Winter is Still Here….

Winter is Still Here….

There are still 39 days, 6 hours and 17 minutes left until Spring 2017 is officially here. So, that means we still have a lot of time to deal with winter in many parts of the country.

I’m very fortunate to be living in Texas where it is 86 degrees and sunny so I already feel like spring has arrived. But, that can change at the drop of a hat around here and I know that in places like Chicago, Minneapolis and in many other cities, it is cold, blustery and the rhythms of winter are still if full force.

How do you stay balanced through the remainder of winter? What can you do to make the most of the season, protect your health keep from getting the winter blues for the next 39 days? There are some great Ayurvedic techniques you can adopt that will help you throughout the winter season and help you to flourish and not just cope with the days ahead.

Ayurveda blossomed thousands of years ago when the world was much different than it is today. People functioned more closely in tune with nature and their surroundings and slept and were awakened by their circadian rhythms and not by terrifying alarm clocks signaling the time to get up for work!

Ayurveda is based on the notion that there are three main doshas, vata (the energy of movement), pitta (the energy of digestion or metabolism and kappa (the energy of structure and lubricatio). The practice also says that every human body is in tune with one of these dosha and they correlate to the seasons with vata being winter, pitta being summer and kapha being spring.

That being the case, winter is the cycle of vata and by standing in harmony with the natural cycle of winter, you can help to build your health, energy and the ability to fight off cold and disease during the winter. How can you do that? By adjusting what you eat, the type of exercise you are doing or any type of herbs or supplements you may take can affect the way you feel during the winter months.

Here are some hints to make the remaining part of winter a bit easier to handle!
* Wake up a little bit later than in other seasons (extend your sleep by 30-60 minutes if possible)
* Have a warm cup of water with lemon first thing in the morning to get your digestive system moving
* Treat yourself to an extra long shower and towel scrub before work
* Add in some yoga or meditation before getting the day started to open the chest, throat and sinuses
* Eat a nutritious breakfast of oatmeal or grains like quinoa and add cinnamon for heating but sweet spice
* Drink tea instead of coffee and add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of clove to increase digestion
* Exercise regularly to increase blood flow and circulation when we naturally tend to be more sedate in the winter
* Get some sun! If you don’t want to walk out in the cold, sit by a nice window and soak up some rays. The vitamin D helps with mood
* Eat foods that are warming and nourishing like homemade soups, steamed veggies and add spices to them.
* Avoid dairy as it increases mucus and congestion which can already be a bother in winter when we are closed indoors
* Enjoy a glass or two of sweet or dry wine with dinner to help with digestive fire, improve appetite and circulation
* Get plenty of vitamin C, add ginger to tea if you feel a cold coming on. You can also add to a warm bath along with baking soda
* Use natural saline solution in your nose to keep your nasal passages moist and clear during the dry winter months
* Bundle up! You really do lose more than half your body heat through your head so wear a hat and keep warm.

The other thing I love to do is get out a calendar or print one out from your computer. Keep count of the days leading up to Spring’s arrival and plot out all the things you would like to get done prior to then. We all know that “Spring Cleaning” is on everyone’s list so begin with yourself and write down all the things you would like to “clean out” before

Berry Chia Seed Pudding

If you are anything like me, I was a little hesitant to try chia seeds a few years ago as all I knew of “chia” anything was the commercial for the Chia Pet I saw on late night infomercials. Well, chia seeds have come along way and these teeny seeds are huge in the area of nutrition as they are full of super nutrients like potassium, fiber, magnesium, protein, calcium, manganese, phosphorus and Omega-3 fatty acids!

Chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanic plant which is native to South America and is related to the mint plant. Chia means strength in the Mayan culture and that is so true of this little seed based on its health benefits.

An extra bonus is that chia seeds are considered to be a whole grain and are typically grown organically, they are gluten free and usually non-GMO.

What can you do with chia seeds? Well, I started to sprinkle them on my salads and to incorporate them into my homemade gluten-free breads. They are also great in muffins and you can either add them to other seeds like poppy or sunflower seeds or use the as a substitute. They are great to add to smoothies in the morning as they help to thicken your smoothies and shakes and they are great for making pudding. I love pudding and since I began making my own dairy-free/gluten-free pudding, this one is really easy to make and very versatile. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com you can add just about anything to the recipe that you like to give it really flavor and interest. I adapted this recipe to be dairy-free but the original recipe came from sjeffery8045:

Berry Chia Seed Pudding

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Silk Coconut Milk)
1 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt (I used Blueberry Coconut Yogurt)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup fresh blueberries (can use any fruit you like)
1/4 cup toasted and chopped almonds

Whisk milk, yogurt, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, vanilla, and salt together in a bowl until blended; add the chia seeds, whisk to incorporate and then let the mixture set for 30 minutes.

Stir the chia seed mixture to redistribute seeds that have settled throughout the mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight. Top with fruit and nuts/seeds of your choice and you can even drizzle with more honey or syrup but I feel it is sweet enough already for most. ENJOY!

Principles of Clean Eating

This morning I had the opportunity to speak to a local Women’s Club about Clean Eating and why it is important for overall health and wellness.

You have probably heard the term Clean Eating as it has become somewhat of a new trend among celebrities and others, much like going gluten free did a few years ago. Clean eating is really a very simple concept and an easy one to follow as you do not have to count calories or order special packaged foods, in fact, all of that is discouraged when you eat clean!

Clean Eating really means that you “crowd out” all processed foods by adding in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and healthy fats. Sounds pretty easy, right? The reason that there is such a focus on clean eating is that many processed foods are pre-packaged for convenience so that they have a long shelf life and can be prepared quickly. Often times, they contain large amounts of hidden sodium, sugar, artificial ingredients and low food values which are always bad news.

Healthy statistics support the need for better nutrition and eating habits when you see the statistics and risks of having a poor diet:

* 160 million Americans are overweight or obese
* More than 1/3 of kids and teens are considered overweight or obese
* Over 29.1 million Americans have diabetes (8.1 million of those folks have not yet been diagnosed)
* More than 86 million Americans (over the age of 20) are pre-diabetic
* The 7th leading cause of death in this country is diabetes
* By 2050, if the trend in the US continues, the number of people with diabetes will double or triple!

So, it is crucial that everyone makes the effort to focus on better eating habits and better nutrition. Clean Eating can help to reduce risk and to prolong your life. Here is what else Clean Eating can do:

* Increase your energy level by providing lots of nutrients and vitamins
* Leads to weight loss
* Improves mental health
* Helps you to sleep better
* Puts you in a better mood/mental state
* Leads to a longer life (for more on this, read Blue Zones by Dan Buttoner)

What are the Principles of Clean Eating?

* Buy whole, fresh foods – those that occur in nature and not in a manufacturing plant
* Cook for yourself – you will have better nutritional value from your food and you control whats in it
* Eliminate refined carbs and sugar
* Eat smaller meals more often to stabilize your blood sugar
* Aim for lean proteins, good fats and complex carbs at each meal

Additionally, here are some other helpful tips you can follow:

* Shop the perimeter of the grocery store for the best whole food options
* Sit down to eat – turn off the television, cell phone and focus on your meal and family
* Drink more water
* Eliminate gluten and dairy
* If you cannot pronounce it, don’t eat it!
* Focus on eating the RIGHT foods for your body and not calories

In keeping with the theme of Clean Eating, I took with me to my presentation a delicious batch of
Gluten Free, Dairy Free Berry & Oats Breakfast Cookies. I found this recipe a while ago but am not sure where. Here is the recipe:

3/4 cup gluten free one-to-one flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup soy margarine (I use Earth Balance) softened
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups gluten free oats
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries (can also use dried blueberries or other dried fruit)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the first 5 ingredients together to blend. Add in oil, margarine, eggs, honey and vanilla and then mix by hand or with a standing mixer for about 1 minute. Add in the oats, about 1/2 cup at a time and mix well. Fold in the nuts and berries until well incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then place a 2 tbsp ball of dough onto the sheet pan and space them evenly (they don’t spread much). Bake for 12-14 minutes. ENJOY!

For more information on Clean Eating, feel free to contact me at heidismith@integrativewellnessstudio.net

Is Your Injury Really an Injury? Guest Post – Matthew Evan Brackney, DC, ATC – Sports Injury Specialist

dr-matthew

Today I have a guest post from my friend and colleague, Matthew Evan Brackney, DC, ATC of Spine & Sports Injury Therapy in Kingwood, TX. Dr. Matthew and I had an opportunity to work together this year and collaborate on the importance of good nutrition to help patience prevent and recover from injury.

Proper nutrition fuels the body and makes the body able to work properly and also to recover properly when it becomes injured. Dr. Matthew said that it is important for his clients to understand the relationship between proper nutrition and chiropractic care and he submitted this information for my followers to read today.

Injuries seem like they would be a simple medical scenario. Someone steps off a curb wrong and sprains their ankle. Or, someone starts getting back into running and has developed hip pain. But, often the pain could just be a symptom of an underlying cause. It seems reasonable that hip pain after running is simply a tendinosus or overuse injury, but what if the tissue has been unable to adapt to a normal amount of increased stress (running) and has subsequently lead to micro-damage (essential what tendinosus is) instead of tissue adaptation and growth (getting stronger)?

Sometimes people’s injuries are not actually the problem, they are just the result of some underlying dysfunction. In essence, their injury isn’t an injury. For years our medical paradigm has “siloed” the human body and its physiology. You have cardiologists, neurologists, pulmonologists, orthopedics, endocrinology, otolaryngology and many others who specialize in one particular element of human anatomy, physiology, and medicine. The truth is, these body systems cannot be disentangled. They are extremely integrated. This point is not difficult to get across. Did you know that our intestines has an aggregation of tissue that creates/matures white blood cells, that is essentially a factory for our immune system in our intestines. In addition, did you know that our Kidneys and our Lungs team up to make sure that blood pressure is at a healthy balance?

In the same way, our muscles and joints require certain hormones, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, all to be working correctly so that our musculoskeletal system can function the way it was designed. Adrenaline (or epinephrine) is released by our adrenal glands (they sit on top of our kidneys) to help convert stored glycogen into usable glucose for muscle fuel while we are exercising. This process is very important for us during exercise to be able to access the fuel that we have stored up.

Simply put, an engine, no matter how nice and new, will still need the right type and amount of oil and gasoline to function. So when evaluating injuries, especially “chronic overuse” type injuries, one cannot ignore the possible connection with the biochemical makeup of the patient.

Did you also know that low vitamin D status has been associated with chronic low back pain. Or an inappropriate Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio can leave people prone to excessive inflammation. In addition, inappropriately low levels of B12 can lead to peripheral neuropathy (numbness/tingling in feet and hands). Low Co-Q10 levels can lead to whole body muscle fatigue and muscle achiness! The list unfortunately goes on. You can see how common those symptoms/conditions are and how essential it is for a doctor to be savvy enough to consider them when evaluating patients.

The doctors of the future will become increasingly good at blending and understanding the complex integration of our bodies physiology, biochemistry, and biomechanics. Integrative methods are needed for integrated dysfunction.

Thank you, Dr. Matthew, for your perspective and for being an advocate for proper nutrition and the correlation between chiropractic care and integrative health coaching. Keep doing what you do! You can reach Dr. Matthew at the Spine & Sports Therapy location in Kingwood, TX and at www.fixmysportsinjury.com

World Diabetes Day

world-diabetes-day-logo

Started by the International Diabetes Foundation back in 1991, World Diabetes Day was created in response to the growing concern about diabetes and about the health threats posed by the disease. Coincidentally, today is also the birthday of Frederick Banting who discovered insulin back in 1921.

Did you know that 29.1 million Americans (9.3% of the population) had diabetes in 2012 and those numbers continue to grow. Of those, approximately 1.25 million had Type 1 diabetes. One in two adults with diabetes are undiagnosed. It is of vital importance to screen for diabetes if you have any of the risk factors and screening is at the forefront of the World Diabetes Day campaign to ensure early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and to help reduce the serious complications that can arise from this disease.

So what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? For those with Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, which eventually eliminates the production of insulin from the body completely. When a person does not have insult, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose) which they need to produce energy. This type has often been called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. It accounts for somewhere between 5-10 in 100 people who have the disease.

In Type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes, this form of diabetes usually manifests during adulthood but can develop at any age. About 95 of 100 people with diabetes have Type 2. What this means is that a person’s body can no longer use insulin the right way which is also called insulin resistance. If Type 2 progresses and gets worse, a person’s pancreas makes less and less insulin, also called insulin deficiency.

The real difference between the two is that Type 1 diabetes is not preventable. You either have it or you don’t. Type 2 diabetes, can be prevented and/or reversed by eating heathy foods, exercising regularly and living a healthy lifestyle. The sad news about Type 2 diabetes is that more and more children are being diagnosed every year and much can be attributed to eating junk food in large amounts and having a mainly sedentary lifestyle. Time to focus people!

There are several similar consequences to having both types of diabetes and they all stem from possible complications from the disease. If diabetes is not managed on a daily basis, it can ultimately lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and potential limb amputation.

It may be natural to think that you must stop eating all forms of sugar when you have diabetes or to prevent diabetes but that is not the case. You have to be smart about how much sugar you take in each day and what kind of sugar you are eating.

Here are some foods to fill up on:

Healthy fats from raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, whole milk dairy, or avocados

Fruits and vegetables—ideally fresh, the more colorful the better; whole fruit rather than juices

High-fiber cereals and breads made from whole grains or legumes

Fish and shellfish, organic, free-range chicken or turkey

High-quality protein such as eggs, beans, milk, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt

Here are foods to eat less of or to avoid:

Trans-fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods

Packaged and fast foods, especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts

White bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice

Processed meat and red meat from animals fed with antibiotics, growth hormones, and GMO feed

Low-fat products that have replaced fat with added sugar, such as fat-free yogurt

It is also important to pay attention to the Glycemic Index (GI) of particular foods. Wikipedia defines the Glycemic Index as:

The glycemic index or glycaemic index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level. A value of 100 represents the standard, an equivalent amount of pure glucose.[1]

The GI represents the total rise in a person’s blood sugar level following consumption of the food; it may or may not represent the rapidity of the rise in blood sugar. The steepness of the rise can be influenced by a number of other factors, such as the quantity of fat eaten with the food. The GI is useful for understanding how the body breaks down carbohydrates[2] and only takes into account the available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food. Although the food may contain fats and other components that contribute to the total rise in blood sugar, these effects are not reflected in the GI.

A good dietary guidelines to follow may include the Mediterraean Diet and those close to that. If you would like more information on how to eat to either reverse or prevent diabetes, contact me at 832-777-6669 or heidismith@integrativewellnessstudio.net and I will create a customized program to meet your goals and needs.

My Garbanzo Bean Obsession!

Foodie Friday, Gluten Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, garbanzo beans

In my never ending search for healthy foods and snacks, I have discovered a new one that I am totally obsessed with….Chickpeas!

Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo Beans are members of the legume family. Legumes also include beans, peanuts, soybeans (also one of my favorites) and lentils. Good news…garbanzo beans have some great health benefits when you consume them regularly and here is how you will benefit by eating them.

Garbanzos contain about 15 grams of protein and, since it is a legume, it is a great source of vegetarian-friendly protein! They are a source of incomplete protein though so you will want to eat them in addition to eating other proteins like nuts, whole grains, eggs and meat (if you are not vegetarian) so your body will get enough amino acids to feed your body’s tissues properly.

Also good for colon health, garbanzos have a good amount of dietary fiber. This is important because it will help to control your blood sugar level, it helps to slow down digestion and helps to keep you regular. I like the fact that it helps to control blood sugar levels since I was recently diagnosed as pre-diabetic and look for all of the foods that won’t give me a big blood sugar spike. A cup of cooked garbanzo beans will give you about 12.5 grams of fiber which is half of the recommended daily intake for women.

Good for both brain health, protection against genetic mutations that may cause cancer development and helpful for bone development, these little nuggets are loaded with both folate and manganese. Manganese is also important to maintain your metabolism as it carries out a chemical reaction that is an essential part of the metabolic process. Folate, also known as vitamin B9, helps with new cell growth and is an important component for pregnant women for healthy baby development.

Garbanzos are versatile as well. If you don’t want to mess with soaking them and cooking them yourselves, you can find them canned and they are easy to then sprinkle onto a salad, incorporate into Indian dishes like Chana Masala or put them into some soup. What I did for today’s post was make a crunch snack out of them.

Foodie Friday, Gluten Free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, garbanzo beans

Crunchy Garbanzos
4 cups of dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons of fine sea salt
2 tablespoons of cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon of Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak the garbanzo beans in cool water overnight. Drain and rinse them then add to a pot full of water. Bring water and beans to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook for 2 hours. Drain the beans and put into a mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans. Take all the seasonings and mix them together in a separate bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the beans to your desired seasoning level. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Stir them up and turn them over so they will cook evenly. Increase the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until they start to get a nice crunch to them. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Store in an airtight container.

Eat them as they are for a great snack or sprinkle them onto a salad! You have a healthy, crunchy, spicy snack that provides great flavor and energy. ENJOY!