Rachel Alm, NTP, MMH, BCHN Integrative Wellness
Rachel Alm, NTP, MMH, BCHNIntegrative Wellness

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Let Your Heart Be Light

12 Tips for Wellness Through the Cold Season

Winter 2013-14

 

  1. EARLY TO BED. The darkest day of the year is just around the corner and many outdoor creatures are settling down for a long winter's nap. Consider this the time to get cozy and conserve your energy rather than burn it up in the holiday shuffle. It's better for your metabolism to get to bed earlier, rather than sleeping extra late in the morning.
  2. FUEL WITH FOOD. Rather than relying on caffeine and sugar to boost your energy during the holiday rush, nourish yourself with satisfying foods. By eating simple whole foods (nuts, olives, fruit, avocados, good cheese...) every 3-4 hours throughout the day, you'll avoid blood sugar spikes and drops and the less-than-ideal food choices that often follow.
  3. GET CREATIVE. This year, create something beautiful! A decoration for your home, a DIY gift for a loved one, a project with your kids, whatever! It doesn't have to be complicated, but studies have proven many therapeutic effects of artistic expression including stress reduction and increasing positive thoughts!
  4. HYDRATE. To battle dry skin, boost your immune function, control hunger, and manage joint pain, make sure you get plenty of fluids every day. Herbal teas and soups are good sources when it's cold. Your body weight in lbs, divided by 2, roughly equals the volume of water you should consume daily. (In addition: balance diuretics with extra water, get your electrolytes from a good quality salt, use a humidifier, and moisturize your skin with coconut oil. You will glow!)
  5. SATISFY YOUR TASTE BUDS. If you consistently fuel yourself with flavorful foods, healthy sweets, and quality fats, you'll have much more control if/when you do indulge in the occasional holiday treat.
  6. SEASONAL FLAVORS. Tune in with foods that would have been available to us this time of year, before global supply chains made things like "jet-fresh pineapple" a possibility in December. Ayurvedic wisdom tells us to fill up on warming foods like root vegetables, ginger, and spiced milk (my nut milk recipe to follow).
  7. GIFT YOURSELF. Yoga, meditation, warm baths....please don't forget to put yourself at the top of your list this holiday. You won't be sorry!
  8. BOOST YOUR MOOD WITH FOOD. The word protein means "of primary importance" in Greek. Protein is broken down into amino acids, which form neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which help us to feel optimistic, enthusiastic, and calm. A serving the size of your palm at every meal is a good rule of thumb, with FISH providing the highest concentration of mood-boosting aminos.
  9. MOUNT YOUR DEFENSE. Protect your body, mind, and spirit this holiday season with consistent sleep, exercise, and healthy diet. Add immune-boosting foods like garlic, cinnamon, rosemary, and lemon, in addition to probiotics and vitamin D. Remember, the best offense is a good defense.
  10. GIVE AND RECEIVE. Give from the heart, knowing the more you share, the more you'll surely get back! (No need to overspend this holiday, it's your love and kindness that bring the greatest rewards.)
  11. PLAY. Go sledding, dance around the tree, dress up as an elf, play a board game with the family. Go ahead, let your heart be light.
  12. BREATHE. Never underestimate the power of breath in energizing the body, grounding the spirit, and clearing the mind.

Spice Rack or Medicine Chest?

My favorite kitchen remedies for managing inflammation

​Fall 2013

Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury. We WANT the body to INFLAME when necessary, and we want it to ANTI-INFLAME when the work is done. An overactive inflammatory response is usually a sign that the system has been over-worked and it's time to hit the medicine chest. You know, the one in your kitchen that holds jars of coloful, aromatic spices. 

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Commonly used in curry dishes and mustard, turmeric is deep yellow in color with a distinctive sharp flavor. I recommend turmeric for all inflammatory disorders including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and auto-immune conditions. I especially love the benefits for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Curcumin is the major constituent of turmeric, and is often isolated for therapeutic use. You can cook with turmeric daily or take capsules. Expect about two months of regular use to get the full anti-inflammatory benefit. 
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale): This rhizome is well known for its healing properties, with a long history of use for inflammation and digestive upset. Grate fresh ginger in hot water, steep for 7 minutes, and enjoy with a bit of raw honey. Powdered dry ginger is also effective and can be taken in capsule form. As with turmeric, you'll get the most benefit after a couple months of consistent use (although I believe any bit of ginger in your diet is beneficial). 
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): This aromatic shrub tastes delicious with roasted poultry and veggies, but also significantly inhibits the inflammatory response. Try a drop of rosemary essential oil, mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil, rubbed on sore muscles and stiff joints. 
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum): A recent study showed that cinnamon has the potential to reduce inflammation of colon cells. We also know that cinnamon helps to keep blood sugar steady, which in turn prevents inflammation associated with hypo/hyperglycemia. Grab a new crop honeycrisp apple and sprinkle some cinnamon on top for a tasty and healthful fall treat.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare): A member of the mint family, oregano is known to be one of nature's most potent antiseptics. Oregano oil is particularly powerful and can be used topically (diluted in carrier oil), or diffused in the air to soothe respiratory irritation and reduce aches and pains. Apply diluted oil to the bottom of a child's feet at the first sign of a cold to knock it out.
  • Garlic (Allium sativum): Affectionately called “the stinking rose”, garlic belongs in your meal every day. The sulfur-containing compounds in garlic promote cardiovascular health as well as offer an anti-arthritic effect. Chop your garlic and allow it to sit for several minutes before cooking with it, as this allows garlic's healing powers to reach their full potential.

Not on your spice rack, but no anti-inflammatory article is complete without mentioning...

  • Boswellia (Boswellia serrata): Made from the resin of the Boswellia tree (also know as Indian Frankincense), this remedy is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine. It was traditionally used for arthritis, asthma, and irritation of the skin and digestive tract. Recent studies have confirmed the efficacy of Boswellia in the treatment of RA, IBD, and asthma, as well as generalized inflammatory conditions such as fibromyalgia. 
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: The healthy fat that our body NEEDS to regulate inflammation is not produced in the body and MUST be present in your diet. Many (most) Americans over-consume Omega 6's which promote inflammation, and not enough anti-inflammatory Omega 3's. Get them from fatty cold-water fish AND a quality supplement taken daily. 

If you are experiencing ongoing inflammation, it's important to understand the underlying causes​ so that you can make the necessary changes to heal rather than mask symptoms. As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I specialize in resolving chronic inflammation through dietary changes and targeted nutrition. Call today for a free consultation to learn more.

 

In good health, 

Rachel Alm NTP   

New leaf. New life. New you.

PALEO SERIES

The what, why and how of the lifestyle everyone's buzzing about

Summer 2013

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY Paleo Series 

Part 1 of 3: What is Paleo?


You may have heard a lot about a Paleo lifestyle lately, or perhaps you've seen some compelling 'before and after” Paleo pics. Wondering what it all really means?

 

This is not a fad diet. This a common-sense, life-long approach to nourishing yourself and achieving optimal health without deprivation. Choosing to follow a Paleolithic diet (aka “Primal”, “Ancestral”, “Grain-free”) means returning to the foods of our ancestors, the REAL foods humans have been eating for the longest period of time. The basics:

 

Choose nutrient-dense foods, in their whole form, that provide optimal fuel for your body: 

  • Meat and seafood, eggs, vegetables (raw, cooked, and/or fermented), fruits, nuts, seeds, and quality fats
  • Consider adding traditional power foods like organ meats, bone broths, and cultured foods
  • Though technically not Paleo you might also include olive oil, dark chocolate, and red wine (in moderation) for the nutritional benefits they provide

 

Avoid processed, refined, nutrient-poor foods:

  • Packaged snacks and meals, sugar, artificial sweeteners/diet soda, liquid vegetable oils
  • All grains (yes, even quinoa and steel-cut oats!), pasteurized dairy products, legumes and beans

 

Paleo is NOT low-carb. Please DO eat carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and nuts, you need them. 

 

Ideally, your meat should come from grass-fed, pasture-raised, organically fed animals. Seafood should be wild-caught, and produce should be organic. While there is a difference in price, to be sure, the difference in nutritional quality is astounding and, well, you're worth it. 

 

Let me say I'm not a one-size-fits-all Nutritional Therapist. I like Paleo as a foundation, and I like YOU because you're an individual. So, listen to your instincts and modify as necessary. I'm always available for private consultations to help you refine your individual needs and help you feel your very best. 

 

Next week...WHY Paleo? Learn about the health benefits and why so many say they'll never eat any other way!

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY Paleo Series 

Part 2 of 3: Why Paleo?


Now that you know the basics of what a Paleo lifestyle looks like, you may be wondering WHY? Ask folks following this life way how they feel, and they'll likely tell you, “better than ever!”. 

 

If you gain no other benefits from a Paleo diet (though I'm certain you will), you'll find the foods are simply delicious and satisfying; meal time is something you begin to look forward to rather than dread. No more reduced fat foods and packaged foods that only half-satisfy. When people start eating Paleo, they appreciate a mental clarity they've never felt before. This is due to your body efficiently balancing blood sugar—these foods make energy production a much easier process for the body. And speaking of sugar, you'll have fewer cravings, which means you'll probably feel less stressed and hungry. There's a good chance you'll sleep better, lose some weight and notice new muscle development too. 

 

Real food is powerful medicine. If you have skin problems, diabetes, or digestive concerns get ready...following a Paleo plan could literally reverse these symptoms. Eating this way can prevent cancer and heart disease, and is profoundly helpful in dealing with anxiety and depression for many people as well.  

 

I've experienced these positive benefits for myself as well as my clients, and I truly believe moving to a simpler way of eating is truly healing. Whether you have health concerns, or feel healthy and want to stay that way, consider adopting this life plan! 

Let me say I'm not a one-size-fits-all Nutritional Therapist. I like Paleo as a foundation, and I like YOU because you're an individual. So, listen to your instincts and modify as necessary. I'm always available for private consultations to help you refine your individual needs and help you feel your very best. 

 

Next week...HOW to get started!! Look for recipes, tips, and support to make changes that will last a lifetime.

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY Paleo Series 

Part 3 of 3: HOW do I start Paleo?

 

What is Paleo? 

Just REAL FOOD from clean sources (meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, oils).

 

Why should I try it? 

Satisfying meals, healthy weight, healing, disease prevention, efficient digestion, clear skin, blood sugar regulation, mental clarity, more energy, better sleep, emotional well-being, hormonal balance....

 

How do I start? 

Any lifestyle change should be adopted gradually if you want it to stick. I recommend going in stages:

 

1Add more REAL FOOD to your diet 

    Find good sources for your meat, eggs and produce. Experiment with new veggies and grains in your kitchen. Plant an herb garden. Browse through recipes. Familiarize yourself with cooking techniques like steaming veggies, roasting meats, and making chicken stock. Follow a couple blogs. Consider investing in a crock pot, a food processor, and a quality chef's knife. 

 

2. Go gluten free 

    No more wheat, spelt, barley, or rye. Choose GF versions of the foods you eat now. 

  •     Gluten free grains: rice, oats, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth
  •     Gluten free starches: potato, sweet potato, beans, legumes, pumpkin, arrowroot, nut flour, coconut flour, tapioca

 

3. Eliminate refined sugar and processed carbohydrates

    This is a tough one, but you'll feel like a million bucks once you jump this hurdle. No more packaged snacks and treats (even gluten free). Stick to the GF foods listed above, prepared in your kitchen, in their WHOLE form. Sugar in all its forms must also be removed. 

 

4. Remove grains and limit starches

    The majority of your meals will now be made up of meat, eggs and veggies. Jazz up your dishes with sauces and herbs for variety. 

 

Many shades of Paleo

I like Paleo as a foundation, and I like YOU because you're an individual. Eating a REAL FOOD diet will look different for everyone, so listen to your instincts and modify as necessary. I'm always available for private consultations to help you refine your individual needs. A few foods worth mentioning:

Peanuts—technically a legume not a nut. Avoid, and use almond butter instead. So much better anyway! 

Dairy—best avoided IMO, but some Paleo followers include raw dairy and homemade yogurt.

Potatoes and beans—not Paleo, but if you're going to bend limits, at least these are real foods. Rice crackers and gluten free waffles are not. See what I mean?

Red wine, dark chocolate, coffee—I'm guilty of consuming these foods on the regular, and I'm not too sorry about it. However, they may or may not be the best choices for you. 

 

Resources

Far too many to list, but here are just a few that I love:

  • Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat 
  • Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle 

Be good to yourself as you make these changes, and celebrate each success! 

new leaf. new life. new you.

Spring Cleaning: Tips for Seasonal Detoxification   April 2013

Spring is a time for clearing and starting fresh. And there’s no better time than now to do just exactly that for your body. After a long winter of heavy foods and decreased physical activity, you might be itching to do some spring cleaning. Sure, your home and garden will appreciate a little sprucing up, but don’t forget to give your body some needed attention as well.

Read on to learn what everyone should know about springtime detoxification and what you can do to help your body work at its best. 

 

What is DETOXIFICATION?

Defined as the removal of a harmful substance, it’s what the cells of your body are doing all the time. Your body is constantly working to take in the good stuff from your environment (food, water, oxygen) and get rid of the bad stuff (chemicals, pollutants, drugs). Sometimes, however, we absorb more of the bad stuff than our body can eliminate, and toxins begin to build up. Assisting your body’s natural detoxification process is a smart move that will keep you clean and healthy, inside and out. 

 

How do toxins exit the body?

The human body is smart; there’s more than one exit route for harmful substances that may have snuck in. Toxins leave via the following systems: 

 

Respiratory—lungs, bronchial tubes, throat, sinuses, and nose

Gastrointestinal—liver, gall bladder, colon, and whole GI tract

Urinary—kidneys, bladder, and urethra

Skin—sweat and sebaceous glands, tears

Lymphatic—lymph nodes

cardiovascular—blood is filtered; a complete blood detox takes about 3 days

 

What slows down DETOXIFICATION?

Dehydration may be the #1 cause but everyday stressors, especially foods, can also inhibit our ability to clear toxins. Too much sugar, red meat, processed foods, caffeine, nicotine, unhealthy oils, soy, refined carbohydrates, and corn all hold up the process. 

 

Signs you’re not DETOXIFYING:

Your body aches; you have excess weight, fatigue, headaches, skin problems, irritability, foggy thinking, poor balance, abnormal bowel movements, and/or depression. 

 

Simple things you can do to jump-start your body’s DETOXIFICATION process:

  • Remove the stressors. Stick to vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, healthy oils, fish, nuts and poultry. Avoid drugs and alcohol, and manage your stress. 
  • Exercise. Daily, even for just a little while! 
  • Sweat. Use saunas, steam, and tub soaks often.
  • Watch the sugar. Cut back now and enjoy increased energy and balanced blood sugar.
  • Drink plenty of water. Your body depends heavily on water to flush out toxins. 
  • Add lemon or cucumber to your drinking water. Both of these fruits support the detox process, and the added flavor can help you meet your daily water needs more easily.
  • Move lymphatic fluid. Dry brush your skin or jump on a trampoline to support drainage.

 new leaf.

new life. new you.

Rachel Alm

Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

 

509.881.0645     

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