Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wrinkly Fingers May Actually be Functional

Since I’ve been blogging about hands all this week, I wanted to pass on a fun piece of information I read this morning on NPR. The story dealt with the question of why our fingers get all wrinkly after they’ve been in water for a long time. I always thought this was because they were becoming dehydrated, since they look like prunes. Evidently others believed it was because they were actually absorbing water.

According to a theory published in Brain, Behavior, and Evolution and reported in Nature, Mark Changizi and his colleagues believe that wrinkly finger tips and toes evolved to act like treads on a tire that channel water away from the surfaces and allow us to better grip things while wet. They are now testing this hypothesis.

Not everyone accepted this idea; however, if it is indeed true that our bodies generate wrinkly finger and toes for functional reasons, then this is just another testament to the extreme intelligence of our bodies. Although, if a chameleon can change colors to blend into its surroundings, then pruny digits are maybe not so remarkable after all. But at least they’re nothing to be worried about after we climb out of the bathtub…

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Properly Maintain Hand Strength

In yoga class, we work ever part of the body including the hands and fingers to strengthen them. We do this through gripping our feet in several postures and using that grip to pull our bodies either towards our feet or to the ground.

This is important because as we get older, we naturally lose strength for gripping through lack of use. But after watching the video below, I learned that properly strengthening our gripping muscles involves both the muscles we use to close our hands as well as those that open them.

For example, for strengthening, many people use a soft ball in the hand and squeeze it. While this strengthens the muscles in the inner forearm, it does very little for the hand opening muscles on the top surface of the forearm. In the video Dr. Terry Zachary explains that this can shorten the hand closing muscles, leading to imbalance and problems with the fingers, thumbs, hand, and carpal tunnel.

He’s actually developed a cool little tool called Hand Master Plus that looks like a rubber ball with loops that fit around the fingers. You can work both the opening and closing muscles of the forearm by squeezing the ball, then opening the hand. The loops create resistance during this motion, which works the hand opening muscles.

If you suffer from carpel tunnel or experience pain in your hands, these types of exercises would be beneficial for balancing the muscles supporting their function. And maintaining strength in my hands is so important, because that last thing I want is problems opening a jar of almond butter… : )

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Your Fingernails are a Window to Your Health

One dramatic change I’ve seen as a result of adopting a healthier diet over the years is the condition of my nails. Growing up, they used to constantly split and peel and I would have to keep them short. These days, they’re strong and split-free, and I actually have to constantly clip or file them down to keep up with the rate at which they grow!

Our nails can tell us a lot about our health and whether there are deficiencies in our diets. The Mayo Clinic has a slide show illustrating some of the most common nail conditions and what they may indicate for your health. For example, a condition referred to as “spoon nails”, where the nail scoops outward forming a depression, is a sign of iron deficiency.

Here are a few additional facts taken from the American Academy of Dermatology’s website:

  • Fingernails grow quicker than toenails (0.1mm/day versus 1mm/month, respectively), they grow quicker on the dominant hand, during pregnancy in women, and they grow more quickly in the summer than the winter.
  • Nail conditions become more frequent as we age, which makes sense if health conditions decline, the number of medications increase, and nutrition quality goes down.
  • Changes in nail condition such as discoloration or thickening can indicate health problems such as liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, and anemia, or diabetes.
  • Melanoma can appear as a dark streak under the nail and should be looked at by a doctor if it doesn’t disappear or if it grows in size.
  • I mentioned keeping our hands away from our mouths to prevent ingesting infectious diseases. This is doubly true if you bite your nails, which increases the risk of infection in and around the nail (and damages the nail, nail bed, and the surrounding skin). Breaking this habit will greatly eliminate the risk of illness.
  • Cutting nails straight across and slightly rounded in the center keeps them strong and reduces the likelihood of developing an ingrown nail (more so with toenails).
  • If you frequent nail salons, ensure that they are following strict sanitary guidelines to prevent spreading germs.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stay Healthy With Clean Hands

I was in a public restroom the other day and I came across the picture on the right that outlines regions of our hands that get washed better or worse than others. In the winter with lots of colds and flu going around, this is an important thing to stay conscious of, since it is often via our hands that we contract bugs.

However, this time of year it’s equally important to be thorough with washing our hands. We’re typically traveling more on vacations, eating more in public places and more often using public restrooms. And since we can’t often see contamination on surfaces, the best defense is to keep our hands clean and away from our mouths, eyes, nose, and ears to avoid illness.

The Hand Washing For Life website has videos like the one below showing unlikely sources of organic (living) matter, like bacteria in a freshly-cleaned public restroom. Just imagine how many more dirty surfaces there are in a rest room that’s been used all day long and hasn’t been cleaned.

They also provide tips, programs, and tools for teaching the importance and the techniques for preventing the transfer of contamination from surfaces to hands. It’s important information for individuals, schools, restaurants, and any business or organization that experiences high-traffic, like airports, libraries, concert halls, movie theaters, beaches, and campgrounds, for example.

It sounds obvious, but even when at home, always remember that good sanitary practices can make the difference between health and illness.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Keep Your Feet - From the Inside

This week’s blogs have been about feet. Specifically, how to keep them strong, flexible and looking good–on the outside. However, like any other part of the body, keeping your feet truly healthy begins on the inside.

I was surprised to find the number of people in the United States that lose a lower limb due to the ravages of diabetes. For example, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), the following numbers were reported for lower limb amputations due to diabetes (you can check every state on the map by clicking on the APMA link):

Year State

2002 Connecticut - 1,060
2003 Texas - 7,325
2006 Mississippi - 65,700
2009 California - 4,700
2009 New York - 2,820
2009 Illinois - 1,641
2009 Florida - 2,829

Why does this happen? Because diabetics often suffer from nerve damage in the feet that can lead to loss of feeling. Then, even a minor irritation like a blister or a callus can go unnoticed until it ulcerates and eventually becomes infected. Diabetics typically have bad circulation as well, which also inhibits healing. When left untreated, the infection may require the removal of the foot or entire lower leg.

The APMA urges diabetics to regularly see a podiatrist to maintain foot health, but for those of us without diabetes, the best form of action is to stay healthy and avoid diabetes altogether!! Losing a lower limb severely limits quality of life, makes it more difficult to stay healthy through exercise, and places a tremendous financial burden on everyone.

If you take care of your health, your feet will take care of you...

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Price We Pay for Pretty Toes

This post is for the women out there who love having painted toes, especially in the summer when we can actually see them! I include myself here because my toes are painted the entire summer (most of the year, in fact, because I’m reminded of them everyday in yoga class).

Over the years, I’ve slowly replaced personal care products containing harmful chemicals with safer and more environmentally friendly brands, however I’ve been slow to do this with nail polish. One reason has been because the spa where I go for pedicures doesn’t use safer brands. I guess I’ve picked my poison, so to speak when it came to my toes.

It’s a pretty potent poison, too, since many polishes can contain ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, ketones, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), polyurethanes, parabens, camphor, and more…

A quick scan through the Environmental Working Group’s list of nail polishes had three brands at the top of the “on the safer side” list. The first is Acquarella, which classified as “fair”, Keeki, which had limited data but its health concern is low. Keeki appears to be a children’s polish. And Honeybee Gardens which was given a fair rating as well. Further down the list, the information was limited on some of the more popular brands or toxic chemicals, like organic solvents were in the products.

After deciding that I am in fact going to stop wearing toxic polishes, I searched for additional brands, and I decided to try Go Natural. It’s formulated with only a few ingredients (water, a latex emulsion resin, and non-toxic colorants), it’s almost odor free (can even use it on a plane!) and it claims to be chip resistant and long lasting. The one caveat is that it takes longer to harden than traditional, solvent-based laquers. I will be testing all of this myself : ) If I’m not happy with the results, I will move on to a new brand.

The things we do to look pretty… ; )

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Feet Have Feelings Too...

I’ve been talking about feet all week and why we should respect them and give them the care they deserve. We use them to walk, run, climb, jump, reach, kick, push, pick up things, scratch, and for many other tasks not mentioned. And as I mentioned, they get ignored, until the warm weather arrives and we want to paint our toes, or simply put on sandals.

Besides the fact that they’re essential for getting us around, our feet are also connected to the rest of the body through pressure points in such a way that movement, pressure, or massage of a specific area on the feet will help to treat the corresponding area.

This is the science of reflexology. It is defined as “the practice of applying pressure to the feet and hands utilizing specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil, cream or lotion based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands with a premise that such work effects a physical change in the body.”

Reflexology can relieve pain, stress, and it can enhance other healthcare modalities. It can also help with depression.

Here is a cool interactive reflexology foot chart that lets you mouse over to the areas of the foot and gives you the corresponding regions of the body. For example, are you feeling anxiety that is showing up in your stomach? There are regions unique to the bottoms of the left and right feet that when worked on, can help to relieve the feeling in the pit of your stomach. Similarly, the bottom back half of the feet and the regions surrounding the ankles on the tops of the feet point to the lower back. There are even regions on the tops of the toes that correspond to the teeth!

The nice thing about reflexology is that it can be easily learned so that it can be self-administered or it can be performed by a professional. It’s completely non-invasive and doesn’t require medications. One simple foot technique is to place a foot roller under your desk while you work and simply roll your feet. If you have a couple of golf balls, they may work as well! Scroll to the bottom of this site for some reflexology books that can be purchased on Amazon. I'm reading The Family Guide to Reflexology, by Ann Gillanders, and in it are foot techniques that actually improve the overall well-being of babies.

I’ve taken on a new-found appreciation for my feet this week…

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Keep Your Legs Long

What woman doesn’t love a nice pair of heels with their dress? They add style, they look great, and they increase height–at least temporarily. This may sound like an obvious statement, but what you may not realize is that frequently wearing heels can actually make us shorter.

After wearing heels, have you ever experienced calf pain when standing in flat shoes or bare feet? This usually happens to me the day after wearing heels and there’s a good reason for this. A study in the Journal of Experimental Biology looked at the legs of women who frequently wore heels and who had difficulty walking when they were not wearing the shoes.

Using sonograms, the researchers found that the Achilles’ tendons were thicker and stiffer and had a reduced range of motion, which made it difficult for the women to stretch their calf muscles when walking without heals since the muscle fibers became shorter while in the compressed position. How ironic is it that something that can make us appear taller can actually cause us to shrink?

For women who live in heels, this can be a significant problem. However, if you’re heel wearing is occasional, the best way to alleviate the shortness and pain is through stretching exercises and rotating shoes with different heel heights. Here are five simple calf-stretching exercises that can be done anywhere. If you're wearing heels at work and you're behind a desk, it may be helpful to do the seated calf stretch throughout the day to reduce the liklihood that your calf muscles will stay short. Here's to long, strong calves!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don't Let Your Feet Rebel

Today is the first day of summer and yesterday, I posted a blog about feet. Why? Because they’re the most neglected part of our body despite the fact that they support literally tons of body weight daily. Actually, if you’re a woman, it’s likely that your heels are the most ignored part if you’re painting your toes. This is so true for me in the winter when I will go days barely running the washcloth over them.

And of course, it’s like anything else: if you don’t take care of your feet, they will rebel. I’m talking about the calluses, corns, athletes’s foot, or other foot problems we can experience from time to time. For me, it’s constant calluses that form on the balls of my feet.

Years ago, the calluses would get so bad that it would feel like I had a pebble on the bottom of my foot it would make me alter the way I walked even more. I’ve attributed them to my gait and how my foot hits the ground when I walk. But the quality of shoe that I wear also played a big role, because as soon as I started to wear better shoes, my calluses were much less of a problem.

I found this surprising, but in a survey of one thousand adults by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), 72% sited foot pain as the number one reason they don’t exercise! Don’t let foot pain prevent you from staying active and healthy. Here are some ways to keep them in good working order and looking nice:

  • Give them a good scrub daily with a soapy wash cloth or brush daily to remove dead skin
  • Dry them well after a shower and use a creamy moisturizer, especially on the heels where the skin can get particularly dry and cracked.
  • Use a pumice stone on wet feet to smooth down calluses, before they get too big. The APMA actually recommends having a Podiatrist remove calluses that have gotten thick to prevent infection. Here is a guide for removing calluses and corns.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly to avoid slipping or sliding that can encourage calluses and corns.
  • Should we wear flipflops in public showers to prevent athlete’s foot? It’s recommended that you do, however, my thought is that we should clean them well after using them in public places since they’ll likely be carrying the fungus on them.

Check out the APMA website for more tips on how to keep your feet healthy all year round!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Support Your Feet

I want to talk about feet. There are some people that don’t even like to think about their feet and I can sometimes be guilty of neglecting them, but they’re worth talking. Think about it, our feet support the weight of our entire body when we stand yet because they’re not front and center, at eye level, they’re easy to ignore, especially when they’re covered up with thick socks and heavy shoes.

The warm weather is here, though, and our feet will be exposed, either bare or in sandals for several months. In fact, I know some people who would live in flip flops for the summer if they could get away with it. But because of the flimsiness of many styles of flip flops, they can actually be bad for your feet, ankles, shins, and lower back.

Flip flops with soft, flat, rubber bottoms offer no arch support for the foot and the simple thong typical of most styles offer very little stability, making it very easy to trip, twist an ankle, or stub a toe. This lack of support can also lead to foot, leg, and back pain. In addition, in order to keep the sandal on while walking our feet must claw the sole to grip it and our gait often compensates to a new way of walking, which can also impact our feet, legs, and lower back. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. There are some flip flop brands and styles that are stylish and that provide better support. You can check them out in the video below and learn the guidelines for enjoying this summer fashion staple:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Digest for Week-endng 18 June 2011

Here in New England, the growing season is in full swing and there are lots of ways to take advantage of the local produce and hand-crafted goods. This week’s posts explore ideas for getting to know your farms and how to experience all that they have to offer.

Sustainably Eating Seafood

Similar to CSA’s, if you’re living near the water, you may have the opportunity to invest in Community Supported Fisheries.

A Virtual Farmer’s Market

A company here in Connecticut allows you to purchase online from over one hundred farms in the state and will deliver your order to your door!

Dining Close to the Source

Many farms are getting more involved with their consumers by offering dinners on location featuring some of their bounty.

Pick and Choose

Check with your local farms because some offer the choice to pick much more than just berries and apples.

Farm Fresh Cooking

What better atmosphere to learn how to cook than right on the farm?

Know Where Your Food is Coming From

The idea of organic versus conventional is much more complicated than you may realize. Knowing your farmer and how they cultivate their crops to make informed decisions about what you’re eating.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Know From Where Your Food is Coming

If you’re devoted to eating only organic, know that it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it’s pesticide-free. Some pesticides are deemed organic because they are produced by living organisms. For example, as reported on NPR yesterday, Spinosad, which is manufactured by the bacterium Saccharopolyspora spinosa, is fatal to both insects and mollusks. The USDA maintains a national list of allowed and prohibited substances. Synthetic substances are allowed as well. For example, the antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline are included in the list of synthetic substances allowed for organic crop rotation to treat blight.

Again, here is a strong case for supporting your local farmers. They are more likely committed to following the most environmentally sound practices and they are more apt to be transparent with their farming methods. It’s just a matter of visiting them at the farm or the local farmer’s market and asking.

It’s always good to understand the pests that the farms deal with too. Last year, I spoke with an apple farmer at the Somersville, MA farmer’s market and I asked him about the pests that his farm treats. He said the majority of them come from greenhouses in Canada. Spores that develop while the greenhouses are closed up escape when they’re opened and travel with the wind to Massachusetts. I found this fascinating, since I would have never guessed that a method of food production would be the source of disease for a farm hundreds of miles away.

Two farms that I’ve talked to practice something called integrated pest management, or IPM. This involves using organic pest management practices and when necessary, using the services of a scientist from the Natural Resources Conservation Service that visits the farm regularly to provide instruction on the most up-to-date techniques for safe and sustainable food production.

The more you know about where your food is coming from, the better choices you can make…

Friday, June 17, 2011

Farm-fresh Cooking

This week I’ve been talking about local farms/fisheries and how we can take advantage of their bounties. When I was growing up, local farms in this area would allow berry picking, or set up roadside stands where they would offer their fresh produce or freshly-prepared products, and that was about as far as I got to learning about what these farms had to offer. Today, they are at farmer’s markets, providing CSAs, allowing picking of much more variety (maybe this is not so new, but it’s relatively new to me!), and blogging to educate us about what it takes for our farmers to grow us food and what farms have to offer.

And that’s not all. I also recently discovered that some farms here in Connecticut offer cooking classes under a variety of settings. For example, Jones Family Farm in Shelton, CT, offers a number of different classes designed to guide the student through cooking an entire meal, many of them theme dinners; for example comfort foods or a Mother’s Day brunch, etc. Their 2011 schedule is going to be posted soon.

And although not technically a farm, as I was searching for farm cooking classes, I discovered The Silo Cooking School at Hunt Hill Farm in New Milford, CT. The school offers an impressive lineup of chefs and in the past has had Jacques Pepin, Rachel Ray, and Martha Stewart teaching classes. They offer a number of unique cooking classes on grilling, summer foods, Indian cuisine, etc. But what most interested me is their full-participation cooking classes designed for groups within organizations to foster team building. What better way to inspire an attitude and philosophy of working together than in the kitchen preparing a meal!

If there is one thing that we all can relate to, it’s food and something magical happens when a group of people join and contribute their energy to the preparation of a meal and then sit down and enjoy it together. At the deepest levels, energetically and spiritually, it becomes a part of everyone involved. I thought this was a brilliant and insightful concept.

Have a wonderful day!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pick and Choose

This is the time of the year where many of us like to pick berries. It’s a lot of fun to pick our own strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. They’re as fresh as they can be, they’re close to home, and you pick only the ones that you want.

But did you know that many of the farms around let you pick lots more than berries? For example, a farm close by called Easy Pickin’s allows customers to pick a number of fruits, including apples, peaches, plums, pears, and berries, but they also have vegetables, herbs, and flowers for picking.

Last year, I wanted to make pesto, so I drove to the farm and picked a large bunch of basil. I can design my own flower arrangement with the beautiful variety of flowers they offer, or make a crunchy salad with fresh-picked lettuce and peppers.

At one farm, I can pick baby varieties of vegetables, such as zucchini and summer squash, which are great for grilling. It’s like having a garden in your own back yard without having to do all the work! Picking your own is also more economical than buying at the farmer’s market. In addition, it allows you to get some sun and exercise and being among the plants and soil is very therapeutic.

So if you have the opportunity this growing season, visit a local farm to harvest your own bounty. It’s good for your health in so many ways. What will you get out and pick this season??

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dining Close to the Source

Summer is fast approaching and the farm produce will soon be plentiful. A fun way to get introduced to what a particular farm has to offer is through a Chef to Farm Dinner. Last summer, I attended one at Starlight Gardens Farm in Durham, CT. The dinner was set outdoors among the tomato plants and featured chef Scott Miller from the Max Restaurant Group.

During the pre-dinner cocktail hour, we were given a tour of the field and greenhouses to learn about the tomatoes we were feasting on that night. And then we sat down to a seven-course meal, complete with a different wine for each course. Besides the tomatoes that were grown under our feet, much of the exceptional meal was created from ingredients that were as local as possible, such as cheese from New Jersey that’s so good it’s sold in a cheese shop in France!

Each course was also introduced by the chef so that we could fully appreciate the thought and care that went into preparing it. Some of my favorite dishes included the gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and watermelon, and the quinoa pilaf made with sun-dried heirloom tomatoes and pea tendrils. It was a superb meal, right down to the chocolate torte with chocolate-covered sundried tomatoes! More mouth-watering pictures of the dishes are posted here.

The dinner was an opportunity to experience an unforgettable meal and meet new people who shared the in gratitude for the bounty of food produced right here in our state. I love the quote by Michael Pollan that says: “The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” This meal absolutely inspired a sense of community and turned the evening into so much more than food consumption. It was a multi-dimensional nourishing of the soul and a galvanizing event.

In Connecticut, several Chef to Farm dinners are also held at Rosedale Farms in Simsbury. States throughout the country are also offering similar events. The best way to find them is to Google Chef to Farm or Farm Table Dinners in your state.

I hope you have the opportunity to feast on the local fruits and vegetables grown in your back yard this growing season and to share the experience with others who understand the value and gift we’ve all been given…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Virtual Farmer's Market

Yesterday I talked about joining a Community Supported Fishery, or CSF to help support local fisheries, to eat locally, and to contribute to the sustainability of fish and seafood populations. A couple of years ago, I discovered a neat business that I have yet to try out, but I wanted to mention it for anyone interested.

It’s called Connecticut Farm Fresh Express. Their site features foods that are locally grown and raised on Connecticut farms as well as artisan products. Most of the items can be found at one or more of the many farmer’s markets throughout the state, however since many people don’t have the opportunity to travel around, they miss out on what their fellow residents are crafting.

Orders can be placed from the site from over 100 participating farms and the items are home-delivered. I was actually very excited to see Nate’s Naturals, a brand of granola made by some friends in New Haven, available on the site.

And unlike a CSA box, you can order exactly what you want, in the quantity you want, for whichever weeks you would like it. You can order year round as well. If you’re not living in Connecticut, you can also check the Local Harvest Store. You can search over 10,000 items by farm (when in season if applicable) throughout the country, so if you’re trying to buy locally, you can choose farms in your state.

Thankfully, supporting small farms is getting easier...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sustainably Eating Seafood

Many of you have probably heard of Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for short. It’s a program set up by local farms that allows you to pay up front at the beginning of the growing season, and then receive a generous box of produce (and sometimes locally produced products as well) each week. Depending on what’s ready that week and what the farm grows, you can receive any number of fruits and vegetables and there’s more than enough volume and variety to make healthy and interesting meals.

Yesterday, a friend posted something on my Facebook wall that carries on the theme of CSAs. It’s the first CSF or Community Supported Fisheries project in the New Haven area in Connecticut started by the Thimble Island Oyster Company. Members who join receive a dozen oysters and two dozen clams every month for six months from June thru November. The Cape Ann CSF in Massachusetts provides several pounds of fish per week, depending on the shares purchased.

It’s everyone’s responsibility, consumers as well as producers, to help maintain sustainable food sources. Supporting local fisherman who follow environmentally-friendly practices ensures that this happens. If you’re concerned about the environment, want to help preserve the waterways and their ecosystems, want to support environmentally conscious fishermen, and have direct access to local seafood, then joining a CSF is a great idea for you.

CSFs are in operation from Maine to California for those living close the shore. And if you’re further inland, you can still have an impact by choosing ocean-friendly fish and seafood. This pocket guide can help you make the safest and most sustainable choices.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Digest for Week-endng 11 June 2011

This week, I take you on my journey through a 10-day Metabolic Detoxification designed by Metagenics® that is intended to cleanse the body at the cellular level. I decided to undergo this process for that very reason, because I understand what we are exposed to everyday.

And instead of letting unknown levels of environmental toxins accumulate to the point where they could lead to weight gain, disease, or accelerated aging, I chose to eliminate what I could and begin fresh.

Cleansing at the Cellular Level

Besides pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics and chemicals in our food, there are lots of reasons to want to detoxify the body.

The Beginning

The first two days of this cleanse eliminate the biggest offenders. The cleaner your diet is, the easier it is to begin the process.

The Elimination Process

As the process of eliminating foods continues, the signs that the detox process is working begin to emerge.

The Height of the Cleanse

The most restrictive part of the journey lasts three days. If you can get through them, the rest is easy…

Over the Hump

As you begin to add back in food groups, you may notice that you are not thinking about or even craving any of the foods you were eating prior to the detox.

The Finale

The detox ends with the freedom to eat unrestricted. As you continue to add in foods, you will realize how enhanced your taste has become and that your palate has changed for the better.

10-Day Detox - The Finale

Yay, my last two days of my 10-day detox came and went and in some funny way, I didn’t want to go back to eating “normal” even though I was happy with my diet overall. The last two days were devoted to continuing to slowly introduce more foods back into my diet. For 10 days, I adopted a very simple way of eating, which made the diet easier to follow and gave my system a break from complexity.

Interestingly, I was surprised to discover how my palate had changed over the cleanse, because on day 9, I sprinkled a sea vegetable called dulse on my lunch and the saltiness shocked my tongue. I normally eat dulse quite often and I have never had this reaction. On the night of day 10, I also had a piece of a very ripe banana and it tasted sweet like candy. Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn to these foods for our saltiness and sweet rather than the overly sweet and salty foods on the market today? I found that by using other herbs and spices, I was able to satisfy my taste buds.

If you are trying to lose weight, I would recommend this detox as a primer for establishing healthy eating habits. Not only will it get you accustomed to eating the right foods that will naturally keep you satisfied and help you reach your ideal weight, but by unloading the toxicity from your cells, your fat will more easily give up some of its baggage. You may also feel clearer, calmer, and see improvements in your skin, which are all results I’ve noticed.

In my practice, I offer the 10-day detox, which includes an initial health consultation, the Metagenics® UltraClear® powder, a detox guide that includes the 10-day eating plan, recipes, tips to ensure success, phone or email support throughout the cleanse, and a follow-up meeting to discuss the results. If you’re interested, please contact me.

To your Health and Happiness…

Friday, June 10, 2011

10-Day Detox - Over the Hump

If you’ve been reading my posts this week, then you know that I‘ve been following a 10-day detox that includes an elimination diet as well as a powdered drink to support the actual biochemical processes of the cleanse.

Day 7 is the third day of the most restrictive portion of this cleanse and I have to admit that I was hungry today. This stomach growling hunger began late last night and seemed to overpower any meal that I fed my stomach. The interesting part was that I didn’t necessarily want to eat more nor did I crave anything, so I simply let myself experience the hunger.

You may be thinking, “I’m not sure I could do that!” but relaxation or keeping busy helped to take my mind off of it and often alleviated the feeling too. You may also be wondering about a couple of things at this point. Number one, have I lost any weight? The answer to that is not really. I say this instead of no because the scale says I’ve lost about one pound, but one pound could be fluids or simply less food in my system, so I don’t consider it true weight loss. That being said, I have been consistently at this one-pound-lighter weight for several days, so maybe it’s true weight loss.

Since I didn’t undergo this detox to lose weight, and because my diet before beginning this cleanse was already good, I wasn’t trying or expecting to lose weight. If your diet is normally high in fast or processed foods, then I would predict that you’ll lose more weight than this during the ten days.

Second, and maybe you have not been wondering about this, but I just wanted to mention that my digestion has been remarkably normal and regular. This is good news if you’re worried about whether you can go to work everyday or fit this into your busy schedule. It hasn’t disrupted me going about my days at all.

On day 8, I began adding back in some of the last foods that I had removed and I experienced no hunger at all today. If you’re wondering if I’m craving foods like sugar or pizza or ice cream, the answer is no. The wonderful thing about not eating addictive foods is that you lose the taste and the desire for them.

My main objective going forward is to add back in healthy foods and to continue with a clean diet. I already know how it makes me feel and I want to keep feeling that way…

Thursday, June 9, 2011

10-Day Detox - The Height of the Cleanse

I’m now into the most restrictive part of my 10-day cleanse, where for three days, I’ll only be eating a subset of fruits and vegetables and drinking the Metagenics powdered drink.

My body has been primed over the last several days by slowly eliminating foods and food groups so this phase is a natural progression into the cleansing process.

I decided to ease into and through this day by giving my body a rest. No Bikram yoga today, and instead I did some simple stretching to stimulate the lymphatic system. I also wanted to see where my body was at with such a restrictive diet, although, again, I skipped a shake today because it seemed like too much for me. It’s always best to listen to your body and use any eating or cleansing plan as a guideline and this was the main rule that I followed for myself.

Seeing that I felt fine, I went back to yoga the next day. I was astonished at the amount of energy I had in class. Even more interesting was that it was a calm, even energy that I was able to maintain throughout the entire class. My balance and focus were better than normal as well. In the evening, I got hungry after dinner, which didn’t surprise me since the day, in general, was much busier than the previous day. I had a mild headache in the afternoon of these two days as well. I never get headaches, thankfully, and I'm also grateful that the headaches I've experienced this week have been mild.

One more day of limited food choices and then I slowly begin to reintroduce foods back in to my diet. You would be surprised by how quickly this six days can go by…

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

10-Day Detox - The Elimination Process

Onto day three and four of my 10-day detox. Each day means eliminating additional foods and at the same time, increasing consumption of a Metagenics powdered drink designed to support the detoxification process. From my perspective, by easing into the detox, we’re not bombarding the body by releasing a flood of toxins all at once, which will help our organs better deal with the job of eliminating them.

Even by day three, I was not feeling deprived and I didn’t drink all the suggested shakes. It just felt like too much for me. Day three also included a long and relaxing Thai-Swedish massage. Any additional self-care activities that promote relaxation are helpful during the detoxification process, since stress in itself is a toxin and is best eliminated during this time. Massage also helps the fat cells give up their bad stuff and stimulates the lymphatic system which is important for the cleanse to work efficiently.

I also realized how deceiving this plan can be at first, because although I didn’t feel deprived at this point (maybe I’m a little unusual : )), I did experience a slight, dull headache that night, which was an indication that my body was detoxing. This could have also had something to do with the massage. If you are used to eating a heavier diet, you may feel a little differently about the eating plan at this point and may experience detox symptoms earlier.

I eliminated an additional group of foods on day four and OK, finally, I’m noticing the difference in diet, mostly because it takes more planning to come up with meals. Surprisingly, the thought of sugar or sweets has not even entered my mind. I’m not a sweet-a-holic, but I wondered about the reduction in food groups and if I would start to experience cravings. None so far. I think part of the reason for this is the supplemental drink that is giving the body everything it needs and part of it is simply eliminating the foods that lead to an unending cascade of cravings.

Another thing I‘ve noticed. I had a spot about the size of a quarter of what looked like poison ivy on my left forearm that was stubbornly sticking around. Since going on this detox, it has begun to rapidly heal and is nearly gone! In general, my skin is one area where I’m seeing a big difference. It’s cleaner and clearer. Just think, if you begin to notice positive changes in the biggest organ of your body (your skin), just imagine what’s going on inside : )

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

10-Day Detox - The Beginning

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’m on a 10-day detox to clean the cells in my body of all the environmental compounds that we’re exposed to everyday. There a lot of detox programs to try and I chose a program by Metagenics, which includes an eating plan with guidelines and recipes, and a powdered drink that supports the detoxification process in two ways: it provides the necessary nutrients required by the liver detoxification enzymes to actually work during this time of limited food intake, and its formula helps prevent the toxins that are being stirred up from doing damage before they are removed from the body.

On the first two days of the cleanse, I was required to eliminate several foods from my diet that are likely sources of toxins or that are somewhat difficult to digest. This was not so hard to do considering my diet was already very much like the meal plan for these two days, so these days turned out to be somewhat easy to follow and I felt fine. On day two, I also began taking the powdered drink, which, by the way, mixes easily in water and doesn’t require a blender unless you’re adding fruit or vegetables.

One of the primary reasons I started The Daily Detox was to help people make small changes in their diets and lifestyle that over time would greatly improve the quality of their health. When following a clean lifestyle, this sort of gentle detox doesn’t have to be painful or require you to stay home for several days. It can be easily incorporated into your daily life without too much disruption.

More tomorrow….

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cleansing at the Cellular Level

I have embarked on a 10-day Metabolic Detoxification designed by Metagenics. Although I’m not trying to lose weight, this program is a good precursor to losing weight because it can assist the body in removing the build-up of toxins from the fat cells that are holding onto them. It removes them from the brain and nervous system as well, which are also high in fat. This is important since toxin accumulation has been linked to a number of neurological issues, including depression, headaches, autism, and even Parkinson’s Disease or Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

So, why am I doing this? I’m giving my body this detox because I know that despite my relatively clean diet, I’m still exposed to any number of harmful chemicals everyday. According to the CDC, there are 80,000 chemicals in use in industry and commerce and several thousands of these have the potential to enter our bodies. In their most recent National Exposure Report, they tested 212 chemicals that include:

  • Acrylamide
  • Insecticides/Pesticides
  • Metals (such as arsenic, lead, mercury)
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Remarkably, all 212 chemicals were found in the blood of individuals tested, suggesting that there are likely many more finding their way into our systems. And while many of these compounds are being implicated in disease, it is still unclear what sort of threat, if any, may of them pose. However, with the shear number of chemicals we're exposed to, it's easy to imagine how, at some point, our livers would become overwhelmed in their ability to neutralize and remove toxins, and thus these chemicals would begin to accumulate. So I've decided to do this detox to clean my body at the cellular level and to give my liver a fresh restart. I'll be letting you know how it goes throughout the week.

Have you ever done a detox/cleanse and how did it go?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Digest for Week-endng 4 June 2011

This week’s posts were all about the benefits of doing it yourself. This theme follows the idea of eating less processed foods and thus allows us to eat a cleaner, simpler, healthier diet.

Let me say here that doing it yourself is a lifestyle. I will not tell you that taking this path is always easier. In fact, there is almost always work involved. But it is a choice–a choice between healthy and not-so-healthy. However, the more you become accustomed to it, the easier it gets, and the more it becomes engrained into your way of life.

When you begin to see and feel the benefits of eating a cleaner diet, you will understand that the time spent is not time wasted–that there are real dividends to taking the time to do it yourself. Here are a few foods to start with on this path.

Thank you so much for your support and have a wonderful week ahead!


Yogurt

One way to cut back on hidden sugars is to mix your own yogurt combinations for meals or a snack.

Popcorn

Avoid the toxic chemicals of microwave popcorn bags by making your own on the stove. It’s fast and fun!

Pancake Mix

You can remove some of the bad fats from your family’s diet by making your own pancake mix in bulk.

Salad Dressings

Reduce the number of “ingredients” you feed your body by making your own simple salad dressings.

Legumes

With a little planning, cooking your own beans, chickpeas, and lentils can save money and the chemicals and preservatives found in canned foods.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Using fresh tomatoes for making a quick roasted tomato sauce helps to avoid the BPA that can leach into cans of tomatoes and sauces.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

DIY - Roasted Tomato Sauce

Yesterday’s post was about making beans from scratch to avoid buying them in cans. Today’s post follows a similar reasoning for tomato sauce. I’m not referring to the already-prepared spaghetti sauces that come in glass jars, but rather the tomato sauces, chopped tomatoes, and even the pastes that come in cans.

Lately, these products have been deemed as one of the top items to avoid buying for one main reason: they are highly acidic and can leach the BPA from the lining of the cans into the tomatoes. I’ve stopped buying most foods in cans for this reason, but tomatoes is on the top of my list.

One of my all-time favorite ways to make tomato sauce is with roasted tomatoes. Instead of cooking all day on the stove, the tomatoes roast in the oven for about an hour, which preserves more of a fresh tomato flavor while perfectly enhancing it. A friend of mine, Kathy Fannon, has a beautiful blog post showing how to make roasted tomato sauce. Here’s one of my favorite ways of using it: on top of roasted spaghetti squash. I make this a lot over the summer and it’s great hot or cold.

Of course this sauce can be used on any type of pasta or anywhere else you normally use sauce. And the perfect time to make it is when tomato season arrives, and there’s an abundance of fresh, flavorful tomatoes.

What’s your favorite recipe for tomato sauce? Please share it here!