It’s the little things that can have a lasting effect…

Often at the beginning of a new year we set health goals.  As we start to make those changes to enhance our current state of health, the list can be overwhelming of all the things to be addressed.  For me it is always easier to add small, reasonable changes into my current lifestyle that I can easily adopt and can have a long term impact on my health.

The first of those I would like to talk about is the benefits of using a tongue scraper.  For many this is a foreign thought.  In fact many people don’t even know what it is!  Let’s start with some of the main benefits of using one daily:

  • Removes waste products or toxins that have built up on the tongue from the continuous digestion process that occurs throughout the night
  • Decreases halitosis or bad breath
  • Increases the sense of taste thus enhancing the flavors in food and potentially reducing cravings such as sugar
  • Enhances digestion and boosts the immune system
  • Provides insight as to your state of health

Using a tongue scraper takes less than a minute.  It is best to use it first thing in the morning after you have gotten out of bed before eating or drinking anything.  Gently scrape the entire surface of the tongue 7 to 14 times, cleaning the scraper with fresh water in between each stroke.  Rinse your mouth with water after you are finished and that’s it, you are done and ready to start your day!

There are many types of scrapers on the market.   I think the ideal are ones made of stainless steel rather than plastic.  They should be large enough to cover your entire tongue with each stroke, such as this one:

tongue scraper

Tongue scrapers cost about $8.00.  Banyan Botanicals makes one and has a short video of how to use it.  They are also available at Amazon.

The other benefit to this daily ritual is becoming more aware of your current state of health.  As mentioned our tongue is an indicator of what is happening inside our body, especially related to digestion.  Here are just a few examples:

  • A tongue that has a white coating tends to show too much mucous in the diet, often meaning too much dairy is being consumed
  • A tongue with cracks, especially down the middle, can show digestive and malabsorption issues
  • A red tongue can be an indication of vitamin deficiencies

As you start to use the scraper daily, note how your tongue is looking.  It will remind you of how you feel, when you tend to overeat certain foods (such as dairy products), and encourage you to take steps towards being healthier.

Tongue diagnosis is an integral part of assessing an individuals’ health practiced both in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and in Ayurvedic medicine.  If you would like to learn more, there are several websites that discuss this in detail or you can always consult a practitioner in your area to learn more about your overall health as indicated by the health of your tongue.

So give the tongue scraper a try for several months.  See if you don’t find subtle health benefits coming your way!

To your health in 2016!

Julie

 

 

Live inspired: Be radically alive

Ali Schultz Butterfly Collage

I have the fortune of coming across many amazing people in my life.  These connections remind me that health, as we all know, come from many avenues and only creates a complete model of health from the combination thereof.  On a recent occasion I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing woman who has inspired me and offered me a perspective on health that I forget about and yet it is a part of me and most likely you. 

 I wanted to share her perspective and ideas as a means of adding to the many ways in which health comes to us.

 Enjoy!

 Julie

Live inspired: Be radically alive

by Allison Schultz

As beings in constant communion with the world, all we need is to let our experience rush in and fill us up – to live richly in all the details and textures. The innate joy in the fullness of your presence is there, waiting for you to feel it. When you live in touch with the deep wellspring of lifeforce pulsing within and align with your soul purpose, you glow from the inside out. This is what it means to live an inspired life.  

When what you do aligns with what you want and where you’re going, good things happen, as if the universe opens up to you. But all too often, I find people stuck in a fog of unknowing, often with ideas that need a place to land – or a plan for success.

“You always go for what you want. You’re so clear,” my mom would always say to me. “How do you know?” she would ask.

“I just know,” I would reply with little explanation, a shrug and a smile. The clarity was a full-bodied knowing – and a sense of the pull coming from where I was headed, bodying forth into a future that was calling me into it – even if I didn’t have a mental understanding of what that notion was.

Any artist will tell you that the impetus for creation comes from an ambiguous place and unfolds before them in the process – but it’s about trusting that first core gut intuition that creates space for great art. But you have to be listening and ready for the messages.

Knowing what you want requires clarity of thought and the ability to sit with yourself, to know yourself in a way that your heart’s song sings loud and clear, and you can trust your inner compass. It starts with getting in touch with everything in life that lights you up and turns you on and makes you come ALIVE.

Whenever I feel stuck or lackluster in the ‘zest for life’ department, I spruce things up with a subversively simple exercise of fearless creative play to let my whole self love what it loves by making a collage or vision board.  When I look back through the big vision boards that I’ve made, I see notable themes – no matter what magazines are at my disposal. Each time, there is more refinement and more of a reflection of where I’m currently at – and what my hopes for the future are at that moment in time and space.

Since 2009, I’ve been keeping a manifest journal – starting with a black hardcover book with blank pages – and pouring into it all my thoughts, visions, dreams, fragments from the day, inspirations, to-do lists and mini-collages.  This process has its own sort of magic that lends itself to the personal process of transformation – and the planting bed for grounding ideas in the world. In this way, the whole book (or set of books) becomes one continuous manifesting exercise.

The vision board process is nothing new. It is, however, a wonderfully accessible medium for fearless play in the creative space that can reconnect you to all that you love in the world. And if the intentions behind the experience are set, the process is fuel for igniting positive change. As a montage of clippings from magazines of images that grab your attention and text that speaks to you, vision boards can be a reminder of what lights your fire, can make you smile and light you up from the inside out.

Whenever I need to create something, to shift energy or get out of my headspace I always turn to the stack of magazines until I have collected enough images to make play in the pages of my journal. I’m always amazed at what happens just by giving myself time to listen to that inner voice. When I look back over the seemingly random collage of text and image fragments, I read it like a soul map with a regained sense of affirmation and clarity – and most often new insights that create a positive shift towards what I want or where I want to be.

Like life itself, the process of creating is what is important and can be used to facilitate a myriad of results.

–       a space for creative play
–       to shift or spark creative energies
–       to create space for focusing on intentions
–       to realign with what lights your fire
–       as an exercise in starting and finishing a creative project, fearlessly
–       to see just what the soul has to say in the space between…

There is much magic in that space of play and creativity if you allow your self to bask in that space often and give yourself the time to feel what makes you come alive as you tune into the rhythm of your own heart. As Howard Thurman said: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Your best life ever is waiting for you to step into it, to be filled with it and to dare to be radically alive. What are you waiting for? I put together The Inspiration Book to jump-start the process. You can download it here

Happy Manifesting.

One More Thought on Jack LaLanne…

As I was speaking with one of my long time clients and friend, I realized that not everyone really knows about all the amazing things that Jack LaLanne brought to the world of health and fitness.  He, my client, still runs about 5 days a week for an hour plus and just celebrated his 68th birthday.  He too is a picture of fitness.

I told him about some of the amazing feats Jack did for his birthdays and he was astounded to learn that at the age of 70, Jack:

  • Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles.

This was just one of many!

In an attempt to inspire you yet again, I am offering you the following video:

Last, if you would like to see the list of feats Jack LaLanne accomplished, GO TO HIS WEBSITE NOW!!

To your health and happiness!

Julie

In Honor of Jack LaLanne

I was first introduced to health and exercise when I joined a Jack LaLanne Health Spa at 16 years old.  In looking back I really don’t know what made me do that but it did start me on the path to health I have been on every since. 

Over the years I would reflect on Jack and his teachings.  As I have gotten older I have tried to motivate other people in considering to choose health as an alternative way of living.  I had dreams of teaching health in corporations in hopes that people would see that eating well really isn’t that difficult and yet the rewards are great.  I even emailed Jack LaLanne last year to see how he inspires others.  I was told to just keep on the path.

I was struck, in going to his website at that time, by how he essentially was preaching the same basic nutrition advice 50 years ago that is still true today – eat real food and exercise regularly.  Times really haven’t changed in what is healthy for us and yes it does take discipline but is so worth it!

So in honor of Jack and a life filled with the desire to motivate others to live a healthy full life, I salute him.  Here are just two videos showing just how amazing he really was…

Spinach & Emmenthal (or Swiss) Frittata

With the coming of a new year, often we set new goals.  One that I would like to inspire you to set is eating a healthy breakfast.  Research shows that when we start our day with protein, rather than carbohydrates, it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aids in stopping the cravings. 

Typically a breakfast of cereal or toast means that you are getting fairly simple carbohydrates which break down quickly into sugar.  This sugar will affect insulin production and consequently you will start on the highs and lows of blood sugar.  In turn, this will cause you to want something sweet within a few hours of eating; hence the morning ‘donut’ break.  This of course starts you on a cycle that can last the entire day!

To avoid this, eat protein in the morning.  Protein not only will stabilize those blood sugar levels but will actually aid in increasing your metabolism.  A higher metabolism means you burn more calories!  How can you go wrong?

The recipe I am giving you is a fantastic way to get that protein and fill you up; satiating yourself for hours. Not only that but it is so FAST and EASY that you have no excuse!  Once you try this, play around with a variety of combinations of vegetables (I’ll give you a few at the end of the recipe that I like).

Ingredients:

1 TBSP               Butter

2 Cups               Fresh Spinach, washed and chopped or sliced

¼ -1/2 Cup      Emmenthal or Swiss Cheese, grated

2                          Eggs

1-2 TBSP           Milk, ½ & ½ or water

Celtic Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Turn on broiler.  In a small sauté pan that can be put in the oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Meanwhile scramble eggs with milk, celtic salt and pepper.  Mix the cheese into the eggs.  Set aside.  Place spinach in the pan with the melted butter, stir and cover until the spinach wilts.  This will only take a minute or so.  Once the spinach is wilted, add the egg mixture and immediately place under the broiler.  Broil until the eggs are just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes depending on your broiler.  Remove and eat!

Serves 1

As I mentioned earlier, there are many variations on this.  Here are a couple of my other favorites.  Instead of the spinach, try these:

Sauté minced shallot and shiitake mushrooms.  This will take a few extra minutes to cook but worth the time!

Sauté minced garlic and swiss chard.  You can add some fresh rosemary if you have it.  This is as fast as the spinach!

Use whatever cheese you have in the house for a variety.  I especially like fresh grated parmesan.

Going Green for Your Carbohydrates

Suffer from joint pain?

Do you have chronic inflammation?

Want to lose a few pounds?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you might want to read on…

If you have read any of the articles in my blog, chances are you know about how I feel about carbohydrates – especially simple ones.  By ‘simple’ I mean those items that have been processed to create a product such as scones, pasta, breads, cookies, cakes, and more.  Let’s face it, these aforementioned foods are yummy and addictive!  I know as I go through periods of time when I crave them just like the rest of America.

Usually I am pretty good at avoiding them on any regular basis but occasionally I slip.  This last weekend was a perfect example.  I was visiting my mother in California for a long weekend.  She has been recovering from Ovarian Cancer and is doing amazingly well for an 89 year old woman – has regained 23 pounds, is back to all her social events, going to the gym and even walking her ‘old 2 mile route’ that she did for years.  Yes, she is a trooper!

While in California, at the 1 mile marker of her ‘route’ lays a small town called Sierra Madre.  On the main drag is a coffee shop called Bean Town.  Well, they have the best cranberry scones ever.  Of course a visit to see mom always involves a day of going to Bean Town but this time it got out of hand.  We ended up going there all three mornings in a row!  Now I did vary one day and have their cinnamon coffee cake instead but… well you get the picture.

By starting each day out this way, lead to wanting more carbohydrates throughout the day.  Consequently I ended up eating bread as well as crackers rather than just the usual huge salads.  I even had a cookie one day!  This is a lot of these types of food in a very short period of time for my body.  Normally having one of those things every week or two wouldn’t really make a difference but the quantity and frequency played havoc on me and it got me to thinking how this has such a huge impact on peoples’ health.

By the time I got home late Monday evening, my joints started screaming.  By Tuesday morning, when I did my usual hike up Mt Sanitas, my knees were so cranky it took the pleasure out of the hike.  At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on but then it hit me… all those simple carbohydrates!!!  I had already started back to my usual eating habits of vegetables and protein so was on the right track yet it actually took until this morning (Friday) to start feeling normal again.  So let’s look at what happens…

First, simple processed carbohydrates are acid producing.  By this I mean that when they are broken down in the body, they create ash that is of an acid nature.  Not only is all disease found in an acid environment but so is inflammation.  Our bodies are always healthier in an alkaline environment and yet our tendency is to eat foods that are acid producing including all the refined foods I’ve already mentioned.  Now the foods themselves do not cause the inflammation but rather it is our body’s response to them when they are broken down.  Foods that have a high glycemic index and consequently convert into sugar quickly alter our body’s normal hormone balance.  This imbalance can result in an overproduction of such things as C-reactive protein (CRP); a protein designed to be produced during acute stages of trauma, infection and inflammation.  Although we need CRP produced in acute phases we certainly do not need it to be continually produced.  Just this one protein has a huge impact on the health of our cardiovascular system.  And this is just to name one of the many negative results of eating refined foods.

The picture gets even more involved as those same yummy foods lead to an increase in weight.  When we eat foods that break down quickly into sugar our body MUST burn it off rapidly or it is converted into fat, especially belly fat.  This belly fat in turn causes an increase in the production of CRP by the liver and the inflammatory response is again increased.  As you can see it is a vicious cycle.

Unfortunately as our society gets more and more addicted to these foods our bodies become sicker.  We begin to become accustom to our joints hurting.  We think it is normal to carry around an extra 5 or 10 or 50 pounds of body fat.  We tend to accept all of this as a normal process of aging. 

Well for me, I don’t buy it!  When I am eating a healthy, high alkaline diet and staying away from process foods most of the time, I feel SO different.  I feel energetic and happier.  My joints don’t ache.  I don’t have an issue with excess weight because I am utilizing the foods I eat so they aren’t storing as fat in my body.  Overall I am more vitalized. 

You shouldn’t buy it either!  I hope you will consider altering your diet to see how all this affects you.  It won’t happen overnight if you’ve been eating poorly – even just part of the time – but it will change.  I encourage you to give it a good 3 or 4 months and keep a journal of how it has created positive changes in your life.

As for carbohydrates, think of using vegetables as your main source.  Vegetables, especially leafy green ones, not only contain a healthy amount of carbohydrates but they contain so many nutrients and antioxidants.  They are our vitality foods.  Our cells will be healthier, our hormones will stay more balanced and generally our bodies will stay younger.  Of course there is also the benefit of keeping your weight down by eating vegetables.  Just read Jim’s story here:

“I’m a 55 year old male. Since I was 25 I have worked out a minimum of five times a week for at least one hour per session.  When I was younger, that meant running 40-50 miles per week.  Now my workouts involve running three times a week and lifting weights 3-5 times.  My total mileage is 13-18 miles per week.  This has been my regime for the past ten years.  I never worried about what I ate as my workouts kept me at my high school weight of 168 pounds.  It’s true that the past decade has seen a pound or two increase in my weight each year.  New Years Day 2010 was my epiphany, as the scale read 180+.  I cut out all the non-vegetable carbs the first two weeks of this year and have limited my carb intake to less than 20 grams a day (all right so I cheated on Easter Sunday, I indulged with pastries at brunch and of course a Cadbury egg).  Today I weight 168.  I sleep better, my digestive system works much better and seeing the scale at 168 is a huge mental boost.”

So think about your diet and see if you too can’t offer your body the many benefits of eating foods that are more nourishing to your entire system.  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Eat a minimum of 70% of your diet from the alkaline side of the food chart.  For a copy of the chart, download this pdf.
  • Eat at least 80% of the time healthy; saving the ‘not so good’ foods for special occasions rather than daily. 
  • Make a journal or chart of not only what you eat now but how you feel so you can track the changes.  This is a great motivator when you are falling back into those bad habits.
  • Even if you think you eat well, you might be surprised just how often you ‘cheat’ and eat some of those processed foods more regularly than you ever thought.
  • Last, be gentle with yourself.  It is not an easy thing to change addictive behaviors and even easier to allow them back in.  When you fall off the health wagon, note it but don’t beat yourself up about it.  Simply get back on the right track and move forward.

I hope this has motivated you to make choices and changes.  You deserve it!

Agave Nectar Update

Agave Nectar

By Dan Butterfield

I received some interesting feedback from my article Agave-Health Food Fraud.  Some people were defensive or angry, others concerned or happy to be informed.  I stated that agave syrup was a chemically processed starch similar to the way high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made.  A number of people reported that Madhava’s agave syrup was not chemically processed.  Perhaps not.  The real issue is fructose, and what happens when it enters the body.  There continues to be more studies coming out implicating HFCS in heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and obesity. 

A recent human study compared two groups of people, one consuming glucose, the other fructose.  While both groups gained 3 pounds of weight, the fructose group also had elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and their extra weight was more abdominal fat than the glucose group.

When glucose is absorbed, it goes into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin to bring glucose to the cells for energy.  Excess glucose is converted to fat.  When fructose is absorbed, it goes directly to the liver and does not raise blood sugar levels.  It is touted as a low glycemic sweetener for this reason.

In the liver, fructose is converted to triglycerides for storage as fat through a process called glycosolation.  This causes glycation, or sugar damage to the liver and other tissues.  Glycation and oxidation are the two main ways that our bodies age.

Fructose is processed in the liver similar to the way alcohol is processed, creating some of the same side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the beer belly and can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fructose also raises uric acid levels, a cause of gout and chronic inflammation.  It also leads to weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL, increased LDL, and elevated triglycerides.  It is similar to drinking alcohol without the buzz.  This creates insulin resistance first in the liver, then throughout the body.  Insulin resistance causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer.

While there are more and more studies on the negative effects of HFCS, there are no studies that I know of on agave syrup.  However, we do know the potential damage that fructose can cause.  HFCS is 45-55% fructose.  Agave syrup is 56-97% fructose, having almost twice the fructose as HFCS.

Nature may have made fructose fattening, rather than energy producing for good reason.  In temperate climates, almost all the fructose in the form of fruits ripen toward the end of the summer and fall, so that mammals that hibernate and humans and mammals that don’t, can increase their fat reserves to survive the winter.

Bottom Line: 

          –  Agave syrup, or nectar, is not a health food.

          –  It is not a safe sweetener.

          –  In small amounts occasionally, not daily, will likely do little harm.

          –  Companies that market agave pointedly note that

             overconsumption of any sugar is unhealthy.  So while they lay the

             blame on consumers for overconsumption of fructose, they

             continue to push agave syrup as safe.  Meanwhile,

             large amounts of agave are included in soft drinks, ice creams

             and other food products, and consumers are continually

             marketed that agave syrup is low glycemic, “gentle” or safe.