Monday, November 24, 2014

Nutrition & the Holidays

by Dr. Amanda Hegnauer, ND, Naturopathic Doctor & Co-op Wellness Educator

How did it get to be November already? Summer has come and gone. Autumn feels like it’s practically over. And, somehow, the holidays are just around the corner. I propose that now is time to grasp the inevitable and plan for the future so we can enjoy the holiday season in a healthy way!

I am a firm believer in a good plan. By planning ahead we are setting ourselves up for success.

Step 1: Schedule wisely.

Review your social calendar and be consciously aware of what your functions will include. Make time in your schedule to prepare and enjoy your gatherings. Remember, it’s okay to allow yourself a bit of indulgence this holiday season. We all know that we cannot hide from that tin of fudge at the office party.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nutrition-the-holidays-tickets-9772877941Step 2: Know your limits.

Try bringing a healthy (but still tasty!) dish to your next gathering. If you have worked hard to lose those five pounds prior to the holidays and know that you will instantly gain them back just from looking at a piece of decadent chocolate cream pie, than perhaps the best plan is to bring something healthy. Do some research, there are many different options for low-calorie, low-sugar desserts that won’t destroy your hard work! Scour your healthy cookbooks or www.eatingwell.com for inspiration.
A few words on sugar. Sugars have a more detrimental effect on weight and cholesterol levels than fats do. The average American consumes 22.2 teaspoons of sugar each day. That’s 335 calories with zero nutritional value. One 12-ounce soft drink has 8 teaspoons of sugar, according to the American Heart Association. This triggers inflammation in your body, which in turn contributes to increased health risks including diabetes and heart disease. Think back on this when you go to have that punch, fun cocktail, or second serving of dessert.

Step 3: Don’t forget good foods.

As we are well aware, food is one of the foundations of the holiday season. This leads us to step three; when considering what your menu will be, please don’t forget good foods. Include good oils, whole grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables in your dishes. As you are preparing your meal, consider food sensitivities and be considerate of others. Bringing a gluten-free, dairy-free dish – that is still delicious – will be sure to score you an invite to the next social engagement.

Step 4: Balance nutrition & exercise.

The energy that we utilize during exercise is derived from the good sugars and fats that we acquire through good foods. If the balance between these foods are off (perhaps due to too many extra indulgences...), those five pounds that you worked so hard to lose will reappear faster than you can say “Happy New Year.” Find ways to fit in a brisk walk or hike, a run at the gym, or a night dancing with your spouse.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, there are parties to plan, meals to cook, and many blessings to share. By keeping up with your exercise regimen, healthy foods, and naturopathic care, you can let go of the guilt during this most joyous season and enjoy!

Dr. Hegnauer practices Naturopathic medicine at Whole Health Concord. Her specialties include autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, endocrinology, gastroenterology
and women’s health. Learn more at www.naturalmedicinenh.com.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Superfoods of the Season

by Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator

Step back goji berries, chia, and acai. You’re nice and all, but it’s late autumn in New England. Our kitchens are stocked with good-for-you goodies that make up for what they lack in exotic by in affordability, accessibility, and taste. It’s time to look at your seasonal standards in a whole new way.

Pumpkins & Winter Squash

This is the time to enjoy winter squash and pumpkins before storage takes its toll on their flavor and texture. Right now they’re bursting with betacarotene and other carotenoids that bolster your immune system, keep skin supple, and help you stay lubricated during the cold, dry winter. They also improve eyesight, reduce cancer risk, and are good for your heart. Their fat-soluble nutrients will be even more powerful when canned, roasted, simmered into soups, and baked into delicious treats. Think of them as the original gluten-free carb, the likes of which kept the Pilgrims from starving during the first harsh winters. Toast up those seeds for a mineral-rich, high-fiber snack.

Brussels Sprouts

I hope I didn’t lose you at “Brussels” because these petite cabbages are completely transformed into a mouth-watering side dish when prepared properly. Saute them with olive oil or butter (and perhaps a little white wine or hard cider), salt, and pepper. To spruce it up, mix in sauteed mushrooms, garlic, crisp bacon, or dried cranberries. These babies rank among the highest anticancer foods, help lower cholesterol, and give your liver a boost (and, admit it, with cocktail season in full swing, you could use that). Also try one of the newfangled and surprisingly tasty thinly chopped raw Brussels salads.

Apples

U-pick season has ended, but now’s the perfect time to up your daily produce ante with baked apples, applesauce, and other dessert-y treats from apple crisp with whole grain topping to handmade apple pie. Experiment with less and less sugar and let the tangy tart flavor of apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon satisfy your sweet tooth.


Cranberries

Talk about tart! These local fruits pack a wallop in terms of flavor and antioxidant content. Play around with natural sweeteners like maple syrup, OJ, or pomegranate juice concentrate to give them a lift without the usual sugar hit. What will these berries do for you? Besides their famous ability to fend off urinary tract infections, they also fight both arterial and dental plaque, and decrease inflammation. Add them to apple dishes, goat cheese salads, make a fresh cranberry chutney, and more.

Cinnamon & Cardamom

Maybe these super spices won’t grow in our soil like the rest of the seasonal powerhouses, but chances are you already have them in your kitchen, and they will bring your food and health to a higher plane. Almost any culinary spice improves digestion and decreases inflammation. Cardamom is one of my favorites  for kicking up digestive juices while providing a special chai-like flavor to baked goods, soups, baked beans, bacon and ham, smoothies, and eggnog. Cinnamon helps improve your body’s ability to process sugar and insulin while also patching things up in cranky bowels. Simmer a few sticks or let them sit in a thermos for an hour for a surprisingly sweet sugar-free tea that you can enjoy after meals. And, of course, add it to any dish you’d like!

Maria runs Wintergreen Botanicals Herbal Clinic & Education Center in Allenstown. Her first herbal wellness book is due out from Storey Publishing in February 2016. For herbal recipes and more herbal inspiration, visit wintergreenbotanicals.com.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Three Variables of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

by Laura Piazza, Recipes for Repair Cookbook Co-Author & Co-op Wellness Educator

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/anti-inflammatory-dishes-tasty-dishes-to-quench-your-fire-tickets-9682375245
When going on an anti-inflammatory diet, we choose to eat foods that can influence how we feel and progress with chronic illness and chronic symptoms. There are three variables to an anti-inflammatory diet, one of which can often be overlooked.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help in many ways because you fuel yourself with nourishing foods, many of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, you work to remove foods that are said to promote inflammation. These foods often have little to no nutritional value. There is a third variable though, one which many of us don’t know to look for – hidden food sensitivities.

If you have a food intolerance but don’t know it and continue to eat the offending food(s), you will just add to the inflammation that’s already present in your body. This can create or aggravate symptoms. It is especially important to learn of any food sensitivities if you are battling a chronic symptoms or chronic illness, because some of your symptoms and/or inflammation may be dietary. Remove the offending food, and symptoms can either be minimized or even disappear altogether!
Food sensitivities are not the same as food allergies, which are more immediate and can be severe or even deadly. A reaction to a food that you are sensitive to won’t be as severe and can happen hours to days after eating that particular food. The symptoms can vary greatly, which makes it even more of a challenge to determine if the food you ate an hour or a day ago is causing discomfort.

You can identify unknown food sensitivities by going on an elimination diet and keeping a food journal, or by asking your health care provider to perform specialized testing. Once your sensitivities are discovered, it’s essential that you take the appropriate steps to eliminate those foods from your diet in order to have the full benefit of an anti-inflammatory diet.

When you pay close attention to your body, you may find that the foods that cause you distress are common allergens like gluten, corn or dairy, or something more obscure. A few uncommon sensitivities that readers have shared with me are turnips, carrots, and cashews.

To some, the prospect of changing your diet or giving up certain foods feels overwhelming. But this doesn’t have to happen overnight. In breaking old habits and introducing new ingredients into your kitchen, new cooking habits and a healthier way of eating will result. A gradual change will feel less stressful and will allow you to slowly ease into a new way of eating.

One way to ease your fears is to try new recipes or products. If you believe you may be dairy intolerant, for instance, try some recipes or products that are dairy-free. You may be surprised to find that a recipe or product doesn’t taste much different when a dairy-free milk, like almond or rice milk, takes the place of milk.

To exemplify my point that eating allergen-free and/or anti-inflammatory meals can still be appetizing and delicious I have provided an easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast recipe (see below).

If you suspect food sensitivities and/or want to implement an anti-inflammatory diet into your life, you can view the physician-developed anti-inflammatory/elimination diet featured in our book on our web site, www.recipesforrepair.com. Here you can try over three dozen professionally-developed recipes, all of which were developed for the diet and are identified as gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and/or vegetarian.



Recipe ~ Carrot Almond Pancakes

These pancakes may look a little different than what you’re used to, but they taste sweet, nutty and very satisfying. Top them with a teaspoon of raw honey and some blueberries for a complete breakfast treat. Prepare and refrigerate the pancake batter the night before, so that you can make your breakfast in a few minutes.
Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian.
Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 12 minutes. Makes 4 pancakes.

1 cup peeled and grated carrots (2-3 carrots)
¼ cup almonds
1 slice fresh ginger (1/8-inch thick)
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon raw honey
Blueberries (optional)

1. Place the grated carrots in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Place the almonds, ginger and flaxseed in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5-6 times until the almonds are finely ground.
3. Add the almond mixture and all of the remaining ingredients, except for the ghee, honey and blueberries, to the grated carrots.
4. Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hot.
5. Pour two ¼-cup portions of pancake batter into the frying pan, and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining batter.
6. Top with honey and blueberries if desired, and serve hot.

Recipe & photographs reprinted from Recipes for Repair, with permission from the authors. To learn more about Laura and her award-winning anti-inflammatory cookbook, visit recipesforrepair.com

Friday, October 3, 2014

Homeopathy Success Stories in Animal Care

by Dr. Wendy Jensen, D.V.M., Homeopathic Veterinarian & Co-op Wellness Educator

Greetings from Acorn Acre, my own little slice of paradise here in the (currently quite moist) wilds of Bow. I am pleased to share some happy stories from my practice. Yet even though accepting and appreciating my stories, my editor reminded me that the Co-op is all about SELF help. Now that is a trait near and dear to my heart, so why the success stories from a practitioner’s perspective?

Simply this: to show what healing really looks like. Once animal guardians understand what healing from within is truly about, they will be better equipped to assist their beloved animals. Facilitating health is not about using the right remedy to treat an ear infection, it is instead about understanding what is needed to restore the balance at the very core of the patient’s being. This requires letting go of the idea that if we can just get that bad breath to go away or that rash to heal or the flatulence to quit or the eye discharge to stop or the blood glucose to go down then all will be well. It’s not about telling our animals to heal; it’s about asking them what they need in order to awaken their innate ability to restore balance to their physical, mental, and emotional selves.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine based on the principle of “like cures like,” meaning that the curative remedy must match the unique symptom pattern of the patient, rather than a diagnosis label.

One of my favorite cases is a spunky Airedale dog named Jazzy, who was so lame that she couldn’t play her favorite game of fetch. Even walks were limited because she lagged so far behind that her guardians regretted going out in the first place. She had been on multiple pain killers, and had tried many and varied treatments to address the pain, all to no avail. After years of this, at age four she walked “like an old dog,” and her guardians were considering euthanasia, “because that’s no way to live.” But after a few homeopathic remedies spaced over a couple of years, she regained her vital self and was back to chasing balls and swimming in the river. Her last homeopathic remedy was given over two years ago.

Though my case study included all of Jazzy’s previous health records and diagnostics, my success did not hinge on Jazzy’s diagnosis, but instead on finding the remedy that matched her particular unique illness. From a thorough intake consultation and careful follow-ups, the client and I together were able to determine Jazzy’s symptom pattern, indicating her curative remedy. She was not just a lame dog, but a dog with lameness that improved briefly with mild exercise, and also a dog with a puppy-hood history of mucous-y diarrhea. She was not a lap dog, but quite content to join the family and greet visitors. Her remedy had to match all of these states in order to drive out her body’s need to be painful.

Another favorite patient of mine is Sirus, who at the tender age of three years began having seizures, after which he would attack his guardian. If he was a lapdog, this would be problematic enough, but for a 90-pound shepherd, this behavior was positively dangerous. Not wanting to sedate him for the rest of his life, his guardian called me. After carefully planning for her safety, we began treatment, and now Sirus has been seizure-free for the past three years. His last treatment for seizures was given over three years ago. When the vital force directs treatment, there is no need to continually medicate.

Thank you for reading my stories and I hope they pique your curiosity about homeopathy and healing from within!

Dr. Jensen runs Jensen Homeopathic Veterinary Practice in Bow, which includes house calls. Call 603-225-2601 or email jensenhvp@gmail.com to learn more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fungi with Benefits: Mushrooms for Food & Health

by Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), Registered Clinical Herbalist & Co-op Wellness Educator


In spite of the many cultures in Asia and Europe that adore mushrooms, most Americans are fungalphobes with the exception of an occasional button mushroom gravy smothered steak. This autumn, I encourage you to break out of your plant-loving shell and venture into this amazing kingdom of healing creatures. I consider medicinal mushrooms part of “herbal medicine” even though, genetically, they have more in common with humans than plants. The unique nature of mushrooms is part of the reason why they offer so many healing properties that other remedies and foods do not.

Mushrooms as Food

Mushrooms are unbeatable for fiber and boast a good amount of protein and trace minerals. In fact, it’s 25 times more efficient to get protein from mushrooms than meat, according to herbalist Christopher Hobbs, author of Medicinal Mushrooms. And adding mushrooms to a dish provides a meaty, savory texture and flavor that can replace or stretch meat. Another impressive attribute is their ability to make vitamin D when exposed to the sun or ultraviolet light, much the same way we make vitamin D in our skin. Vitamin D is extremely difficult to get from food and nonexistent in plants. In one test performed by mushroom guru Paul Stamets, vitamin D levels in three ounces of shiitakes jumped from 110 IU to an astonishing 46,000 IU after six hours. If your mushrooms haven’t been “pre-treated” with sunlight, you can place fresh mushrooms, gills up, in the sun for a few hours. All edible mushrooms should be cooked, which helps make certain nutrients and compounds more absorbable and also destroys problematic compounds. Try them sauteed or simmered in soups. Shiitakes are a classic culinary medicinal, but you can also experiment with oyster mushrooms (often available from local sources), maitake (more rare), and an array of specialty dried mushrooms. I love adding them to soup broth.

Mushrooms as Medicine

All mushrooms contain polysaccharides (best extracted through cooking or simmering in water), which stimulate and modulate our immune function in a variety of ways and also tend to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Alcohol-soluble compounds called triterpenes (which taste bitter) give medicinals like reishi the ability to reduce histamine in allergies and improve oxygen utilization and liver function. You can use them in food or buy them as tinctures or capsules. If you want to make your own remedies, do some research – they require special treatment to get the most benefit.

Preventing Common Infections:
Because mushrooms strengthen and modulate immune function, they are a great way to bolster your immune system in expectation of wintertime infections. While some compounds in mushrooms may directly attack viruses and bacteria, mainly they help your immune system work better and smarter. They’re also perfect for people who just keep getting sick or catch every bug that comes their way. Consider reishi, maitake, shiitake, chaga, and blends like Host Defense MyCommunity and New Chapter’s LifeShield Immunity. You can take them as a supplement or simmer them in broths.

Autoimmune & Allergy Support: Our immune-enhancing mushrooms (see above) also help correct an over-reactive immune system, as in the case of allergies and autoimmune disease. Reishi is particularly useful.

Cancer Prevention & Treatment: Many mushrooms improve our immune system’s defense against cancer, the outcome of conventional care, and survival rates. Turkey tails, maitake, shiitake, reishi, and chaga can be a useful adjunct in cancer prevention and treatment. However, you should always work with your oncologist before adding supplements to your regimen.

Lung Support: Alongside their general immune benefits, certain mushrooms strengthen lung health and improve the body’s ability to utilize oxygen. Reishi and cordyceps, in particular, can be used alongside other remedies for asthma, chronic lung infections, and other respiratory ailments to slowly improve respiratory capacity. I have seen good results with Host Defense Cordychi and New Chapter’s Breathe.

Nerve & Brain Support: Recent research on lion’s mane mushroom supports its ability to improve mental clarity amongst the elderly, and practitioners use the mushroom to heal nerve damage.

Energy, Vitality & Stress Response: Reishi and cordyceps are also noted for their ability to improve mental and physical energy and allay some of the effects of stress and aging. Reishi is often called the Mushroom of Immortality and grouped with stress-busting herbs as an adaptogen.

This information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Always check with your doctor before taking new supplements.

Maria teaches classes and sees clients at Wintergreen Botanicals in Allenstown. Find lots of information about herbs, health, recipes and more at www.wintergreenbotanicals.com.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Self Massage: Feel Like a Million Bucks!

by Dr. Sam Sanzone, DC, Chiropractor & Co-op Wellness Educator

Let’s face it, daily living can be pretty punishing on your body. Muscle tension, knots, painful trigger points, and stiff muscles are just some of the complaints I hear from patients in my office on a regular basis. In working with folks to help diminish their symptoms and maximize their enjoyment of life I will regularly empower them with self myofascial release (self-massage) techniques using foam rollers and other tools. My appreciation of the benefits of this type of work stems from an earlier career as a licensed massage therapist prior to attending graduate school to get my chiropractic degree.

It is common to discover that the low back pain someone is experiencing (by far the most common complaint people bring to my office) is not the result of a direct injury to the lower back. Sometimes it can result from a “knot” in the quadriceps muscles just above the knee, other times it can be the result of trigger points in the gluteus muscles. Often it can be the result of a tight iliotibial (IT) band or hip flexors. By taking a self-guided tour, or exploratory expedition of some of the common causative regions we find that we can locate a major underlying cause of the problems we experience and can bring about some level of relief on our own. After all, there are many tools for individuals to take control of their own health, and that is where health reform begins.
http://concordfoodcoop.coop/classes/

Let’s take a look at what causes trigger points and tight muscles. Many times it can be our own, well-intended fitness endeavors. If our regular exercise plan has us working through old injuries, they may never have the opportunity to fully recover. Often they can be the result of neglect, poor posture, hydration, nutrition or other lifestyle factors. The wisdom in our bodies is always at work trying to compensate for what we subject them to every moment. This is when we need assistance; either self administered or that of a professional. Everyone can benefit from these techniques. Face it: If you’ve lived a perfect life with everything in balance, you would never need to concern yourself with these types of issues... I have yet to meet that person.

The goal of foam rolling is to restore healthy muscle tone, this means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice – it is not a pain tolerance test. When working on tight/sore muscles, it is normal to experience discomfort or pain. Think of it like the pain you get while stretching. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and when you are done, it should feel better. The tools I like to recommend include a foam roller, lacrosse ball, Thera Cane, or your own hands. Never roll a joint, and it’s wise to avoid rolling your lower back. To foam roll properly, apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your body weight. There are specific techniques and certain precautions that should be taken into consideration. This article is meant as a brief introduction to an extremely rewarding practice of self care. Consider joining Eric Marsh, fitness trainer and I for our upcoming hands-on workshop demonstrating the background and techniques that you can start using right away  - Click here for details and online registration!

Dr. Sam sees clients and runs Community Chiropractic in Concord. Visit www.mycommunitychiro.com.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Green Cleaning with Essential Oils

By Kelly Lang, Health Coach & Co-op Wellness Educator

Kelly is teaching a FREE Green Cleaning Class in Concord on July 8, 2014. Click here for details and online registration.

Even if you’re not ready to install solar panels or a composting toilet, you can still take smaller steps to be more green and environmentally conscious.

Using all-natural cleaning products is be one excellent step toward living a greener lifestyle because the chemicals found in typical cleaning solutions can be some of the most toxic both to the environment and your health.

One way to upgrade to all-natural cleaning products is to learn how to use essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated aromatic extracts from plants, and most are naturally antibacterial. In some cases essential oils are also antiseptic and anti-fungal, making them a powerful germ-killing, mold-eradicating option without the toxic side effects.

At first it may seem daunting to learn which oils to use for the cleaning task at hand, but once you find a few favorites you can easily forgo the bottles of toxic spray under your sink and enjoy cleaning in a healthy, environmentally safe way.

Here are a few essential oils that can be excellent and effective for cleaning:

Lemon

Lemon essential oil is both antibacterial and antiseptic. It can be used in a spray bottle with water to disinfect cutting boards, counter tops, sinks and other surfaces, or just to impart a clean, fresh scent into the room. It is also great for whitening, so you can add it to your homemade floor cleaner to whiten tile floors or add it to homemade laundry detergent to brighten whites. You can also drop lemon essential oil onto sticky substances like gum or glue to remove from just about any surface (including skin). Just be sure to use good quality, pure oil and dilute it if you’re using it directly on the skin. Lastly, lemon oil is a great essential oil to add to homemade furniture polishes.

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca can be a wonderful antibacterial cleaner for germ-ridden areas like the bathroom. You can add tea tree to a spray bottle with water and spritz bathroom fixtures and flooring before you wipe or mop. Tea tree is especially effective on showers, since its antifungal properties can cut through mold and mildew. It’s also a great choice for cleaning plastic patio furniture that develops mold spots.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is another oil that kills bacteria, but it also has a wonderful, fresh scent. Peppermint oil is a great option for any room but because it also increases alertness it can be a perfect choice in the homework area or home office. You can also add one drop of peppermint oil to your toilet to keep it smelling fresh and kill bacteria at the same time. Peppermint oil also deters pests and can be sprayed or placed on cotton balls in areas that are prone to infestation.

Kelly sees clients and runs Green Life Wellness. Learn more at www.greenlifewellness.com.