As a health & wellness coach, one of the biggest frustrations I hear from clients is “there is so much information available! How do I weed through real facts and what is just another marketing push by a company focused on the bottom line? Supplements land at the very top of this list! Are supplements necessary? How do I find good quality supplements? Are supplements a waste of money? Which ones are most important for me to be taking?
Specifically probiotics are the biggest mystery of all!
What exactly is a probiotic?
Probiotics are credited with providing many health benefits connected with gut health and much much more! We could get very scientific here, but the quick answer is that probiotics help to increase the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut. They are responsible for everything from nutrient absorption to immune health. The key with probiotics is to make sure you are taking the right one to get the results you are seeking.
Probiotics can be consumed as a supplement, or you can focus on eating fermented foods. If using probiotics for specific needs, see below three strains and some of the conditions they are most helpful with;
Bifidobacterium - IBS, constipation, lung infections, ulcerative colitis, restoration of intestinal bacteria after chemotherapy
Lactobacillus - Reduces cholesterol and vaginal infections, promotes weight loss, prevents and reduces cold, flu, allergy and eczema symptoms, increases GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps you feel relaxed)
Saccharomyces - GI support, diarrhea, aids in improving multiple ailments like lactose intolerance, acne, high cholesterol, fever blisters and canker sores. Also, helpful with IBS and Crohn’s disease.
Do probiotics need to be refrigerated?
Most do, but don’t disregard the ones you find on the shelf. This just means the company that manufacturers them uses a technology that allows the probiotic to stay alive at room temperature. The company includes freeze-dried organisms that comes in packaging that prevent moisture (blister packs) seeping in. But, make sure to consume the capsule immediately after removing from the individual packaging to ensure its high potency. You will find more options of high quality probiotics in the refrigerator section, so I tend to lean towards buying these.
How do I know if the probiotic I am purchasing is high quality?
Quality matters when buying any supplement, but especially when it comes to probiotics! Buy professional brands that practice ways of testing to confirm the bacteria in the probiotic will survive on the shelf and in your gut! Just as you check the label on foods, make sure you check the labels of your supplements. Many times you will find unwanted binders and fillers (such as; lactose, cornstarch, etc.)
How do I know the correct dose to take?
When looking for a probiotic you want one that contains billions of organisms. A dose will range from 5 to 100 billion CFU’s. This measure is used to determine how potent it is - best to start low (30-50 billion) and work your way up! Also, make sure to look for a probiotic with multiple strains. But if you are taking one for a specific reason, make sure that the one you chose is high in that strain.
High quality supplements can be extremely effective, but it is never a bad idea to include high probiotics foods into your everyday. Set a goal to squeeze at least one of the following foods in once a week; yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, natto, goats milk yogurt, kvass, raw cheese, apple cider vinegar, kimchi, salted gherkin pickles and brine cured olives. A few of these foods might be new to you — perfect reason to give it a GO! I am confident you will discover some new fav’s and start consuming daily!
Here’s to a healthy gut, healthy life!
While in Bermuda, I stumbled upon this gorgeous crop of tomatoes. I stopped to speak to the farmers and learned how Bermuda does not officially claim foods to be ‘organic,’ but how using pesticides is not even an option in their minds. When I asked if they spray the crops with chemicals, the farmer responded with “of course not, if we spray we might infect another farmers crops.” I was both shocked and amazed! Oh how I wish we could adopt this level of consideration in the US! Of course, I appreciate that Bermuda is a small country, and the food is kept to feed the locals, but this type of respect and awareness demonstrated by the Bermudian’s could bring positive change to the health of American grown foods!
How can we bring this healthy practice into our lives? Buy local!
Why is local produce better for your health? Here’s why:
Local foods, for the most part, retain more nutrients because they are allowed to ripen naturally. Foods that travel are often picked before being totally ripe and ready.
Local grown food is, for the most part, safer. To ripen, veggies and fruit are artificially ‘ripened’ using ethylene gas (no BUENO!).
Foods that are in season are proven to contain more nutrients than those out of season.
Local/small farms typically use less chemicals than the big industrialized farms. Many small farmers are not certified organic as the certification fees may be cost prohibitive, but you can be sure these crops are cleaner and more nutrient dense than the ones coming from the big guys!
Buying local, talking to the farmers creates a connection with our food. This gives us the opportunity to be aware and appreciate what we are fueling our bodies with. You are what you eat!
Fresh food tastes better when it is picked and consumed at it’s peak of freshness! What tastes better than a ripe tomato picked off the vine or biting into an apple plucked directly from the tree?
Just saying… it is also amazing to support your local economy!
I encourage everyone to visit your local farmers market or join a local co-op! There is no better way to support your health and your community!
We have it with dinner. It's our go-to for celebrations or after a long day. We love its aroma and different flavors and say things like "Fruity, Earthy" or "Bouquet, Structure." Different styles define who we are. It is our favorite gift when we want to bring something special. Yes, we are talking about wine. Wine is as diverse and unique as each of us. Face it, wine is the center of happiness. It relaxes our minds and in moderation can contribute to your physical health. But how exactly and with all of the health benefits can some ingredients actually be harmful?
New studies about the health benefits of wine from decreased mortality rates to attacking cancer cells are pretty impressive. However, over-consumption, sugar, and additives can make this divine elixir anything but healthy.
Before we dive into all of the benefits lets, look at what we don't want in our wine and why.
Wine is a tricky business because when it comes to their growth cycle, grapes tend to march to the beat of their own drum. Their natural flavor, color, and growing cycle are driven by nature. To capture sameness and establish predictability, producers rely on synthetic pesticides, GMOs, chemical additives like Copper Sulfate, Ammonium phosphate, Ferrocyanide, added sugar and large amount of sulfates (Sulfites are naturally occurring antioxidant and antibacterial compounds in grapes and are utilized to protect the wine from oxygen until it reaches your glass.) which yields a product that tastes the same, bottle after bottle, year after year. Pesticides, chemical additives, and sweetener also make it possible to maximize yields and hide flaws that may exist in those bottles, like bacteria and other unpleasant elements. Unfortunately, this processed wine chemically-altered wine is completely unnatural, and you can taste it. Some of these additives have been linked to side effects ranging from nausea and respiratory issues to more severe problems that can affect the liver and kidneys. Ever wake up with a bad headache when you have had only one glass? It was probably the additives. (up-to 300 chemical additives imbued in almost all mass-produced wine. Yeah. 300. Crazy, right?) To make matters worse wine labels do not list their ingredients, so we are left with little to no information on what exactly is in our wine.
Now that you know the bad let's get at the good part. Wine contains Resveratrol which is a polyphenic bioflavonoid antioxidant that fights off free radicals that cause health problems such as cancer and can rejuvenate aging cells. It also protects the heart by keeping blood vessels flexible and reduce the risk of unwanted clotting. Resveratrol has been shown to hamper the formation of beta-amyloid protein, a key ingredient in the plaque found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. It also boosts the immune system. The antioxidants are believed to fight infection and protect cells against the effects of free radicals, which may play a role in viruses and disease. Wine can lower your cholesterol due to the high-fiber in certain grapes as well as reducing stress.
What to look for? The best option is to opt for a more natural clean wine. One without all of the added stuff, so you get an altogether better-tasting wine experience for everyone. Be careful because not all organics are alike. Look for companies that are transparent, not mass produced and are low in sulfates.
We love Scout & Cellar for this reason. Because of the slow-crafted, intentional way Scout & Cellar wines are made, they require minimal sulfur additions to remain stable. Most have less than 50ppm, all must have less than 100ppm. As a point of reference, the FDA allows up to 350ppm. Remember that headache?
What does clean-crafted mean? The short answer: wines that are grown naturally—without the use of synthetic pesticides—and bottled consciously—without added sugars or non-organic chemicals to modify texture, flavor, color or aroma. The result is a wine that is natural, delicious and provides an all-around better wine experience —just like nature intended!
And because they are not a mass produced brand you get unique one-of-a-kind (sometimes limited) wines that cannot be purchased at stores. You just contact your consultant for a one-on-one experience to learn about specials and different selections or go online and have it shipped directly to you. You choose how much, what and when. Or let them do all of the work with their easy to join the wine club. You pick the number of bottles you’d like to receive, as well as how often you’d like to receive them (monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly), and they take care of everything else.
Scout & Cellar rely on nature and not chemicals. Discovering the world’s most delicious clean-crafted wine is not just a taste experience it's a lifestyle. Because everyone deserves to live cleaner, healthier, and better.
Click the link on my home page to learn more about Scout & Cellar, order your clean-crafted wine and how to become a consultant!
By Julie Chicos
Executive Consultant, Scout & Cellar
Founder, Live Healthy-Be Beautiful
On this last day of February, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the concept of being “heart healthy” that’s been thrown around for the past 28 days. I do love that we highlight this important way of living, but my hope is that we all continue to live “heart healthy” all year long!
It goes without saying that this one organ is pretty stinkin’ important. Of course, it’s critical to care for the whole body, as all of our organs depend on one another to function effectively, but the heart deserves special attention and love. With small changes like replacing bad habits with healthier alternatives, your heart will thank you by improving your overall well-being! By taking care of this kind-of-a-big-deal organ and adopting a healthier lifestyle, you will reduce the risk of certain diseases, improve your mental health, boost energy, lose weight (if this is your goal), and much, much more.
The other day, I was with an old friend who has recently lost a significant amount of weight. She did it the right way, slow and steady, which for the most part is the key to keeping weight off for good. After telling her how proud of her I am and complimenting how fabulous she looks, I asked: “Don’t you just feel so good?!” Her answer is what has become a major concern of mine recently, because I have heard it many times. She responded “You know, I actually didn’t feel that badly before - but yes, it’s nice to feel better in my clothes, etc.”
This response has had my brain reeling ever since. It reminded me that while many people don’t feel badly or unhealthy being overweight in the present moment, what’s to fear lies in the long term. As we all know, being overweight and living an inactive lifestyle creates the opposite effect of the benefits I mentioned above - among many other detriments. Please remember that we have been given one body to live in and it’s truly our job to take care of it. Our health is our wealth – for real! We are all working hard at our jobs, raising families, and caring for family/friends, and an unhealthy lifestyle only detracts from all this work. While life is totally unpredictable and we will never know what might come our way, by practicing educated and intentional self-care, you give your body it’s best shot!
Coco Chanel said it beautifully:
“Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside”
Happy heart healthy month always and forever!
SOME LIKE IT HOT! This fiery little guy might be mistaken for a skinny bell pepper or jalapeño, but don’t be fooled - cayenne pepper can hold its own! A popular spice used in many different cuisines, cayenne has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne peppers that provides its medicinal properties. Capsaicin is also responsible for how hot these amazing peppers are -- more Capsaicin = more heat!
Capsaicin increases your body’s heat production, leading you to burn more calories and in turn boosts your metabolism. Need I say more? Well, I will, because there is a lot more to share! Some more of Capsaicin’s fabulous benefits:
Increases blood flow stimulation and aids in reducing blood pressure
Inhibits growth for H-pylori (the bacteria that causes ulcers), helps the stomach defend against infections, increases digestive fluid production, and aids in delivering enzymes to the stomach
Helps with arthritis and carpal tunnel
Shows strong possibility of reducing risk of cancer
Cayenne pepper is such an easy spice and veggie to add to many of your favorite foods or recipes. Add to a salad, stirfry, eggs, homemade sweet potato fries, or homemade dressings.
Are you confused when standing before all the different choices of eggs at the grocery store? Which ones are the best to buy? What do all of the labels actually mean? If so, here’s the lowdown:
Cage Free: While yes, these birds aren’t in cages, they might be kept shoulder-to-shoulder in a barn. A cage-free label does not mean the hens ever go outside.
Free Range: Sometimes this means the same as cage-free. Certified Humane Free Range standards says free-range hens have access to two square feet of outdoor space, but do not measure how much time they actually spend outside.
Pasture Raised: This isn’t officially defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), but it usually means that the hens have access to more outdoor space than if they were simply “free range” or “cage free.” The birds are raised largely outdoors and may forage for their food.
Natural: There’s most likely nothing very “natural” about these eggs.
Fresh: Same as natural. The package will continue to say this long after the eggs are fresh.
No Pesticides: Pesticides weren’t used in farming the chicken feed. This does not reflect how the chickens are kept or treated.
No Antibiotics: This is actually one to pay attention to because it is important to human health. This term means that farmers used no antibiotics in the hens’ feed/water during growing periods or while they layed the eggs. In general, an extra dollar is rarely better spent than for antibiotic-free animal products.
If you have a farmer nearby or a friend who raises chickens, this is of course the best source. If you are purchasing from the store, your best bet is to choose organic. Organic eggs are required to come from chickens that are raised cage-free, fed an organic diet grown without pesticides, managed without antibiotics and hormones, and have seasonal access to the outdoors. But please beware, not all organic egg producers agree on the definition of “outdoor access.” If you are curious about if those eggs are truly organic, refer to Mr. Google and check out the company’s reputation and standards.
by Stephanie Lundgren (200-HR RYT)
My name is Stephanie Lundgren and I am a 200-HR Registered Yoga Teacher. I’m so excited to tell you all about the benefits of starting a morning yoga practice and to give you a simple, all-level sequence to start your morning out right!
Why morning yoga?
Wake up your body and mind without caffeine
Open up your joints and activate your muscles for the day ahead
Center and clear your mind
Sustained energy throughout the day
Start your day with a positive outlook and a sense of achievement
1) Cat and Cow
Find some gentle movements in your spine.
Modifications: Place a blanket or pillow under any sensitive joints. If you are dealing with wrist pain, feel free to come to your elbows.
Transitioning between these two poses helps relieve any back pain and stiffness. Starting out with this sequence also allows you to begin to connect with the breath and ground into your body.
Begin by coming to all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists. As you inhale, drop the belly and lift the tailbone, pulling the chest through the upper arms. As you lift your gaze, make sure not to crane your head back.
As you exhale, round the spine, press away from the floor, lift the space between the shoulders toward the ceiling, drop the tailbone and release the head toward the ground.
Repeat this motion with your inhales and exhales for about ten breaths.
2) Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukkah Svanasana)
Wake up the back of your legs and stretch the entire length of your spine with downward facing dog.
Modifications: Bend the knees deeply if there is any pain in the low back. If you are dealing with pain in your shoulders or wrists, coming to a child’s pose (hips over ankles, forehead to the floor with your hands stretched out in front of you) can achieve the same amount of lengthening of the spine.
A common misconception of this pose is that the goal is to straighten your legs and get your heels to the ground. In fact, it’s highly recommended to have a slight bend in the knees to encourage more lengthening of the spine.
From all fours, walk your hands forward about 6 inches. Begin by pressing through the hands and bringing the tailbone back toward your heels, creating a straight line from your hands to your hips. Once you’ve found length here, begin to raise your hips, bringing your heels toward the ground without compromising the length in your low back. Release the back of your neck to bring your ears in line with your upper arms.
Hold this pose for 10 deep breaths.
3) Plank (Kumbhakasana)
Engage your core and bring some energy into your body!
Modifications: This pose can be done from either your hands or elbows and with your knees raised or lowered depending on your needs.
Coming from downward facing dog, stack your shoulders directly over wrists, creating a straight line from shoulders to heels. You may need to adjust your feet further from or closer to your hands. As you press through all points of your hands, lift the space between your shoulder blades to the ceiling. Make sure to keep your tailbone tucked in and your frontal hip bones drawing in toward your bottom ribs. As you press back through your heels, draw forward through your chest and the top of your head. Make sure to keep the head in a neutral position as not to create stress in the neck. At any point you are more than welcome to drop your knees, but be sure to keep drawing your frontal hip bones and lower ribs together to keep your core engaged!
Hold for 1 minute or 10-15 deep breaths.
4) Lunges (Anjaneyasana)
Open up the hip flexors, a tight spot for those who spend a lot of time sitting down.
Modifications: Place a blanket or pillow under your knee if you are feeling any discomfort. This pose can be as intense or easeful as you’d like, depending on how deeply you move into the pose.
Coming from all fours, place your foot in between your hands and bring your torso to upright. Before going straight into the stretch take a moment with your hands on your hips to tuck your tailbone more toward the ground. This will likely already bring the stretch into your hip flexor. Now, begin to press your hips forward adjusting the front foot so that your knee does not go passed your ankle. Switch sides.
*to add an extra stretch here, extend the arm (matching the side of the back leg) up and overhead to stretch the entire side of the body*
Hold each side for 5 deep breaths.
5) Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Reverse blood flow towards your head, release tension in your neck, and bring more length to your hamstrings.
Modifications: bend the knees deeply if there is any pain in your low back. If there is pain in your hamstrings, ease off the intensity of the stretch by bringing your hands to your knees.
Coming to a wide stance (feet about shoulder-width apart) at the top of your mat, slowly roll forward into a forward fold with a deep bend in your knees. Either holding opposite elbows or clasping your hands behind the back of your head, release the muscles in the back of your neck. Maybe find some movement here, swaying side to side or shaking your head yes and no.
Hold for 10 deep breaths.
6) Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Start your day feeling like a warrior!
Modifications: Find a wider stance (left to right) for better balance and for wider hips. If there is pain in the shoulders, bring your hands to your hips instead keeping the rotation of the shoulders.
Step one foot back so that your feet are about as wide as arm span. If comfortable, your front heel should bisect the inside arch of your back foot (if not, take a wider stance as stated above). Drop your back heel back slightly so that your foot is at a 15 to 20 degree angle. Bend into the front knee so your knee is over your ankle (never passed it!). Continue to ground down through the outer edge of the back foot. Draw your back hip forward as you open up the shoulders to the side, stacking shoulders over hips. Extend arms out energetically in opposite directions, in line with your shoulders (otherwise, take the modification stated above). Grow tall through the top of your head. Switch sides.
Hold for 5 deep breaths on either side.
7) Gentle Hip Opener
Open up those hips!
Modifications: If this stretch is too intense, place blankets or pillows under the knees to prop them up. If staying upright is enough of a stretch, please stay here.
There are a few different options here. You can either come to a cross-legged position, to cobbler's pose with the bottoms of your feet coming to touch in front of you, or bring your shins to parallel with one in front of the other. As I mentioned, staying upright may be enough of a stretch, if not, begin to lean forward toward your shins. If there is any pain in your low back or knees, be sure to back off the stretch. Make sure to switch the way your legs are crossed if you’re not doing cobblers pose, bringing the other shin in front, or on top of the other.
If doing cobbler’s pose, hold for 10 breaths. Otherwise, hold for five breaths on each side.
8) Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Open the hamstrings, reverse blood flow and find strength and space in the back.
Modifications: Bring a block below your sacrum (the spot between your lower back and the top of your butt) at whichever height is most comfortable to you.
From your back, plant your feet on the mat just below your sit bones about hip-width apart. place your arms straight by your sides. Pressing your feet and hands into the ground, begin to lift the hips. Lift the chest and draw the chin away from the chest, lengthening the back of your neck. Place a block under the sacrum if there is any discomfort in the low back.
Hold for 10 breaths.
9) Spinal Twists
Find mobility throughout the entire length of your spine.
Modifications: Place a blanket or pillow under your knees to prop them up if the stretch is too intense.
From your back, draw your knees into the chest and drop them to one side. Place your arms in a T position and bring your gaze in the opposite direction of the knees, bringing the twist into your neck as well (only if this is comfortable for you). Keep the shoulders planted on the ground.
Hold for 5 breaths each side.
10) Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Reconnect with your breath and find a sense of grounding before heading out into the day ahead.
Modifications: Place blocks, blankets, or pillows under the knees if this becomes too intense.
Plant your feet on the ground, let your knees splay out too the side bringing the bottoms of your feet to touch. Place one hand on your heart and one on your belly.
Hold for 10 breaths, feeling the chest and belly rise and fall with each breath.
We’d love to hear from you if you try this sequence out!
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real and far more common than most of us realize. The other day a friend verified just how real it is when she stated “SAD, of course it’s real, how could it be possible for anyone NOT to have it when you live in places that get hit hard with cold winters?!” During the months when we are given warmer temps and sunshine, we are able to soak in so much of what nature has to offer, and then, what feels like overnight, it’s cold, it’s dark, and our shoulders are locked in a tense and hunched position when battling what feels like the frozen tundra. Yes, SAD is real, legit, bona fide, it no doubt exists. So, I am a big believer in facing things head on, owning it and taking action to get the most positive results out of any situation.
Below I have some simple steps to face the winter blues head on. But also know that there is never any shame in reaching out for help. When we keep things bottled up inside, most times the negative thoughts become more overwhelming and scarier than ever! Reach out to family, friends or professionals for support. Sending lots of love and positive moods your way ❤️
This may be the last thing you want to do, but a little fresh air and sunshine always seems to do the trick. Bundle up and go take your dog for a walk, meet up with a friend or take a mindful walk by yourself. It’s so crucial to get every ounce of vitamin D that you can with these shortened days! For those of you who are avid skiers, snowshoers, or any outdoor winter activity; the fresh air and social aspects of these sports are a huge bonus to warding off SAD.
Warm yourself up from the inside out! Get your blood-flowing, create a more clear mindset, and raise your heart rate and mood. Try a workout class with a friend, some hot yoga, or get some fresh air with a run outside! Choose a way to move your body that brings you joy and leaves you feeling stronger and more energized.
Make plans with friends to meet for coffee, go for a walk (and hit the first three points all at once!), or even just talk over the phone. Having someone to talk to and/or hold you accountable makes getting through these frigid days and getting done the items on your to-do-list far easier. Also, having something to look forward to might just keep you going throughout the week.
4. Eat Well
Eating colorful, whole foods with lots of vitamins and minerals will not only lift your mood by providing the nutrients your brain and body need to function well, but also by adding a little color to your day. There’s something about a meal filled with all the colors of the rainbow that instantly makes me feel better. Make sure to include foods rich in selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, the amino acid tryptophan, vitamin B-12 and D, and complex carbohydrates. Some of these foods include: lean protein, flax seeds, eggs, nutritional yeast, almonds, walnuts, leafy greens, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, oranges, fortified cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, and soybeans and many more!
(Keep an eye out for a blog on the benefits of eating all the colors of the rainbow coming soon!)
5. Take your supplements
You may have heard that you should take a vitamin D supplement especially during the winter when there is less daylight. But something you may not have heard is that you should be taking this along with a vitamin K supplement. Vitamin D cannot be readily absorbed into the bloodstream without vitamin K. My favorite way to get these nutrients is in this super convenient (flavorless) dropper. Just four to five drops a day and you get all the vitamin D and K you need at the perfect ratio.
Vitamin B (and more specifically, vitamin B-12) is another important supplement that aids brain function. Having a high quality multivitamin that contains vitamin B-12 or a Vitamin B Complex supplement are the best ways to get the amount that you need. As I mentioned before, there are some foods that contain vitamin B-12, but most people are still deficient because they contain relatively low amounts.
6. Stick to a schedule
Going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day is another way to fight symptoms of seasonal depression. Creating a consistent schedule and getting 6-8 hours of sleep every day will allow your body to get used to a pattern it can rely on. Sleeping too much or too little and at unusual times can lead to lethargy and lack of motivation. When it’s dark by 4:30, it’s easy to just go right home, get into comfy clothes, and not want to do anything for the rest of the day. If you do this, you may notice that you’re more tired a lot earlier in the day. This is likely because you’re sending messages to your body that it’s time to start winding down for bed. I suggest creating an evening routine for when you do want to start sending those messages and not starting this until about an hour before going to sleep. Turn off electronic devices, turn down the lights, light some candles, read a book, do something that tells your body it’s time to go to bed.
7. Seek professional help
If you feel that what you are dealing with is something you can not tackle on your own, there is never any shame in reaching out for professional help. Having a friend or family member who you feel comfortable talking to is so great, but sometimes speaking with a doctor or therapist might give you more constructive and concrete ways to approach things.
If you are struggling with SAD, just know you have company. Let’s take these winter blues head on and work through the tough times together. Last year, I heard a talk by a well-known psychologist and he said something that has continued to stick. He said, “One of the best things you can say to someone going through a tough time is ‘I know how it feels to be down’ or ‘I know how it feels to….’ whatever it is, whatever any one is going through, we have all had our struggles in life and one way or another and it always helps to know you are not alone.
The best way to support your immune system is to maintain a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. This includes exercise, the right amount of sleep, and of course, all the healthy foods! While eating whole, nutrient rich foods can improve your overall health and therefore, your immune system, there are a few foods in particular that are most important to consume during cold and flu season. These are foods rich in:
Vitamin C - tomatoes, citrus fruit, peppers, broccoli, horseradish, thyme, parsley, kale, kiwi, brussels sprouts, strawberries
Vitamin E - sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, avocado, and sweet red peppers
Vitamin A - carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots, sweet potatoes, and dark, leafy greens
Selenium - brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pinto beans, oats, navy beans, spinach, onion, and garlic
Zinc - cashews, chickpeas, oats, almonds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, kidney beans, and cacao powder
B Vitamins (particularly B6) - eggs, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, green peas, and banana
Magnesium - cacao powder, bananas, almonds, spinach, avocado, ginger, legumes, and seeds
and Probiotics - yogurt and fermented foods
If you’re wondering what’s the easiest way to consume all of these on a daily basis then look no further!
Fire cider is a immunity-boosting health tonic that has been used for decades to prevent sickness during the fall and winter months. It’s super easy to make and a great way to consume the nutrients that are vital for a healthy immune system all at once.
All it takes is chopping or grating all your ingredients, adding apple cider vinegar, and letting it sit anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks! Just strain and enjoy in a variety of ways. The most common way is to take it as a shot in the morning, but it’s also used in stir fries, salad dressings, and as a tea! I’m currently trying out my first batch of this and I’m so excited for the results! Here is the recipe I followed:
It’s important to use organic ingredients as you don’t want your health tonic to be fermenting in pesticides and chemicals!
Start as soon as possible so you have this in time for flu season!
1/2 cup freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish root
1 medium onion, chopped
10 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced
2 tbs dried rosemary leaves
1 tbs turmeric powder or 2 tablespoons freshly grated turmeric root
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup raw, local honey or to taste
combine all ingredients (except for the honey) in a quart-sized glass jar, pouring the apple cider vinegar until all the ingredients are fully covered and the jar is full.
If using a metal lid, cover first with a piece of parchment paper to prevent rusting and then screw the cap on.
Shake the jar and place in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks. Shake for just a few seconds every day or as often as possible.
After the full time has passed, use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain out the ingredients. Pour the tonic into a clean jar.
Add honey and stir.
Store in the refrigerator or in a cool dark place
As the seasons change, so should the foods we eat! Here are the top five reasons you should start eating seasonally and some tips for making this amazing change today!
1. Eat Better, Fresher, and More Nutrient Rich Foods!
Every food has it’s peak season when it not only taste the best, but it’s most nutritious too! Produce that is in-season and locally grown has the highest nutritional value because it doesn’t need to be picked long before it’s nutritional peak in order to make the thousand mile-trek across the country and be ripe upon arrival. This gives it more time to develop flavor and the maximum amount of nutrients it can offer!
2. It’s Better for the Environment
Speaking of that thousand-mile trek...eating seasonally and locally greatly reduces the impact that our purchases have on the environment as well. Choosing foods that can be sourced locally means less transportation and less greenhouse gasses!
3. Save Money
In-season produce is healthier for your wallet too! Because there’s less transportation and time between when they’re picked and when they’re sold, farmers can often offer a cheaper price for their produce.
4. Support Local, More Sustainable Farmers
I think this goes without saying that by buying in-season, local foods we support our local farmers. This boosts the local economy and creates a greater sense of community! Being able to interact with the people who produce our food not only allows us to ask questions about their sustainable practices and pesticide use, but it also adds so much more value to the food we provide ourselves and our families.
5. A Stronger Connection with Your Food
One of my favorite things about eating seasonally is getting creative with the foods I prepare. Trying new alternatives to classic dishes like a beetroot hummus or a warm brussel sprout salad gives me something to look forward to as the seasons change. Nurturing a greater understanding of where our food comes from lends to a stronger connection with the foods we eat.
Tips for Eating Seasonally
The first step to eating seasonally is to research which foods are in season in your area. Seasonalfoodguide.org is a great resource!
Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a great, immersive way to get the freshest, in-season produce possible
Find a farmers market near you and make it a fun weekend excursion with the ones you love!
If you’re looking for local produce with the convenience of a grocery store, use this tool to find a food co-op near you.
Finding a balance should always be the goal. While it’s highly beneficial to eat seasonally, skipping out on foods solely because they are not in season could create a deficit in our diets. After all, those of us living in New England in the middle of winter couldn’t survive off mushrooms alone! So, make some swaps for in-season fruits and veggies when possible, but don’t go skipping out on your greens just because they’re not in season!
What are your favorite fall recipes or traditions? Comment below!
It’s time to give your spice rack a little love. Below I have listed some spices that boost overall health and wellness and will get you excited about flavoring your food while enhancing your overall body and brain function.
Cumin: Give you brain an extra boost - Lab studies indicate that cumin’s anti-inflammatory properties can improve memory as well as lower stress. Add a little to your delicious homemade hummus or sprinkle it over pumpkin seeds before roasting.
Ginger: Ease Muscle Pain AND Improve Digestion - Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce muscle pain. After an intense workout, add fresh ginger to your smoothie or vegetable sauté. Ginger has also long been touted as an excellent remedy for nausea.
Cinnamon: Support Strong Bones - You’ve probably heard that a dash of cinnamon can help balance blood sugar (this is true), but did you know that cinnamon also supports strong bones? The manganese found in cinnamon helps bones stay healthy and strong, so try sprinkling some in your smoothie, lemon water or morning fruit bowl to support a sturdy frame.
Cajun: Slim Down - The capsaicin found in red peppers and chilies helps boot your metabolism, encouraging the body to burn fat. Studies have also shown that people who add heat to their food have a tendency to eat less, helping maintain a healthy body weight. Experiment and add to veggies, soups and all meats.
Turmeric: Improve Mental and Physical Health - Turmeric helps alleviate arthritis and lower cholesterol. Its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties also improves mental health as well as lowers the risk of certain cancers. Plus, it’s delicious added to almost anything. Sprinkle in eggs, smoothies, soups, veggies, grains and meat. Delicious!
Parsley: Improve Skin Tone - Parsley is a wonderful source of Vitamin K, which reduces inflammation in body, boosts the immune system and helps protect the body from cancer. In addition, parsley also contains high concentrations of vitamin C, which helps reduce scars and blemishes, plus it stimulates the production of collagen, helping your skin look younger and fresher. Add fresh parsley to smoothies, veggie sautes, omelets, or even make your own parsley tea.
Sage: Preserve memory and soothe a sore throat - If your stomach is feeling upset or your throat is sore, brewing some sage tea or investing in an herbal sage spray can bring immediate relief. Research also suggests the herb may improve some symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease by preventing a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in memory and learning. Add sage to soups, sauces and roasted sweet potatoes for a delicious, healthy treat.
I thought it would be important to address something we all take for granted—water. Not only is water essential for life and keeping the body healthy, drinking water is proven to assist in weight loss, improve skin, reduce bloating, boost your metabolism, aids digestion, and much more. Most importantly, water is the body’s cleansing fluid. But it doesn’t stop there; water carries nutrients and oxygen, and protects your joints and organs. Conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!
Dehydration is the root of many serious diseases and sadly, many people walk around each day dehydrated—without knowing it! Feeling fatigued? You are most likely dehydrated. Your blood is made up of 90% water. As your body becomes dehydrated, blood is the first place your body goes to for water. So, when your body takes water from your blood, your blood volume decreases and so does your energy! Conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!
How does water help you lose weight? If you’re looking for a magic bullet to get your weight loss underway, there is no better strategy than to drink at least half your body weight in water-ounces everyday. Here’s why: Water is a natural appetite suppressor, and it helps the body metabolize fat. When the kidneys are not getting enough water and can’t function properly, the liver is called upon and takes on the role of eliminating toxins from our systems. Normally, one of the liver’s big jobs is to metabolize stored fat into a usable form of energy. But when the liver is busy doing the kidney’s job, it is unavailable to metabolize stored fat. As more and more fat is stored in the body, there is zero chance for weight loss. Conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!
As you are losing weight, your body will have more toxins and waste to get rid of. Increase your water intake at this point, and your body will eliminate wastes more efficiently by aiding digestion and boosting your metabolism, thereby helping you lose weight. In addition, removing the toxins from your body will also improve your skin’s health and allow for your skin to “glow!”
The truth is, many people just forget to drink water throughout the day. A tip that always give people is to carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, and try to fill it up at least 3-4 times a day. Add an organic lemon, lime or a spring of mint as a natural way to spruce your water up.
And finally… conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!
A life full of health & wellness does not entail just fitness, or just nutrition, or just a healthy mindset, it is a combination of all things which aim to better yourself, your health, and your life. With this, comes the challenge of developing a healthy mindset in all areas: food, fitness, and feelings. Fortunately, fashion plays a huge role in how women feel each day by contributing to our confidence, and therefore, success-- even if that success just means fitting in a workout, grocery store trip, and lunch with the girls into your jam-packed schedule!
There is not one woman out there that wouldn’t ask for an additional 3+ hours each day. However, this is, unfortunately, an impossible reality. But, an athleisure-wear company, better known as Peach, makes actual reality a little easier, and more fashionable. Peach harnesses the very thing every woman today is looking for: comfort, style, and confidence! By designing clothes which woman can put on in the morning and wear, comfortably and confidently, for the rest of the day, the company strives to elevate women’s every day-- yes, you CAN go from barre class to the bar and still wear a rocking outfit that fits the scene for both activities. Born in Boston, MA, Peach encompasses female entrepreneurship and focuses on improving women’s every day by understanding the reality that the majority of women don’t have time to worry about whether their outfit fits the scene.
As a wellness coach, I discovered Peach and quickly realized that confidence linked to fashion is a missing puzzle piece in many women’s lives. As I mentioned before, in order to create a life full of health & wellness, you must also focus on the health and wellness of your mind, specifically your confidence. One of my favorite sayings is: “if you are confident, you are beautiful.” Fortunately, the clothing line designed by Peach allows women to rock both their outfit and confidence, all-day, every day. Check out this awesome athleisure wear line https://www.discoverpeach.com/s/kikiw and get your Peach on! If you are looking for guidance in creating healthy habits that will allow you to feel and be your healthiest, get in touch with me at http://www.kikiwalkerwellness.com/. I work and live in Boston, but work virtually all over the country!
There are a couple of products in this world that sit at the top of the totem pole for me and Apple Cider Vinegar is definitely one of them. Remember how the father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding” used Windex as the cure all – well my Windex is Apple Cider Vinegar. As far as I am concerned, there is not much it can’t do! It is the perfect go to product for almost any need, whether it be for your skin and/or hair, pet, aiding in digestion, or for keeping the house spic & span, ACV can do it all.
Why you ask is ACV so fantastic? First and foremost, it is a completely natural product. The process of making apple cider vinegar goes like this: apple juice (from apples of course!) is fermented to hard apple cider, which is fermented a second time to apple cider vinegar. Now you may be saying, ‘I have heard fermented foods are good for me, but I’m not sure why?’ A fermented food is a food that has had its carbohydrates and sugars turned into alcohol or beneficial acids. Fermented foods, just like living foods, have living enzymes that your body needs for proper digestion, which ensures that your body makes full use of the food you consume.
Below are the many ways that ACV can be added to your everyday!
Use ACV as a rinse in your hair after shampooing to add healthy body and shine! Mix a tablespoon or two in a glass of water and pour over your head at the end of your shower or bath. Make sure to rinse out well!
ACV can assist in regulating the pH in your skin. It is important that we balance the pH in our skin because the pores of our skin are made up of a combination of oil and sweat glands which help to keep your skin healthy and elastic. Making sure the skin’s pH is in a healthy range will ensure even greater health for your skin.
Dilute 1 tbsp of ACV with a glass of water and use as a toner on your skin after washing your face at night. Also, apply in the morning before putting your daily moisturizer on and try dabbing a little on any darks spots and let soak in overnight!
DIABETES AND WEIGHT LOSS:
ACV lowers glucose levels, which can be helpful for someone that has diabetes. It is also known to help you feel fuller longer so it can aid in weight loss.
Even though ACV tastes acidic, it actually promotes alkalinity in your body. When bodies are in an alkaline state, we are able to fight off major diseases more effectively. Studies have actually shown that cancer cannot live in an alkaline body.
Most household cleaning products are full of unwanted chemicals. Therefore, even if you do not realize it, you will end up ingesting the chemicals. For example, if it is on your countertop, your food is then exposed to the chemicals and subsequently ingested by you and your family. To prevent this, create your own cleaning spray! It’s as simple as this:
Pour ½ ACV and ½ water in a spray bottle and clean away! Your house will sparkle, smell fresh, and be chemical free!
SINUS AND ALLERGIES:
First of all, ACV does wonder for your immune system. Since it is rich in natural minerals, vitamins, and enzymes, apple cider vinegar is a detox-wonder. The unique acids in apple cider vinegar can bind to toxins and help the body eliminate them more effectively as well as aid in stimulating circulation and help detoxification in the liver. In addition, it also breaks up mucus throughout the body and cleanses the lymph nodes to allow for better lymph circulation. A healthy lymphatic system results in the removal of toxins from the cells in your body, while improving your immune system.
So, when you are feeling under the weather or allergies have gotten the best sinuses, dilute 2 tablespoons of ACV in a glass of water or hot tea, and enjoy!
Of course, it is best to avoid too much sun exposure and a sunburn, but when it happens, dilute some ACV in water and pat the solution on your sunburn, or pour a cup into a cool bath!
Believe it or not, I have other uses for Apple Cider Vinegar, but I think these will keep you busy for a bit! Have a happy & healthy day!
Happy National Nutrition month! You might not know it, but March officially holds the title of National Nutrition Month. Who knew such a month even existed? In 1973, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics started National Nutrition week, and due to high levels of interest, National Nutrition month was inaugurated in 1980. Although in my eyes, every month, every day, and every hour is the right time to recognize the importance of good nutrition.
A great place to start with improving your diet is to understand how to read food labels. Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, meaning those with the largest amounts are listed first. This information is particularly helpful to individuals with food sensitivities, those who wish to avoid pork or shellfish, those who are looking to limit added sugars, or anyone who is vegetarian or vegan.
In a perfect world, we would not eat packaged goods at all, only foods that are grown from the earth or have a mother, but I know I have to be realistic. I truly believe one of the biggest factors contributing to the health crisis in the United States is that consumers are unaware of what they are consuming. In my opinion, the Food and Drug Administration is not held to a high enough standard.
And why is the government agency tasked with keeping our food industry safe the same agency responsible for regulating drugs? Furthermore, the food industry spends billions of dollars on packaging, covering products with messages designed to sell products to the target market without telling the whole story.
Remember, any ingredient we consume that our bodies don’t recognize as real food will NOT be used as fuel. Junk food invites serious negative changes to our metabolism, and when eating a diet full of processed foods, muscles will lose the ability to oxidize glucose after a meal. This in turn can lead to insulin resistance down the road. Next time you pick up a packaged product immediately look at the label.
Ask yourself, can I pronounce all the ingredients? Does this contain several ingredients that are derived from corn or soy? How many different kinds of vegetable oils does this contain? (most are made from corn/soy). Sugar, corn and soy derivatives are all major contributors to the growing obesity/health epidemic in the United States.
Aim to eat low amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and try to eat foods containing higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber.Celebrate this month by working to break unhealthy habits and creating healthy ones! We have been given only one body to live in; it is our responsibility to take good care of it. There is no better time than now to start living healthy! As always, check out the rest of my website for some more tips on what to look for when shopping and healthy recipes to get you started.
Remember. When your body is hungry, it wants nutrients, not calories. LESS IS BEST!
“The Doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition”- Thomas Edison.
Recently I have been traveling a bit more than normal. One too many connecting flights, which equals one too many airports. Although I typically come prepared with enough healthy snacks to feed the entire airplane TRULY, I have paid close attention to the lack of healthy choices at the airport and what is offered on the plane. One would think the cost of our airline tickets should include a three-course gourmet meal, but as we all know, this is not the case.
Today I wanted to share some thoughts on how to continue to eat clean and stay true to your fit self while traveling. Just as you plan your meals for the week at home, you should plan as much as possible for your travels.
Make sure you pack healthy snacks in your bag for the airplane or car. If you are traveling with children, have them carry their own healthy snacks so they can dig in when seated and buckled in! Also, taking the time to look ahead to where you are traveling to find out the healthiest options to eat out.
Checking out menus ahead of time is a great way to ensure you will have good options at your destination. Also, do not hold back on making suggestions to those you are traveling with! This actually is the perfect opportunity to share your passion for healthy living!
Lastly, just because you are away from your gym, it’s not an excuse to not exercise. You can access awesome workout videos on your phone or computer (if not, be sure to print a couple out before you travel) and/or bring gym equipment that is easy to pack in a suitcase!
Clean & Healthy Food
Purchase a soft cooler & an ice pack — bring in the car or on an airplane, this is the perfect way to eat clean -- refreeze the ice pack when you reach your destination for the trip home!!
Sweet Potato - bake the night before
Chopped veggies w/ hummus
Sliced Turkey or baked/grilled chicken breast in a zip lock
Brown rice cakes or crackers with hummus & sliced cucumbers & or a nut butter
Fruit; apples, clementine’s, grapes (fruit that won’t get mushy)
Trail mix – keep in mind portion control!
Quick & Easy Fitness
Interval workouts are your best bet!
Remember, if you don’t have any equipment, no excuse! Use your own body strength & weight to get a good sweat going.
Equipment that travels
resistance tubing and ankle bands
gliders (found at Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart)
Most likely you have been given the advice to ‘find balance in your life,’ or to ‘decrease stress in your every day.’ Many of us hear this advice and think “Yeah right, try living a day in my shoes and explain to me how in the world I can remove some of this stress?” Well, one way to begin this de-stressing journey starts with confirming that you have a sufficient amount of magnesium in your body.
In order for our bodies to function properly, we require 6 essential minerals; magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium. Today we are focusing on magnesium, the one I refer to as the ‘calming mineral.’ Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults
If you have low levels of magnesium it can cause irritability, headaches, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeats, muscle spasms or twitches, constipation, and insomnia. Not only does magnesium help to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, but it also helps to keep your heart rhythm steady and support a healthy immune system. This essential mineral has a calming effect on your entire nervous system.
There are many ways to increase your intake of magnesium. My favorite and one that forces you to spoil yourself a bit is to enjoy a warm (not hot) Epson salt bath. These amazing salts have been around for hundreds of years, and are actually not even a salt, but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium. Indulging in an Epson salt bath not only calms you but will also help to ease all sorts of muscle aches and pains. Also, be sure to include foods high in Magnesium into your everyday diet: spinach, Swiss chard, black beans, almonds, cashews, potatoes, pumpkin seeds, avocado, bananas, broccoli and brussels sprouts.
Although magnesium may not be the most abundant mineral present in our bodies, it certainly is an important one! There are also some great options for magnesium supplements out there. Just make sure you are getting a good quality supplement that your body will absorb effectively!
Turkey Bacon Brussels Sprouts Recipe
· ½ pound sliced turkey bacon
· ¼ cup coconut oil
· 2/3 cup pine nuts
· 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cored and shredded
· 1 onion, chopped
· 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
· Sea salt and pepper to taste
1. Bake bacon in the oven until crispy. Drain, crumble and set aside.
2. In a skillet, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until browned. Add Brussels sprouts, garlic and onions. Add the seasoning and cook until sprouts are tender (10-15 minutes).
3. Stir in bacon just before serving.
With the holidays approaching, allow magnesium to be your best friend! For many of us, the joy of the holiday can get lost with endless commitments, managing family dynamics and gift buying! You will find yourself calmer, less stressed and you might possibly be able to enjoy the holidays this year!
How appropriate that February, the same month we celebrate Valentines Day, is heart health month?
Love is connected with the heart, but unfortunately for our heart (and our waistline), we also associate Valentines Day with sweets! When most of us think of our sweetheart on Valentines Day, the gift of chocolate comes to mind, even though in our heart of hearts, we know that these treats are not good for the heart!
Maybe this Valentines Day, consider a gift that supports a healthy heart – D id you know that bitter foods are actually good for the heart, especially for someone who suffers from any type of heart disease? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods with a bitter flavor are connected with supporting healthy heart function, and bitter foods and herbs assist in cooling and draining excess heat from the body.
Some bitter foods that are heart healthy include:
Most likely you know what to do with the first four of the above mentioned foods, but you may be saying to yourself, “Dandelion? How in the world do I consume a weed that drives me nuts in the summer?”
We are actually talking about Dandelion greens. These greens can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed or braised. The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A & C.
Also, there are tricks to making these bitter greens a little more tasty. For example, massage your Kale (who said we are not being romantic here?) with olive oil, garlic and salt. Be sure to remove the stems first. This is great when adding kale to a salad or when making kale chips.
I understand that these greens do not sound as romantic as chocolate, but if you truly care about your loved one, choose their gift wisely and help take care of their heart!
You may also try replacing sweets with:
· A reason to laugh
· Just some good ol’ fashion love
Obviously, this does not mean that you and your sweetheart will never enjoy another piece of chocolate together, but this year, try giving a big green salad filled with bitter greens and a big hug!
(And fine – if you simply cannot resist a nibble of chocolate, make it dark chocolate as it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet and can help to improve your overall health and lower the risk of heart disease — but don’t forget, moderation is key!)
Always remember, the most genuine and least expensive gift you can give is a big hug — this connects you mentally and physically, but the best part is during that moment you are truly heart to heart!
Happy heart healthy month!