Category Archives: Healthy Tips

Get Your Drink On: Tips for Staying Hydrated This Summer

I’ve written about the importance of staying hydrated on numerous occasions throughout the life of this blog.  As Patient Coordinator at Longevity Health Center, I also end up talking about it with every patient that walks through our doors.  Some days I feel like a broken record!

But even though we’ve learned about the importance of hydration since we were in elementary school, most people simply don’t get enough water on a daily basis.  They fill up on coffee, juices, soft drinks and other diuretics, which only serve to further dehydrate them.  It’s no wonder that water is the number one nutritional deficiency in our country.

Why is water so important?

Water makes up about 60% of our body composition, and we can only go a matter of days without it.  Here are just a few of its other roles in the body.

  • Improves oxygen delivery to cells
  • Transports nutrients
  • Enables cellular hydration
  • Moistens oxygen for easier breathing
  • Cushions bones and joints
  • Absorbs shocks to the joints and organs
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Removes wastes
  • Flushes toxins
  • Lubricates the joints
  • Improves cell-to-cell communication
  • Maintains normal electrical properties of cells
  • Empowers the body’s natural healing process

Is it just me, or is there some really important stuff on that list?  What more reason do you need to get sipping?

Tips for staying adequately hydrated:

  • Know how much water you need on a daily basis.  The body can only produce about 8% of its daily water needs through metabolic processes, and the remaining 92% must be ingested through our foods and beverages.  Since we can’t store it, we have to be diligent about staying hydrated every single day.  Take your body weight and divide it in half.  That is how many ounces of water you should be drinking a day (not to exceed 100 ounces).  You should drink an additional 12-15 ounces for every 6 ounces of diuretics you drink.
  • Be a sipper, not a chugger!  Some people do drink enough water, but they tend to let hours go by before chugging a large quantity all at once, drowning their kidneys and maybe even doing more harm than good.  When we sip, we give the water to the kidneys at a rate that they can most effectively use it.  During these humid summer months in Georgia, it’s even more important to drink throughout the day to replace all the water we lose when we sweat.
  • Find a water bottle you love.  If you’re going to be a steady sipper, then you’ll need a reliable bottle that you can take everywhere you go.  There are several great brands on the market.  I’m a fan of the 750 ml Camelbaks because they fit in the cup holders in the car and the cardio equipment at the gym, and they don’t break if you drop them.

You will seldom find me without my Camelbak water bottle. Make sure everyone in your family has their very own water bottle that goes everywhere with them this summer.

  • Add fresh lemon or lime to your water.  This will make it more refreshing, and you’ll likely drink more.  Lemon and lime also serve as an antioxidant boost and help keep your systemic pH balanced.
  • Flavor it up for kids.  If you think it’s hard for adults to remember to drink water, it’s even harder to keep our kids adequately hydrated.  With all the running around they do, they tend to lose more moisture through sweat as well.  For years I’ve been urging my friends and Longevity patients to stay away from Crystal Light packets, because they were full of artificial sweeteners.  At last, this company got with the program and came out with an all-natural variety, Crystal Light Pure.  They are sweetened with stevia and real sugar (less than a teaspoon per serving) and contain 15 calories per serving.  Trader Joe’s makes a similar product called Fast Flavor Sticks (also 15 calories per serving).  These flavor packets might just do the trick in getting your child to drink enough water!   Please keep your family away from any beverages or flavor packets sweetened with high artificial sweeteners like fructose corn syrup, Splenda or aspartame!

The TJ’s flavor sticks come in pomegranate cherry and iced tea with lemon flavors. They are super sweet, so you’ll only need about half a packet for a large glass of water.

  • Kill two birds with one stone.  Or as my husband says, hit two ducks in the butt with one rock!  As long as you’re drinking water, you might as well add other things your body could use as well.  I personally love Emergen-C packets.  They can be purchased in a variety of flavors at any grocery store and they’re a great way to increase electrolytes, combat cellular damage and boost the immune system.  Sometimes I also add a little liquid chlorophyll to my water to help increase my mineral intake.

Add Chlorophyll to your water to help increase energy, stamina and mental clarity.

  • Know the signs of dehydration.  Fatigue, irritability, anxiety, cravings, cramps and headaches are all signals that you could be dehydrated.  (We’re so quick to take pain medicine for these symptoms when what we really need is to DRINK WATER!)  Unfortunately, by the time we recognize these symptoms, we’re already very behind on our water intake.  That’s why it’s best to proactively drink all day long!

So if you’re reading this, you know what to do.  Get up right now and get yourself a nice tall glass of water!  It’s one of the easiest things we can do to take care of our health and meet our bodies’ nutritional needs today.  I’ll drink to that!

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Natural Stress Remedies for the Craziest Time of the Year

We’re coming into the most hectic time of the year…the holidays.  It starts with Halloween, and it doesn’t stop until the New Year.  Between parties, gift shopping, cooking, final exams, school plays and numerous other commitments, our stress levels can easily get out of control.

When stress and anxiety soar, our health habits tend to plummet.  We don’t sleep as well, and our gym visits fall by the wayside (until the New Year when the gyms are flooded with all the good-intentioned people with fresh resolutions!).  It’s all too easy for our diet to be narrowed down to  the “other” 5 food groups: Halloween candy, fruit cake, egg nog, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie!

So what are some things we can do to manage our stress before our health habits take a nose dive and we spiral into full-fledged holiday depression?  Implementing healthy habits is the first step.  Check out this post I wrote last spring for a few ideas.

Here are a few specific natural stress remedies and stress-relieving foods to help you keep your cool all the way through the New Year.

NATURAL STRESS REMEDIES

  • Adaptogens – These are a family of herbs that help increase resistance to stress, fatigue, insomnia and trauma.  Unlike traditional mood-elevating medications, adaptogens are non-toxic, non-habit forming and require no prescription.  Adaptogens work not only when you take them, but for a sustained period of time, and they become increasingly active the more your body needs them.  At Longevity, our favorite adaptogens are rhodiola rosea (mood, energy), valerian root (sleep, calming the nerves), ashwaganda (stamina, immunity, clarity), holy basil (memory, stress) and ginseng (anxiety, energy).  Many of our natural stress formulas and adrenal support supplements contain one or a combination of these herbs.

Adaptocrine is Longevity's most popular blend of adaptogenic herbs. It restores depleted adrenal glands and helps regulate stress and circadian rhythms.

  • Rescue Remedy – This blend of Bach-flower remedies is great when you need to take the edge off your anxiety in a hurry.  I’ve been known to take it before an exam, after a frustrating morning commute or even to help me sleep.  The nice thing about this product is that you can pick it up at any health food store, it comes in drops, spray and a kids formula, and it’s safe for the whole family.
  • GABA – Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) is an amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It calms nerve activity, acting as a natural tranquilizer.  GABA can help with insomnia and anxiety, and it’s also been shown to improve immunity.  You can purchase GABA on its own, and it’s often included in stress-relieving, mood-elevating formulas.
  • B Vitamins – This group of vitamins is associated with relief of stress, nervousness and anxiety, as well as cardiovascular support, energy, healthy skin, hair and nails, and immunity.  Vitamin B deficiency can often lead to depression symptoms.  Unfortunately, many common medications and oral contraceptives deplete our bodies of B vitamins (If you’re on birth control, be sure to take a B complex!).  Recently, researchers at Oregon State University found that athletes who lack B vitamins have reduced high-intensity exercise performance and are less able to repair damaged muscles or build muscle mass than their peers who eat a diet rich with B-vitamins (If you’re training for a big event or want more exercise endurance, consider a B complex!).
  • 5 HTP – 5-Hydrixytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that helps regulate serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) in the brain and central nervous system.  Low serotonin levels are a common side effect of our stressful modern lives, and it leads to issues like depression, headaches, cravings, PMS symptoms and fibromyalgia.  Taking a controlled-release 5-HTP supplement can help raise serotonin levels quickly and steadily over a 12-hour period.
  • St. John ‘s Wort – This is another one of the classic herbal remedies for mild depression.  You can also pick this product up at any health food store, and it’s included in many stress-relieving supplements.

There are tons more natural stress remedies out there, and I’ve just named a few here.  Contact me or the Longevity Pharmacy to learn about which one might be right for you!

STRESS-RELIEVING FOODS

  • Green Tea – This tasty beverage contains L-theanine, an amino acid that reduces anxiety and enhances mood.  Green tea not only has a calming effect, but it improves mental alertness.  Green tea is also a great antioxidant, meaning it helps the body combat free radical damage to the cells.

Consider replacing your morning coffee with green tea during times of high stress!

  • Super Fruits and Veggies – Bulk up on produce items rich in antioxidants and stress-fighting vitamin C.  Think berries, citrus fruits and greens.
  • Protein, Protein, Protein – I can’t stress enough how important it is to get adequate amounts of protein throughout the day, and especially at breakfast.  Don’t let yourself go on a sugar roller coaster, which leads to anxiety, depression and poor mental focus.  Animal protein is high in those B vitamins I discussed above!
  • Healthy Fats High-quality fat is the long-burning fuel we need to survive all the end-of-year madness, so don’t be fat phobic!  Trans fats are linked with ADD, depression and fatigue.  Think almonds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, and avoid those fried foods and snacks made with hydrogenated oils whenever you can!
  • Whole Grains – High-quality grains are fortified with folic acid and B vitamins that help reduce stress.  Avoid white flour and go for grains like brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, oatmeal and whole wheat whenever possible.

For more ideas, check out these related posts on mood-boosting and brain-boosting foods!  Once again, don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep and regular exercise when it comes to fighting stress during this hectic time of year.

What remedies, foods or healthy habits do you reach for when combating stress?  We’d love to hear your ideas!

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A Few of My Favorite Things

I’m long overdue for a Favorite Things post!  From time to time, I do a post dedicated solely to foods and products that I’m digging right now.  (Click here and here for other Favorite Things posts.)

THE NUTRITIONISTA’S FAVORITE THINGS: 

  • Bountiful Pantry Soups and Sides:  I’m always looking for fast and healthy meal ideas, and we just started carrying these convenient all-natural soup and side dish mixes at Longevity.  They’re hearty, delicious, and bursting with fall flavor.  All the mixes are gluten-free, and don’t contain added salt, MSG or other preservatives.  They’re ready in minutes and make 8 generous servings.  Our whole staff feeds off one package many days for lunch.  I’m a big fan of the corn chowder, split pea and lentil soups.   Call our office (770-642-4646) and ask for Tracey if you’d like to order them.  You won’t be sorry!  Visit http://www.bountifulpantry.com for more info.

Each mix is $8.50 at the Longevity store.

  •  The Gluten-Free Goddess: Even though I don’t have a gluten sensitivity myself, I love finding recipes that use gluten alternatives.  I enjoy experimenting with the recipes, and it also helps me when giving tips to our gluten intolerant patients.  The Gluten-Free Goddess blog contains and extensive library of fabulous gluten-free recipes and tips.  Check it out!
  • ViraClear: We’re coming into the thick of cold and flu season, and this homeopathic remedy is already flying off of our shelves.  ViraClear shortens the duration of  coughs and upper respiratory infections.  I recommend keeping it in the house, especially if you have children, and starting it at the first sign of congestion, sniffles or sore throat.  Often times we can knock out an infection before it really takes hold in our bodies if we act fast!  ViraClear comes in a cherry syrup for kids and regular homeopathic drops for adults.

ViraClear is a cold and flu staple in my house!

  • Crystal Light Pure: For years I’ve been urging my friends and Longevity patients to stay away from Crystal Light packets, because they were full of artificial sweeteners.  At last, this company got with the program and came out with an all-natural variety, Crystal Light Pure.  They are sweetened with stevia and real sugar (less than a teaspoon per serving) and contain 15 calories per serving.  Trader Joe’s makes a similar product called Fast Flavor Sticks (also 15 calories per serving).  They come in Pomegranate Cherry and Iced Tea with Lemon flavors.  These flavor packets are great if you or your children have a hard time drinking enough water every day.   Please stay away from any beverages or flavor packets sweetened with high artificial sweeteners like fructose corn syrup, Splenda or aspartame!

The TJ's variety are super sweet, so you'll only need about half a packet for a large container of water.

What healthy foods, products or web sites are you loving right now?  Pass them along, as we need all the help we can get to live our most nutritious life.  Have a great week!

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What’s pH got to do with it?

Remember learning about the pH scale in science class?  That was pretty much the last time I gave any thought to acidity vs. alkalinity, that is until I started studying nutrition.  It turns out that many of the most prominent diseases in our society often come down to one thing, pH imbalance.

Almost every patient that walks through our door at Longevity is too acidic.  This dangerous condition is called acidosis, and it weakens all the body’s systems.  You can think of it like this – bad things grow in acidic environments, things like free radicals, cancer cells and other antigens.  However, a body with a balanced pH allows for the normal function necessary for disease resistance.

In the words of Dr. T.A. Baroody, Jr, in his book Alkalize or Die, “Acidosis is the basic foundation of all disease.  We need to understand the simple process of alkalizing our body and the important role a properly alkalized body plays in restoring and maintaining our overall health. Our glands and organs function properly in exact proportion to the amount of alkaline and acid levels in our system.”

So before I go any further, let’s break down the pH scale, a.k.a let’s have a little 7th grade science refresher! pH (power of hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a given solution.  It’s measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.  The lower the pH (below 7), the more acidic the solution, and the higher the pH (higher than 7), the more alkaline the solution.

The body is composed of positively charged ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming), and it continuously strives to balance pH.

Just to clarify, when I say we shouldn’t be too acidic, I’m not talking about the stomach environment.  In fact, our stomach should be so acidic (ideally a pH of 1.5 to 3) that if we poured out its contents on a rug, it would burn a hole right through it! Urine pH should fluctuate between 6.0 and 6.5 in the morning and 6.5 to 7.0 in the evening.  Saliva pH should stay between 6.5 and 7.5 all day.

When our systems become too acidic, it forces our bodies to steal major minerals like magnesium and potassium from our bones and vital organs in order to buffer the acid and remove it from the body.  Here are some of the problems that result:

  • Acceleration of free radical damage, possibly contributing to the growth and spreading of cancer cells
  • Low energy/chronic fatigue
  • Premature aging
  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular stress – constriction of blood vessels, reduced oxygen
  • Kidney/bladder issues, such as kidney stones
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Bone Loss, brittle bones, bone spurs, Osteoporosis
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Digestive dysfunction
  • Yeast overgrowth

Unfortunately, acidity leads to more acidity.  Pathogens create acidifying toxins in the body. As the body becomes more and more acidic, bad bacteria, yeasts and other toxins multiply in the body. Since these organisms are living, they feed off of and create more acidic toxins, and the cycle continues.

So what can we do to prevent acidosis?  The answer is cleaning up our diet and lifestyle.  The standard American diet is high in acidic foods like red meat, dairy, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol and refined carbohydrates.  (Need yet another reason to avoid soft drinks?  They are extremely acidic!) Most of us aren’t getting enough of the more alkalizing foods, like fresh vegetables, whole grains and high-quality fats.

For a more complete list of the most acid and alkaline foods, check out these Acid and Alkaline Food Charts.  Remember, it’s not that all acidic foods are bad.  For example, many fruits are more acidic, and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat them, it’s just that we have to stay well hydrated and also eat plenty of alkalizing foods to keep our system in balance.

If you’re not good about eating vegetables throughout the day, consider juicing, doing a green drink or throwing some greens into a morning smoothie.  One way or another, it’s crucial to get these highly beneficial vegetables into your system!

Greens like kale, spinach and kelp are extremely alkalizing...eat up!

Sports drinks, coffee, juices and other high-sugar and high-caffeine beverages are highly acidic.

Another tip for treating acidosis is to drink about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the mornings.  I like the Braggs brand because it’s organic and unpasteurized.

If you’re battling cancer, candida overgrowth, chronic fatigue syndrome, or any of the other health issues I mentioned, it’s time to start balancing your pH.  Even if you don’t have any health problems, but just want to eat a cleaner diet for wellness and prevention, an alkalizing diet is a fundamental place to start.   You’ll look and feel so much better.

Stay alkaline my friends!


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The Buzz on Resveratrol

Hello!  Long time, no blog.  I’ve been out of the country, and while I was gone, somebody turned up the heat in Georgia!  In addition to pool days and cook outs, for me summer means its peak season for colorful veggies and nutrient-dense fruits like watermelon and strawberries.

Speaking of berries, today I want to talk about resveratrol.  Resveratrol has been a big topic of interest in the health community in recent years.  Perhaps you’ve heard a few things here and there, but you’ve been wondering what the hype is all about.  I was also interested in learning more about this up-and-coming antioxidant, so I did a little research.  I’d like to pass along what I learned to you.

What is Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a polyphenol, an antioxidant that can protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart.  It’s found in peanuts, plums, the skin of red and purple grapes and in other berries like strawberries, blueberries and cranberries.  There are also high levels in red wine.

The benefits of resveratrol were first publicized in the early 1990’s, when scientists were researching the French Paradox, the observation that the French people suffer relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, despite the fact that their diet is rich in saturated fats.  They began conducting studies concluding that red wine decreases the incidence of cardiac diseases.  In 1991, a special on the possible health benefits of red wine ran on 60 Minutes, and as a result, the consumption of red wine increased 44% and some wineries began lobbying for the right to label their products as a health food.

Scientists believe that high levels of resveratrol is one of the major factors in the French Paradox.

Reported Health Benefits of Resveratrol in Clinical Trials:

  • Powerful antioxidant activity, supports healthy cellular function
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Protects the heart by increasing blood flow and preventing clots and artery damage
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Enhanced male reproduction activity
  • Supports neurological health
  • Improved exercise performance
  • Delays age-related deterioration

For more information on the possible health benefits of resveratrol, check out this 60 Minutes Special, Wine Rx, that ran in January of 2009 and this resveratrol summary by the Linus Pauling Institute.

There is still a lot to learn about resveratrol.  Much of the resveratrol research has been conducted on animals, rather than people.  Mice studies suggest that the antioxidant might also help protect against obesity and diabetes, two major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  It will be interesting to see what discoveries are made in the next few years.

Resveratrol is not known to be toxic, and so far no adverse effects have been found in humans.

What’s the Best Way to Consume Resveratrol?

  • Eat/Drink Up!  Peanuts, grapes and other berries are an excellent addition to a whole foods diet.  Unfortunately, to get the same dose of resveratrol used in the mice studies, a person would have to drink more than 60 liters of red wine every day.  I don’t recommend that!  But a little red wine in moderation doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me.  You can also get resveratrol from grape juice, but just be careful that you aren’t consuming large amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Take a Supplement.  Resveratrol is best absorbed and effective when combined with other antioxidants.  Research suggests that resveratrol and quercetin work synergistically to provide more anti-aging and immune support than resveratrol alone.    Taking 175 mg of pure resveratrol in capsule form is the equivalent amount of resveratrol in 600 glasses of red wine!

Go enjoy some antioxidant-rich fruits this week and get a little resveratrol in your system!  (As if we needed another health benefit to let us know we should eat fruit!)  Or enjoy a nice glass of red wine with your dinner tonight (Don’t mind if I do!).  If you’re interested in more than just an antioxidant, and want to boost your exercise performance, protect your heart and boost your brain power, I suggest taking a high-quality resveratrol supplement.  Feel free to contact me if you need any suggestions on good brands.

Happy Summer!

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Sharpen Up: Boost Your Brain Power with Good Nutrition

Ever feel like you’re walking around in a brain fog?  Do you have trouble recalling names, dates and other simple facts like you used to?  Do you go to the other room to get something only to forget what you came for in the first place?  Do you have problems focusing or feel like your mood and energy slump at certain points in the day?  Do you or your child struggle with ADD and other attention issues?  If you answered yes to any of these things, this post is for you.

Your nutritional health plays a huge role in mental clarity, memory and brain function, so today I want to talk about some brain boosting habits, foods and supplements to help you stay as sharp as a tack!

Bulk up on B12.

Also known as the “feel good vitamin,” B12 helps ward off fatigue and weakness.  It also enhances our ability to reason and think logically.  B12 assists in the production of myelin, which keeps the nerves in our brain in good repair.   An added bonus is that it keeps the walls of blood vessels strong to prevent heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.   Depression and memory loss can be sure signs of B12 deficiency.  When it comes to foods high in B12, protein is the name of the game.  The vitamin is abundant in all animal products: meat, eggs, fish and dairy, so it may be necessary for vegans and vegetarians to take a supplement.  Vitamin B12 absorption naturally declines as we age, so the older we get, the more we need.  Recent studies have shown that 16% of the elderly are B12-deficient, contributing to problems with memory retention and cognitive functions.  Certain medications, like aspirin, diuretics, blood pressure lowering drugs, stomach acid blockers, drugs for osteoporosis, and birth control pills, also deplete B12, so a supplement is especially important if you’re on any of these drugs.

43% of vegetarians are B12-deficient.

Reach for Amino Acids.

Brain cells communicate with one another via chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are usually made of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. The amino acid tyrosine prompts the brain to manufacture norepinephrine and dopamine, other kinds of chemical messengers in the brain. These neurotransmitters promote energy and alertness.  In addition to meat and eggs, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables are high in amino acids.

Don’t Skip Breakfast!

Not only is it one of my Top 5 Nutritional No-No’s, but skipping the most important meal of the day also takes a negative toll on brain function.  Adults and kids who eat a balanced, high-protein breakfast perform better at work and school and have improved mood and energy levels throughout the day.  Plus, when we skip breakfast, we’re much more likely to reach for unhealthy choices come lunch time.

Get off the Sugar Roller Coaster!

Refined sugars, white flours and other processed foods deplete our tissues of B12.  So when our meals are out of balance, it’s only natural that our mood, energy and focus will take a nose dive.  Many people use starchy carbs and sugars to lift them out of these slumps, only to find that they plummet again an hour or two later.  And the cycle continues day in and day out, taking a huge toll on the adrenal glands and our quality of life.  Limit sugar, starches and other high-glycemic foods to enhance brain function all day long.

Limit Caffeine.

Once again, we turn to the very thing that’s contributing to our downfall when we reach for caffeine to pull us out of a brain fog.  Like processed carbs and sugars, caffeine leaches B12 from our tissues.  Eliminate those harmful sodas and energy drinks from your life all together, and keep coffee and teas to 1-2 cups a day (Don’t forget to drink plenty of extra water to make up for any diuretics!).

Add Antioxidants.

Individuals who eat more brightly colored fruits and leafy veggies have less cognitive decline than those who don’t.  That’s because the antioxidants in produce combat free radicals and protect our neurons from damage.  As we move into the spring and summer weather, more and more antioxidant-rich, colorful produce will be available to us, so eat up!

Pump Some Iron.

The symptoms of iron deficiency include irritability and diminished mental alertness.   Studies show that when the iron level of students increases, they concentrate better and learn better.  Iron is necessary for healthy brain tissue and for adequate neurotransmitter function.

Food sources of iron egg yolks, red meat, dark leafy greens, turkey, beans and artichokes.

Banish Bad Fats.

Looking for yet another reason to avoid processed foods?  They often contain biochemically-altered fats labeled “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the fine print on the package label.  The hydrogenation process produces trans fatty acids which can affect brain function.  The trans fats enter the cells of the central nervous system where they may compete with the action of natural fats, so that the nerves in the brain don’t function as well as they were designed to.   Filling up on these undesirable fats deters us from eating the healthy fats, like nuts, olive oil, avocados and meat protein that are so beneficial to the brain.
Get Your EFAs.

The essential fatty acid DHA is the primary structural component of brain tissue, so DHA deficiency translates into brain deficiencies.  More and more research studies are recognizing the possibility that DHA has a crucial influence on neurotransmitters in the brain, helping brain cells better communicate with each other.  Asian cultures have long appreciated the brain-building effects of DHA.  In Japan, DHA is considered such an important nutrient that it is used as a nutritional supplement to enrich some foods, and students frequently take DHA pills before examinations.  Salmon and other fatty fish are a great source of DHA.  In fact, women who eat these fish during their third trimester of pregnancy have babies who tend to perform better on cognitive tasks.  DHA-fortified eggs and flax seed oil are other excellent food sources of this important essential fatty acid.  Here are a few nore DHA research findings to consider:
  • Infants who have low amounts of DHA in their diet have reduced brain development and diminished visual acuity.
  • The increased intelligence and academic performance of breastfed compared with formula- fed infants has been attributed in part to the increased DHA content of human milk.
  • Cultures whose diet is high in omega 3 fatty acids (such as the Eskimos who eat a lot of fish) have a lower incidence of degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis .
  • Experimental animals whose diets are low in DHA have been found to have smaller brains and delayed central-nervous-system development.
  • Many children with poor school performance because of ADD have been shown to have insufficient essential fatty acids in their diet.

Lighten Your Toxic Load.

Our bodies are constantly working to cleanse the toxins we come into contact with on a daily basis, but sometimes we need a little help.   When everyday toxins like pesticides, heavy metals and parasites are stuck in our system, it can lead to fatigue and headaches and greatly impair our ability to concentrate.  Bio energetic testing helps to pinpoint toxins or deficiencies that are bogging us down so we can send in a homeopathic or nutritional supplement to correct it.

Don’t wait until your grades, career, relationships and health suffer to improve your brain function, memory and focus!  Start with a diet rich in healthy proteins, fats, and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, and add in supplements when necessary (Contact me if you need suggestions!).  Many people find it convenient to start the day with a high-quality protein drink where they can add essential fatty acids and antioxidant-rich berries.

Let me hear from you!  What do you do to boost your brain power throughout the day?

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Arm Your Immune System Against Stress

There’s no doubt that the current social, political and economic climate is taking a toll on Americans’ stress levels.  We can watch the news for just five minutes, and we’re be left feeling uncertain about what will happen next and how it will affect us.  Combine this with our own personal pressures, responsibilities and schedules, and it’s no wonder we’re anxious!

Although short-term stress can actually help enhance performance and productivity, long-term stress can lead to numerous health problems.  In fact, the six leading causes of death in our country – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide – as well as immune deficiency, memory loss and obesity, have all been linked to stress.

We may not have control over the many stress factors in our lives, but we can control how we react to them.  Negative thinking increases stress on the adrenal gland, which in turn increases the release of Cortisol.  This hormone has a negative impact on the body, resulting in high blood pressure and reduced immune response.  Conversely, happiness and gratitude trigger the release of endorphins, our bodies’ natural pain and stress fighters.

In addition to thinking positively (which can be easier said than done), consider taking these steps to arm your body against the negative effects of stress:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. We should eat when we’re stressed—it’s our bodies’ natural reaction to want to store calories to face whatever challenge is causing the stress in the first place.  The key is to eat what our bodies really need.  Junk food puts stress on the body.  Why add physical stress to a system already dealing with emotional and mental stress?  Eating nutrient-rich, whole foods and avoiding excess starchy carbs, sugars, alcohol and caffeine will keep your immune system strong and your blood sugar balanced so you can withstand the daily stress thrown your way.  Super foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, fish and whole grains are packed with stress-fighting and mood-boosting nutrients like folic acid, B vitamins, omega-3 fats and magnesium.

Eating high-sugar foods when we're stressed only fuels the fire!

  • Exercise. Physical activity and stress relief go hand in hand.  Not only does exercise release endorphins, but it also gets your mind off everyday problems and redirects it to the activity at hand.  Getting your lymphatic system moving also aids in detoxification and immunity.
  • Sleep it off. Many people don’t get the minimum amount of sleep they need each day.  Not only does it decrease productivity and contribute to weight gain, but it also keeps your immune system from combating stress.  You might consider reducing your caffeine and sugar intake to encourage a better night’s sleep.
  • Take time to unwind. Many people rely on practices such as prayer, meditation or yoga to help wipe away the day’s stress.  Even just taking a few deep breaths or doing a few quick stretches can sometimes make a difference.  For me, taking a relaxing walk outdoors or getting a soothing massage can often do the trick.
  • Acupuncture and Massage. As millions will attest, acupuncture encourages the natural functioning and healing of the body.  Massage therapy is also an effective way to relieve the tension that can contribute to disease and illness.

Acupuncture is very effective for relieving stress and the neck and back pain that can come with it.

  • Try natural remedies. Several herbs, amino acids and supplements can help your body release endorphins and fight stress.  Examples include valerian, skullcap, L-theanine, Gaba and L-Tryptophan.  Visit your local health food store or homeopathic pharmacy, or contact me for suggestions.

There’s no denying that life is crazy and stressful, so go do something to de-stress today…your immune system will thank you!

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