Trace Minerals: Tiny Powerhouses

From the hair on your head to the bones that support you and the blood that runs through you, your body relies on minerals for optimal health and functioning. Minerals are broken into two categories:  macrominerals and trace minerals. Since the body cannot make minerals, we must get them from food or water.

What are trace minerals?

Many foods and vitamin formulas contain the major macrominerals, such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. The challenge is trace minerals, such as selenium, copper, manganese and molybdenum. There are over seventy known trace minerals, many of which scientists continue to study to understand the critical role they play in human health. These are not commonly added to vitamin-mineral formulas.

Why are food sources are no longer enough?

There was a time when non-processed foods, like dark leafy greens (and others), provided all the minerals we need. But today, that’s not the case. According to The US Department of Agriculture and other researchers our food remains relatively stable in terms of vitamins but deficient in minerals, particularly trace minerals, which we need for optimal health.
Symptoms of mineral deficiencies are varied and can surface at any time.

Trace mineral deficiency symptoms can include:

  • GI issues: constipation, bloating, diarrhea, poor digestion
  • Poor immune function
  • Impaired cognitive function: memory, learning, brain fog
  • Muscle issues: pain, spasms, cramping, weakness, restless leg syndrome
  • Heart issues
  • Generalized pain, weakness or fatigue
  • Developmental delays or behavioral issues

 So, how do we address this dilemma?

Eat healthy, non-processed foods, especially dark leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes and lean proteins. Supplement with a good quality multiple vitamin and mineral formula (macrominerals) and use a separate trace mineral formula. Trace minerals are acquired from the mineral rich waters found in certain oceans and seas around the globe such as the Great Salt Lake and the Australian Ocean. They can also be plant-derived. These can be taken as a capsule, liquid, powder and even added to your water. We can easily test your mineral levels should we suspect a deficiency or imbalance. Ask me about the best product and dose for your optimal health.

Fear, Vulnerability & Courage

Today, I had the privilege of teaching my son the meaning of courage.  While watching “Toy Story”, his new favorite movie, “Mama, what’s courage?”  My eyes lit up when he asked me the question.  Finally!  The chance to connect with my baby boy in the way I know best: speaking and translating emotions.  I told him that courage is a moment during which we feel scared, but we choose to act despite the presence of fear.  We feel fear but we are able to overcome it and to engage in life fully.

This conversation inspired me to write about some of my own experiences of fear and how to let the emotion guide us to courage.

1. Notice it’s happening

The first step in shifting a fearful reaction to a response of courage is to recognize, cognitively, the experience of fear.  It’s amazing how easy it is to be so caught up in the experience that all objectivity is lost, which leads to reacting without ever knowing what was happening.  Learning how to become aware of and label an emotional experience as it is occurring is the first step in behavior modification.  Becoming aware of an experience starts by observing and objectively describing the facts as they are happening.

2.  Feel it in your body

The next step is the most courageous of the three – allowing oneself to be vulnerable by FEELING something scary.  In order to prevent automatically shifting into a protective, warrior mode, it is necessary to fully experience the physical sensations arising in the body.  Although it can take time, learning how to sit with and *FEEL* emotions moving through the body is a critical skill.  This step is arguably the most important for decreasing emotional reactivity while at the same time increasing emotional confidence and competence.

3a.  Transform through vulnerability – Decoding the emotion

Once the peak of the emotion wave has passed, usually no more than 90 seconds, it is possible to shift from sitting with the physical sensations of fear to considering what the emotion might be attempting to communicate.  One of the most influential analogies I’ve read regarding the information that emotions carry is in the book, “Radical Acceptance”, by Dr. Tara Brach.  Dr. Brach describes the experience of inviting Mara, a mythical demon, to tea.  This is exactly what this third step is all about.  After sitting with the fear, the vulnerability has become far less uncomfortable and tolerating the emotional discomfort in order to understand its purpose feels much more manageable.  Rather than reacting, we now have a choice: we can avoid helplessness, dependence, or even paralysis and consider what it might be like to “interview” the fear.  By understanding the message fear brings, we can determine the appropriate course of action.

3b.  It’s an alarm not a command

An amazing mentor of mine once used the analogy of anxiety and fear being like waking to a dog barking in the middle of the night at a random sound.  Fear and its physical manifestation–anxiety–are an alarm, just like a dog.  We express gratitude for its vigilance and communication and then we investigate for ourselves with this new awareness.  We look for clues that the dog may be giving us (direction she is looking, intensity of alarm, etc) and then we gather additional environmental data to make a decision regarding what action to take, if any.

The ultimate message is that we have a choice!  Although it can take time to learn how to interpret the purpose behind fear, practicing the steps above allows the pieces to align easier and easier.  Fear and courage are inextricably linked.  They are the yin to the others yang.  Recognizing that fear cannot exist without courage, and vice versa, is an incredibly empowering awareness.  Allowing yourself to experience and sit with your fear allows your body calling forth your best, your most courageous self.

Telemedicine & Wellness

I’m now nine months into having converted my practice into a tele-medicine platform and I have to say it has been a wonderful experience!

Tele-health appointments are incredibly flexible and effective.  These “home visits” focus on delivering effective medical and counseling treatments via virtual, video and/or phone appointments.  These platforms allow us to minimize the time and stress that a traditional office visit create on a busy person’s schedule.

One of my favorite and most effective applications of tele-health is with new mothers.  After my son was born, during my personal struggle with post-partum anxiety, I recognized the need for tele health services.  I was lucky enough to have a wonderful support system in my colleagues but it became evident that a professional service was necessary for those without such resources.

Most post-partum issues like anxiety, depression, malnourishment, nursing troubleshooting, insomnia etc can be managed by maintaining close contact with an objective perspective that focuses on the patient’s needs.  This is a period during which time is scarce and need for support and wellness management is at a premium.  Reflecting on it more deeply, I realize that not only is it effective in the specific context of women in need of post natal care but it has a much broader application for those with limited time and high stress lifestyles.

I first began incorporating virtual appointments about 5 years ago to patients with chronic illness and disabilities who were frequently homebound due to the flaring of acute symptoms.  The more variety of medical and counseling treatments I offer, and the more I connect with different patient’s tele-health needs across the globe, the more I am convinced that this avenue provides an high quality treatment planning platform for achieving optimal health with much greater ease.

If you or someone you know may benefit from establishing a tele-medicine based healthcare, please contact the office at (303) 803-7734 to schedule a complimentary 15 minute consultation.

Certain states in the US have laws against practice of naturopathic medicine, so that limits us from treating patients who live in those states. Those states include Florida, Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. If you live in one of those states, we cannot currently schedule a new patient consultation with you, but some of our colleagues who live in other states may be able to help.

Personal Mindfulness Success

success-checkI fell off the meditation wagon a couple of months ago.  I could list many reasons as to why this happened, but for the sake of time, let’s just call it life.

I have now been back on an abbreviated version of my mindfulness routine (minimum of 5 minutes focusing on my breath daily, which recently increased to 10!) for 5 days. Yes, 5 days of 5-10 minutes of breath work and I’ve already noticed a benefit!

Today, 10 minutes before my next appointment, I dropped a Pyrex and it shattered into hundreds of sharp, tiny bean covered pieces.  It was almost as if time slowed down and I was watching both the Pyrex and my internal response in slow motion.

I sighed as it hit the floor and right away began cleaning up the mess. It wasn’t until I was throwing the beans and glass in the trash that I recognized the absence of tension in my chest, frustration and maybe even some strong language. I was totally at ease throwing out my lunch and my glass dish.

I instantly knew in my gut that this response versus my suboptimal reactions as of late was a direct consequence of my new mindfulness routine.

I wanted to share this with you all because:
1. It helps to validate that falling off the mindfulness wagon happens to us ALL! Even those of us who have been doing it for MANY years.
2. It reinforces how priceless this practice can be and how fast we can see results; allowing us the time to respond instead of react to our environment and ultimately changing our entire experience in just one moment.
3. I hope this little anecdote will remind you to, no matter what your specific goal/task might be, ALWAYS get back on the horse and preferably in small increments for an increased sense of mastery and success.

I’m off to get in an extra 5 minutes of mindfulness today.

Innovative Living: A Mindful Design

Living a creative life goes much deeper than expressing ourselves through art, music and dance–it is designing our lives, our work and ourselves in a way that brings us peace and a profound sense of joy. [Read more…]

10 Sugar Detox Tips

poison sugar cube
1.
Sleep

Getting the optimal amount of sleep for your body helps to manage blood sugar and energy levels.  When energy levels dip, sugar cravings skyrocket.

2. Drink water

Stay hydrated to make sure you’re feeling hunger and NOT thirst.  These physical sensations are very similar and are often confused for one another.

3. Be prepared

Having the right foods on hand and prepared can mean the difference between feeling confident and completely overwhelmed and emotionally vulnerable to giving into cravings.

4. Enlist a friend

Experiencing this challenge with the support of a co-worker, friend or family member can make all the difference and set you up for success.

5. Learn to enjoy herbal tea

You can drink an unlimited amount of herbal tea (without caffeine).  Finding a favorite, luxurious tea can help to fulfill cravings.   Some teas are naturally sweet and quite yummy!

6. Protein

Always reach for the protein first, then fat, then veggies. That’s how you build a plate whether it’s a meal or a snack.

7. Prep Snacks

When splitting up prepared meals, set aside a small quantity in a container for a snack.  When snacks are mini meals they are often more filling than single food group items (only nuts, or only fruit).

8. Go for a walk

Distracting with physical activity can help to curve cravings and re-focus your attention on your goals.

9. Reduce caffeine

Caffeine puts a lot of pressure on the adrenal glands which also strongly influence sugar cravings.  If you’re struggling to stay track, focus on reducing your caffeine intake especially over the first week.  Over time, you will notice an increase in energy, decreased need for caffeine and ultimately better functioning adrenal glands and therefore a decreased need for sugar derived energy surges.

10. Breathe, meditate or just relax!

Stressing about anything, especially a healthy lifestyle shift such as this detox will only make you crave more sugar!  Stress depletes the adrenal gland (see above’s explanation of #9).  Do your best to stick to your original goals, if it’s just not effective revisit your intention and shift it slightly to better represent your needs and set you up to succeed.

Decongesting Warming Socks

warm socks

Warming socks are a form of hydrotherapy that is used as an alternative to drugs in managing symptoms associated with upper respiratory conditions including congested sinuses, headaches, migraines, sinus infections and sore throats.  They are also beneficial for any chronic, painful inflammatory condition, especially of the feet.

This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat.  It has a sedating action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment.   It is a simple technique that helps to stimulate the immune system to prevent and fight off infection.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 pair white cotton socks

1 pair thick wool socks

Towel

Warm bath or warm foot bath

Here’s how to do it:

1. Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water. Be sure

to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip.

2. Warm your feet first. This is very important as the treatment will not be as

effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. Warming can

be accomplished by soaking your feet in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes or

taking a warm bath for 5-10 minutes.

3. Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.

4. Place cold wet socks on feet. Cover with thick wool socks. Go directly to bed.

Avoid getting chilled.

5. Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry

in the morning.

Warming socks are effective for people of any age from children to the elderly.  This protocol works best when repeated for three nights in a row, or as instructed by your physician.

Happy Summer Skin

sun skinSummer fun brings with it outdoor activities, fresh air, and lots of sun! Sunshine can be great for our entire system because our bodies use it to create immune boosting, mood balancing Vitamin D, in which many people are deficient. To make Vitamin D, sunshine has to hit your bare skin directly. That’s why a certain amount of sun exposure is actually great for you. However, too much sun can cause your skin to burn, creating damage to the cells, increasing your risk for skin cancer, and encouraging premature wrinkles. The key is to find the balance between healthy immune boosting sunshine and overexposure.

If you are planning outdoor activities, here are some guidelines for healthy summer skin:

1.Avoid Toxic Sunscreens. Many sunscreens on the market contain toxic chemicals that get absorbed directly into your bloodstream when applied to your skin. If you are going to be protecting your skin with sunscreen, use all-natural alternatives. One excellent resource to find the perfect suncscreen is the Environmental Working Group 2013 Guide to Safer Sunscreens.

2. Know Your Limit. We tolerate the sun differently based on genetics. People with fair skin tend to burn much quicker and need less exposure. It’s important to know what your threshold is. If you have fair skin, start with only 5 minutes of sun on your bare skin before using sun protection. If you have a darker skin tone, you might try a few minutes longer. It also depends on the location of the sun and the time of year. At the peak of summer, UVB rays can be especially potent. Use your best judgement and aim for smaller amounts of exposure more frequently to get the best immune boost.

3. Try a Cover-up. Another safe alternative is to cover your skin. UVB rays need to contact your skin directly to do damage. That’s why we get tan lines in areas that are covered by our clothes. Some helpful coverups include bathing suit cover-ups and wraps, hats or shawls, or even shirts with long sleeves. If you are going to be adding layers of clothing as a cover-up option, it is important to stay cool and hydrated.

Sometimes, even our best attempts to avoid overexposure can fail, resulting in a sunburn. Or, maybe you have sun damage from the past. Here are some tips to help heal and repair the skin:

1. Aloe Vera. For immediate sunburns, apply a light layer of fresh aloe to the skin. If you have an aloe plant, simply snap off a few stems, break them open, and apply the pulp directly to your skin. The gel will not only cool the skin, research is showing that properties in the plant help moisturize and heal the skin. You can also get gels made with healing Aloe oil from your local healthfood store.

2.  Oat Bath.  Another trick to soothing sensitive burned skin is a bath in cool oat water.  You’ll need a cheese cloth to hold the oats.  Draw a small amount of hot water in the tub to steep the oats (or do it separately with boiling water in a small pot which you can later add to the cold bath water).  Let the oats sit for 10-15 min and then add cold water until you reach the cool temperature that feels most comfortable for you.  The oats will sooth the dry cracking skin and the cool temperature will help to reduce inflammation.

3. Antioxidants. To repair damage from the inside out, add potent antioxidants to your diet. These powerful nutrients help to both protect the skin and heal it from sun damage. Foods high in Vitamin C are especially healing for the skin such as papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and pineapple. Add these to your salads, fresh smoothies, or eat raw.

 

 

Farmers Markets: 8 Easy Tips To Smart Shopping

Farmer's Market ImageIt pays to be a smart shopper, but even more so when it comes to farmers markets. You want to get the most bang for your buck, but do you know what farmers market “bang” looks like? From finding the farmers market and convenience methods that work best for you, to finding the best foods and identifying your favorite producers, these 8 tips will help you navigate and get the most from your local farmers market. If you can’t find a good farmers market in your area or are having trouble finding a particular kind of food, planting a garden is a great natural solution.

1. Map your market options. Shopping farmers markets and trying to save time and money without sacrificing quality and availability are tasks that require planning. The first step in this process is to find out where the markets are in your area. You may already know of a couple, but it could pay to keep your options open. The nonprofit organization, LocalHarvest, makes this step easy. Their website features a grassroots directory of over 30,000 family farms and farmers markets, along with restaurants and grocery stores that feature local foods. Additionally, LocalHarvest offers customized updates about events and markets in your area, making it easy to keep up with changes and announcements. Once you have your list, you can begin to choose which markets you would like to try, based on standard facts such as days and times of operation, size and market rules and regulations.

2. Develop a carrying strategy. By shopping farmers markets, you’re already improving your eating and shopping habits. Keep that momentum going and do your part to improve the environment and save your farmers some money at the same time – bring your own bags. If investing in reusable totes, you might want to consider the sturdy, flat-bottomed variety for produce and an insulated tote or small cooler for perishable goods. Also, farmers markets don’t usually have carts, but strollers make an excellent substitute. Don’t have a stroller? Check your local thrift shops for inexpensive options.

3. Bring small bills, score big rewards. Farmers markets and vendors vary when it comes to the types of payments they will accept. Bringing along small-denomination bills ensures that vendors are paid quickly and that the purchasing process goes smoothly no matter which vendor you’re shopping with. Your reward, this one little gesture will undoubtedly create good will with vendors.

4. Peruse first, purchase last. While every farmers market is different, they all use a fair-like booth setup. When you arrive, take your time and take everything in. Stand at the front and look around, taking stock of the setup. As you make your way around to each vendor, hold off on making a purchase. Instead, take mental notes of things like prices, quality and variety of options. Once you’ve browsed them all and asked any questions you might have you’ll be able to make educated choices about who to purchase from.

5. Know what you’re looking for and how to find it. Market guidelines that govern what is allowed to be sold vary greatly. Some markets permit only vendors who offer goods they’ve produced or grown themselves, while others might allow vendors to sell commercially purchased products and/or foods. If you’re unsure about whether a vendor’s wares are local or handmade, ask them. Also, when looking for organic produce, it is important to note that the organic certification process is costly and small farms may follow organic farming principles but not be able to afford the certification process. Be sure to always ask vendors about their farming philosophy and practices. Visit the Environmental Working Group for a quick list of fruits and veggies to buy organic.

6. Be a student of nature and health. Keep a notebook and take notes, during both your preparation and while at the market. Crops and growing and harvesting seasons vary by region. In the long run, you will benefit from writing down the dates when you see your favorite ingredients first being sold. This will help you familiarize yourself with the natural cycle of food availability in your area. Incorporate notes from at home taste tests and notes about different vendors. Find out where they sell their products and when. Ask about their growing philosophy and practices. And make a note of where their farm is located, so if ever they don’t have something or aren’t available, you can look for another vendor from the same area, which could provide similar tasting products.

7. Get to know your farmers as people. Think of them as your favorite neighbor. Introduce yourself and learn their names as well as the name of their farm and business. When the booths aren’t busy, take a couple of minutes to stop and chat. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, just make a point of socially interacting with the people who feed your family. This will communicate your appreciation, but go ahead and thank them while you’re at it. Respect goes a long way at the farmers market.

8. Conduct your own at home taste test. Nutritional and culinary qualities of foods vary based on a variety of factors including farming/raising techniques, geography and even handling methods. Conducting your own taste test of available foods is an excellent way to learn more about the foods and to figure out which vendors tend to produce your favorites. You’ll want to purchase several of the same items from different vendors. Be sure to note the vendor’s name, the price you paid and any other notes, such as the quantity and quality of the selection, the latter of which you’ll learn more about as you taste the bounty.

Delicious Dairy and Gluten Free “Mac & Cheese” Recipe

mac n cheeseDairy and gluten are two of the most common food sensitivities found in the America population today. Symptoms of food sensitivities range from anxiety and depression to auto-immune diseases, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, bloating and other digestive concerns. There are various ways to identify your food allergies including lab testing or working with your Naturopath to develop a systematic process of elimination that works for you. [Read more…]