, fulfilled life … read on as we continue to explore the remaining findings of the Harvard Grant Study.

Making Connections: The study found that it’s the connections we make in life that are critical to happiness, and it’s not just strong relationships with family and friends. “Feeling connected to your work” is far more important than the amount of your paycheck and being successful by traditional standards. A job that is fulfilling and gives back to the community, one that pays enough for you to live comfortably, and one that you’re passionate about and enjoy—this is what counts. Most people rarely find all three in a single job, but it’s the connections they make that matter most.

How many of these three factors do you enjoy in your job? And, do you think it’s realistic and achievable to have all three, i.e. a job that’s fulfilling, pays well, and that you’re passionate about and enjoy?

The study’s director, George Vaillant observed that, “The more areas in your life (that) you can make connections the better.”

It’s All about Perspective: Vaillant said one’s “coping mechanisms” play a huge part in their outlook on life. Developing a constructive way to manage life’s many challenges and adopting proven methods to manage stress is monumental in improving overall well-being.

Other findings: Most of the divorces (among the study’s participants) were the result of alcoholism. “It has a destructive power,” Vaillant said. That and cigarette smoke also contributed to early morbidity. Also, political beliefs contributed little to one’s overall happiness.

 There you have it: love is all that matters and in the end money and power are inconsequential. No matter the circumstance, happiness is truly attainable and if you make genuine connections and keep an optimistic perspective about life’s challenges, you are on your way to true, lasting happiness.  

What do you think about the study’s findings?  Are any of these suggestions things you’ve adopted in your life? Do you think this is really the source of lasting happiness? If not, what in your opinion is?

Posted in Health springs on Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:00 am. | Tags: George Eman Vaillant , Harvard University , Coping Psychology , Vaillant , Harvard , Happiness , Mental Health Comments (0)

Tuesday 11/12/2013
Secrets to a happy and fulfilling life

“If only I knew then what I know now …” my mother used to say.

Have you ever felt that way? It truly seems for most of us mortals that wisdom comes with age, but don’t you wish you had those “pearls” right now and could begin leading a happier life this instant?

One study conducted a 75-year comprehensive look at just that—what constitutes a happy life. Coined the Harvard Grant Study, it is by far the longest longitudinal study on human development ever conducted.  Selected participants were all males from the 1938-1940 Harvard graduating class, but the results are still indicative of what’s really important in life. George Vaillant who directed the study for three decades, also wrote about it in his book, Triumphs of Experience.

Here are some interpretations of what the study uncovered and how you can adopt them to change your life:

Love Is All that Matters:Not so obvious when you’ve just been dumped on Facebook and suffering a broken heart. But it seems that relationships far outweigh a successful career, wealth and fame. A supportive, loving relationship withstands the test of time. So, “love like you’ve never been hurt before,”—it’ll pay off in the long run. Does this ring true for you, too?

Money and Power: How many times have you heard the term, “money can’t buy you happiness?” Or, “material things don’t last forever.” In movies (as in life), we often heard those on their death bed proclaim they should have traded those long hours at work for time with family and friends. Participants felt this way, too, and the study found money and power didn’t correlate to greater happiness. What about you? What has been your experience with love and money matters?

Happiness is Attainable: No matter how bleak life is right now, things are often darker just before the dawn. The point is to never give up searching for happiness. One elderly man in the study “had the lowest rating for future stability of all the subjects (and had previously attempted suicide).” However, by the end of his life he was one of the happiest participants. Why? One expert claimed it’s because he kept “searching for love.”

So tell us, do you think the fact that the study was only conducted with males changed or skewed the results? Do you think these findings transcend gender? Share your thoughts, and join us next time to learn about the remaining secrets of a happy and fulfilled life.

Posted in Health springs on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 10:48 am. Updated: 2:14 pm. | Tags: Harvard University , George Vaillant , Heart , Triumphs Of Experience , Longitudinal Study , Happiness , George Eman Vaillant Comments (0)

Friday 11/08/2013
If you snooze, you lose …

It’s true—insomnia has a lot more to do with weight-gain than you’d imagine. If you’re not getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep at night, it means you’re sabotaging your waistline and overall health. The benefits of sleep far exceed waking up feeling refreshed.

Do you have problems sleeping at night? If so, you’re not alone. Sleep is typically an overlooked aspect of weight-loss. In fact, insomnia is among the top sleep complaint of Americans nationwide. Numerous studies have validated the connection between sleep, lack of exercise, overeating and poor memory retention. Further, the benefits of restorative sleep aids in cell regeneration and the body’s ability to heal.

Have you ever noticed how your whole day is determined by how well you sleep?

Sleep needs to be treated as a priority because it also affects mood, and chronic insomnia can lead to depression, anxiety and a compromised immune system. It disturbs judgment, productivity and reflexes, and can lead to elevated blood pressure levels, and chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and significantly contributes to a shortened lifespan.

So, what happens when you’re sleeping?

During sleep, hormones (Ghrelin and Leptin) are secreted which help regulate appetite, energy, metabolism and glucose processing. Too little sleep upsets this balance and the functioning of other hormones, as well.

The good news is there are steps you can take to getting some more ZZZZs:

  • Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, sugar and caffeine in the evening.
  • Don’t drink liquids an hour before bedtime.
  • Eliminate excessive noise and calm your mind by doing quiet, non-stimulating activities (like meditation, yoga and deep breathing) before bed.
  • Turn off the TV and computer.
  • Your bed is for sleeping and not arguments or solving the day’s problems.
  • Turn off the lights (including LED lights on clocks) and keep the room cool and dark.
  • Keeping a regular bedtime schedule.
  • Taking a warm bath also contributes to a good night sleep.
  • What would you add to this list? And, what do you do to calm your mind before bed at night?

Posted in Health springs on Friday, November 8, 2013 9:15 am. Comments (0)

Wednesday 11/06/2013
Want to lose weight? Go UP

Are you desperately looking for something … anything to help jump start your weight-loss program? Does your diet defeat you at every turn? I mean, how do you really know if this evening’s 15-minute walk burned off that slice of cheesecake at lunch?

A major component of successful weight-loss involves understanding your (daily) calories burned to calories consumed ratio. Did you know in order to lost one pound a week, you need to consume 500 less calories per day (than you burn), for a total of 3,500 calories less per week? That’s right—one pound of fat (not water weight) equals 3,500 calories.

One of the trending calorie management systems on the market is manufactured by Jawbone. Have you heard of it? It’s a bracelet you wear that utilizes a smartphone application called “UP” to help manage weight (it’s also subscription-free).

Features:

  • It tracks calories and also monitors sleep patterns, is a pedometer, and facilitates logging in of meals by providing online menus of a wide variety of restaurants and food brands.
  • Ability to snap a picture of a product’s bar code and upload to see meals’ nutritional values (if it’s in the UP database).
  • Join or form an UP community to keep motivated.
  • Tracks a multitude of (your unique) trends over time.
  • Acts as a stopwatch, monitors power naps, and alerts you if you’re been inactive for too long.
  • Has individualized daily encouragement and tips once data is uploaded.
  • Bracelet recharges every 10 days and is under $200.

Reviews: There have been consumer complaints about bracelets malfunctioning occasionally. However, similar models such as Nike and Garmin have had complaints as well. Also, other models such as FitBit only track sleep and activity. If you’re on a raw food diet (or don’t eat much packaged foods), UP isn’t for you as it’s quite tedious to upload each item and ingredient for unique meals.

Are you using one of these devices? How is it working for you? Further, what other methods do you utilize in your weight-loss quest?  

Posted in Health springs on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:30 am. Comments (0)

Monday 11/04/2013
Sorry, baby, I’m allergic to you

I have all different kinds of allergies – from dog and cat dander to cockroaches, mold and pollen, certain hygienic products, perfumes and other environmental irritants. However, food allergies are the worst by far. Even folks who barely know me know when I’ve been “naughty.” I can’t hide the cough, laryngitis, debilitating stomach cramps and labored breathing that occurs after eating something bad for me.

I’m not supposed to earsoy, wheat, peanuts, dairy, eggs, shellfish, spelt and gluten, and the list goes on and on. Oh yeah, most fruits are also out. That leaves few things on my list; hence, when I do “fall” off the wagon – I don’t fall – I fly off.

What about you, do you have allergies? Maybe you do and don’t even know it. That nagging post-nasal drip, migraine or dry cough after you eat can be a food allergy or sensitivity—even an environment irritant or hygienic product (such as the lotion your spouse wears). It’s a growing problem as more and more individuals have severe reactions to what’s in products and our foods – from pesticides, additives, and genetically modified foods, to name a few.

Food sensitivities can also interfere with a good night’s sleep. Did you know the seasonings in your foods could be the culprit? For example, monosodium glutamate (or MSG) is a processed-free glutamic acid that goes by many names and can cause insomnia. It’s also called Aji-no-moto, Vetsin, calcium caseinate, and soy protein isolate and can be found in nuts, soy sauce, beef bouillon, chips, canned soups and sausages.

If you or a loved one suffers from mysterious symptoms that continually go undiagnosed, get tested. I did, and after years of suffering with multiple disconnected symptoms, I had answers. You can, too. Your false diagnoses of irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, chronic mucus or bronchitis can have a root cause in the foods you eat. 

Do you have any experiences with allergies? What has and hasn’t worked for you?

 

Posted in Health springs on Monday, November 4, 2013 12:17 pm. Updated: 3:31 pm. | Tags: Monosodium Glutamate , Glutamic Acid , Food Allergy , Food Science , Food Allergies , Irritable Bowel Syndrome , Food Sensitivities , Food , Health , Conditions And Diseases Comments (4)