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!

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

Delicious Thanksgiving Cookie Recipe

iced-pumpkin-cookies
It has been a while since I have posted a recipe as I have been caught up in some other projects the last couple of months, so I am sorry to have been a slacker on that front! Today, I needed to make something for my husband to take to work to a Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner they are doing for the staff tomorrow. In addition to my famous Spinach Balls, I was to make a dessert and decided on a pumpkin cookie.

I’m not one to create a lot of recipes on my own but I love to modify others that I find to make them gluten free and dairy free. This recipe I found on Allrecipes.com and this was developed by Gina. I made it with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour and with organic coconut milk (instead of regular milk) and Earth Balance spread (instead of butter). I hope you love them!

Iced Pumpkin Cookies (made gluten free/dairy free)

2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance soy spread, softened (can use real butter)

1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons coconut milk (can use real milk)
1 tablespoon melted Earth Balance
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Allspice

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter,allspice and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

The cookies are light and airy and have a subtle pumpkin flavor to them. Can leave the icing off completely if you want to eliminate that sugar element as they are delicious naked and would be great with a hot cup of tea! ENJOY…

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.

Sleep Training Update

 

Hello, everyone!

Welcome back from the long Labor Day weekend! I hope you had a great holiday and enjoyed some fun and relaxation with friends and family.

So, I have completed ninsomnia sleep training coach helpow two weeks of the Shuti.com sleep program. This last week was the week I was required to manage sleep restriction and my sleep window was set from 12:10am until 5:30am. I never imagined just how hard it would be to stay up until after midnight every single night. It was particularly challenging because my husband goes to bed around 10pm and so I had to find things to do on my own every night and keep occupied until it was time to go to bed.

The program also emphasizes that the time you MAY go to bed is not necessarily the time you MUST go to sleep. They say that if you do not feel sleepy, do not go to bed until you do. It has been great as I have gotten some projects done for the holiday and am now working on a new crafting project and some new recipes for the blog. It’s a great time to dust the house and do some household chores that don’t make too much noise so my productivity level has increased during this past week because of my sleep restriction! Always looking for that silver lining.

Today began the next core of the Shuti.com program is called the Behaviors Core. This core talks about what kinds of behaviors your should be doing prior to your scheduled bed time. It includes things like no activity in the bedroom except for sleep and sex (no television, electronics or even reading); creating a bed time routine (taking the dogs out, turning off lights and on the alarm, brushing your teeth and taking a hot bath, etc. The program wants you to get into the habit of basically the same routine every night before bed to get your brain into the “sleep is coming” mode.

The interesting development is that, since my last post, I remembered that when we moved to Houston, my husband and I switched the side of the bed we had been sleeping on. Prior to moving, I slept on the left and after we moved to Texas, I slept on the right side to be closer to where our blind dog would need to go during the night to find water and potty pads. Since I am a light sleeper, I would hear him get up and would know if he needed help finding his way around the new house. A year later, I had still been sleeping on the right side of the bed. I thought it may be good to try going back to the left side of the bed to sleep again and, guess what, it has made a difference. I have been falling asleep faster and sleeping more soundly (in the time I do sleep) on my old side of the bed. This may be one of the culprits of my insomnia as well. That we will follow up on again later.

Also interesting is that we went out of town for the Labor Day weekend. We stayed in a darling B&B called the Fredericksburg Herb Farm in Texas Hill Country. It was a small, private cottage in an herb farm setting. Nice and dark at night and very quiet. The cottage and the most amazing bedding package and pillows that were to die for! I actually slept both nights we were there for at least 6 hours a night! That is the most I have slept in more than 6 months! I’m starting to see some patterns here that are helping me get a handle on the sleep issues.

insomnia sleep training help coach health

So, that is the update for this week. I am interested to start this new Behavior Core and will stick to my sleep restriction and a pre-sleep routine every day for the next week. We shall see what comes of it. In the meantime, if you are searching for some amazing bed pillow, check out Pacific Coast Pillows. Sleep well!