Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"The Dirty Dozen" and "The Clean 15"

Patients often ask us whether or not it is really necessary to buy organic fruits and vegetables. The Environmental Working Group has put together a shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. The guide consists of two lists: “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15”. The commercial foods on “The Dirty Dozen” are ones that tend to be the most contaminated with pesticides and should be purchased organic when possible.  On the other hand, the foods on “The Clean 15” are ones that tend to have the least amount of pesticides on them and are usually just fine to consume when commercially farmed (nonorganic).

“The Dirty Dozen” buy these organic
1- Apples
2- Celery
3- Strawberries
4- Peaches
5- Spinach
6- Nectarines – imported
7- Grapes – imported
8- Sweet bell peppers
9- Potatoes
10- Blueberries – domestic
11- Lettuce
12- Kale/collard greens

“The Clean 15” lowest in pesticides
1- Onions
2- Sweet Corn
3- Pineapples
4- Avocado
5- Asparagus
6- Sweet peas
7- Mangoes
8- Eggplant
9- Cantaloupe - domestic
10- Kiwi
11- Cabbage
12- Watermelon
13- Sweet potatoes
14- Grapefruit
15- Mushrooms

For more information, go to The Environmental Working Group’s website: www.ewg.org/foodnews

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Small Change, Big Benefit

Are you looking to eat better, but have no idea where to start? Making a big change can be overwhelming at times.  Often making small, gradual changes ensures your success.  This week switch out white rice for whole grain brown rice. It is an easy switch with many benefits.

White rice is whole grain brown rice that has been processed to remove several of the outer layers of the grain. Removing these layers strips white rice of fiber and many nutrients. By simply having the same amount of brown rice as you would white rice, you more than triple your fiber intake.  Brown rice also has more manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins, selenium, and iron than white rice.

Keep in mind, brown rice does take longer to cook. If you plan on eating brown rice a few times this week, prepare a large batch early in the week and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, just reheat and enjoy just as you would your old white rice. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Kindness Approach to Healthy Eating

“From a place of stillness, openness, forgiveness, and acceptance you can renew your commitment to any eating plan you like.” – Martha Beck

This is a quote from the Thoughts for Today Newsletter that I receive daily from http://www.oprah.com/. Martha Beck is a regular contributor to her website and magazine. I really liked the message of this quote. It speaks to the approach that I was taught by Dr. Pawsat about how to reframe the way I was looking at my struggle with weight. He had taught me early on that weight issues are tied to very complex physiologic processes that are in a state of dysfunction. You may have heard Dr. Pawsat say “It is not a simple as eating less and exercising more.” This approach allows us to let go of guilt and approach the solution from a completely different angle, from a place of kindness and acceptance for ourselves.

Take some time to look at each of the mind states listed above and how they relate to the actions you choose. See what comes to mind and how you are affected with regard to your food choices or anything else that might be a challenge for you right now. It could be an interesting exercise in self awareness and acceptance.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How do you “Fit”?

This morning driving to work listening to my favorite radio talk show I learned that May is “Commit to Get Fit” month. To be very honest this may have induced a small subconscious groan on my part. There was a very fit, you can tell by her level ten perkiness, personal trainer on the show talking about how you can stop and do squats for one minute while walking down the street. Okay, not sure I have the self confidence to pull that off. But before this turns into a story of woe I got to thinking….

Fit can take on a lot of different meanings. There are many ways in our life that we can sometimes feel unfit not just physically, but mentally. The inability to appreciate simple gestures, not focusing on all of the little ways that love finds us, and missing the feeling of gratitude for the things that makes us smile. If we were to focus on happiness each day during the month of May, we could in fact start our own personal mini revolution. A revolution that would add positive energy to everything we could do in a day.

So as I embark on this early spring morning on the first day of May I am committing to be fit. Fit in mind, body, and spirit. I will smile more, I will notice the budding trees and the sun stretching our days a little longer, and I will fall in love with my husband all over again for emptying the dishwasher. This joy and lightness of spirit will help me feel like adding 5 more minutes to my walk, preparing daily baggies of supplements to make sure I am nourishing my body, and savoring my brightly colored salad just a little bit more. It all starts somewhere. I am going to dust off the gratitude journal. Won’t you join me?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sleep Well

This week our Optimal Wellness focus is sleep. "Besides eating whole foods and moving your body, getting enough sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health." says Dr. Mark Hyman, renowned integrative medicine expert and author of Ultrametabolism.

Your biological rhythms keep you healthy and produce healing and repair hormones. When those rhythms are disturbed by inadequate sleep, disease can take hold. Paleolithically we rose with the sun and slept when it set. As we have evolved our lifestyle has changed dramatically, throwing off these healing rhythms.

Dr. Hyman explains “When you are sleep deprived, your cortisol rises -- and so can all its harmful effects, including brain damage and dementia, weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, depressed immunity, and more.”

Quality sleep is imperative to our overall health. A commitment to improved sleep hygiene can help our bodies repair and rebuild. The following are some ideas for improving sleep quality:

Our lives bombard us with stimuli throughout the day and night. We eat late, answer emails, surf the Internet, get caught up on work, and stimulate our minds with television right up until the time we go to sleep -- or at least try to sleep. It is no wonder we can not drift off to sleep with all that are minds are still trying to process. Try giving yourself a stimulation hiatus for an hour, or even two hours before bedtime. Listen to music, read something relaxing, listen to a guided imagery CD to relax the mind and body.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends and holidays. 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night is ideal. In creating this natural rhythm you may even find that you no longer need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning.

Ban reading, television, and stressful conversation from your bedroom. Make your bedroom your sanctuary, your healing environment. Restful colors and uncluttered space can be very beneficial.
To the extent that you are able, try to sleep in total darkness and quiet.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol-- they can cause disruptions to your sleep which results in poor sleep quality.
Heavy meals before bedtime can also cause disruption. If you need a small snack in the evening be sure to choose something with protein and/or fiber. This can help sustain you through the night without causing disturbance.

Vigorous exercise after dinner can make it more difficult to get to sleep. A nice walk after dinner can aid digestion and help to calm you as you begin your sleep preparation routine.

If you find your mind racing when you are trying to fall asleep, try journaling. Writing down whatever is bouncing around in your head can allow you to keep these thoughts in a safe place for consideration later.

Relieving yourself of these thoughts to paper can allow you to let them go and can make it easier to drift off to sleep. This is not a formal journal. Just grab a notebook and write whatever comes, no one will be reading it, it is just for your own purpose.

Take a warn bath and/or do some gentle stretching. This is a great way to relieve tension and prepare the body for relaxation.

We also have many nutritional products that aid with sleep. Depending on your particular issue, your practitioner at The Center for Optimal Health can help you decide on a regimen that is just right for you.

If you are still having trouble sleeping, you should be evaluated by your practitioner for other problems that can interfere with sleep, including dietary sensitivities, hormonal changes, chronic fatigue, heavy metal toxicity, or stress and depression. Sleep testing can also help to provide answers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Alternative Grains

This week our Optimal Wellness Program focus is Alternative Grains. We coach the patients of our practice, as well as each other, to seek low inflammatory food options. Gluten free alternatives can be a particular challenge. For many this is an exploration into a whole new world.

The alternative grains list includes millet, quinoa, amaranth, teff, tapioca, buckwheat, arrowroot and rice. Many people ask “What exactly is quinoa anyway?” Quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, but it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice and added to soup or chili. Of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content.

There are many alternative grains all with their unique benefits. The best way to get started is to try a simple recipe that includes one of these grains. Once you try it perhaps you will find other ways to incorporate these grains into your favorite recipes. Below you will find a simple recipe for amaranth.

Apple-Walnut Amaranth
1 cup amaranth
3 cups plain almond milk (or other milk substitute)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt (optional)
1 large apple, skin on, cored and diced
½ cup chopped walnuts

Place the amaranth, almond milk, cinnamon, salt (if using), and apple in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until amaranth is soft. Top with chopped walnuts and serve.

Adapted from “The Ultrametabolism Cookbook”

Give this recipe a try and let us know what you think. We are posting recipes on our Facebook page all week. “Like” us on Facebook and follow along for more alternative grain ideas.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why do I have cravings for sweets at night?

Underlying behavioral and psychological motives as causes for cravings is a prevailing belief in medicine and weight management alike. Although over eating does have a psychological component, it is only part of the puzzle. In a review by Bariatic Times, a medical journal for bariatric physicians, 15 different hormones were listed as having influence on appetite. Each individual's daily and even hourly hormonal make up changes significantly throughout the day. This effects our perception of what and how much we need.

Brain chemical imbalances, such as serotonin, are also associated with sweet cravings. Best put by the American Heart Association, “serotonin helps you feel less pain, less anxiety and less stress, so it improves mood by increasing relaxation. Some experts think that people who crave carbohydrates have low serotonin levels”.

So next time nighttime sweets overtake you, realize you may be instinctually treating an imbalance in hormones and brain chemicals, rather than sporting a weak constitution.

At The Center for Optimal Health our physicians treat hormonal imbalances using bioidentical hormone therapies. Learn more at www.cfohealth.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

For Our Furry Friends

Our pets add so much to our lives. It is wonderful to walk in the door to a friendly face always happy to see you. I have a ten year old golden retriever, Cosmo who is just that sort of friend. He has been my faithful walking buddy for years. Unfortunately, in November he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was given a very short window of time for survival. Hang in there…it’s not all bad.

As soon as I learned of his prognosis I started looking alternative treatments. He is taking Prednisone so I knew his body was going to need support in order to avoid the side effects of long term use. What I found was incredible. One of our supplement companies, Thorne Research, has extended their product line to include a full line of veterinary products.

Right away I started him on a comprehensive immune formula, EGCg (green tea extract) and vegetables to which he responded to very well. Eventually he also needed gastrointestinal support for which we found a great product including probiotic. The veterinary support department at Thorne also recommended curcumin so he is taking the veterinary version of the Meriva.

At Cosmo’s last appointment the Veterinarian was at a loss for words. We have passed the date of expected survival and he has yet to show signs of decline. He is active and vibrant. This does not mean that we have made anything resolve or disappear. He still has cancer and it is still terminal. What we have done however, is preserved his quality of life as he battles this disease.

It is encouraging and makes me rethink how I have been feeding my pets and about how important nutritional support is for them as well. Thorne has products that are for basic nutritional support such as multivitamins and omega 3. They also have products that address more specific concerns such as digestion, anxiety, and mobility. Please let us know if you have questions. I would be happy to provide information about their products for you to share with your Veterinarian and can order any items that you would like to try.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Join Us for the Optimal Wellness Program

Optimal Wellness Program

At The Center for Optimal Health we have begun a weekly program for introducing healthy habits to our staff and associates to adopt in their daily lives. We wanted to share with our patient community the ideas that we are learning about and supporting each other in implementing.

Each week we will be introducing a new idea. The hope is that each of the healthy ideas will become habits that we incorporate in our daily lives. This week we are focusing on water.

Week One: Water

Did you know that our bodies are 70-90% water? Everyone has heard the recommendation of ‘8 glasses a day.’ The actual formula is based on you weight; the goal is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water so, if you weigh 120lbs, you should drink 60 ounces of water every day. Other fluids like herbal teas, and green drinks also count.

If you don’t enjoy the taste of water, one way to improve it is by adding lemon. Lemons can help balance pH, increase hydration and stabilize your electrolytes. In addition, they also aid in cleansing the liver and promoting healthy digestion. For those who like carbonation of soda, sparkling mineral water is a great substitute.

We have provided our staff with BPA free stainless steel water bottles for drinking so as to avoid excessive use of plastic bottles. Something as simple as having a water bottle with you throughout the day can serve as a reminder to stay hydrated.

In addition to adding water this week we are discouraging drinking soda, sugary lattes and coffee. The reason for this is because soda is very high in phosphoric acid. When phosphoric acid is consumed it puts the body in an acid state, drawing on the body’s mineral reserves to buffer the acid effects. Same goes for the high sugar content in lattes, while lattes don’t contain phosphoric acid, the high sugar content can also be acid producing and tax the body’s minerals. Caffeine can also be detrimental to the body; caffeine can send the adrenals into overdrive and exhaust energy later in the day.

Week One Goal
Drink ½ of your body weight in ounces of water per day.

Reduce or eliminate the consumption of high sugar and caffeinated beverages.

Check in with us each week to learn about our new healthy habits. We encourage you to join us in the Optimal Wellness Program. If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 517-324-9400.

Disclaimer: Excessive water consumption can be harmful for some patients based on health status or medication regimen. As always be sure to consult with your medical practitioner before starting any new diet and or exercise programs.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Depression: A Call to Action

In his wonderful book , UNSTUCK, Dr James Gordon discusses depression as a "call to action". Most of us carry on our daily lives fairly automatically.  When depression occurs this no longer works.  We must ask ourselves important questions about how we live and what we choose. Depression can therefore be seen as an opportunity.

The changes in brain structure and function with depression are reversible.  Our adult brains have a characteristic "neuroplasticity" - potential for development and growth. Brain growth and development is stimulated by many simple, non-drug skills.  We are all aware that by simply thinking differently we can lower stress hormones.  Dr. Gordon lists exercise, guided imagery, meditation, self expression through words, drawings, and movement, yoga, nutrition and supplements, acupuncture and herbal therapies, spiritual practice. 

At The Center for Optimal Health we are fascinated by the mind-body connection.  We offer  the therapies listed by Dr. Gordon and also have hypnotherapy, neurofeedback, NET, massage and Reiki, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Seeing depression as a "call to action"  liberates us from a drug- centered diagnosis and opens us to new and interesting experiences.  Christine Blakeney DO