The Secret To Happiness

Wellness & Health

By Elizabeth Greig, FNP

Heavy metals, and toxins in general, can be a trigger for brain fog and mental dullness.  If this is something you are experiencing, there are different ways to detoxify your mind. One of the most effective tools is to be mindful about the information you take into your mind: bad news, fear-inducing news, gossip, and useless information can all clutter your mind.

So what can you do? Be proactive and turn off the radio or television when you listen to things that make you feel anxious, angry, or bored.   Ask your friends and family to stop telling you the juicy, but destructive, gossip and tell them that you are being kind to your mind by making a choice about what’s really important for it to hear.

I recently heard about a study that showed that the people who are the happiest are those whose thoughts are about what or who are right in front of them–meaning present time.  So keep your mind centered on what you are doing right now in the present, and don’t let it wander off looking for worries or troubles.  The secret to happiness is a happy mind that is enjoying the moment!

A Day In The Life….Of Your Toxic Exposures

Wellness & Health

By Darcy McConnell, MD

We come into contact with thousands of chemicals each day.  Luckily, we are equipped to handle toxic exposure – our liver metabolizes and removes these harmful substances the best that it can and we go about our business. Unfortunately, sometimes the burden of toxicity becomes overwhelming to the body, and causes us to suffer a multitude of ailments from fatigue and brain fog to autoimmune disease and cancer.

Though it is impossible to avoid exposure altogether, it is not difficult to reduce our body’s burden of toxins with some simple steps.  Let’s take a look at where these toxic exposures are hiding in our everyday life so we can address them and make some simple changes.

A day in the life … of your toxic exposure.  Where you might be accumulating toxins without even being aware of it:

You wake up after sleeping for hours on a mattress that may be exposing you to hundreds of harmful chemicals, and walk across a carpet that has flame retardants and VOCs seeping from it.  The cleaning products used in your home are full of toxins that remain in the air you breathe and on surfaces you touch.

  • You start your day brushing your teeth and showering with water that may be contaminated with chlorine, heavy metals, and other toxic compounds. 
  • You use personal care products that contain endocrine disruptors, harmful chemicals that alter hormones, and other dangerous substances like aluminum, phthalates, propylene glycol, and all kinds of colorings and fragrances.   
  • Into the kitchen for breakfast, and you prepare and eat food that is tainted with chemicals and additives.  Pesticides, antibiotics and hormone residues lurk in conventional produce, meats, and dairy; heavy metals and PCBs contaminate our fish supply.  BPA and phthalates leach from plastics in food packaging and bottles.
  • You get dressed, and the clothing you wear may have toxins from dry cleaning chemicals, flame retardants and synthetic plastics that are breathed in and absorbed through the skin.

It’s scary, you haven’t even left the house yet and you’ve been exposed to so many disruptive chemicals!

But we should not despair, though the research and evidence of harm is damning.  We have a choice to make the less toxic purchase every time we buy food, cleaning products, cosmetics, clothing, or furniture.

Come learn how to detoxify your environment and find guidance on how to make clean, healthy choices for decreasing your everyday toxic exposure.  Join me for my free talk on Monday April 18th at 6pm! 

Photo Credit: Household Chemical Cleaners 

What Role Do Genetics Play In Your Health?

Wellness & Health

by Elizabeth Greig, FNP

Several times a week, I see someone at Blum Center who has multiple autoimmune conditions or cancer or both and has had a moderate to high level of toxicant (toxin) exposures.  For example, they may have lived on or near a farm with an apple orchard and drank well water growing up in the 60s, they spray their apartment weekly or monthly with roach-killer, they play golf regularly, or they’ve taken many prescription drugs over many years.  All of these toxicants can be removed by the detoxification pathways in the body, particularly those found in the liver.  The efficiency of this process is determined in part by your genes.

How much effect – or risk – a particular gene, or group of genes, has on your health or illness is determined in part by your environment, such as food, chemicals, stress, and infections, as well as by interaction with other genes.  The part that environment plays is the part you have some control over.

For example, if you have a genetic tendency to diabetes, you can control your intake of sugar, sweets and starchy vegetables and be sure to exercise and thus reduce the likelihood that you will become diabetic.  This effect that lifestyle has on your genes to turn them on or off or modulate their expression is called “epigenetics.”  So, rather than:

Genes = Destiny

The answer is determined by epigenetics:

Genes + Lifestyle + Environment = Destiny

Some people have a collection of genetic mutations in their detoxification pathways that decreases their ability to rid the body of these toxicants and can increase the risk that those toxicants will cause problems.  The toxicants stay in circulation longer because they aren’t being removed efficiently. Then they can have a prolonged suppressing or damaging effect on the immune system and other systems that maintain the body’s health.  With genetic testing, we can identify some of these mutations and then make recommendations about foods, supplements and lifestyle changes that can help you decrease those toxic effects, helping you to heal and stay healthy.

Come find out more about some simple genetic testing you can do, learn about epigenetics, and discuss lifestyle, nutrition and supplement changes you can make to help you express your best destiny! 

HOW TO HEAL YOURSELF FROM CHRONIC PAIN

Wellness & Health

By Gary Goldman

Over the last 30 years, I have been sick with various illnesses that have caused me to be out of my office, sometimes for significant amounts of time.  Although these were not deadly illnesses, they did greatly affect my life and my family.  They included migraine headaches, chronic back pain and ulcerative colitis.

meditation

After many drugs, hospitalizations and only days away from spinal fusion surgery, I was able to heal myself with the help of some very special MD’s using mind-body medicine.

At The Center for Mind Body Medicine I learned techniques of self-care, self awareness, and mindfulness. The focus is on the interactions between mind and body and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly affect health.  Using these techniques, I was able to heal myself. I now have a regular yoga and meditation practice and live a life without being in constant pain.

Now that I have healed myself I want to pay it forward.  Below is an easy technique you can practice at home to help ease your pain and discomfort:

Place: Pick a place in your home that is quiet and where you will be undisturbed.  By doing a practice in the same place each time, you begin to build an energy in that place that will support your practice.

Time of Day: Most people find either the beginning of the day or the end of the day easier for their schedules, but anytime that is you can maintain a consistency of the practice will work.

Length of Time: 10 Minutes is a good starting point, working up to longer periods of time.

Regular and Consistent: These are the keys to making progress with your practice.  This is YOUR time.  You deserve it.

No Judgment: The best meditation is the one you do! Keep watching, noting, being aware without attaching good or bad thoughts to the practice.

The Practice:  Settle in.  Close eyes. Breathe in and out slowly.  Feel the breath.  Observe the breath.  If any thoughts come in, let them in and let them out.

As you breathe in, say the word “soft” to yourself.  As you breathe out, say the word “belly”.  Continue feeling the body calm and relaxed.

My training has enabled me to lead and teach others in these effective mind-body techniques.  My passion is to help others live a pain free life, to be of service, and share my experiences with others who have chronic pain and just cannot find a way out.

Join me at Blum Center for Health this month for a 4-week Mindfulness for Pain Relief Series. Click here for more information and to sign up!

RECIPE: Sunrise Nori Wraps

Wellness & Health

Text excerpted from EATING CLEAN, © 2016 by AMIE VALPONE. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.  Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 2.55.53 PM

Sunrise Nori Wraps with Spicy Tahini Drizzle   Serves 4

If you like California rolls, you’ll love these nori wraps (though personally, I think they’re so much better!). The tahini dressing is truly addictive—you’re going to want to dress everything in it—and the cabbage provides a nice crunch. If possible, use a food processor to slice the cabbage so you can get it super thin.

Also, make sure the vegetable strips are all the same width and length so that they don’t hang over the edges of the nori sheets; this will make rolling up the wraps easier. Use leftover tahini drizzle as a dressing for salads or as a dip for crudités.

Sunrise Nori Wraps 

4 nori seaweed sheets

¼ small head red cabbage, very thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and julienned

1 small yellow summer squash, julienned

1 small cucumber, julienned

1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced

1 recipe Spicy Tahini Drizzle

Spicy Tahini Drizzle 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ¼ tablespoons chickpea miso paste

1 tablespoon raw tahini

2 medjool dates, pitted

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Water, as needed to thin the drizzle

Place the nori sheets on a flat surface. Divide the cabbage, carrot, squash, cucumber, and avocado among the sheets. Top each pile of vegetables with a heaping tablespoon of the Spicy Tahini Drizzle, and then roll up the nori sheets into a tube shape.

Make the tahini: Combine all of the ingredients except the water in a blender. Blend, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time as you go, until the mixture becomes a thin sauce.

To purchase Amie’s new book click here.

How Eating Like Your Ancestors Can Help You Lose Weight

Wellness & Health

Blog Photo FastingBy Mary Gocke, RDN, CDN

The key to losing weight in 2016 might be found by going back in time and eating like our ancestors.

What if fasting was a part of your healthy lifestyle and offered the benefit of weight loss? Please, don’t get nervous and don’t go anywhere. Keep reading. This is the real deal.

We’re talking about intermittent fasting and it’s how our ancestors ate – think feast or famine. When there was food available, they ate; when they didn’t have food, they didn’t eat. They couldn’t run to a fast-food restaurant or pop a frozen-food entrée in the microwave.

Intermittent fasting does not mean you have to starve yourself. It does ask you to look at your lifestyle, notice how often you eat and especially observe late-night snacking – you know, when you’re stressed and watching late night television to take your mind off things and unconsciously eating the bag of potato chips or pint of ice cream.

What if you stopped eating after dinner and didn’t eat again until breakfast? There you go – intermittent fasting! 8pm to 8am – 12 hours of intermittent fasting. Maybe your schedule is 7pm to 7am; not a problem. There’s flexibility here. It’s not the time that matters; it’s the timing – setting yourself up for a period of 12-14 hours when you are not eating. And giving your body a chance to detoxify and rejuvenate itself.

The benefits of intermittent fasting are well-studied and vast, including:

  • Improve metabolic efficiency and metabolic flexibility
  • Reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel source
  • Boost enzyme production to facilitate digestion and weight loss
  • Generate production of human growth hormone
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Reduce markers of chronic inflammation

Intermittent fasting is one aspect of the revolutionary weight loss program offered at Blum Center for Health this month. We want to help you lose weight and we want you to keep it off with a healthy lifestyle plan.

Learn more and join our Group Weight Loss Program.

 

Are Your Hormones To Blame?

Wellness & Health

By Darcy McConnell, MD  stone tower

The holiday season is a good time to make a few simple changes that can make a big difference in how you feel.  Healthy food, fresh air, and targeted supplements balance your hormones and build up your reserves against stressors. 

Do any of these issues sound familiar?

  • difficulty losing weight
  • fatigue
  • low libido
  • thinning hair 
  • bad skin
  • anxiety and irritability
  • depressed mood
  • brain fog

Or are you just not feeling like yourself lately?

When we consider hormones and their relationship to these symptoms, we tackle the big picture.  It is never simply a low thyroid issue – nor are estrogen and testosterone levels solely to blame.  There is an entire hormone orchestra that can fall out of tune, and when this is addressed appropriately, we feel better!

The holiday season is also one of insight and peace. A great time to find your calm! 

So my first recommendation for a hormone-balancing change is to add a mindfulness practice to your routine and make space for it every day.  That can be as simple as a five-minute deep breathing exercise in the morning before your coffee or tea.  Or it can be a short walk outside in the fresh air.  Restart the meditation practice you’ve put on hold.  A yoga practice or other movement routine counts as well, as long as it’s done mindfully. And don’t forget to mix it up!  Changing your routine keeps it interesting and helps you stay on track.  These kinds of mindfulness exercises support the adrenal glands and are the first steps toward harmonizing your hormones.

Join me in December for a discussion of the science behind the hormone orchestra and seven simple changes you can make to ease those chemical messengers into line and get back to feeling like yourself!  

Tweak Your Pantry, Improve Your Health!

Wellness & Health

By Teresa Ingrasciotta

Reap huge health benefits by making simple changes to your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Here are the 10 categories of must-haves to keep on hand…

 

Healthy Kitchen!-21.  Plant Proteins for a Protein Punch

Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, White Beans.

Choose organic dried black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney or white beans. Soak and cook with a piece of Kombu seaweed for additional thyroid-supporting benefits. Cook a huge batch in your crockpot or pressure cooker; freeze in individual packets to have ready to enjoy! For a quick go-to, keep canned, BPA-free beans in your pantry.

2.  Gluten-Free Grains & Flours

Experiment with some easy-to-find grains and flours available at all health food stores, and some supermarkets. Sorghum, Amaranth, Gluten-Free Oats, Millet, Quinoa, Wild Rice, Buckwheat, Chickpea, Coconut, Almond, Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, are just a few popular choices. Store flours and grains in your fridge.

3.  Health-Supportive Fats & Oils

Instead of bread, enjoy almond (or other non-peanut) butter on a piece of fruit like an apple, pear, or banana. Cook with high-heat tolerant fats like Coconut Oil or Ghee. Save your Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salad dressings or to finish a bowl of your favorite steamed veggies. Tahini (ground sesame seeds) is not only great for hummus; keep it handy for dressings, marinades, and sauces.

4.  Salad Dressings

Be gentle on your gut and instead of harsh wine vinegars, choose apple cider vinegar (preferably raw, unfiltered), lemon, or lime juice to make your vinaigrettes.

5.  Seeds & Nuts

Walnuts, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Sunflower Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds are great combined into trail mix with Unsweetened Shaved or Shredded Coconut, and a small amount of dried fruit. Blend Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, and Hemp Seeds into your smoothie, or enjoy sprinkled on your food. Store all seeds and nuts in the fridge.

6.  Sweeteners

Choose the best quality you can find and always-in moderation!! Bittersweet Chocolate (at least 70% Cacao), Carob Powder, Dried Fruit: Raisins, Cranberries, Currants, Honey (raw and local preferred), 100% Pure Maple Syrup (Grade B preferred), Raw Cocoa Nibs or Powder, Unsweetened Shaved or Shredded Coconut.

7.  Sea Vegetables

Chock full of thyroid-supportive iodine and minerals, keep Kombu, Dulse, Kelp, Nori, and Wakame in your pantry. Hydrate and watch grow into healthful greens to add to your soups and salads.

8.  Fresh Produce

Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Ginger, Lemons, Limes, Onions (red, yellow), and Winter Greens: Kale, Chard, and Collards, etc.

9.  Frozen Foods

Kale, Spinach, Organic Berries; Chicken Breasts and Turkey (ideally organic and pastured), Grass-fed Organic Beef.

10.  Dried Herbs, Spices, and Condiments

The foods you prepare will be significantly enhanced not only in taste, but also in nutritional value by adding these into your pot, pan, or marinades. Also, the more herbs and spices you use, the less salt you’ll need! Periodically check the expiration dates and make sure to replace them since they will lose their potency, taste, and nutritional benefits the longer they sit in your pantry.

Try these: Bay Leaf, Cardamom, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, Cinnamon (sticks or ground), Coriander, Cumin, Curry Powder, Fresh Ground Pepper, Ginger (ground), Cloves (ground), Himalayan or Sea Salt, Nutmeg, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, Rosemary, Thyme, Turmeric; Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Mirin, Rice Milk, Tamari (gluten-free), Vanilla Extract, Arrowroot, Vegetable Stock or Bouillon Cubes

Join our next Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer Makeover Class where you’ll learn how to incorporate these and many more items into your lifestyle. You’ll also learn an easy way to unravel the sometimes confusing Nutrition Facts Labels and Ingredients Lists. The class is free, but the knowledge you’ll gain is invaluable!

Why We Care About Kale

Wellness & Health

Kale is one of the most nutrient dense leafy greens you can eat. From a nutrition perspective, it’s the vegetable that will give you the most bang for your bite.

Dr. Susan Blum explains why we care so much about kale:

It Helps The Digestive System: Kale is loaded with fiber that aids in elimination. This process helps flush waste and toxins from the body.

Calcium & Iron: Who says you need to drink dairy to get your daily calcium? Or eat meat to get your iron? The calcium in kale will help keep your bones strong, and the iron will support energy and strength.

Vitamin Packed: Just one cup of kale contains 134% of your daily Vitamin C, 684% of Vitamin K, and 204% of Vitamin A needs!

Antioxidants: Kale contains many antioxidants including carotenoids, flavonoids, and phytonutrients called thiols. Antioxidants are the antidote to the environmental stressors and exposures of every day life.

Kale Is The Ultimate Detoxifier: All of these antioxidants and vitamins work to lower inflammation and protect the body from disease. Much of this activity happens in the liver. Kale provides these powerful nutrients to help your liver do it’s job: clear out toxins.

Celebrate National Kale Day with us on October 7th by making a simple kale salad, adding kale to your smoothie, or trying one of Organic Pharmer’s Top 5 Kale picks! #kaleday2015

 

 

 

 

End of Summer Skin Savers

Wellness & Health

Is your skin sending you an SOS this summer?

The season’s heat, humidity, sweat, and environmental stressors can clog pores and contribute to a poor complexion.  But before you run to your esthetician or invest in the latest, greatest miracle cream, Dr. Blum recommends that you start by changing your diet.

Here are two easy ways to get healthy, glowing skin:

1. Cut the Sweets
After eating your favorite sweet summer treat, your blood sugar rises and insulin is released into the body.  The result is inflammation, which can cause redness and breakouts.
Plus, sugar can cause the naturally occurring yeast in your pores to trigger acne and skin inflammation, too.

2. Add Antioxidants
Fight free radical damage with a daily source of antioxidants. Eat or drink a rainbow of richly-colored fruits and vegetables every day.  The darker the pigment the stronger the antioxidant power. Our top picks include berries, cherries, and veggies like peppers, beets, carrots,  and dark greens, which are an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants that revive tired and stressed skin.

Learn more about how specific foods can help your help concern or goals in Dr.Blum’s Learn at Lunch series starting this fall.  Click here for more information and to sign up!