Posted on

The Family Dinner

Mary GockeThere is no doubt that a feeling of connection benefits both your physical and emotional health.  And the connection begins at home.  Having positive family ties affects your well-being and is the foundation for social connectedness.

Today, families often eat on-the-go, causing digestion, nutrition, and relationships to suffer.  The family dinner that numerous studies show is amazing for your family is mainly absent.

Take the time to rekindle this beneficial yet forgotten custom, even if it just once a week. Family dinners are a great time to connect, teach cultural traditions, and provide good nutrition.   Instill in your children the dynamics of healthy teamwork by creating an atmosphere of trust and acceptance in the kitchen and at the table. Whether in harmony or in conflict, cook, eat, and cleanup together.

If you are following a specific food plan, let your children experience it  – plan a meal where they participate in the preparation and explain the importance of what you are eating and why.

The family dinner needs to be healthy – but it does not always have to be homemade.Organic Pharmer offers an array of incredibly delicious and nutritious prepared foods to choose from.  To make the dinner special, take the food out of the containers and place it in nice bowls before serving.  To keep the conversation going, try a simple dessert that keeps everyone at the table longer.  This month’s recipe is one that your entire family can create and enjoy together.

At a loss for what to cook?  Be inspired to try new and wonderful recipe ideas by exploring the many creative hands-on cooking classes and cooking demos offered at Blum Center.  Participate alone, or better still, bring your spouse, a child, or a friend, and enjoy the experience together.

Remember: Cook, eat, and cleanup together – as often as you can. Your health and your relationships will flourish!

Check out our class calendar to learn more about our cooking class dates and times.

Posted on

Boost Your Meditation Power

Elizabeth GreigWhat’s better than a daily meditation practice in your own meditation space every day?  Meditating with a group of meditators every day!  Or at least on a regular basis.   Having personally participated in meditations under both circumstances–by myself and with other people–I can attest to the fact that meditating with others makes it easier to stay put for the specified length of the meditation and often gives me a deeper experience.  Because it makes a palpable difference in my daily practice, I take advantage of group meditation as often as I can.

Finding a community of meditators that supports your personal practice is easier than you think!  Blum Center for Health offers guided meditations up to twice a week. It’s the perfect opportunity to sit with others who have a similar focus on the mind-body connection.  Both Apple and Android have a meditation app called Insight Timer that allows you to see who else is meditating right now, so you can feel a connection to other meditators both locally and around the world.  The app also has several groups of meditators that you can join online, for example, Women Meditate Worldwide and Daily Gratitude.  You can find local meditation groups to join in person through this app, too.

So even though meditation is about your own inner experience, doing the practice as part of a community can definitely give your personal practice an energy boost.  We warmly invite you to join our Blum Center meditations every other Tuesday and every Friday for an experience of community meditation. And please join Dr. Blum and me for the next One-Day Mindfulness Retreat on Saturday, March 21, in which we will teach practical self care skills in a relaxing small group setting.

Visit our class calendar to learn more about our mind body spirit class dates and times.

Posted on

Love Your Hormones!

Dr Susan Blum, Functional MedicineIf you are like most women over 45 who come to my office, you probably noticed that the old desire isn’t burning as brightly as it once was. Why is that? Is it something you just have to accept? The answer is NO! There are many reasons why your libido has gotten sidetracked. A major culprit is stress. We all know that stress makes us, well, stressed. But how does this affect your sex drive?

If you have been overwhelmed for a long time, chances your adrenal glands, the organ that makes cortisol (your stress hormone) are tired. The adrenal glands also make testosterone, one of your sex hormones.  After age 45 (especially after menopause), the stress has not only drained away your energy, but your testosterone as well, results in a sluggish libido. Your sex drive is made up of many parts, and testosterone is one of them. What to do? Get an adrenal saliva test and a blood test for your DHEA and testosterone levels. If I find that your hormones are low, I make the following 3 suggestions:

  • DHEA: Take DHEA to support testosterone production, since DHEA is converted to testosterone in your adrenal glands.  You should not take DHEA without having your DHEA-S levels checked, or if you have a history of breast cancer, since DHEA can also be converted to estrogen.  For most women, however, this is a good thing and will support all of your hormones.  The usual starting dose is 25 mg.  DHEA-S and testosterone levels in your blood are checked after 3 months, then every 6 months.
  • FLAX SEED: Eat 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed every day.  Sprinkle it on your cereal, mix it in your smoothie or yogurt.  Ground flax is an aromatase inhibitor, which is important since aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen in your cells.  Your testosterone might be low because your aromatase is on overdrive, and so blocking this enzyme is a libido booster.
  • ADRENAL SUPPORT: Work on healing your adrenal glands.  This means getting a better night’s sleep, at least 7 hours; eating a whole foods diet with little sugar and white flour; and not skipping meals (don’t go more than 4 hours without eating). Exercise is very important too, as is a relaxation or meditation practice every day.
Posted on

Eat Your Way to Sexy

MaryColorIt’s no surprise that a healthy diet can make you feel good inside and out. But there are also many super foods that can help turn on the libido. The right foods can support the adrenals, turn on sex hormones, and stimulate the excitement and satisfaction centers in your brain.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Chili Peppers
  • Flax Seeds
  • Garlic
  • Maca
  • Oysters
  • Raw Cacao
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Watermelon
Posted on

Make Your Fantasy A Reality

elizabeth_greig_05012013_225pxYou can use the power of visualization and imagery, classic mind-body techniques, to support a healthy libido. We’re all familiar with fantasizing, so I invite you to take it one step further by applying that daydream-like practice to focus on getting ready for sexual intimacy. As we age, the juices don’t always flow so spontaneously, but we can use the power of imagination to get them going!

Try this: Picture the place where you and your partner will be intimate. Create the scene in your mind exactly as you’d like it to be, using all of your senses. Look around in your mental room or space at the colors, the visuals, what’s on the walls or windows, the furniture, etc. Or if you’re outdoors, what are the colors and sights there? Then notice the fragrances. In your imaginary room you might want to light a fragrant candle or bring in some sweet-smelling flowers. What are the sounds? Play your favorite inner music, or perhaps there’s the sound of flowing water. Now feel the textures around and beneath you: Soft? Silky? Leafy? You decide! Create the perfect scene, and then, finally, invite your partner into your intimate and beautiful space and allow yourself to let go and enjoy!

Posted on

Eating for the Seasons: Winter

Dr Susan Blum, Functional MedicineWith the dry, cold air, winter is the time to eat foods that produce mucus in the body and provide a slow sustainable energy source. It is a time when the earth provides food from the fall harvest that is naturally heavier and full of protein and healthy fats. This does not mean that carbs need to be avoided in the winter, simply that the proportions are different, with a focus on soups, grains, nuts, and yes, meats, too. Remember, not all grains are the same and I always recommend eating the less inflammatory gluten-free grains, just as I recommend eating grass-fed organic beef and free-range organic poultry whenever possible.

Vegetables continue to be important in the winter and are especially warming when eaten in soups and stews with added legumes and fat to make it even heartier. In the winter, I love to have bean soup for lunch most days. I heat it on the stove top at home, and bring it to work hot in a thermos. This is the quickest and easiest lunch and is perfect for those of you who sometimes skip or forget to eat ‘on time’ while at work.

Salads and cold-pressed, low-sugar juices are still really nourishing for you in the winter and will give you the intense levels of vitamins your body needs and might be missing because of your focus on cooked foods. Your body will really like these foods, especially after exercise when you are heated. The most important thing to remember is that, in addition to making sure there is a protein source in your salad, you should make sure to add plenty of fat, too. Don’t skimp on the dressing, and be generous with sprinkling nuts and/or seeds. This is a good time of year to add that cheese, whether dairy (if you can eat dairy) or a nut cheese like almond cheese.

If you choose to do a juice cleanse during the winter, make sure the daily program has lots of fat and protein, too. I designed the cleanse program at Organic Pharmer to be nutritionally sound in this way, and work for all the seasons. Choose the cleanse with the highest daily fat and protein. I recommend Power Play, Reboot, and Liver Love.

Posted on

Warming Up To Winter

MaryColorYour body instinctively thrives when it takes its cue from nature and follows its own rhythm. During winter, Nature is at rest, and so it is for you: the time to turn your attention inward, seeking warmth and comfort at home with loved ones.

The cold and damp weather is also when your body intuitively craves more warm, cooked and satisfying foods that are higher in protein and fibrous carbohydrates. It’s also a great time to pull out the slow cooker or your Dutch oven and gather your favorite ingredients for a nourishing meal.

Here’s a list of the foods to incorporate into your winter food plan:

  • Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas are high in both fiber and protein, and are great in soups and stews. Plus, their longer cooking times make them easier to digest.
  • Root vegetables: carrots, turnips, onions, garlic, ginger, and potatoes.
  • Nuts and nut milks are also good in the winter to snack on. Try home roasting raw nuts and seeds with herbs and spices, like cayenne pepper, turmeric, paprika, rosemary, thyme, etc., and enjoy them alone or sprinkled on your favorite vegetables. Warm up some nut milk and enjoy a cup with some cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  • Fruits and vegetables: be sure to include all orange, yellow, and red fruits & vegetables for their immune boosting compounds, called carotenoids.

Remember, because days are shorter, you may be less active. Therefore, take care not to increase your food intake too much during the winter months, as it is easy to gain unwanted pounds.