Category Archives: health


The Self-Care And Pampering Box

I’m thrilled about the contents of this month’s Lean Clean Green Subscription box. This first box has some great products and the theme for this month is self-care and pampering. Why? Because let’s be honest, most of us are so busy taking care of others that we often forget to take care of ourselves. And it’s difficult to carve out that time for yourself. Well now I’m sending you a self-care kit.* In a box. Delivered right to your door. So there’s no excuse.

This month’s products

Valor Facial Lotion - LCG BoxValor Facial Lotion

This amazing lotion is so smooth and wonderful (and it smells absolutely fabulous). One of the things I love best about it (aside from how great my face feels when I use it) is that you can actually read all of the ingredients without needing a magnifying glass. And even better, they’re all real words. No degree in biochemistry needed to understand what you’re putting on your face. 

 

Essential Living Witch Hazel - LCG Box

Essential Living Witch Hazel Toner

This wonderful toner is made from 100% American witch hazel. There’s no alcohol or preservatives in the bottle, just witch hazel. Of course, I’ve never understood why anyone would put alcohol into something that’s supposed to be good for your face, alcohol just dries out your skin.  Witch hazel is useful for:

  • Nourishing for dry skin. And if used immediately after a shower can help seal in moisture
  • Reducing acne and redness
  • Helps to relieve sunburn discomfort
  • Supportive against itching and inflammation from eczema
  • Soothing against razor burn
  • Can help reduce bruising (apply 3 times per day to the affected area)

Turkish cotton makeup towel - LCG BoxTurkish Makeup Towels

I love these towels. It honestly never occurred to me to wonder why we always use white towels to remove makeup. But after 2-3 months of daily use, you just throw it out. Even though you’ve been running it through the wash, it looks like an art project, with lipstick, eye-liner, eye shadow, blush, foundation, whatever you wear. And it just looks gross. Even if you don’t wear much make-up, white towels still get stained with skin oils and daily pollution exposure. Now with this wonderful, soft, Turkish cotton towel, you don’t have to worry about that.

Turmeric Tea and If You Care Tea FiltersTurmeric Tea + Filters - LCG Box

This tea is amazing!! I wish I had smell-o-vision right here on the screen so you could enjoy the fabulous aroma of this incredible 100%-organic-no-added-crap tea. It’s delicious hot or cold and I can’t make up my mind if I like it better as a morning cuppa or in the evening (even though it’s called Dawn).

And these filters? They’re unbleached, durable, and really wonderful. The great thing is that you can use these filters for more than just tea. Check out this video on my Facebook page to learn how else you can use them.

 

Himalayan Salt for Sole - LCG BoxHimalayan Salt 

Rounding out this month’s amazing box is this bag with CHUNKS of Himalayan Salt.  Use this to make Sole (pronounced solay) an adrenal support drink. It is very supportive for those with low energy, fatigue, or anyone who needs a good mineral boost.  Here’s how you make it:

Fill a glass jar about 1/4 of the way with Himalayan salt chunks
Fill the rest of the way with water
Let sit 24 hours so that the water becomes super-saturated
The salt will still be visible at the bottom of the jar
Take 1 teaspoon of the sole, mixed into some room temperature water first thing in the morning (if desired this can be put into a cup of nourishing broth)
Keep refilling your jar with water when it runs low
As the salt run out add another chunk

This bag should provide around 9 months of sole if used daily.

When you join the Lean, Clean, Green Subscription box family you’ll get a themed box filled with holistically healthy, well-sourced products personally curated by me. Each month you pay only $47.

The August 2019 Self-Care Box is worth $78.62!!

* The best part about the box is that you’re in control of how often you get it. Monthly, every other month, every three months, it’s up to you. And if you miss a box, or need a refill on any of these fabulous finds, as long as you’re a subscriber you have access to the Marketplace. That means you can log in and still get the items you want.

If you’ve just found this post and you’re not a member of the family, join us, you’ll be glad you did.

sprout nuts and seeds

The Easy Way To Sprout Nuts And Seeds

Why Sprout Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are one of the healthiest and nutrient-dense foods. They are known to contain high levels of key minerals such as calcium, iron, omega 3 fats, and vitamin E. Studies have shown that consuming nuts may also help fight various conditions such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and depression.

Although rich in many nutrients, they have a mechanism that makes it rather hard for the human body to absorb these items. Enzyme inhibitors and toxic substances such as goitrogens and phytic acid make it hard both to digest and take up the nutrients contained in the nuts and seeds.

Fortunately, there’s a simple and natural way to get rid of these substances. Sprouting, sometimes referred to as soaking softens and readies the nuts or seeds for germination. When they are sprouted it forces them to get shed the phytic acids and other protective substances that ensure their survival but inhibit nutrient absorption. It also gives a little bit of a nutrient bump due to the sprouting activity.

It is, therefore, really important to soak and sprout nuts and seeds before consuming them in order to get the most nutrition possible out of them.

Once soaked, the nuts make the perfect snack or addition to your smoothies. They are also great for making nut-butters which are a great snack when added to sliced apples or pears, on celery, or used in a wide variety of recipes.

How to Sprout

Sprouting the nuts and seeds is quite simple.  All you need is a glass jar, some sea salt, water, and the nuts or seeds you want to sprout. If you’re using a quart jar you can make 4 cups, a pint jar will yield 2 cups.  For ease of use, it’s best to get wide-mouth canning jars.

The nuts and seeds need to be raw, unroasted, and unsalted in order for this process to work.  I do not recommend mixing the nuts and seeds together, even if they require the same amount of time for soaking. Personally, I find it better to soak each one individually. If you want to turn them into a trail mix or use them combined you can do that after they have been sprouted and dried.

Simply put the nuts in the jar, add two teaspoons of sea salt, fill it up with water and leave to soak for the required period of time.

How long to soak for sprouting

Every nut or seed has a different soaking period. Here’s a chart to help you understand the timing needed to soak each different kind.

Type of Nut/ Seed Soaking (Hours)
Almonds 8 – 12
Brazil nuts 8
Cashew nuts 2 – 3
Hazelnuts (filberts) 8 – 12
Macadamia nuts 2
Pecans 4 – 6
Pistachio nuts 6 – 8
Pepitas 8
Sesame 8
Sunflower seeds (no hull) 2
Walnuts 4 – 8

Once you have removed the seeds and nuts from the water, you can dry them; the best way is to use a dehydrator or oven. If you opt to use the oven, set it at 150F and let the seeds and nuts dry for 12 to 24 hours. Make sure that they are completely dry before removing them. For the dehydrator, it depends on how well yours works, if you have a manual you can check it for recommended drying times.

It is important to note that not all seeds can or should be sprouted. In particular, avoid sprouting chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and pine nuts.

In conclusion, sprouting nuts and/or seeds is easy to do and it comes with numerous benefits. Adding these amazing, nutrient-dense items to your diet is both good for you and delicious.

Sources
  • https://www.fastachi.com/nuts_health_benefits
  • https://www.foodmatters.com/article/the-benefits-of-soaking-nuts-and-seeds
  • Shahidi, Fereidoon, et al. 8 Almond and Almond Products: Nutraceutical Components. Tree Nuts: Composition, Phytochemicals, and Health Effects (2008): 127.
  • Vinson, Joe A., and Yuxing Cai. Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits. Food & function 3.2 (2012): 134-140.
  • Yadav, Mukesh, et al. “Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review.” Nutrition research reviews 23.2 (2010): 184-190.

 

Top tips for clean eating

Three Top Tips For Clean Eating

What is clean eating?

There’s a lot of media exposure and talk about “clean eating” but what is it exactly? The widely accepted definition is that clean eating means avoiding highly processed foods, refined sugars, and eating a diet rich in whole foods in their most natural state. For fruits and vegetables that means buying organic for The Dirty Dozen. When it comes to animal products, it means buying free-range or pastured with no antibiotics, pesticides, or added hormones.

For some people a clean eating diet also means no gluten.  The challenge with going gluten-free (whether on a clean eating diet or not) is that you need to avoid the gluten-free crutch foods that are scattered all over the grocery store shelves. These highly processed gluten alternatives are not a healthy choice.

1. Start with breakfast

Many people often skip breakfast, possibly because they’re running late or they’re too busy to stop and have a meal. But breakfast is how you fuel your body for the day ahead. If you are going to have breakfast, don’t just choose simple carbohydrates or a fast food option. You want a real food breakfast that will provide healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates.

2. Simple Swaps

  • Hummus is a great alternative to mayonnaise. But instead of being mostly fat, it’s mostly protein. And it has a similar consistency to mayo making it perfect for wraps, dressings, and spreads. If you’re buying it in the store be sure to read the label in order to make sure you are getting the cleanest possible option. Or make it really clean by simply making your own at home.
  • If you’re looking for yogurt it’s easy to be distracted by the fruit-flavored varieties on the dairy case shelves. But the prepared fruit yogurts tend to come with excessively high levels of sugar and may also have other artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, none of which you want on a clean eating plan. Instead choose plain, whole milk yogurt, either regular or Greek-style and add your own sweeteners and flavoring. Options could include fruit, honey, chopped nuts, or delicious spices like cinnamon.
  • Our modern diet has led us to feel that we have to have rice or potatoes or pasta with a meal. We’ve been taught that you “need” a starch. If you feel you still want that to make your meal complete, choose more complex carbohydrates like riced cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or simply double up on your veggies. Cauliflower can also be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes without too much extra effort.
  • Salad and dressing seem to naturally go together. Unfortunately, if you take the time to read the label on the back of the bottle it’s not good news. Filled with loads of preservatives and artificial ingredients, these are definitely not part of the clean eating ideal. Instead make your own vinaigrette by combining 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice, salt, pepper, and the herbs or seasonings of your choice.

3. Don’t Do This

Just as important as all the things listed above that you want to do, there are few things that you need to keep in mind to not do:

  • An easy way to clean up your diet is to skip those foods that are most highly processed and offer the least nutrition. That includes white rice, pasta, cookies, crackers, and chips. Choose nutrient-dense foods that will actually support your health like raw nuts, veggies, and quality proteins.
  • Juices, juice drinks, and soft drinks are empty calories. Truthfully they’re nothing more than liquid candy bars. They provide little to no nutritional value and should be avoided. Eat those fruits instead of juicing them so you can enjoy the fiber which helps to slow down how quickly the sugars hit your bloodstream. If you’re thirsty choose water, herbal teas, or home-made green juices instead.
  • We’ve been misled to believe that artificial fats like margarine are good for us. We’ve also been guided towards vegetable fats like canola or corn oil. What you really want is healthy fats like butter, ghee, or beneficial oils like avocado, olive, and coconut. These are nourishing, satiating, and supportive.

As you start your clean eating journey it can be helpful to use a food journal so that you can see the progress that you’re making. It’s also important to remember that it’s not easy to make all of these changes at once. Baby steps are the key to success here. Start with one thing, like eating breakfast or making a healthy swap. Master that and then move on to the next thing. Before you know it you’ll be well versed in what those clean eating choices are and you’ll be focused on your health goals.

Clean eating is a good step towards a healthy life. In fact, it’s one of the #IngredientsForAHealthyLife. If you’re looking to do even more and clean up not just your diet but your lifestyle, be sure to check out the Lean Clean Green subscription box

Migraines and Magnesium

Migraines And Magnesium

If you’ve been suffering with migraines for any length of time, you know that they can be complex to diagnose and treat. Causes vary from patient to patient and headache to headache.   

But here’s a cause you may not have considered: magnesium deficiency.  

Magnesium Deficiency and Headaches 

Studies indicate that magnesium deficiency may be one of the most commonly overlooked migraine triggers. There is also evidence to suggest that magnesium deficiency is even more common in migraine sufferers than non-migraine sufferers.  

The exact connection between migraines and magnesium is still being studied, but researchers believe that it may be related to magnesium’s role in regulating serotonin. An increase in serotonin from a lack of magnesium can cause vascular spasms and contraction which reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. It is believed that constriction of the blood vessels is a leading cause of headache pain.  

Because of this, magnesium is also being studied as an effective remedy for migraine sufferers. Several studies have indicated that taking magnesium for migraines can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines when taken as an oral supplement or intravenously.  In oral form, it can be effective on its own or as part of a supplement containing other minerals as well.  

Fortunately, both oral and topical magnesium supplements are safe, affordable, easy to find, and may reduce both the frequency and severity of migraines.  

How did we all become magnesium deficient?

Magnesium is an essential mineral in the body. It’s the second most prevalent intracellular fluid and is essential in over 300 chemical processes in the body. Magnesium helps promote a healthy heart and blood vessels, regulates energy levels, is critical for bone health, and is a natural blood thinner and vasodilator.  

However, it is estimated that nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium! This is due to several factors including: 

  • Eating the standard American diet high in processed foods, meat, refined grains, and sugars 
  • Nutrient-deficient soils 
  • Overconsumption of alcohol, caffeine, and soda 
  • Drinking “soft” water that is low in magnesium 
  • Stress (which increases our demand for magnesium in the body) 
  • A genetic inability to absorb magnesium  
  • Use of calcium supplements 
  • Because of where magnesium is stored in the body, a deficiency does not generally show up on routine blood tests. 

If you think you may be at risk for a magnesium deficiency, it’s important that you pay attention to your symptoms. The effects of magnesium deficiency can vary from person to person, but, as you pay more attention to your body, you will begin to recognize your own signs and symptoms.  

Some common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: 

  • Muscle spasms and cramps 
  • Changes in mood 
  • Food cravings (chocolate is a common one that appears to pop up in magnesium deficiency) 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Low energy levels or feeling exhausted quickly

Personally, I know that I’m running on the low side when I start craving chocolate, experiencing twitching and spasms in my muscles, and sleeping poorly. Be on the lookout for your own cues. 

Choosing a Magnesium Supplement 

There are a few things you need to know before you begin experimenting with magnesium as a treatment for your headaches.  

First of all, one of the common side effects of magnesium supplementation is diarrhea and intestinal discomfort. It is recommended that you begin supplementation very slowly to determine what levels you can comfortably tolerate.

 Believe it or not, the most commonly recommended way to find the right dosage for yourself is to very slowly increase the amount you use until these side effects occur and then back off. Every body is different and uses a different amount at different times in their life.  

Also, magnesium comes in many forms – and not all forms are created equal! Here’s what we recommend: 

  • Magnesium malate is a mix of magnesium and malic acid. Because of malic acid’s role in the body, research suggests that malic acid can improve ATP production in the cells, thereby increasing energy and reducing pain. It is a favorite amongst people who also suffer from chronic fatigue and appreciate the energy boost. Some people find it overly stimulating, however, and prefer a different form.
  • Magnesium glycinate is one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium. It is also the least likely to cause intestinal problems. If you try malate and experience diarrhea or find it disrupts your sleep, you may want to try this form instead.  
  • Magnesium threonate has recently been studied to improve memory and brain function. This form optimizes magnesium levels in the brain and is a good option if you are not getting relief from the other forms. 

For neck and shoulder tension relief, we suggest avoiding magnesium oxide because it isn’t easily utilized by the body and magnesium citrate because it can stimulate the bowels before you absorb enough.  

You should also avoid magnesium glutamate and aspartate. These break down into neurotransmitters that can trigger headaches for many people.  

Making a quality magnesium supplement part of your regular routine can help prevent headaches by increasing magnesium levels in the body, which supports overall functioning of the body since magnesium is involved in SO many processes and pathways.

How much should I take?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this and you should be wary of specific recommendations for dosages. In the introductory course, The Ultimate Migraine Relief Course, you’ll learn more about why magnesium is important to include in your routine and how to find the right amount for your body, right now (it changes over time!!).

For magnesium to be effective, you need to be on the right amount for YOU and we show you how to do this with a series of trials over the course of several days. (Learn about the course here.)

You can also take an extra dose at the earliest sign of a migraine or PMS symptoms if you are prone to menstrual migraines. Taking magnesium along with cofactor B6 and B2 or a bioavailable B-complex can help speed absorption and provide faster relief.  

Topical Magnesium 

If the oral supplements listed above do not relieve your muscle tension or cramping or an adequate dose causes severe intestinal discomfort, you can also supplement through the skin. 

Add 2 cups of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to your bath two to three times a week and see if the frequency or severity of your headaches decreases.  

You can also try topical gels, sprays, or oils with magnesium chloride. Here is one of my personal favorites.  Follow the directions on the package and experiment with different doses and products to find the one that works best for you.  

Talk to Your Doctor Before Starting New Supplements

Magnesium supplementation can be an effective preventative measure as well as a pain reliever when a migraine strikes.  

While magnesium overdose is rare, it is a risk, especially for people with reduced kidney function. It is recommended that you start with the lowest dose possible and increase slowly. Talk to your doctor about the best way to add a magnesium supplement to your health regimen and before making any changes to your supplementation programs.  

For more strategies on short-circuiting the migraine process, you will absolutely love the step-by-step method you’ll learn in The Ultimate Migraine Relief Course.

About the author:

Erin Knight, founder of Engineering Radiance, believes that no one should miss out on life because of migraine headaches. Erin has her Masters in Pharmaceutical Engineering from the University of Michigan and advanced training in functional nutrition and nutrigenomics. She suffered from debilitating migraines for over a decade before uncovering the underlying biochemical causes and went on to reverse engineer what worked. This led to the development of her 4-step Migraine Freedom process that is now a blueprint for thousands of people looking for root-cause solutions to their migraine pain.

Add more tools to your toolbox by downloading Erin’s Migraine Rescue Toolbox –a free PDF guide that includes 10 more great ways to get natural migraine relief.

Referenced articles 

Chiu HY, Yeh TH, Huang YC, Chen PY. Effects of Intravenous and Oral Magnesium  on Reducing Migraine: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Pain Physician. 2016 Jan;19(1):E97-112. PubMed PMID: 26752497.  

Delavar Kasmaei H, Amiri M, Negida A, Hajimollarabi S, Mahdavi N. Ketorolac versus Magnesium Sulfate in Migraine Headache Pain Management; a Preliminary Study. Emerg (Tehran). 2017;5(1):e2. Epub 2017 Jan 8. PubMed PMID: 28286809; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5325888.  

Gaul C, Diener HC, Danesch U; Migravent® Study Group. Improvement of migraine  symptoms with a proprietary supplement containing riboflavin, magnesium and Q10:  a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial. J Headache Pain. 2015;16:516. doi: 10.1186/s10194-015-0516-6. Epub 2015 Apr 3. PubMed PMID:  25916335; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4393401. 

Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2012 May;119(5):575-9. doi: 10.1007/s00702-012-0790-2. Epub 2012 Mar 18. Review. PubMed PMID: 22426836.  

disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something using one of these links you will not pay more, but we receive a small commission which helps us keep writing great content for you.

Holistic Remedies for Headache

6 Holistic Remedies For Headache Relief

A headache can often be uncomfortable. In some cases, such as migraines, they can be painful and even debilitating. Whether it’s frequent and chronic headaches or an occasional bout of acute pain, it can interfere with your life, making it difficult to do the things you want to do. Although there are prescription medications and OTC options to help you deal with migraines, try some of these holistic remedies before you reach for the pharmaceuticals.

While there can be any number of reasons for a headache it’s important that you track them in order to be more aware of what your triggers are.  Keeping a headache or migraine journal, in combination with the holistic strategies below, may help reduce you reduce the frequency and/or severity of your headaches.

Food-based issues

Sometimes your headache may be due to specific foods or sensitivity to ingredients. It could even be due to a deficiency of certain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.  If any of these appear to be contributing to your headaches you’ll want to work with a doctor or nutrition professional who can help you identify some of these triggers and support you through the necessary changes to your diet.  Beyond food-based changes, there are a number of other strategies that you can use to help you with your headaches:

Hydration

Many people who experience headaches may be chronically dehydrated.  According to the literature, water-deprivation headache was resolved in as little as 30 minutes by drinking an average of 2 cups of water.  In addition to headaches, dehydration can cause a number of other symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, dry skin, and fatigue.  Proper hydration can help relieve these symptoms as well as boosting circulation in order to help with detoxification. In addition to drinking more water, choose hydrating foods for a healthy boost to your diet.

Stress Management

One very common cause of chronic headaches is stress. Whether your stress is caused by work, relationship issues, anxiety, or the habit of overanalyzing everything, stress can be a significant factor when it comes to headaches.  Managing your stress means looking at those factors that are, well, giving you a headache, and finding ways to either avoid them or reduce their impact on your life.  Some top tips for reducing your stress include:

    • Spending time with friends and family
    • Getting enough rest (sleep deprivation can be a significant  factor in stress)
    • Participate in some form of regular exercise
    • Find a fun activity that you enjoy such as art, gardening, or music
    • Meditate

Some studies found that meditation was helpful in reducing both pain and tension. The participants in the study were new to meditation and were only given one 20-minute guided session to learn from. 

Massage

Massage is helpful for relaxing the muscles and can improve the circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid. According to one study in the Journal of Headache Pain, massage and physiotherapy (which includes massage plus heat and exercise treatment) were effective options for treatment. 

In combination with massage, it may be helpful to apply either hot or cold compresses to help further stimulate blood flow and reduce the headache.  Cold compresses are generally applied to the forehead and temples while hot compresses are often applied to the back of the neck or head.  People tend to respond differently to either hot or cold so you’ll need to experiment with both to see which works best for you.

Some people also find applying weight over the eyes or to the forehead can be helpful and like to use a rolled up towel or an eye-pillow similar to those used in yoga practice.

Acupuncture/Acupressure

This ancient Chinese therapy uses small needles to stimulate certain points or meridians on the body and in doing so balance your Qi or energy. The use of acupuncture has been found to trigger the body so that it produces endorphins, brain chemicals which help reduce pain. One study, in particular, found acupuncture to be similar in effectiveness to preventative pharmacological therapies. Acupuncture can be beneficial for other pain issues as well.

In addition to acupuncture, there’s always the use of self-administered acupressure. Acupressure doesn’t use needles but still applies pressure to certain areas to help relieve the pain of a headache. There are three acupressure points that are most supportive.  GB 20 is the pressure point at the base of the skull, LI 4 is the web in between the thumb and forefinger, and there are four points on the feet.

Herbs

Herbal therapy can be very powerful and there are a number of herbs that are specifically beneficial for headaches. Most people tend to use herbal teas for their headaches. These can be made by adding 1 teaspoon of dry herb to 8 ounces of boiling water and letting it steep for 4-5 minutes.  Strain and serve, if needed you can add a little honey or stevia as a sweetener.

    • Basil
    • Butterbur
    • Catnip
    • Chamomile
    • Fennel
    • Feverfew
    • Ginger
    • Lavender
    • Rosemary
    • Spearmint/Peppermint

Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used for various health issues for thousands of years. Two, in particular, seem to be very helpful for dealing with headaches.

Lavender

Lavender essential oil is often used for its calming effect. In one study participants used the lavender essential oil by inhaling it every 15 minutes for two hours. Results showed that a majority of the test subjects responded positively to inhaling the lavender. Another study looked at using lavender essential oil proactively as a preventative. In that study, both the number and the intensity of the migraines were reduced.

Peppermint

The other beneficial essential oil is peppermint. A cooling, soothing oil, it has been shown to help reduce the pain and sensitivity that often comes with headaches. Peppermint oil also appears to help improve blood flow to the forehead when applied there.

When using essential oils it’s important to note that they are so powerful that they should not be taken internally. Applying essential oils directly to the area, either neat or diluted, or inhaling them using a diffuser or inhaler is all you need. Because essential oils are so potent it may be necessary to dilute with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil.

Dilution Chart (based on 1 tsp. of carrier oil)
1% – 1 drop (best for children and the elderly)
2% – 2 drops
3 % – 3 drops (for specific issues, as directed)
10 % – 10 drops

 

Resources
  • Blau, JN, et al. Water-deprivation headache: a new headache with two variants. Headache. 2004 Jan;44(1):79-83.
  • Chaibi, A and Russel, MB. Manual therapies for primary chronic headaches: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Headache Pain. 2014 Oct 2;15:67.
  • DaSilva, AN. Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache.2015 Mar;55(3):470-3.
  • Göbel H, et al. Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms. Phytomedicine. 1995 Oct;2(2):93-102
  • Rafie, S, et al. Effect of lavender essential oil as prophylactic therapy for migraine: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Journal of Herbal Medicine. Volume 6, Issue 1. March 2016. Pages 18-23.
  • Sasannejad P, et al.Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur Neurol. 2012;67(5):288-91
  • Tonelli, ME and Wachholtz, AB. Meditation-based treatment yielding immediate relief for meditation-naïve migraineurs. Pain Manag Nurs. 2014 Mar;15(1):36-40.
  • Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash

    Headache or Migraine

    Food Facts For Migraine Health

    What are Migraines

    Migraines are more than just a severe headache. They often tend to be made up of several symptoms including:

    • pain or throbbing of the head, forehead, neck or stomach
    • visual aura
    • dizziness
    • nausea or vomiting
    • sensitivity to smell, sound, or light
    • sensitivity to touch or weight of clothing or blankets
    • tingling or numbness of hands, feet, or face (sometimes only on one side of the body)

    Symptoms may not be the same from episode to episode and the length of an episode can vary from several hours to several days. There are a wide variety of triggers however food and food-based ingredients tend to be a big culprit. Below are four different categories of migraine triggers that may have to do with what you are eating or drinking. We’ll discuss each of the categories below, at the end of the article we’ll share a strategy for monitoring

    Food Triggers

    One potential trigger for migraines can be a sensitivity to or inability to properly process certain foods. These often include fermented or aged foods including:

    • alcohol
    • cheeses
    • chocolate
    • citrus
    • shellfish
    • caffeine
    • MSG
    • natural flavorings”
    • or preservatives such as nitrates, nitrites, and sulfites

    About Tyramines

    Another potential trigger for migraines can be tyramine, a trace element from the amino acid tyrosine. It functions as a catecholamine releasing agent (the catecholamines are neurotransmitters in the brain, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine). Foods that are high in tyramines include:

    • bananas
    • avocados
    • beer
    • cabbage
    • sour cream
    • yogurt
    • most cheeses
    • soy products – soy sauce, soy bean paste, tofu, or natto
    • sauerkraut
    • pineapples
    • eggplants
    • figs
    • red plums
    • raspberries
    • peanuts
    • brazil nuts
    • coconuts
    • yeast
    • cacti
    • processed meats (lunchmeat, sausages, canned fish, etc).

    Reduce Refined Sugars

    Sugar can be highly inflammatory; consuming high levels of sugar and simple, or highly refined, carbohydrates can negatively impact blood sugar levels. When this happens the body releases insulin which in turn causes a drop in blood sugar. This cycle, sometimes referred to as a blood sugar roller coaster, can be a potential link to headaches or migraines. Learning to understand where sugar hides in the diet can be key to managing your blood sugar levels and possibly have a positive impact on your migraines.

    Healthy Hydration

    For many migraine sufferers dehydration can be a trigger. Making sure that you are getting proper hydration is an important part of migraine health. To figure out how much hydration you need calculate body weight. Divide that in half for the number of ounces needed to be properly hydrated. Divide that number by 8 to get the number of cups of fluid. Take that number, divide it by four and then set a “hydration alarm” approximately every two hours. When the alarm goes off set your liquid in front of you with the goal to drink it before the alarm goes off again. Remember that this does not mean plain water. Too much water is not healthy either. Hydrating foods such as soups, herbal teas, and food with lots of liquid (like watermelon) all count towards a daily hydration goal.

    Be Mindful of Micronutrient Status

    Nutrient deficiencies are a possible trigger for headaches which may or may not include migraines. And in addition to eating a highly processed diet, or a diet that is low in nutrient density, taking certain medications can deplete nutrients, potentially adding to the issue. Working with a medical or nutrition professional who can order appropriate testing to check your micronutrient status would be helpful.

    Food Changes

    Because there are so many different foods that are highly linked to migraines, one way to possibly support reducing migraines is to remove them. But while removing whole foods can be helpful, it’s important to know that some processed foods can contain hidden ingredients that can be migraine triggers . And because many of these ingredients are used in a wide variety of items, this makes reading the labels, understanding these ingredients, and avoiding them an important part of your migraine wellness plan.

    Monitoring your headache/migraine activity while avoiding triggering food groups can help you more clearly identify which ones may causing your issues. Using a food journal can be a good way to do this. As you build a complete picture of your food-based migraine triggers and change your diet this should help to reduce your episodes. It’s important that if you are working with a doctor and/or nutrition professional to help you resolve your migraine issues you let them know about these changes.

    lotus flower - meditation tips

    Ten Tips For Meditation Newbies

    Why meditate?

    Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, is getting a lot of attention these days.  As people begin to really understand and accept the idea of a mind-body-wellness connection, this practice is becoming more popular. And studies show that meditation has a wide range of health benefits:

    • reduces stress
    • reduces anxiety
    • increases focus
    • improves self-awareness
    • may help with memory
    • may help reduce addiction and addictive behaviors
    • improves sleep
    • has been shown to help reduce pain

    Getting started

    Many people can be hesitant or nervous about starting a practice. That’s because most people equate meditation with sitting still for hours, possibly in lotus position (if your knees bend that far), hands in a mudra position, all while chanting Om and clearing your mind of all thought. While that can, as does, work for some people, for many other’s that simply isn’t going to cut it.

    We tend to forget that we are all bio-individual human beings.  Mind and body. So just as one particular diet is not going to work for every single human on the face of the planet, there is no one single meditation practice that works for everyone either. It’s important to find a practice that works for you, that means one that you are comfortable with and are willing to continue to practice.

    Meditation is not meant to be overwhelming. It can be simple and enjoyable. It can even be something simple like a gratitude practice one to two times per day. If you want to start or improve your meditation practice without stress, however, there are a number of things you need to know. Getting a good start will help you enjoy the process of learning, support you while you find what works for you, and increases your ability to maintain a balanced meditation practice.

    Tips for meditating

    1. Start slow Most people seem to think that they need to jump into an extensive practice, meditation for 30 minutes or an hour at a time. It’s better to begin and develop a practice, even a short one, that you can stick with. Starting with even as little as two to three minutes can be a good start. And you’ll feel so good about it that you’ll want to continue.
    2. Stretch first Especially if you’re new to a meditative practice, sitting or lying still, even just for a few minutes, can get, well, a bit fidgety. If you move your body first, stretching, bending, even just jumping in place if that’s what you need to do, you’ll be much more likely to clear your energy enough to be able to be calm for your practice.
    3. Remember to breathe Sometimes the easiest way to get started is to simply focus on your breath. Breathing helps you maintain awareness and connects you to the present. It also allows you to focus on breathing deep into the belly for full relaxation and oxygenation.
    4. Counting helps If you’re having a hard time focusing on your breath you can add a simple counting practice which has the added benefit of creating just a little more awareness.  One popular method is called box breathing. This is where you breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, breath out for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four.  Repeat.
    5. You’ll still have thoughts Clearing your mind of all thought is extremely difficult. Instead of trying to not think, simply let your mind float. When you have thoughts come up, and they will, acknowledge them. Don’t focus on them thought, simply recognize that they are there and then return your focus to your breath..
    6. Get comfortable You are not required to bend yourself into a pretzel shape in order to achieve some sort of meditative nirvana. If you’re doing a still meditation (which is what most people start with), simply sit or lie comfortably.  Adjust your body to make sure you don’t feel cramped or crooked. Rest your hands comfortable, at your sides, on your belly, on your lap, whatever works for you. Making yourself comfortable first means you won’t get distracted from your practice by discomfort in your body.
    7. Use a timer Especially in the beginning, the temptation is to keep cracking open your eyeballs to peek and see how much time has passed.  Yes, even if you’re just meditation for two minutes.  If you’re not used to it, two minutes can be a long time.  A timer allows you to let go of that concern because once your time it up it lets you know.  You may find yourself surprised at how quickly the time passes when you don’t have to worry about it.
    8. Try meditating multiple times per day By trying different times of the day you’ll find the time that works best for you.  You’ll probably also discover that, especially in the beginning, it’s easier to do 3-4 mini sessions while you work your way up to a longer one. s
    9. Be patient Like anything new, in theory, it would seem that it should be really easy to meditate.  Especially if you’re only doing it for a few minutes. But we’ve become conditioned to always being busy, especially with technology and our always-on social life. It takes time and effort to break this habit. Be kind to yourself, be patient and know that you will get there.
    10. Keep it up Make it a habit to set aside time every day for meditation.  The more you do this the more you’ll come to appreciate the restful break from our overscheduled and busy lives that meditation provides. Don’t push yourself to move too quickly. Simply acknowledge that you are building a new skill, and that takes time.

         Bonus tip

         Unless you’re using one of the meditation apps listed below, be sure to turn off your cellphone so that
         you
    are not interrupted while you’re trying to meditate. Even if you are using an app, set it to do not
         disturb so that you won’t be in the middle of a session when your phone goes off.

    Meditation resources

    There are a number of resources out there that can help you as you learn to build your practice. These include meditation apps and books. Don’t forget to invest in a comfy pair of yoga pants, and maybe even a yoga mat or a zafu meditation pillow, if you’re going to do a more traditional style of meditation.

    The beauty of meditation is how many different ways there are to practice it and how easy it can be.  By incorporating a meditation practice into your life you’ll achieve both physical and mental benefits. Using the tips and resources listed above you’ll become skillful at this wonderful practice, developing a healthful habit that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

    Turnips, The Under Appreciated Root

    A different kind of root vegetable

    When thinking about root vegetables most people are familiar with carrots, potatoes, and onions. There are, however, a number of other root vegetables. One overlooked vegetable, in particular, is a great addition to the diet; especially when you’re looking to eat a rainbow that has more than green veggies in it. This amazingly healthy choice for root vegetables is turnips. This creamy-purple root vegetable is part of the Brassicaceae family and tends to be grown in temperate climates.  It has a similar look to beetroots; with a bulbous shape and large green leaves. Turnips are easily grown on a small scale in a backyard small garden or they can be planted in containers. All parts of the plant are edible, root, leaves, and sprouts from the seeds.

    Nutrition in turnips

    Turnips are a must have nutrition-packed vegetable for the diet. A delicious and filling low-calorie root vegetable, they provide dietary fiber plus numerous vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Bs, C, K, folate, magnesium, iron, and calcium, copper and phosphorous. Sprouts made from turnip seeds have been shown to have the second highest level of glucosinolates (mustard sprouts are the highest) which is highly anti-carcinogenic, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial.

    Not only are these amazing vegetables delicious, but they are also versatile and can be enjoyed in different forms. Turnips can be added to stews, grills, appetizers. They can be steamed, mashed, slightly cooked, or roasted and used in the preparation of a variety of cuisines worldwide. Baby turnips are very tender and can even be eaten raw. Braced by their long shelf life, these veggies ideally should always be included on the grocery list. But you may be wondering how turnips benefit our health?

    Health benefits of turnips

    In addition to their wonderful flavor and versatility, it turns out there is a wide variety of ways that adding turnips to your diet can support good health

    Fight Inflammation

    Due to the high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids, turnips are a highly anti-inflammatory food. Given the connection of inflammation to chronic health issues, adding anti-inflammatory foods, such as turnips and turnip greens, to the diet is a beneficial way to reduce risk factors for many different diseases.

    Reduce the risk of chronic illnesses

    Part of the nutritional content of turnips includes high levels of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C provides the body with superior defense against chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer by boosting the immunity of the body. It does this by protecting the cells from free radicals. In addition to Vitamin C, turnips are an excellent source of Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin which has been shown to be beneficial for reducing cancer risk, preventing osteoporosis, helpful against insulin resistance, supportive for cardiovascular health, and it and also be beneficial for supporting brain health in older adults.

    Helpful for good digestion

    The fiber content found in turnips does a great deal for our digestive system. Fiber promotes good bowel movements and is generally supportive of overall bowel health. Regular elimination, due to better fiber content in the diet, is frequently associated with better detoxification. Fiber also provides pre-biotic content, the food for the probiotics living in our gut, and helps to maintain a healthy system overall. A higher fiber diet means a stronger, more supportive microbiome and ultimately a healthier you.

    May help support weight Loss

    Turnips combine the advantage of high fiber and nutrient dense (lots of nutrients for very little calories) content. The fiber is supportive for gut health and can help contribute to satiety, the feeling of being full after eating which may in turn help with weight loss. This dietary fiber, found primarily in the roots, can help to boost the metabolism as well as controlling sugar levels in the body. This, in turn, can be part of the key to maintaining a healthy weight.

    How to eat turnips

    No matter how healthy turnips are the best part is how delicious they are. Here are a few ideas on some great ways to include turnips in your diet:

    • Baby turnips are very tender and tasty, these can be sliced and eaten raw or diced into salads
    • Turnip sprouts are a tangy addition to a salad or can be added to other dishes
    • Sauteed with the greens, some onions and a little garlic, turnips are mild and very delicious
    • Roasting turnips is a great way to bring out their flavor, either on their own or in combination with other root vegetables
    • Instead of potatoes consider boiling and then mashing turnips with a little butter, salt, and garlic. Or you can make a medley by combining different root vegetables and mashing them together
    • Turnips are also wonderful in soups and can be a fabulous way to get a little more veggie (and fiber) into your diet

     

    Sources

    photo courtesy of jackmac34

    Shopping The Perimeter Of The Grocery Store

    Is it Safe on the Outside?

    There are over 50,000 items for sale in a typical grocery store. The sad truth is that most of them are not food. They are processed conglomerations of ingredients. Because of this, there’s a common myth that if you shop the perimeter of the grocery store you’ll be “safe” from food challenges. More and more people are shopping just the “outside” of the grocery store, convinced that if they avoid what’s in the middle they’re only getting healthy food. Unfortunately, this is not true.

    Most grocery stores are set up in a similar pattern. Walk into the produce section which is usually near the bakery or the deli. Moving around the outside edges, the perimeter, of the grocery store you’ll find the fish counter, meat, poultry. The dairy section is at the back of the store. This is because the further into the store you have to walk to buy staple ingredients, such as milk, eggs, and butter, the more time you spend in the store. The longer you are there the more money you are likely to spend. On the inside aisles is where you’ll find all of the packaged, canned, and frozen foods. You often have to walk through them to get from one section to the next, increasing the possibility that you will be tempted by what is in the aisles.

    Does It Belong Here?

    While the fresh food is usually found on the perimeter of the grocery store it’s important to be aware of two big issues that impact that section of the grocery store. The first is something called product placement or product creep. Grocery stores and food producers are well aware that consumers are purchasing more heavily from the outer edges of the store. Their job, however, is to sell as much as they can. One way they try to influence consumers is by moving in items that would not normally be in a particular section (but that go with those foods).

    One example of this would be finding packaged shortcake, glaze for strawberries, and cool whip or some form of canned whipped cream in the produce section at the height of strawberry season. The grocery store may attempt to promote this as being “for your convenience” but the truth is it’s there to tempt you to purchase it and to increase their sales and profits.

    Unfortunately, if you don’t take the time to read the labels you may get more than you bargained for. That glaze for strawberries, for example, contains genetically modified ingredients, excessive sugars, artificial colors, and possibly MSG. Rather than just getting fresh fruit, if you purchase these add-on items you’re also buying a wide range of chemicals and additives which may be harmful to your health.

    This happens all around the grocery store. Salad dressings by the salad, seasoning mixes and marinades by the meat, etc. Product placement is a big factor for grocery stores. As a matter of fact, food manufacturers pay something called a slotting fee to grocery stores to determine where in the store their product will appear. This idea of manipulating the perimeter is a big reason that eggs and dairy are all the way in the back of the store. The grocery chain, and by extension the food manufacturers, are looking to get you to spend as much time in the store as possible and encourage impulse buying. They know that the longer you are there the more you will spend.

    What’s In What You’re Eating?

    Another major concern with shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is not just what the food items are, but what’s in them. Unfortunately, it’s things that we can’t really see that pose an even bigger challenge to health.

    Produce

    When shopping in the produce department the second thing you need to be aware of is the Dirty Dozen. Those twelve fruits and vegetables which are highly contaminated by pesticides. Eating them increases the toxic body burden. This list changes each year as the Environmental Working Group evaluates the current state of pesticides and toxins used to grow produce. The only way to avoid the toxic burden of the Dirty Dozen is to purchase organic for those twelve fruits and vegetables. To make it easy to remember the list (and stay on top of the changes) simply download the Environmental Working Group’s free app, EWG Healthy Living (ios and android).

    Meat and Poultry

    In the meat and poultry section buying organic is your best choice. Conventionally raised animals are given high levels of antibiotics, partially to keep them healthy in spite of the crowded conditions they are raised in. It’s also because these antibiotics act as a growth stimulator. Unfortunately, the antibiotics are passed on through the to end product when we then wind up consuming them. It’s important to note that the overuse of antibiotics in farming has led to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bugs. Conventionally raised animals are also allowed to be raised on genetically modified (GM) feed which is often heavily laden with pesticides. These items can have an impact on your body as well as affecting the environment. Note that the term “natural” is not the same as organic. Although there are some rules around the natural label when it comes to meat products, this label still allows for the use of GM/pesticide-laden feed. The only way to avoid added hormones, pesticides, and genetic modification is to choose organic.

    Dairy

    The dairy section is another area of concern. Not only because of the antibiotics, GM feed, and high levels of pesticides found in conventionally sourced dairy products, but also because of added hormones. rBST sometimes referred to as rBGH, is a growth hormone which causes cows to produce more milk. Studies have shown that dairy with rBGH tends to have more Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). This, in turn, has been linked to cancer, specifically of the breast, prostate and gastrointestinal tract. Although it is possible to do the research and avoid dairy with added hormones if it is conventionally raised all of the other issues still remain. Once again, choosing organic is the best, healthiest option.

    Summary

    • Be on the lookout for product creep — items that are in a category where they don’t belong
    • Be mindful of the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetable, buying organic for those choices
    • Choose organic meats to avoid added hormones and antibiotics
    • Avoid added hormones and antibiotics in dairy products by choosing organic
    • Read labels to help you avoid negative ingredients

    When Probiotics Are Not A Good Choice

    Health supplements are expected to reach a global market share of $278 billion by 2024. That’s a sizable market and it continues to grow. Probiotics are one of the fastest growing items in the category in the U.S. With so much focus on the microbiome and the as more information points to their effectiveness in minimizing digestive issues and promoting gut health, the demand for probiotics is all set to explode.

    A recent report reveals that Canada could save up to $100 million CAN per year through probiotic use designed to minimize instances of upper respiratory infections. The supplement market in China, with probiotics at the top of the list, is also set for rapid expansion.

    However, while probiotics are a great choice to combat many digestive issues, they are not always the best choice. That’s why it is important to know when to take probiotics and when to seek alternative treatments.

    What Are Probiotics?

    While bad bacteria can make you sick, good bacteria can help break down food and support your immune system. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that work in harmony with your biological systems. Many probiotics specifically help support good digestive health, combating issues like diarrhea, nausea, malabsorption, and dozens of other symptoms of a leaky gut. 

    You can get probiotics through consuming probiotic-rich foods such as lacto-fermented vegetables and yogurt or through beverages like kombucha and kefir. Or you can get them through supplementation. However just because they can have some health benefits doesn’t always mean that they always have health benefits. There can be times when it’s best to not take probiotic-rich foods or supplementation and you should actually avoid them.

    3 Reasons to Avoid Probiotics

    Below is a quick list of those occasions when it might be better to seek alternative treatments for digestive issues. In each of these cases, use of or consumption of probiotics is contraindicated until the condition has been resolved.

    1. SIBO

    Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) refers to a condition where you already have too much bacteria in your small intestine. Adding more is not a healthy solution to anything, even when it is otherwise helpful bacteria. For those with SIBO getting a diagnosis can sometimes be difficult. But once you have a diagnosis there’s a specific dietary protocol and supplemental support required to support your system.

    The symptoms of SIBO are quite diverse and can include

    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Abdominal bloating and pain
    • Joint pain
    • Fatigue
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Depression
    • and more

    2. Candida Overgrowth

    Candida is a type of yeast that can overrun your intestinal tract and cause a variety of symptoms. When your candida levels are under control, this yeast helps with digestion and nutrient absorption. When levels get too high, symptoms can range from simple things like a white coating on the tongue to more serious symptoms like:

    • Exhaustion
    • Brain fog
    • Joint pain
    • Chronic sinus and allergy problems
    • Gas and bloating
    • Weakened immune system
    • Frequent UTIs

    This is just a small sample of the potential problems associated with an out-of-control candida overgrowth. While some low-level imbalances can be treated with over-the-counter medications (such as fluconazole for yeast infections), chronic overgrowth needs to be addressed through dietary changes, nutritional support, and possibly antifungal medications. The use of a self-scoring quiz can be helpful for diagnosis. Many people who switch to a candida protocol after scoring high on the test have good results ranging from clearer skin and better digestive function to clearing of infections and weight loss.

    3. Probiotics Don’t Fix Everything

    The effectiveness of probiotics depends entirely on the cause of your problem. If your gut flora is out of balance or you have too little bacteria to help with digestion, probiotics can be a great way to rebalance everything. If you have been on antibiotics, pairing those with probiotics might help prevent conditions like H. Pylori. Since H. Pylori can cause systemic and prolonged digestive upset, a bit of prevention is well worth the investment in probiotics. If you don’t suffer from any of these conditions or your digestive upset has nothing to do with your gut biome, probiotics won’t help.

    While probiotics can be a great way to improve your digestive health, it is important to know when to take them. Unless directed by a doctor, you likely won’t want to take probiotics on a daily basis.

    Added Probiotics

    Unfortunately with all the news about the benefits of probiotics many food producers are starting to add them to a wide variety of items at the grocery store. Cereals, chocolate, cold brew coffee, salad dressings, and more are all being promoted as a healthy choice due. However, overconsumption of probiotics can lead to an imbalance of the gut and is not a healthy choice. 

    If you suspect you have gut health issues it’s best to work with a health professional and be evaluated to see if you need to add or avoid probiotics in your diet.