This article was written by Christina Eckhart and originally appeared in the Phliadelphia Green Living Examiner on January 10th, 2014.
In 2014, the number of people who follow a gluten free diet, due to gluten sensitivity or a general desire for healthier eating is on the rise. Gluten sensitivity can cause symptoms like headaches, fatigue, joint pain, rashes, and intestinal issues which can cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients.
Many people who strictly follow a gluten free diet may find that they are also sensitive to gluten topically, however Dr. Michael F. Picco believes that the issues are due to ingestion of gluten-containing products rather than topical allergies. “Some people develop a form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), which causes an itchy, blistering rash.... Read more - Phliadelphia Green Living Examiner
Isn’t it often the case that just as we start to exhale after holding our breath (metaphorically) throughout the Holiday Season, BOOM, we come down with the flu or a cold – right?
The body seems to have an unerring instinct to carry on until it needs to rest. Sometimes that rest comes uninvited in the form of an illness.
I have picked some helpful hints to stay healthy throughout the year. Here is to your good health!
WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE
Not only should you drink at least 48 oz. of fluid (preferably water) everyday, remember that adding moisture to the air through the use of a humidifier is the best way to ground airborne germs and keep them out of your system. Research over the past 70 years has found that increasing the relative humidity in your indoor environment above 40% greatly reduces the instances of the flu!
Don't want to run an electronic humidifier? Try hanging a wet towel in a room, or leaving a shallow dish full of water (the bottom of a planter is ideal) in each room.
AYURVEDIC HERBS TO THE RESCUE
The two most effective herbs during this season are Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) and Turmeric, both of which are clinically proven to strengthen a weakened and susceptible immune system.
- Ashwagandha supports the nervous system and gives the body ability to cope with stress. Take 1,000 mg twice daily.
- Tumeric is antiviral and antibacterial and helps keep bacteria and viruses in their place and not in your body! Ingest 1,000 mg with food as often as three times a day. If you feel a bug coming on, take every two hours initially.
Mushrooms increase the number of disease fighting white blood cells in your bloodstream. You can simply add mushrooms to your next pot of vegetal soup or look for dried medicinal mushrooms or mushrooms in supplement form. Here is one in particular that is very popular among eastern practitioners.
These mushrooms are commonly referred to as “Hen of the Woods” because of its resemblance to the tail feathers of a nesting hen. Although few Westerners beyond serious mushroom connoisseurs are familiar with this fungus, it has a powerful reputation in the East. In fact, those seeking to balance their bodies and super-charge their immunity often consume maitake on a daily basis; it may provide the greatest immune-boost of all mushrooms. In addition to being known to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, maitake is often used in immunotherapy to complement surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy, where patient response rates have been seen to improve up to 28%!
KEEP YOUR SINUSES CLEAR WITH A NETI POT
The Neti can be traced back thousands of years in India, where it was used as a cleansing technique in Hatha yoga. As most colds enter the body through the nose’s mucous membranes, a neti pot helps clear the area of mucus, allergens and viruses; thereby helping to boost your immune system (reduced work load) and prevent the virus from spreading throughout the body.
DON”T FORGET YOUR YOGA PRACTICE
Heart opening poses like Cobra, Fish and Bridge Pose stimulate blood flow to the thymus which is located behind the breastbone and which is instrumental in the growth of the immune system’s frontline cells.
Practice each of these three poses several times a day and visualize your body as strong, flexible and open hearted.
The vital transition between cleansing and treatment, toning should be a part of your daily regimen. Better Botanicals Juniper Balancing Mist and Rose Tulsi Hydrating Mist stimulate the blood supply thereby rehabilitating capillaries, and revitalizing your skin without dehydrating. Our alcohol-free mists were created to do more than remove traces of cleanser and debris. They do more than protect. Containing botanicals, cosmeceuticals and high concentrations of active ingredients, they are therapeutic and designed to correct and restore the skin to its proper ph balance.
After thoroughly cleansing the face, toners are the next important step in what should be a simple routine. Toning should precede moisturizing but one can use Better Botanicals Juniper Balancing Mist and Rose Tulsi Hydrating Mist throughout the day as a spritzer to the face and body. Transitional breakouts may indicate the skin is clearing itself of imbalances caused by past use of synthetics.
Applying Better Botanicals toners provides a supplemental cleansing and facial rinse, and floods the open pores with pure botanical extracts selected to benefit a specific skin condition. They refresh and improve skin’s ability to eliminate toxins while stimulating its own natural moisturizing processes.
Toning with Better Botanicals mists removes product residue, excess oil, and reduces enlarged pores without leaving skin feeling parched or tight. Regular hydration is one of the most important things you can do for your skin, since dehydrated skin tightens, restricting its ability to breathe out waste material, causing clogged pores and blemishes
Better Botanicals Juniper Balancing Mist and Rose Tulsi Hydrating Mist
are alcohol free and rich in Vitamin C and other phytonutrients which help clarify and refine the skin, reduce large pores, stabilize ph balance, and keep complexions blemish free.
Toners also help prepare the skin to receive subsequent treatments in a care program. Depending on the toner, they tone, firm, refine, bind moisture, and control oiliness.
People who live peaceful lives have fewer health problems, live longer, and are generally happier. For most of us, life is not ordinarily peaceful on its own, therefore we must know how to maintain our inner peace when everything around us is chaotic.
Saint Francis de Sales said it well:
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
This Holiday Season, instead of feeling stressful and anxious, take advantage of this advice in order to maintain a steady state of peace no matter what the challenges.
Essential Oils that Bring Peace
● Roman Chamomile
● Ylang Ylang
● Sacred Frankincense/Frankincense
● Idaho Balsam Fir
Best Use for Overall Peace
● Diffuse for an all-day peaceful atmosphere.
● Rub on feet, back of neck, wrists.
● Rub between hands and inhale throughout the day.
● Sprinkle a few drops of oil on Epsom salts and put in a warm bath.
● Use oils in conjunction with meditation, yoga, tai chi, or any other relaxation practice.
*Consult your health care practitioner before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle, diet, or medications.
Change of Season Tips:
Eating the right food, at the right time, helps to regulate your metabolism, keep you grounded, and prevent toxins from forming in your body.
- Have your first meal at about 7:00 am.
- Late morning snack (if needed), fruit or roasted nuts.
- Lunch should be taken between 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm when your digestive power is the strongest. Therefore, this should be your biggest meal of the day.
- If you need an afternoon snack be sure it is light and healthy.
- Dinner should be the lightest meal of the day. Best to leave at least 3 hours between this meal and bedtime for proper digestion. An improperly digested dinner can interfere with sleep.
The Wonders of a Daily Oil Massage
Wonderfully relaxing and energizing at the same time, a daily massage with warm oil is easy to do and takes only about 30 minutes. You can do it at home in the morning and reap the benefits all day or linger at night and count on getting a good night’s sleep.
With regular oil massage, deep-seated toxins in the joints and tissues are loosened and released into the system for elimination. The warm oil lubricates the joints, making them more resilient to wear and tear.
As we age, moisture levels in the skin drop, causing it to become dry and dehydrated, making lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Oil is an emollient which fills in the spaces between the cells in the upper levels of the skin. By replacing essential lipids, oil-based products smooth and lubricate the skin. Because of their chemical structure, oils are also more easily absorbed into the skin, as opposed to water-based moisturizers.
One of the most effective treatments available to slow the skin’s aging process and achieve softness and luster, Better Botanicals’ Hydrating Body Oil nourishes the body and tones the skin on a deep cellular level.
If you are pregnant, check with you doctor although dry brushing is not nearly as deep as a massage and most massages are fine if you avoid them during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
There is no reason to be “oil phobic.” Once you become aware of the amazing properties of plant-based oils, whether for daily massage or even in cleansing, you will be an advocate for life!
Pumpkin has many health benefits for our pets – not pumpkin pie or pumpkin pie filling - but healthy, simple pumpkin. Sweet Potato works, too.
Pumpkin creates a feeling of fullness and can enhance weight loss. Even more importantly, for older cats and dogs who are suffering from constipation, pumpkin and sweet potato can be a life saver, or at the very least, make them more comfortable. It worked for my cat, Maizy, and now I am working on the other 3 cats and our border collie.
Pumpkin can add a healthy punch of moisture to any cat or dog diet, and is especially healthy for animals who consume dehydrated kibble.
Adding pumpkin to each meal or serving separately as a snack (that I would love to see!) can promote your pet’s improved state of hydration.
Save the Pumpkin Spice Latter for yourself.
Aloe Vera is an incredibly versatile plant with some amazing properties. Not only is it great for your health, growing it doesn’t hurt the environment nearly as much as some other crops. Here is a brief list of the key benefits of Aloe:
It is important to match our lifestyle rhythms to those of the seasons and the geography around us. Just like a person, the environment and seasons are characterized by the three doshas, pitta, vata, kapha, (qualities in Ayurveda) each of which is more active and influential at different times of the year.
Cooking & Eating
In terms of eating, while the supermarket can provide all foods year round, it is wise to eat warming foods in winter and cooling fruits/vegetables in summertime. Eating locally not only supports your local growers but will keep you in sync with the seasons and more in balance.
Exercise and Activity
You might want to change your exercise routine and practice less intense routines during the summer months. If you are a yoga practitioner, perhaps try a Bikram or Hot Yoga routine in the cold, winter months and more of a restorative, yin yoga in the summer. In the hotter months, choose exercise which will not cause you to overheat. If practicing yoga, do minimize inverted postures such as headstands. Modify intelligently for the Spring and Fall as you make the transitions from winter into spring and then into summer and fall.
End of Summer
We are entering the end of the pitta season which runs from summer into early fall. This is the time when the sun is strongest overhead and the fire element is at peak influence. Eat colder, sweeter foods and cool drinks. Avoid hot, spicy foods and excess alcohol, as these create inflammation. The days are long now, so get plenty of rest and, if possible, take short naps.
In terms of skin care, this is the perfect time to exfoliate. Because of extra exposure to the sun during the pitta season, there is a higher need to exfoliate dead skin cells and detoxify clogged pores.
Better Botanicals Jojoba Clarifying Scrub is the perfect remedy. With not only a physical exfoliant (Jojoba beads, spherically shaped to be extra gentle while still effective) but TWO enzymes (Hawthorn Berry and Papaya) to extra purification, Better Botanicals Jojoba Clarifying Scrub is just what your skin needs to clarify and brighten your skin.
Ayurveda is all about balance and keeping things simple. Simple does not mean boring so here are some interesting vegetables and ways to prepare them.
Baked Celery Root – Peel and cut into slices. Brush with Ghee (clarified butter) and bake until tender, turning over once.
Sautéed Lettuce – Shred the lettuce, heat butter or Ghee, add lettuce and sauté. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. You can use spinach and arugula for this recipe.
Braised Sweet Corn – Scrape the corn off the cob. Heat Ghee in a pan and sauté corn. Add some brown mustard seeds. When they start popping, add the sweet corn. Add 3-4 tbls. of water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and freshly grated coconut.
Grilled Fennel Bulbs – Cut each bulb in half, steam until partially cooked and finish them on the grill.
Stir-Fried Zucchini – Peel and grate. Heat Ghee in a pan, add a few cumin seeds and when the aroma is released, add zucchini and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
Steamed Asparagus – Break the stalk and peel the top part. Steam this part of the asparagus until tender. Drizzle with a simple dressing made from Ghee, lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.