Here’s a great free data base from the Environmental Working Group to help you discover the quality of your drinking water from your tap:
Here’s a great free data base from the Environmental Working Group to help you discover the quality of your drinking water from your tap:
Here in Northern New Mexico we had our record-breaking temperatures in June; however, many of my friends and customers in other states are living with near constant scorching temperatures that barely go down by dawn only to pop back up into the high 90’s and above, with little relief. So this blog is a copy of a recent Rodale article that is very timely and chock full of great info. One thing I will add here: many of us eat lots of fruit in the summer, and many are cooling to the body; however, most non-organic fruit contains very high amounts of pesticide residue. So eat your fruit, but make sure it’s organically grown.
The Best All-Natural Ways to Stay Cool
Keep heat waves at bay with these natural, and sometimes surprising, cool-down secrets.
Topics: summer safety
Summer and Fire In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer relates to the fire element—and on a physical level, TCM emphasizes the health of your heart and circulatory system during this season. As daylight increases, your energy and activity will naturally expand, reaching farther away from your core and calling on strong circulation to keep up with the increased demands. And as temperatures rise, healthy circulation and its anti-inflammatory effects become even more important.
Poor circulation creates a condition of stagnation throughout the bloodstream. This can be aggravated during the summer due to heat and dehydration, which makes our blood thick and sticky, and without enough fluids to keep circulation flowing smoothly. On a chronic level this is referred to in Western medicine as hyperviscous coagulation, or hyperviscosity. Stagnant blood in turn generates more heat, furthering a vicious cycle of chronic inflammation throughout the body. And as we know, chronic inflammation is the hallmark of a wide variety of illnesses, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Hyperviscosity of the blood is sometimes due to genetic tendency. Approximately 25 percent of the population exhibits one or more inherited “defects” which can be measured through cardiovascular blood screening. People with these genetic markers, such as elevated Lp(a) (Lipoprotein-a); PAI-1(Plasminogen Activation Inhibitor 1); or homocysteine, are more prone to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease as well as aggressive cancer and other chronic illnesses. But hyperviscosity can also be caused by unhealthy lifestyle, dietary habits, and infections or traumas. Together, hyperviscosity and chronic inflammation set the stage for a number of deadly diseases. But regardless of whether you are genetically predisposed to these issues, or whether your lifestyle is to blame, or both, there are a number of ways to prevent the damage, stay healthy and protect against disease.
Heat Waves and Heart Attacks During summer, the combination of hot weather, chronic inflammation, and lack of circulation can turn deadly, increasing the risks of heart attack, stroke, and other serious cardiovascular events. Additional summer health risks, such as heat stroke/heat exhaustion, burns, and dehydration, are all related to excess inflammation, causing our engines to “overheat.”
So the most important step you can take to protect your health during summer is to keep chronic inflammation in check. This degenerative process of continuous “overheating” degrades your body through wear, tear, and oxidative stress, serving as a primary function of the aging process—and of degenerative, life-threatening diseases.
Keeping Your Cool What can you do this season to make sure your heart stays strong and your body cool and hydrated? Here are some steps you can take to protect your health in the heat.
Take advantage of the increase in fresh produce available this time of year. Emphasize leafy greens, and rehydrating fruits and vegetables with high water and mineral content. These not only help replenish fluids, but they are very high in phytonutrients and antioxidants, things we need to combat inflammation and resulting oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in this case is mainly caused by waste from our cells’ mitochondria—the engines that power our cells—working too quickly in the heat. This excess cellular waste accumulates faster in conditions of poor circulation and inflammation. So if you eat a fresh produce diet that is high in antioxidants, phytonutrients, and ingredients that support the detox process, you help to get rid of the byproducts of mitochondrial “heat.” In this way, an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits help break the cycle of inflammation, hyperviscosity and heat damage.
Drink LOTS of fresh, filtered water (approximately 64 ounces a day). This will keep fluid levels at a maximum to help circulation stay strong, reduce inflammation and help clear mitochondrial waste products and other toxins.
Replenish electrolytes with a healthy electrolyte and mineral supplement. Potassium is an important electrolyte, as well as magnesium, calcium and trace minerals. Electrolytes support communication between cells and are critical to basic biological functions, but we lose them through sweat and dehydration. High-quality coconut water is a good natural choice.
Take cooling, anti-inflammatory supplements. When we have a lot of heat, we need to cool our systems, and for this we can use different anti-inflammatory supplements. There are three basic categories of supplements that can help reduce inflammation. Botanicals and nutrients directly reduce inflammatory reactions in the body. Other botanicals and nutrients also offer antioxidant support to prevent oxidative heat damage. Botanicals and nutrients that help circulation are also important because through increased circulation, chronic inflammation and “blood stickiness” is reduced. An excellent example is curcumin derived from turmeric root: It is an anti-inflammatory, it’s an antioxidant and it promotes circulation.
Slow down. On the level of physics, if you have more heat, everything moves faster—even our thoughts can move faster. So the natural balance is to slow down, by taking more time for sleep, relaxation and rest. Stress-relieving activities like meditation, art, listening to music and vacations in nature help to calm the system so that heat, inflammation and the resulting congestion is reduced. For this reason, it’s very important to take time off in the summer—something that seems to be lacking in the American culture. People often take only a two or three-day vacation, but it really takes six to seven days for the body to start unwinding from the daily grind.
Get adequate sleep. Regular sleep helps keep our body’s normal functions running smoothly, including repair mechanisms which are essential in hot weather.
Engage in gentle, regular exercise. Walking is especially beneficial (without overheating in the midday sun). Gentle exercise promotes healthy circulation and helps us to relax. Regular, rhythmic exercise is particularly valuable in helping to keep you calm yet energized, while boosting circulation and reducing inflammation. That’s the value of practices like yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, which have a calming, rhythmic breathing element to them.
Slowing down and making sure that you allow your body to cool down, regulate internal temperatures, and regenerate fluids are necessary preventative measures for a long and healthy life. These simple steps are even more important for your health and vitality during periods of prolonged heat.
Botanicals and Nutrients Cardiovascular and circulatory health is a big focus in my clinical practice—and for my patients. Circulation-boosting botanicals and enzymes include: • Hawthorn berry • Ginger • Turmeric • Chinese salvia • L-carnitine • Omega-3 oils • Enzymes like nattokinase, lumbrokinase, and others.
Repairing Chronic Heat Damage We know from basic physics that heat is a manifestation of an increase in kinetic movement—and when you live a high-paced lifestyle with no time to relax, “cool,” rehydrate, and lubricate your body, your “engine” is going to heat up. Sometimes, this damage from chronic excess heat can be more serious, requiring replenishment not just in the form of extra fluids and electrolytes, but also “fluid-generating” herbs and botanicals that can help hydrate and maintain moisture in tissues and organs.
This type of heat damage can be addressed by a group of botanicals called “body fluid regenerators” (or yin regeneration herbs, as they are classified in TCM) that work on different parts of the body:
• Tian men dong (asparagus tuber) and mai men dong (Ophipogon tuber) work to promote blood and fluids in the heart, the lungs, and the stomach • Shu hu (dendrobium stem) helps maintain moisture in the lungs, the stomach, and the eyes • Zhi mu (Anemarrhena root) is another herb that’s very important for the stomach when you have severe dryness • Sheng di huang (Rehmmania) is also very important for nourishing the blood, which moisturizes all the organs.
So sometimes, you have to balance between clearing the heat and nourishing the body fluids.
A whole-foods diet rich in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed whole grains, and essential fatty acids (found in nuts and fish) is also a crucial part of a strong, healthy circulatory system. The antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3s this type of diet provides serve to minimize the effects of free radicals, promote healthy arteries, and soothe excessive heat.
Summer can be an exciting and rewarding time of year, offering more time in nature, opportunities for new adventure, an abundance of healthy fresh produce, summer celebrations, and more. If we take the right steps to promote our health in the midst of this season’s warmth and activity, we can reap the benefits of increased vitality and energy, rather than wilting away under the scorching heat.
As the calendar moves towards Spring equinox, and at least some of us are experiencing harbingers of spring (bluebirds and daffodils perhaps) one starts seeing articles appear about fasting, a traditional (as well as a favorite of many alternative health care practitioners) way of acknowledging and aiding (for health purposes) the transition from winter diet to spring diet.
Many of us gain weight over the winter as we eat more calories (often in the form of fat) to keep warm, and don’t / aren’t able to exercise as easily. Because of all the holidays, we often have eaten more sugar than usual or is wise. With the stress of winter storms we might not always have been able to prepare well-balanced meals, gotten to the store in time, and therefore we ate more fast food.
A common response to the sluggish feeling arising from this situation is “I gotta make a change.” Great. However, plunging into a major fast can be daunting, even if you find a good one (which means under the auspices of a reputable health care provider, and often in a group, because real fasting is difficult and can precipitate uncomfortable detoxification).
Here are my suggestions, based upon years of experience (and yes, I have done some major fasts and cleanses, and experienced some nasty effects, mostly because I was headstrong and ignorant and much younger).
First: what is your goal? Is this a major revamp of your entire diet, or just a tune-up? Either way, you can make this really simple for yourself by trying my common-sense fast: eat only real food. And let me spell that out: whole grains (rice, millet, corn, etc. ), “pseudo-grains” (buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth), nuts and seeds, free-range humanely raised meats, raw milk cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and other pulses (if soy, eat only miso and tempeh), fish (especially herring, sardines, wild Alaskan salmon), healthy fats (extra virgin cold pressed olive and coconut oils, and ghee, which is a clarified butter and great to cook with) and tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams).
Second: fast from fast foods. If it is in a box, can, bottle or fried, it is processed. You are going to be the “processor”. You may stir-fry, make soups, eat raw salads, ferment, steam, bake your own bread. Play with marinades. Find your grandmother’s recipe for chicken soup. But only use real food that is recognizable as food, with no unpronounceable chemicals and NO SUGAR. Try this traditional way of eating for at least two weeks (more if you are feeling bold).
Third: 80% compliance is fabulous. You do not need to be perfect. It is usually self-defeating and no fun. Do your best, eat with gratitude, and enjoy. Chew well, try a digestive enzyme. Drink enough good water. Move your body. Get enough sleep. Am I sounding like your (grand) mom? “Old wives’ tales” are usually based upon deep truth. Eating is a communal act, even if only you are at the table. Invite all the beings who helped put that food on your plate, and you will not be alone.
Last but not least: try fasting from TV, from TV News, from your cell-phone, from email, from being available to anyone anytime. Try just one day a week away from this merry-go-round we moderns call our lives. See what arises.
The Internet is an incredible place for information…and as most of us have realized, not all info found here is accurate, factual, useful, understandable, or relevent. Many of the most popular health info sites on the Web are dominated by Big Pharma, the AMA, The Gates Foundation, and others allied to the current “sick-care” industry mis-named health care.
Since the mid-70’s, when I helped start a rural natural food buying club in southwestern Virginia, I have been studying many aspects of alternative health and lifestyles. The truth that consistently arises is: prevention is less time-consuming and less expensive than treatment. And way easier said than done! Also, many strategies for becoming and staying healthy have been marginalized, vilified, or ignored in the mainstream press. This is not to say that the alternative movement is perfect! We have our fair share of folks whose reach exceeds their grasp.
So here are six helpful sites I use, and my opinion (and me just say up front that it is an opnion, not absolute truth, whatever that might be) about each one. Notice that one is well served by an open mind and a sense of humor concerning the diversity of those who self-define as being “alternative.” AlterNet is a great source for news; their health info is both semi-main stream and many shades of alternative. Often excellent investigative reporting is presented about related health subjects (like food and water) to give one the “back story” or help explain why what is, is. For a good recent example click here to read about whistleblowers and food safety. Also at AlterNet (this was a good day for big picture info) is a story about our food growing system (the political aspect of farming). To read about it, click here.
Prevention may be key, but most of us are already dealing with “issues.” This next site addresses both. The GreenMed Info newsletter is always thought-provoking, and iconoclastic, as well as one of the most densely researched on the web. Click here for the issue on wheat, which will open a veritable Pandora’s box. GreenMed Info hosts the largest study-based, peer-reviewed alternative health data base on the internet, and it is free. With over 10,000 useful entries, this database has already helped a client of mine find the best supplement to take for his situation (and it is helping).
The Organic Consumer Association puts out a newsletter called Organic Bytes. This issue focuses on GMO, and what you can do to participate in campaigns to confront, halt, label, and educate. In case you are wondering what genetically modified food could have to do with health….well, check out this site, or the next two for way more info than you really want, but do need.
The next 2 sites are the most well-known, have the most advertising, and reflect the values of their authors. Both of these men do their homework, say what their opinion is up front, and cite their research. I may still quibble a bit here and there (both are prone to hyperbole), and you can find out a tremendous amount of info on a very wide range of health issues including healthy food (from the vegetarian and vegan point of view as well as the organic and free-range meat eaters), exercise protocols, supplements, herbs and healthy sleeping habits, as well as the more controversial and political issues like GMO, vaccines, pesticides, cell phone radiation problems, etc.
Last but not least is Byron J. Richard’s Wellness Resources. He always seems to come up with fascinating research (that he quotes and sites) often from mainstream sources. Click here for how the bacteria in our guts affects our brains. He also has a full range of info on his site. Like the other 2 men above, he is trying to sell you supplements.
OK, now for my 2 second infomercial! I have a supplement buying club that has a few openings. At some point later in blogdom I’ll elaborate. However, if you have read this far, take supplements, and would like a free 15 minute consult, call me toll-free @ 877-286-2970,