Kick off your summer with a gentle detox

What does "detox" mean? It's about slowly removing irritants, allergens, preservatives and other problem foods from your diet, so you can help restore balance to your the digestive tract. When you're out of balance, it can negatively impact your hormones, your mood and the chemicals in your brain. 

People who try a detox usually report improved digestion, less bloating, smoother skin, better sleep and more energy. Try starting with a simple, whole food approach for one week. Avoid gluten, added sugar, artificial ingredients, soy, dairy, corn, caffeine and alcohol. It takes a bit of an attitude adjustment - you need to focus your attention on what you CAN eat, not what you can't eat.

Look for organics and avoid the prepackaged snack foods. Eat plenty of veggies, as they will do most of the heavy-lifting of a detox plan. Take a daily non-dairy probiotic to repopulate your gut with good bacteria. And remember to stay hydrated - drink plenty of filtered water.

After a week or so of cleaner eating, take note of how you feel - less sluggish, less stressed, more alert and happier, I bet!

You can slowly add back foods you were avoiding, but do it one at a time and pay close attention to how you feel immediately after eating them. By becoming more acutely aware of how typical problem foods affect your body, you will have an easier time realizing you don't need them. 

How to build healthy bones

Did you know that your bones are at their peak by the time you’re 30 years old? If you don’t build enough bone mass by then, you could develop osteoporosis, or fragile bones, as you age. Thankfully there are plenty of easy ways to keep your bones healthy at any age – and it’s all about what you eat and how you move.

Do your strength training
To form new bone, prevent bone loss, and reduce inflammation, focus on weight-bearing types of exercise. It’s about so much more than increasing your muscle mass! Resistance training and weightlifting will do your bones a world of good.

Eat your veggies
Your mama was right – all that vitamin C and antioxidants are great for your bones. It stimulates the right cells, protects them from damage, and increases bone density, which is a measurement of how much calcium and other minerals are in your bones.

Balance your protein and fatty acids
50% of bone is made of protein. Research shows that if you don’t eat enough protein, your bones’ ability to absorb calcium decreases, which affects bone mass. But if you consume too much protein, you might actually lose calcium from your bones because of increased acidity in your blood. Balance is key to protect bone health. Omega-3 fatty acids from both fish and plants are known for being anti-inflammatory and they also protect against bone loss as you age.

Absorb those minerals
Calcium is the main mineral found in your bones. Old bone cells constantly break down and get replaced by new ones, so daily calcium consumption is critical for bone strength. It's best to spread your calcium intake (from foods rather than supplements) throughout the day for more even absorption. A diet that includes calcium-rich foods can also decrease your risk of heart disease. Magnesium helps convert vitamin D so it promotes calcium absorption. Zinc is a mineral that helps those bone cells form and it also helps prevent bone from breaking down.

Take your vitamins 
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and prevent bone diseases. Most people don’t get enough vitamin D from sun exposure or food sources, so a supplement is important to maintain an optimum level. Vitamin K supports bone health by modifying the protein involved in bone formation, allowing it to bind to the minerals in bones and prevent calcium loss.

Maintain a healthy weight
Being underweight increases your risk of osteoporosis. Try to avoid overly low-calorie diets, which not only slow down your metabolism, but also create rebound hunger which causes a loss of muscle mass and can be harmful to bone health. Being overweight can also impair bone quality and increase the risk of fractures. Maintaining a stable, normal (or slightly higher) weight is best for your bones.

Don’t take your bones for granted; symptoms of bone disease often don't appear until bone loss is advanced. It's never too early to start improving your nutrition and lifestyle to keep your bones healthy and strong at any age.

Why women need to lift weights

Photo by Maria Fernanda Gonzalez

Strength training isn’t just for men and their quest to be ripped. Recent studies show that lifting weights may have important health benefits for women, especially older women.

When considering a strength training program, whether you go to the gym, hire a trainer or work out at home, proper form is critical, as is finding the right amount of weight and intensity for your fitness level.

Always warm up first with a few minutes of walking or light cardio exercise. Lift and lower your weights slowly, engage your abdominal muscles and remember to breathe. Resistance training using your own body weight is also a valuable part of your program.

Here’s how strength training matters to women:
  • Lowers the risk of diabetes by preventing inflammation and blood sugar spikes, especially for overweight postmenopausal women
  • Boosts bone density - it optimizes bone mass in younger women and stimulates bone formation in those with osteoporosis.
  • Soothes low back pain by strengthening your core
  • Prevents frailty and loss of muscle mass that’s common as we age
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease by enhancing blood flow and reducing blood pressure
  • Makes you smarter - researchers found that senior women who did weekly strength training improved their executive cognitive function by at least 10%
  • Improves the quality of your muscles, which allows for more flexible joints and better range of motion

Make sure you give each muscle group a full day or more to recover after each workout. And listen to your body – even though it’s normal to experience mild soreness in your muscles, you’ve overdone it if you feel any sharp pain or end up with sore or swollen joints.

Are you getting enough vitamin D?

Photo by Bryan Minear

The sun is vital to our very existence on this planet, and the sunshine vitamin - vitamin D - is vital to health while we’re here. Nearly all of our our cells have receptors for vitamin D, which means it’s an integral part of our body’s ability to function. That includes our fat cells, which unfortunately tend to cling to vitamin D and block it from the rest of the body.

Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D in your diet and through supplements can help ward off a variety of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Spending about ten minutes outdoors each day without sunscreen is another way to absorb vitamin D, but depending on the weather where you live, it may not be enough.

Here’s where studies have shown vitamin D to have an impact:

Prevents inflammation
Reduces chronic pain
Maintains a healthy immune system
Lowers blood sugar
Prolongs cognition as we age
Lowers the risks of cancer
Improves our bone density
Minimizes risk of bone fractures
Helps our body absorb and retain calcium

You’ve probably seen both D2 and D3 on the shelves of your pharmacy. D3 comes from lichen or sheep lanolin and D2 comes from fungi. Our bodies can absorb D3 much better than D2, so D3 is best when you have a deficiency.

Contact me for recommendations on the most effective natural supplements so you know you’re always getting your daily dose of D, even when the sun’s not shining.

Stretches that ease the pain of tech neck

stretches for tech neck

Americans spend an average of 9 hours per day engaged in screen time, which means we are putting a tremendous amount of stress on our spine. By the time you recognize that you’re in pain, you may have already caused some damage - either in your muscles, ligaments, joints or nerves.

Just like you would stretch your body after every workout, stretching your neck after every extended period of screen time will help prevent injury and pain in the future.

Chin Tuck

Move your chin down toward your chest and hold for 5 seconds. You’ll feel a comfortable stretch from the bottom of your neck up to the base of your skull. Slowly raise your head to look straight ahead. Repeat 8-10 times.

Head Tilt

Tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. Slowly bring your head back to the center, and then tilt it to the left and hold for another 20 seconds. Do this 3-5 times on each side.

Neck Rotation

Turn your head to the right so your chin is hovering over your right shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. Bring your head slowly back to the center, and then turn it to the left and hold for another 20 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.

If you’re reading this, your neck probably hurts

tech neck remedies

We do love our devices, don’t we? Cell phones, tablets and laptops are not just convenient tools of the trade, they have become completely indispensable to daily life. But our need for 24/7 access and availability comes with a cost to our bodies.

The simple act of looking down at your screen on a regular basis can lead to degenerative changes to your neck, muscle strain, headaches and even spinal injury. We tend to hunch our shoulders forward and hold our necks at a very unnatural angle for long periods of time while we use our devices.

It’s called “tech neck” and the pain is real. Tilting your head forward by just 15 degrees actually puts an extra 27 pounds of stress on the cervical spine – aka your neck.
damage from tech neck

But there are some easy ways to prevent tech neck by improving your posture while texting, reading, working, gaming and watching videos.

Take a little break

Try taking a 3-minute break every 20 minutes while you are using your device. Look up, change your position and move around for a bit. Your device is smart – use an app or alarm to set break reminders.

Take a load off

Sit in an ergonomic chair with a headrest and keep the back of your head flush against it while using your device. You’ll get better support for your lower back, too.

Take it to higher ground

Use a holder to elevate your device closer to eye-level, which can significantly reduce how much you need to flex your neck and head forward.

Take heed with pain

If you feel pain in your neck or between your shoulders, if you have numbness or tingling in your arms, or if you experience frequent headaches - there may be something more serious going on that you can discuss with your chiropractor.

Take time to disconnect

This high-tech world can really take its toll on us. Designate time every day to put the phone down, turn off the computer and go outside. Ditch the virtual world for a while and talk to some real people!

Why daily meditation matters

why daily meditation matters

“If there is only one thing you can do every single day…meditate.”

That’s what all the experts say – do you? Many of us probably prefer to fill our time with activities that feel more productive, provide a memorable experience, or give us something tangible as a result. Whether it’s working or playing – we all love to reap the rewards of our efforts.

Perhaps that’s one reason why many of us find meditation to be challenging to work into our daily routine. Some may even feel that renewing your mind and body through meditation is a waste of time – if you’re going to sit down and rest, you’d rather do it with a good book or the latest movie. But there are many more benefits to meditation than you might realize and it deserves more priority in your busy life.

Think about the concept of renewal like an office workspace. Your desk needs to be cleaned up and organized regularly so you can get more work done. Same with your kitchen – the dirty dishes need to be washed and put away so you can cook another meal. When you meditate daily, you’re clearing your mind and reenergizing your body so you’ll be more thoughtful and productive.

With each day that you practice meditation, the benefits will become more apparent. You’re likely to feel a stronger sense of inner peace. You’ll begin to notice changes in your emotions and coping mechanisms, which impacts how you perceive and interact with other people and external circumstances.

During meditation, you get to step back and observe your own thoughts and feelings, as if you were a third party. Soon you’ll find yourself observing how people around you behave. You start paying more attention to what happens within your environment – this kind of self-awareness is highly therapeutic for managing stress and anxiety triggers.

Other valuable benefits of meditation include feeling calmer and more grounded about your decisions. You’ll become skilled at being more mindful and present in each moment – so much of life just passes us by while we’re busy multi-tasking. You’ll develop a better ability to stay focused on matters at hand and find more sources of creative inspiration. Imagine how those skills will affect how you deal with issues like healthy eating habits or pressing deadlines at work.

People who meditate regularly say it gives them more energy to get through the day. Meditation keeps us feeling positive and stable, ready to face whatever adventures or challenges are in store.

If you suffer from insomnia, meditating before you go to bed helps to remove the clutter and noise that our minds try to sort out while we sleep. You’re more likely to get a peaceful night’s rest and feel more rejuvenated in the morning.

There are several different ways to meditate – do a little research online or at your favorite bookstore to find a method that you like the best.