“Close the window, you will catch a cold?”
“Where’s your coat, it’s freezing out, youre going to get sick?”
I think most of us have heard something like this from our mum at some point or another. I still do !!! So lets clear this myth up; you do not catch a cold or the flu from being in cold weather; illnesses such as these are caused by viruses that we come in contact with. And there are just as many viruses around to come in contact with in the summer as there are in the winter.
In fact, cold symptoms are not really symptoms of the virus – the stuffy, runny nose, fever, fatigue etc. we feel are actually what happens when our immune system is working overtime to fight the virus. The healthier our immune system is, the easier it will find fighting the foreign virus. Which is why two people exposed to the same virus may not both ‘get sick’. They both may feel that initial tell tale tickle in their throats, or start to sniffle, but while one may get a full blown cold, the other feels just fine the next day. And perhaps one never even notices any symptoms at all.
But why is that? It’s not because one was wearing a warmer coat than the other. Most likely, it has to do with how efficient their immune systems are. If a speedy immune system response is triumphant in eliminating the virus, it’s work is done, and a cold is avoided.
So it seems that along with practicing good hygiene for avoiding illness, we can also practice good immune building so that even if we are exposed, we get by without becoming sick.
And that’s where we can maybe give our mums some credit. Colds are more prevalent in the colder months. That’s where that assumption of being cold is what causes a cold comes from. But rather than our bodies actually being cold – it’s that big star up in the sky that we can credit for being more well in the warmer months.
Research has shown that Vitamin D plays a key role in sustaining our immune system. If we are deficient in Vitamin D, we are more likely to find ourselves needing to take time off to heal ourselves from a virus. The sun has traditionally been our main source of Vitamin D. In the summer, we naturally soak up more sunshine and more Vitamin D. Unknowingly, we’ve been benefitting our immune system simply by enjoying the sunshine. In the winter, not only is there less sunshine, but we are more covered up, so less apt to benefit from what is available.
Luckily, supplements like Vitamin Code Raw D3 are available, and effective. Getting your Vitamin D levels tested and supplementing as needed to put your levels in the optimal range is a great proactive way to avoid spending time fighting a virus this winter. Most of us will find that our Vitamin D can use a boost – make sure you are supplementing with Vitamin D3 – cholecalciferol – and that you are taking an appropriate dose for your current levels.
Of course, spending time in the sun is a great way to raise your Vitamin d levels. There are a few apps available that will tell you the best time of day for sun exposure to benefit your Vitamin D levels. D VitaMeter and D Minder will help you track and monitor Vitamin D exposure for you based on height, weight, skin type and location. Both are free.
When you think about it, soaking up the sun feels so amazingly great, it makes sense that its good for our health too.
I hope that we can someday get to a point where all of us are seeking to stay well and keep our immune system high with good levels of vitamin D during the winter months – instead of resorting to flu shots and medications which we do not currently understand how they are truly effecting our bodies.
If everyone had the right levels of vitamin D – Hardly anyone would get sick – i think that would be a huge problem for our health care system with less visits to the doctors and pharmacies – but a huge benefit to us!
This is another in my series of blogs for Gardenoflife.com. You can find them here. Stop by and tell me about your experiences with adding Vitamin D to your life!
Looking for a snack or something sweet after dinner? A bowl of berries, or some sliced pineapple sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Satisfies that desire for something sweet and fills your body with some excellent vitamins and nutrients. Or does it? That depends, is it summer in California, or winter in London?
If it’s winter in London, that could be a bad assumption. Those berries have travelled thousands of miles to arrive at your grocery store. Chances are they were picked before they were ripe, and artificially ripened at the end of their travels. Doing this allows us to have a great selection of produce to choose from around the world, regardless of the season. But in exchange, the transported produce is lower in vitamins, taste and overall quality.
Your best bet when choosing what to eat, is to look at what’s in season where you are located. Consuming local produce, fruits and vegetable that are growing close by at the time you are looking to eat them, is what your body is expecting. It gives you a nice variety of foods over a twelve month period, and each bite is as packed full of good fresh stuff as it can be.
But how can you tell what to choose? Stopping by your local Farmers Market is a great first step. Here you can see what produce has been grown locally, picked recently, and brought to you by the people who nourished it during the growing period. Not sure where to find a local Farmer Market? check out this website http://www.localharvest.org/
Local Harvest is a great tool for finding Farmers Markets, grocery stores that stock local produce, and restaurants who support local farmers.
If you are comfortable with the idea of switching your meal plans to include local seasonal produce, why not also check into available CSA’s in your area? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. While each one works a bit differently, the main idea is that you sign up for a weekly box of locally grown produce directly from the grower, eliminating the middle man. You may not get to choose exactly what your box contains, but you will get fresh, locally grown, recently picked fresh produce that is in season.
More comfortable sticking with your local grocery store? That’s great! You can still choose in season, locally grown foods. Locavore (getlocavore.com) is a great app that spells out what is in season where you are right now. You can also search different areas, if you will be traveling to a new location and want to explore the in season offerings when you get there.
Until quite recently, our bodies didn’t have a choice, local in season produce was what it had, and we thrived on it. It created a natural balance throughout the year. Better nutrition, better tasting food. Give it a try, your body will love you for it.
This is another in my series of blogs for Gardenoflife.com. Lots of great information being shared at GardenofLife.com/blog Stop by and let me know what you think and if you practice Seasonal Eating - or leave a comment here.
I love a perfectly grilled salmon fillet. Not only is it appealing to the taste buds, it’s super healthy as well. Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids – essential for our bodies, but not found in many foods. So including fish oil in our diets is important. To get adequate levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, we would need to eat a lot of fish. And since we’ve all heard that there are concerns of rising mercury levels in our water supply, and therefore our fish, including a daily fish oil supplement is the way to go.
The benefits of fish oil are numerous. Softer skin and hair are changes you can see, but what’s going on inside the body is where the true benefits lie. Evidence shows that taking a fish oil supplement can be helpful for:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Prevent heart disease
- Decrease risk of stroke
- Eye health, including improving both dry eyes and macular degeneration
- Lowering high blood pressure
- Menstrual pain
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorger
- Kidney problems
- Weight loss
- lowering high cholesterol
Thats quite a list, isn’t it? With so many potential benefits, you can see why just about everyone can benefit from taking a fish oil supplement. Check the label for specific dosing information; but studies are based on an average of 4 grams of fish oil per day.
Make sure the fish oil product you choose is from a reputable source. The finest fish oil supplements use purified oil from small fish, which have been shown to absorb less environmental toxins.
When your body is functioning at optimal levels, you can’t help but be in a better mood. Try adding fish oil to your routine for a month, i’m willing to bet you’ll find yourself happier and healthier.
This is another in my series of blogs for Gardenoflife.com. You can find them here. Let me know how you are finding the benefits of fish oil.
Did you catch the Stand Up to Cancer Telethon this year? The brightest stars in the entertainment industry gathered for a commercial free hour this month to raise money for cancer research. I’d love to see an end to cancer – wouldn’t you? In looking at the shows website, they are quite transparent as to where the raised funds go. Funds raised go to cancer treatment research. That means drugs. That means accepting the fact that the gut wrenching statistic of one in 3 americans having cancer at some point in their lifetime is inevitable.
But can’t we do better? Why not fund cancer prevention research and information programs?
Much is already known on how cancer happens. in our bodies, cells are constantly dividing and forming new cells. Sometimes the new cells formed are not normal. In fact, this happens quite often. Our bodies are designed to take care of these cells and eliminate them. Right now, you have abnormal cells that are being created and eliminated before they multiply out of control. Out of control abnormal cells form tumors, and hit sis when the diagnosis of Cancer comes in.
But if our bodies have the capability to destroy these cells before they become multiply, why is cancer so prevalent in our society? Well, things we do affect both the number of abnormal cells we have, and our bodies ability to successfully deal with them.
Yes, thats right, our behavior can affect whether or not we will some day be diagnosed with cancer. There are things we can avoid doing, as well as things we can add to our life that have a tremendous impact on our future health.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was more research being done in this area? Instead of spending so much time, energy and funds on figuring out how to treat this disease, if instead we put those resources into communicating what we already know about how best to avoid getting cancer? And into research on even more ways to to prevent it?
Known causes of cancer include smoking, environmental toxins, poor diet and carrying excess fat. Research shows that living a healthier lifestyle makes it much more likely you will avoid a cancer diagnosis.
So what can you do?
1. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, 5-10 servings per day.
2. Make sure you are getting an adequate amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet – found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines
3. Drink Green Tea
4. Avoid fried foods
5. Don’t smoke, avoid being around secondhand smoke.
6. Get a moderate amount of sunlight. Vitamin D in sunlight is beneficial, but too much sun can cause skin cancers
7. Engage in some form of physical activity each day.
8. Work towards eliminating excess body fat.
9. Believe in your bodies ability to be healthy.
It’s reported that 70% of cancers diagnosed today are preventable. Preventable through making the right choices, by both adding and eliminating things from our diet.** By avoiding contact with unnecessary chemicals. If we already know so much, why is cancer still so prevalent? Lets start raising awareness and taking steps to help people make the changes that matter. And lets start funding more research,so we can increase the knowledge and the number of preventable cancers. Its a matter of life and death – who’s with me?
**For a more detailed list of how foods can help prevent cancer, take a look at this website – Foods that fight Cancer – http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/
Why does sugar get such a bad rap? A Tbsp of sugar has 45 calories. About the same as a quarter cup of oatmeal. Both are classified as carbohydrates and will give you energy. So, instead of a cup of oatmeal this morning, why not have 4 tbsps of sugar?
If you choose those 4 tbsps of sugar, will you crave more once you’ve finished?
If so, you’re not alone. Sugar can be addictive. It can work the same way on your brain as alcohol or drugs. It can stimulate dopamine production. It can make you feel goooood. And when your brain gets that message, it demands more.
You may not even realize this is what’s happening. We all know cake, cookie, cant contain mega amounts of sugar; but sugar can be hidden in many unexpected places, and food labels can be misleading – sugar goes by so many different names: High- fructose corn syrup, Dextrose, Glucose, Lactose, Sucrose, Evaporated can juice, Malt syrup – these are just a few. There’s a good chance you are consuming sugar without even knowing it!
Once you’ve gotten in the habit of eating sugary foods, it can be difficult to stop. Do you eat sugar every day? Can you have sugary treats in the house without eating them? Do you choose donuts or muffins for breakfast? Can you stop eating after one piece of candy? Do you eat something sweet after every meal? do you find your self eating sugar when you are not hungry ad being unable to stop?
If the above sound familiar, this may be a sign that you have a sugar addiction. Chemical changes in your brain can be driving you to seek out sugar even if you have vowed to resist.
Taking a break from all sugary foods may be just what you need to break the cycle. While you do, make sure you are eating enough food to physically satisfy you – choose complex carbohydrates, lean protein and lots of veggies. Make sure you are eating enough healthy fats while you are avoiding sugar – Coconut oil, flax seed oil, extra virgin olive oil are all good choices as are raw nuts and seeds. It will most likely be difficult for the first week or so, but once you are out of the habit of eating sugar, it will become easier. Make a goal of 30 days with no added sugar in your diet. Once the 30 days have past, you may realize you feel so great that you want to avoid sugar going forward.
If you do choose to reintroduce sugar in your diet, remember, the tendency to fall back into old ways is strong, as it is driven by a physical addiction. You may find that you can eat moderate amounts of sugar – this can be more likely if you choose to not eat sugar alone, include a protein source along with any sugar consumption, and reintroduce slowly.
Are you in Balance?
Did you see any of the women’s gymnastics during the Olympics last week?
Watching the Balance Beam competition had me thinking. These young ladies are certainly at the top of the world in terms of being able to balance their bodies in some amazing positions. The flips and tumbling they perform on a piece of wood that’s just 4 inches wide is at times almost unbelievable.
So, their bodies are certainly in balance. But what about the rest of their lives? US gymnasts training for the Olympics are in the gym 30-40 hours per week. Add in 6 hours per day for school, and that doesn’t leave much time for other pursuits.
While these athletes day to day lives and their goals may not have much in common with those of us not in such high level training, the lack of Balance in our lives is something most of us do share.
Work, sleep, relationships, fitness, recreational pursuits, spirituality, healthy food – finding time to spend on each of these can be a challenge. And yet, if we don’t work to balance these parts of our life, even the ones we do focus on won’t be optimal, as each of these work together.
Let’s look at fitness. Even within this one are of life, we must work for balance. Spending too much time strength training and not enough time on flexibility, and you will see your strength training results effected.
What can you do about it? Work to plan a fitness routine that includes all of the following:
1 – Strength Training – be sure you are targeting all muscle groups, including your core. Vary your routine, body weight exercises as well as lifting weights all contribute to stronger muscles.
2 – Cardiovascular conditioning – both steady state cardio and intervals have a place in your fitness routine. Don’t always do the same type of cardio – machines such as a treadmill or stair stepper are great, but remember you can take those activities outdoors for a different experience, swimming is a wonderful aerobic activity as well – and one of my favorite things to do!
3 – Flexibility – daily stretching is a must, but dedicating a day in your fitness plan to yoga or pilates will complement your strength training and cardio days and help your body avoid overuse type injuries.
Depending on your fitness goals, you can adjust the time you spend on each of these components. Training for a marathon? Running will be at the core of your fitness plan, add strength training and flexibility workouts around that core.
Looking to lose weight? a good balance of each of the above will bring you to your goals sooner than neglecting any of the above. Try taking an hour 4 days each week and spending 30 minutes on Strength Training and 30 minutes on Cardio. On the fifth day take a yoga class.
You may be surprised how having a balanced fitness plan will affect the balance other areas of your life. Better sleep as a result of consistent activity, the desire to eat healthier foods, and the ability to see relationships in a happier light are all byproducts of taking care of your body. Spending more time seeking out things you love will lead to overall balance and happiness.
Let me know how you get on.
This is another in my series of blogs for Gardenoflife.com. You can find them here. Would love to hear how you go about finding Balance in your life, so be sure to leave me a note.
Vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. Most of us could include more vegetables in our daily food. Current recommendations call for 6-8 servings of veggies per day as a minimum, but the more the better! I like to include a serving with each meal, but sometimes that can be a challenge. And, even with the best intentions, you can get to the end of the day and not have hit your target servings.
I like to start each day by getting most of my veggie servings in early. A steaming plate of broccoli may not be too appetizing first thing in the morning, so instead I opt for a tall glass of fresh juice.
In fact, juicing your vegetables is a great way to increase the amount of raw vegetables in your diet. It’s important to have a good mixture of raw and cooked vegetables each day. Some vitamins and nutrients are lost when cooked, while evidence shows some antioxidants are increased when cooked.
1 - Quantity. It’s much easier to consume the recommended amount of veggies in the form of juice. 8 servings of raw broccoli is 4 cups. Thats a lot of broccoli.
2 – Digestion. Juicing helps break down the raw vegetables, which increases your body’s ability to absorb all available nutrients, rather than having them pass through unabsorbed.
3 – Variety. We tend to get into ingrained habits with the foods we consume. Best practice for our diet is to consume many different vegetables. When you juice these vegetables, you can make many combinations, including veggie choices you may not have made if you were eating them whole.
Never juiced before? Here are some tips to help get you started.
1 – Choose a juicer that is easy to clean. If you find the task of juicing and cleaning up daunting, you won’t do it. The goal is to actually consume the juice, not have a gorgeous juicer siting in your cabinet.
2 – Juicing vegetables is much preferred to juicing fruit. It’s very easy to consume too much fruit sugar by juicing only fruits. Choose vegetables that you enjoy - you can try them alone, or in combination. If 100% green juice is too much, add a small amount of fruit. Lemons add great flavor without too much sugar.
3 – Use organic produce if possible. Give the outside a good scrubbing, and you can juice the peel and all. If you are not using organic produce, peel your produce to eliminate the consumption of pesticides.
4 – Drink your juice right away! It’s best to not let it sit on the counter or in the refrigerator.
What veggies should I start with?
You can juice just about any fruit or vegetable. Remember, best to focus on vegetables adding in only a bit of fruit to keep sugar levels low. Some good green vegetables to start with are Cucumber, Spinach, Fennel, Kale, Celery. Add in a carrot or two, a quarter lemon – make sure you include the pith – the white part beneath the peel – even if you are peeling your lemon. Get creative! Start with the veggies you love to eat, then add some you’ve never tried.
One of my favorite Juice Recipes :
Joey’s Morning Juice:
3 sticks celery
1 whole cucumber
3 handfuls spinach
1 handful Kale
3 sprigs parsley
5 large fresh Basil leaves
Give juicing a try, I promise you will have more energy and feel better each day.
This is the latest of my GardenofLife.com blogs. Stop by their website and leave a comment here. Would love to hear your thoughts on juicing and favorite juice combinations.
Feels amazing doesn’t it?
Stretching is such an important component in keeping your body in balance. When you work out, you are constantly contracting your muscles. Stretching at the end of your workout pulls your muscles in the opposite direction and not only feels great, but sets your muscles up for optimal repair after being worked.
What are some Benefits of Stretching?
Improves circulation and range of motion
Increases mobility in muscles, joints and tendons
Reduces muscle tension and fatigue
Improvement in posture
Helps prevent injuries and muscle strains
You should avoid static stretching when your muscles are cold. After you’ve worked out, your muscles are warm and will benefit the most from a good stretch. Don’t be tempted to skip stretching after a hard workout. The benefits are well worth the few minutes it will take.
Tips for stretching following a workout:
Focus on the muscles you’ve used that day; they’re the ones that will benefit the most
Hold each stretch for a count of 10-30, take a deep breath, stretch just a bit deeper and repeat
Hold each stretch steadily, don’t bounce!
While you are stretching, focus on how far you are reaching, and keep trying to go just a bit farther
Remember to breathe!
Stretching after a cardio or strength training workout is essential. You should also incorporate days into your workout regimen that focus primarily on stretching. There are many forms of yoga you can investigate to find the one that works for you.
One of my favorite stretches
Piriformis Stretch #1 Lower Trunk Rotation
Lay on your back
Bend one knee up to your chest.
With the opposite hand, pull your knee across your body until a stretch is felt in your buttock.
Hold 20-30 seconds, repeat 3 times. Repeat on the other side.
Daily stretching will show results quickly. In no time at all you will notice huge improvements in your flexibility.
GardenofLife.com has added a new feature to their website – the Garden of Life Blog. I’ve been asked to contribute, you can find my first blog here on their website, and I’ve added it below as well.
What Fats Have You Eaten Today?
Let’s start with the fact that eating fat in foods does not make you get fat.
Fat does need to be included in your healthy daily diet. And doing so won’t make you fat; just make sure you’re choosing the right kinds of fat, and staying away from the rest.
Inside and out, the benefits of good fats are many. They leave us feeling full between meals, which helps avoid snacking. They help alleviate depression and preserve memory. Good fats keep your metabolism high and improve your immune system. Healthy fats even lower our “bad” cholesterol and raise the “good” cholesterol. Outside, healthy fats do wonders for our skin and hair.
Not sure where to start?
Here are my top 10 Healthy Fats to consume:
- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil*
- Olive Oil
- Nuts and Unprocessed Nut Butters (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Seeds (flax, chia, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)
- Cold water fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines)
If you’ve been avoiding fats for a while, take this opportunity to start incorporating the above foods into your daily meal plan.
Here are some ways to add healthy fats to your diet:
- mix almond butter in with your oatmeal
- add ground flax seeds to Greek yogurt
- break out your blender; make a smoothie with almond milk, protein powder, blueberries and peanut butter
- grill pecan crusted salmon
- slice an avocado and add to your salad
- skip the bottled salad dressing, add dried herbs such as Italian seasoning and minced onion to your salad, dress with oil and balsamic vinegar
- a handful of nuts makes a great snack
- replace cooking spray with coconut oil
Looking for a special treat? Give this a try:
Joey’s Chocolate Mousse
extra virgin coconut oil
Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
*A note on coconut oil – Be careful, not all coconut oils are created equal. Most are highly refined and can be hydrogenated. Garden of Life produces extra virgin coconut oil that contains meat from only the freshest, organically grown coconuts. It’s 100% vegetarian, non-GMO, not hydrogenated, refined, bleached or deodorized. An excellent high quality choice.
While you are adding healthy fats to your diet, make sure you eliminate the unhealthy ones. It’s not difficult, once you feeding your body the fat it needs, you will no longer crave the unhealthy stuff.
Foods to avoid at all cost:
- Fried foods
- Commercially prepared baked goods
- Packaged snack foods
- Fast food
- Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil
- Candy bars
- Pre-mixed products (cake mix, pancake mix)
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