Chef Ellen

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Rethink Your Drink

The Value and Beauty of Hydration, and Why are Electrolytes All the Buzz? While I often stress the importance of a balanced diet, it’s crucial to recognize the transformative power of proper hydration. Just as we derive nutrients from our food, maintaining a well-hydrated body is equally vital for our everyday functions. These days, being glued to our ever-popular water bottle seems like a must. I always leave home with two filled with water as I go about my daily routines. However, water is no longer the end-all-be-all for appropriately nourishing and the only source for reaping benefits from quality hydration practices. We lose vital electrolytes daily from daily activities, movement, heat, normal kidney functions, illnesses, medications (diuretics, antibiotics, laxatives, chemotherapy drugs), and poor dietary habits. Adequate hydration affects both physical and mental well-being. I recently had a firsthand experience of this while hiking the Grand Canyon. It was undoubtedly challenging but one of the most rewarding adventures I have crossed off my bucket list. While in the canyon, I noticed the water was not quenching my thirst, which irritated me. A guide made me stop and noted that I must either take a salt pill or eat an orange. I picked the orange, and my mood instantly picked up as I felt the thirst instantly satisfied. This personal experience made me realize the importance of electrolytes and how plain water alone would not have been sufficient. As much as water is essential, the additional nutrients make for more effective hydration. Many think that seltzers, coffee, or tea are adequate sources of hydration for their bodies, but they need to include beneficial compounds that whole foods can also provide. Many also do not realize that coffee and tea are diuretics, meaning instead of holding on to the positive effects of hydrating, those drinks will cause your kidneys to make more urine, and you will lose that vital fluid and salt more quickly. Let’s examine the role of electrolytes in our body. These minerals carry a charge and are essential for a wide range of physiological functions, including maintaining fluid balance, supporting nerve and muscle function, aiding in detoxification, regulating blood pressure, and promoting bone health. In other words, they are crucial for our overall well-being and hydration. The main minerals electrolytes provide are as follows: o Sodiumo Potassiumo Calciumo Magnesiumo Chlorideo Bicarbonateo Phosphate Whole-food sources play a crucial role in hydration. They include table salt, bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach, dairy, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can ensure more balanced and effective hydration. When an imbalance occurs, look for the following warning signs: o Muscle crampso Irregular heartbeato Thirsto Decreased urine outputo Fatigueo Dry skino Headacheo Dizzinesso Constipationo Confusiono Low blood pressure Complementing the wide range of benefits both hydration and nutrients offer comes with awareness and your frame of mind to make your best effort. A sufficient intake of liquids, even from fresh fruits bursting with natural juices, aids in balance. Intact sources are better choices, so be wary of pre-packaged smoothies, sweetened teas, or juices. Most store-bought versions contain added sugars up to 50+ grams per serving. To calculate how teaspoons of added sugar go into your favorite beverage, divide the grams of added sugar by 4. The numbers can be staggering, but it is an eye-opener when you become more mindful. Shifting those choices and giving significant purpose to your personalized journey requires one day at a time and minor improvements leading to significant strides. Water is essential, as it makes up about 60% of the human body, but the appropriate nutrients are a super-power not to be dismissed.  Please work with your body, not against it, to ensure an adequate intake of both. In good health!

MAY is Mental Health Awareness Month

Taking the opportunity to understand and support those affected by mental health issues is why the month of May is devoted to this critical topic. Annually, heightened awareness develops from the urgency to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health conditions. Recently, there has been an extensive boost in public awareness, highlighting resources, services, and support, but increased recognition and empathy are needed. I came across the following article in the Daily News from a local advocate and found the statistics of this dilemma in NYC quite staggering. I applaud the authors of this piece for advocating for reform and change as they are co-founders of an addiction and mental health facility in NJ. They aspire for a dedicated community based understanding when confronting the perils of our growing mental health crisis. Mental health is certainly not my specialty, and I am stepping out of my comfort zone and area of expertise by broaching the subject. As eloquently as possible, I will highlight the importance and respect this topic deserves. I believe I can safely say we probably know individuals affected by mental health issues, addiction, and the heartache of mismanagement, stigmas, and lack of education about these diseases. Perhaps we are affected first-hand or indirectly. Either way, the goal surrounding the dedication to raising more awareness is to promote the growing number of available resources, services, and support networks. Open conversations and education on mental health also aid in support and a clearer understanding of symptoms and treatment options. Mental health receives so much attention in the media, and we can easily read an article or watch the crisis unfold in the news. However, getting involved can mean taking a moment to recognize the impact advocacy can make. Proactive steps to support optimal mental health in ourselves and others effectively address action versus neglect and an uncaring attitude. Outside assistance and everyday advancements play a significant role in social change and championing improvements in the lives of individuals and communities. Please recognize those change-makers dedicated to moving mountains and outstanding advancements in mental health reform. “Only through a concerted, dedicated effort can we hope to change the narrative from one of neglect to one of recovery and resilience.” Scaduto and Cellary are co-founders of Valley Spring Recovery Center, an addiction treatment and mental health facility in Norwood, N.J.

Plant Diversity

Supporting Gut Health by Feeding Your Microbes Our gut is home to about 40 trillion microbes. These microbes are unique strains of bacteria that crave various plant foods to thrive. When appropriately nourished, they are adaptable and enriched enough to champion our best healthful outcomes. Beneficial bacteria establish superior immune responses, digestive processes, nutrient absorption, and vitamin production within the intestinal tract.  With all the emerging information on gut health, it’s empowering to understand that TLC of your gut environment is one of your best investments. Through our skin and digestive tract, we are exposed to bacteria daily. These florae are groups of microbes living in or on your body. Some make us ill but many aid in most processes we need to survive. Instead of focusing on destroying bad microbes, our objective should be to reinforce and nurture favorable resident organisms, a task that you can actively participate in. By maintaining a healthy gut, you can expect a host of positive health outcomes: Improved digestion, reduced inflammation, enhanced immune responses, and a significantly lower risk of chronic and autoimmune disease. These are the rewards of your commitment to gut health. Let’s break down key mechanisms of optimal gut health and explain why increasing your intake of specific whole food plant sources like apples, broccoli, quinoa, oats, almonds, lentils, and chia seeds can flourish your gut wellness. By increasing daily fiber intake from whole food plant-based sources, critical processes and beneficial outcomes are improved from the following:  Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA): Healthy gut bacteria ferment dietary fiber to produce byproducts called SCFA. SCFAs maintain intact cellular structure and barrier protection to both the gut barrier and colon lining. This structural reinforcement regulates immune functions and lends to less inflammation (skin, joints, heart, brain, kidney, lungs, and the development of life-threatening illnesses) Bowel Consistency: Regular bowel movements and eliminating everyday toxins are essential for a flourishing digestive tract. An adequate intake of plant diversity and fibers, SCFA, and nutrient absorption aid in daily bowel movements and the prevention of constipation.    Gastrointestinal Disorders decrease with a healthy gut barrier and reduced inflammation. Properly ingesting an array of nutrients and phytochemicals, which are natural compounds found in plants has been shown to have health benefits. A variety of plant foods protects against unfavorable disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),  inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), dysbiosis, leaky gut, and colorectal cancers, which are all so prevalent in our society.  With an increased intake of soluble and insoluble fibers and an emphasis on whole-food plant diversity, we ensure the growth of beneficial bacteria. The fiber we ingest from plant-based foods is prebiotics, which act as a fertilizer our favorable gut bugs happily eat up, aiding in cellular growth, healing, and energy.   Aim for 30 plants a week and you’ll be surprised how easily this can be attained with consistency and a positive mindset. How do you start? One day at a time, with no pressure for perfection. Sometimes, inspiration is half the battle. I love being encouraged by anyone who aspires to create with plant diversity. There is so much to look at especially online, and social media or you can one-stop shop here and see what catches your eye. To assist in facilitating this process, remember that whole-food plant sources include herbs (fresh and dried, and spices. A fruit compote made from seasonal fruit and then used to top yogurt or chia pudding could easily add up to between 5-10 plant sources. A snack like these Superfood Bites are seven sources of plants. See one of my newest salad dressings below which uses herbs, sprouts, and leftover greens to inspire various plant consumption, control over quality ingredients, and money saved over costly store-bought versions. Is plant-diversity the ultimate gut-fix? No, unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, but rest assured, attention to increasing dietary fiber from a variety of plant sources is one step in the most advantageous direction. Supporting the skill set of our microbes reinforces the integrity of vital gut functions. Optimal gut functions are essential for orchestrating many of our daily organ and hormonal operations.These key mechanisms need your attention and a mindset that is dedicated to significant progress and overall wellness.

Body, Mind, and Spirit

Your Road to Personal Growth and Self-Exploration As a strong advocate of integrating modern medicine and traditional wisdom practices to promote health and well-being, I champion the empowering concepts of body, mind, and spirit. These are not just abstract ideas, but they represent the different aspects of your being. Your body is your physical form, your mind is your thoughts and emotions, and your spirit is your inner essence. Understanding and nurturing these aspects can enhance your health and well-being. As holistic health gains recognition, the awareness of how these aspects interconnect and influence each other grants the likelihood of balance, allowing individuals to address their concerns.   We’ve all encountered the phrase ‘body, mind, and spirit,’ but how does it manifest in your daily life? Whether you’re grappling with chronic stress or basking in perpetual bliss, your body, mind, and spirit are inextricably linked.    Since most of us are not in constant euphoria, let’s delve into the following questions to stimulate your self-reflection: Are you feeling out of balance or working in synergy with the universe and equipped to handle whatever life throws at you? Do you show empathy and compassion and form meaningful conversations with others? Do you reflect, feel, and behave positively? Do you roll any upsetting situation into a ball and figuratively swallow the pain/anger? Are you connected to a community where you thrive? Do you ponder meaning and purpose? Are you grateful? Do you accept help from others? Are you harboring anger and resentful feelings daily? Do you learn new skills, adapt to new environments, and acquire personal growth and development knowledge?   Supporting the connection of a thriving body, mind, and spirit takes effort, so let’s explore. Finding purpose or grasping how to decipher “the meaning of life” can quickly become a crisis of the mind. Perhaps enhanced calm will bring clarity so that direction and contentment become more apparent.  Will every little thing fall into place with the development of spirit?  And if our body is cared for appropriately, will the trifecta of efforts bring about a state of ‘blanketed comfort’ where we feel a sense of peace, fulfillment, and balance in all aspects of our lives?   The answer is yes. With the integration of modern medicine and traditional wisdom practices, this state of blanketed comfort is a dream and a tangible goal we can strive for.   It sounds wonderfully encouraging, but building progress requires one step at a time. Embrace the moments and strive to do your best each day as you embark on this journey. Practices such as meditation, prayer, ritual, and community support can be powerful tools in promoting healing and wholeness at profound levels. Aspire to initiate random acts of kindness, such as helping a stranger, volunteering at a local charity, or simply offering a kind word instead of practicing cynicism. Let your actions be your guide, with a greater sense of purpose as your beacon. This path of transformation will soon follow inspiring hope and personal growth.   Connecting to something greater than oneself contributes to personal growth, and with consistency and daily practice, fine-tuning that pathway to paradise could be feasible. The notion that anything is possible mirrors a mindset of optimism, creativity, and an open mind. However, as life has it, limitations and constraints occasionally pop up and hinder the realm of possibilities. Still, a balanced approach is also essential; it should keep dreams and motivation intact. Our minds are powerful and adaptable, our spirit is resilient, and a healthy body can grow and change accordingly. Therefore, with proper nurturing, who knows what lies ahead on that road, so individually to you and only you? Trust in your abilities and the potential for growth and development.

Purpose

What course of action(s) drives purpose and leads one to a place of achievement?   Leaving a positive mark is an intention I often consider as I type away, focused on where my path will lead next. Helping others advocate for their best health is the nature of what inspires a thought of the next book, a new recipe, or a fresh blog post.   When speaking to clients, I often ask “why” they want to make changes. Mostly, I get the usual “doctor’s order” assessment or perhaps the “I want to improve the way I feel” feedback. It’s terrific, and I embrace the initial meeting of new clients driven by purpose.   To my new clients and readers alike, I emphasize that there’s no magic pill, quick fix, or going back to old habits that don’t serve your intentions. I ask them to view their objections as a journey. If we value ourselves as humans and give importance to our health, our behaviors should reflect the need to get necessary tasks done. But, as flawed humans, the work that is the essential means to an end is often viewed as complex, exhausting, and complicated.   Change sucks, until it doesn’t. It may cause unrest and fear because it requires effort, but it does get easier as confidence grows, and we embrace the admirable effects of our time, patience, and accomplishments.   Whatever way you want to apply purpose to your life, it has critical meaning and direction as it guides whatever journey you decide to take. Having a sense of purpose provides clarity and aids us through whatever challenges come our way. Superior physical and mental outcomes support health, well-being, focus, resilience, and motivation.   I also highlight that it’s not entirely about you when you aspire to a purpose. With goals, you inspire others around you and create a ripple effect. Knowing that your actions are conducive to something greater than yourself brings fulfillment and deep satisfaction.   What inspires you to live a meaningful and purposeful life? How can you achieve more deliberate moments in your heart? As we identify what matters most, what aligns with our values, and brings more precise meaning into our daily routines, we look back only to reflect and adjust as needed. Soon enough, the purpose will ultimately find you with a wink and a smile.   In good health!  

Improve Your Mood and Exhale Slowly

Taking a 5-Minute Breather “I’m tapped out.” “There’s nothing in my reserve.” “I’m currently operating on a low battery.”These are clever ways to say I’m exhausted, anxious, or you require space, but how often do we act on our troublesome thoughts? Attempting to energize and refresh our emotions can undoubtedly impact our well-being. Awareness and effort focused on proper breathing yield impactful results with mental clarity, mood, and overall everyday performance.    Taking just 5 minutes to focus on breathing is a deliberate way to calm the central nervous system and has many physiological benefits. Controlled breathing involves deliberately repeating a breathing pattern to bring about serenity. It also lowers blood pressure and heart rate and reduces levels of stress hormones in the blood. Daily 5-minute breaks engaging in mindful breathwork practices significantly improve mood and reduce anxiety.   Consistent hustling takes precedence over just being, and our health pays the price. If one becomes more aware of the pause in everyday activities, we are more likely to tune in and positively control an adverse scenario before it controls us. Some studies even suggest that breathwork holds more healthful benefits than meditation.   Let’s dig deeper and facilitate progress with this life-sustaining bodily function.   Taking in air and exhaling is moving oxygen in and out of your lungs. The movement of air nourishes our physical body by oxygenating on a cellular level. Controlled breath work boosts our immune functions, calms our minds, mutes the constant chatter, and allows us to tap into deep relaxation and peace. Sign me up!   From birth, we naturally breathe through our bellies. Think about a newborn or your pet dog and notice their bellies rise and fall without effort. Over the years, we develop flawed breathing patterns and forget to take deep breaths using our bellies. Instead, we take shorter breaths, often from our chest, which triggers our nervous system and brings about unfavorable symptoms like fatigue, gut issues, headaches, neck pain, sleepless nights, and anxiety. So, close your mouth, utilize your nose to do its job, and remember, use your belly and back, not your chest, to breathe the air.   There are many resources available to explore and master enhanced breathwork. These include books, online courses, mobile apps, and numerous YouTube videos that demonstrate various breathwork techniques. Yoga studios, workshops, and retreats also provide various opportunities for hands-on practice.   More focus on breathwork allows your thoughts to flow without getting lost. Guided breaths calm many bodily functions, thus allowing our thoughts to solve our problems instead of backfiring them into stressful situations—improved focus and enhanced concentration direct attention away from distractions and allow one to appreciate present moments.   The following practice is adaptable virtually anywhere you can spare 5 minutes. With consistency and initiative, one five-minute session turns into several throughout the day. Tension floats away, restoring a heightened sense of peace and wellness.   The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a simple yet effective dive into controlled breaths designed to promote relaxation, less stress, and calm.   Have you got 5 minutes to spare? 1. Find a comfortable position; you choose to have your eyes closed or open.   2. Rest your tongue against the roof of your mouth, relaxing it just behind your upper front teeth.   3. Clear all stale air from your belly by starting with a brisk exhale through your mouth.   4. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4. Remember to expand your belly outward as you focus on filling your lungs with air.   5. Hold your breath for 7 seconds while remaining calm and relaxed.   6. Exhale slowly and entirely while making a soft whooshing sound for seconds.   7. Repeat the cycle four times for maximum soothing benefits.    This simple and effective tool facilitates healing and transformative responses. Embracing an open mind when starting something new and allowing yourself to be patient with results is essential to finding a practice that resonates with your goals. Experiment and practice as anyone can enhance body, mind, and spirit when taking a whole-body approach to wellness. In good health!  

Harmonizing Health with Histamine Awareness

The Stuff Allergies Are Made of… Plus So Much More Blog Disclaimer: This blog is a long one, reader. I am passionate about bringing more attention to histamine intolerance in the body. As someone who has struggled with many intestinal/hormonal unrests, getting off the hamster wheel and finding answers started with investing the time to learn, facilitating some detective work, and making changes by digging deeper. Please take the time to read through it, grasp what you need, and apply where you see fit, embracing your best health for all the right reasons.   Histamine is a chemical compound stored in the mast and other immune cells. It is most known for its role in allergic reactions. With help from neurons throughout the body, histamine protects by producing itching or hives, most commonly with food allergies, but at times vomiting or diarrhea occurs. Even more severe is the likeliness of life-threatening anaphylaxis. When the central nervous system is overloaded or compromised, this impairment can result in an overproduction of histamine, causing adverse effects on gastrointestinal, mental, immune, and behavioral functions.   Most of us associate the act of histamine with allergy season. Stuffy nose and hay fever, anyone? Pop an antihistamine and get on with your day. But would it surprise you to know that histamine’s diverse actions also include regulating immune responses, gastric acid secretion (necessary to break down food), inflammation, smooth muscle (muscles in the stomach, bladder, intestines, and uterus) regulation, and histamine-producing cells responsible for cognitive functions (regulating attention, alertness, and our ever-critical sleep-wake cycle)?   It’s a mouthful, a duty, and quite a demanding job that this chemical compound receives daily, but what happens when the management of histamine in one’s body goes haywire?   Histamine intolerance occurs when there is an overproduction of histamine or when our body cannot efficiently break it down due to a lack of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). This enzyme breaks down the histamine we take in from food. A lack of the enzyme is also associated with some medications, leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth, and an excess of histamine-rich foods.    Histamine is a chemical your body naturally makes but is also present in some foods and triggered by others. Other factors associated with histamine intolerance are genetics, kidney and liver disease, medications (blood pressure meds, opioids/narcotics, muscle relaxers, diuretics, antibiotics, antidepressants, and H2 blockers), and age (common in people over the age of 40)    This imbalance affects normal body function; responses and symptoms include: Cramping Runny nose Sneezing Watery Eyes Digestive issues Dizziness Flushing Headaches/Migraines/Brain Fog Dizziness/Vertigo Reflux/Heartburn Intense PMS Anxiety Heat Intolerance Low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat Hives, rashes, itchy skin, and eczema Sudden excessive sweating   These symptoms may irritate and become bothersome; they are the measures our bodies use to protect against infection. The overproduction of histamine can occur for several reasons. Looking for a root cause is discovering the origin of problems to identify appropriate solutions. Root cause issues associated with histamine intolerance include:   Insufficient DAO enzyme (metabolizes histamine)  Leaky Gut/Poor Gut Health  Bacterial Overgrowth Mold Toxicity Chronic Stress Long Term Meds (NSAIDS) Excess Alcohol Consumption Under-Methylation (deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, B6, and methionine)  Overconsumption of histamine foods (see below) Candida Overgrowth SIBO   One would be more likely to develop histamine intolerance if experiencing a gastrointestinal disorder. Intestinal issues associated with an overproduction of histamine:   Colon Polyps Malabsorption Celiac Disease IBS/IBD (Crohn’s) Bacterial Overgrowth Food Allergies Acid Reflux Morning Sickness   Hormonal disorders linked to histamine intolerance:   Endometriosis Thyroid Problems Insomnia Anxiety/Depression   Foods containing histamine are aged and fermented, alcohol (especially red wine), canned fish, dried fruit, eggplant, processed and smoked meats, shellfish, spinach, and tomatoes. These foods will feed the imbalance and make symptoms like congestion, headaches, fatigue, hives, or itching more uncomfortable. Foods that can trigger histamine release are alcohol, bananas, beans, some citrus (lemons, limes, and oranges), food dyes, papaya, tomatoes, and nuts (walnuts, cashews, and peanuts), along with preservatives and additives. Because histamine is required for digestion and is released into the digestive tract every time you eat, at times, it may appear that you are reacting to everything you consume.    We typically take histamine blockers called antihistamines (Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec) to block or counteract the effects of too much histamine. These medicines quickly relieve allergy symptoms like hives, insect bites, and hay fever. If you deal with uncomfortable seasonal allergy responses, consider those trigger foods, and avoid them when you know histamine levels are high—as this action will aid in alleviating short-term bothersome issues.    Furthermore, more reasons to eat plant-based foods support dietary plant polyphenols, which are a proactive consideration. These naturally occurring compounds with antioxidant properties and natural antihistamine stabilizers counteract high histamine levels. These stabilizing compounds are present in vitamin C–rich foods such as berries, broccoli, cauliflower, citrus, and tropical fruits. Other sources are beverages (coffee and tea), chocolate, flaxseeds, legumes, nuts, oils, olives, and spices. Yes, lemon can trigger a histamine release or tame a reaction because it is also rich in polyphenolic compounds. One size does not fit all. You are your best judge in these situations.    These various polyphenolic compounds are also associated with reducing inflammation markers, improving insulin resistance, repairing cells, and protecting against oxidative stress to vital cells. One could also keep a food diary to track symptoms, as histamine intolerance can be hard to diagnose. Blood tests can measure the amount, and allergy skin tests can aid in identifying or ruling out food allergies. DAO supplementation is another avenue where studies have positive results in relieving bothersome symptoms in as little as two weeks.   Support positive communication of cells receiving and sending critical information from the body to the brain and back to one’s body. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of histamine dysregulation is vital for developing effective treatments for histamine-related disorders. Optimizing health outcomes comes with knowledge, supportive measures, and awareness. Understanding your body contributes to superior management of potential ailments, a higher quality of life, and aging well.   In good health!   Please check out one of the

You Are What You Think

Impacting Our Minds with What We Feed It From the brain’s intellect, do actions, choices, and thoughts determine our truth? Our brains believe so. World-renowned entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and author Russel Branson said, “What we feed our mind becomes our reality.”   We can move mountains and overcome obstacles with a powerful mindset. Still, as flawed humans, that confident drive and willingness to overcome can be shadowed quickly by distrust, uncertainty, and negative thoughts.    Are we persuaded by the environment, influenced by what our minds encounter daily, and unknowingly soaking up pessimistic attitudes? My first thought turns to social media and the pitfalls of endless scrolling that can quickly become chronic and unhealthy. My feelings were likely prompted by the fact that I recently took a three-week break from various social platforms. My decision to do so was to catch up on other priorities and gather new content. As refreshing and restorative as the break was, and to be perfectly honest, I had a hard time going back on. However, I use social networking and various platforms to build my brand. Still, the awareness of taking a break and acknowledging the positive effects of a pause taught me valuable lessons and insight.   1. It’s okay to pause. 2. It’s in my best interest to create a breathing space of sorts. 3. Although sometimes annoying, when at the theatre, the term intermission in stage life occurs for a reason. Audience members were finding it hard to concentrate for more than two hours at a stretch. In addition, actors and performers also need to rest. Taking the sensible concept behind the meaning and applying it in terms of a hiatus we could all use from time to time may prove beneficial for brain health.  Although theoretically practical, getting some downtime may be more necessary than we give it credit. Feeding our minds with too many negative scenarios (news, social media, politics, negative people) can rule our thoughts. Cultivating a positive mindset starts with understanding the connection between our thoughts, emotions, and approach to a positive attitude.   Since facilitating a pause may be easier said than done for most, the following are avenues we can take to become more conscious of cultivating mindfulness.   Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing help one become more in tune  with thoughts and emotions as they arise. Negatively responding to unfavorable emotions is a choice, yet monitoring feelings consciously and developing soothing skills is a healthy approach when practiced daily. You influence your mood, thoughts, and  behaviors. Gratitude is reflection. Practicing gratefulness daily shifts focus away from negativity and favors appreciation. I take three deep breaths before a meal to become present. When the opportunity to become grateful arises, I stop to offer thanks. With practice, we all find what works for our specific lifestyles. The bonus of pausing holds surprising benefits for our digestive processes. Positive affirmations offset a pessimistic perspective. Repeating affirmations reinforces self-worth, courage, and calm. Solutions and obstacles are more transparent and accessible to overcome with supportive words and proactive steps for any circumstance. Reflection, Self-Compassion, and Support are at the core of mindfulness behaviors. When we reflect and tune in to what we want to change, compassion flows beyond ourselves and into the world, where we create a ripple effect of kindness. Without a doubt, we are in need. Having support is equally critical because, at times, it is difficult to be there for ourselves. Have a backup, and don’t rely solely on your best intentions. The most accurate and honest relationships we cultivate remind us to accept, forgive, be  patient, and stay strong.   Be wary of what you feast on in your mind. If you are feeling upset, down, or disregarded in any way, become more aware of the culprits and steer away from the potential you may be giving it to rob you of positivity, passion, and purpose. Nurture and find moments to check in with your mind, scan, and take a break to protect that beautiful mind that holds gentle, reassuring moments in your future. Isn’t your health worth the exploration? In good health!  

Prevention Over Treatment

A Proactive Approach to a Balanced Body, Mind, and Spirit Uncovering the extraordinary benefits of small preventative efforts can considerably decrease future negative health scares and outcomes. An enthusiastic mindset is your call to action and the opportunity to make decisions for a positive lifestyle change that will impact all facets of one’s life. This journey worth exploring supports the avoidance of undesirable illnesses and the fallout often associated with navigating recovery.     The basis of most preventative efforts is a combination of skills built over time. Your power to change equates to a substantial impact on avoiding chronic disorders and disease. Deep breaths, one day at a time, and remembering progress, not perfection, produce the most favorable, sustainable outcomes.     We often maintain our vehicles, homes, and relationships, so why does personal health take a back seat or fall far to the bottom of our list of priorities?    The following are a few examples that hinder our best attempts to prioritize health:    Busy Lifestyles and a laundry list of commitments, family responsibilities, and careers typically take precedence over daily movement, healthy eating, and regular check-ups.    Immediate Results over Long-Term Well-Being – Investing time and effort with consistency will provide optimal outcomes vs. instant gratification or a quick fix.   Appreciation—It is expected that one will not fully comprehend the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle until a health scare comes knocking. Balance, awareness, education, and prioritizing health are stepping stones, with benefits far outweighing a debilitating diagnosis.   Recognizing Unhealthy Habits – Damaging habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol use, and the standard American diet are breeding grounds for inflammation and adverse effects on our health.  Financial Burdens, proper access to healthcare services, food security, and struggling with basic needs can indeed limit the responsibility for one’s health.     Supportive home and community environments set the foundation to approach these challenges. Facilitating healthy behaviors and sustainable habits encourages those looking to make conscious intentions to engage in preventative care. Long-term shifts enrich, boost health, and promote aging gracefully. Click here to read more about 20 Habits for a Healthier, Happier Life from research from The Blue Zones (communities around the globe living longer, happier, higher quality lives).    Nobody is immune to health issues, and the perception that you can deal with problems later in life will only create disappointment. We must recognize the value of our health and make conscious efforts to remedy concerns, prioritize regular health screenings, and ditch unfavorable habits.      Prevention gives you the gift of longevity, no need for various avenues with medical professionals, and the added perk of aging gracefully pain-free and purpose-driven.     “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”~ Ben Franklin    In good health!  

Decoding Chronic Inflammation in The Body

The Effects of Chronic vs. Acute Inflammation on Health Inflammation is a natural and necessary response of the body’s immune system to infection, injury, or irritation; however, these responses should be short-term and brief.Short-term or acute responses to inflammation enhance healing in certain situations. This feedback we receive from our body aims to regenerate and repair, while the chronic intensity of symptoms can be harmful and contribute to various health conditions.   I’ve broached the subject of inflammation many times, but as life has it, we tend to ignore or normalize symptoms, and at times, our aches and pains can get out of hand. Addressing concerns starts with awareness.    What does lingering inflammation look/feel like? Some of the most common signs of chronic inflammation in the body are: · Muscle stiffness or discomfort · Insomnia · Oxidative stress (frequent infections, memory loss, decreased eyesight, headaches  sensitivity to noise) · Weight gain/weight loss · Fatigue · Acne  · Painful periods   · Eczema, rashes   · Gas/bloating/reflux/GERD   · Swelling/itching   · Food sensitivities   · Constipation/diarrhea   · Anxiety/depression   Over time, immune dysfunction occurs with repeated threats or triggers. Our immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, compromising blood flow, cellular damage, and digestive health. Snowball effects develop because there is no resolution in sight. Therefore, the threat never neutralizes, resulting in a hostile environment.   Addressing the root of chronic inflammation may start with a baseline with your yearly physical. Supportive advanced examinations and digging deeper with functional therapies are methods to consider when specific health markers can provide more insight into underlying causes.   Typical testing: Complete blood counts (CBC) and blood chemistry panels supply necessary information on the components and substances of and in the blood.   Advanced testing: Upgraded testing measures specific panels of inflammatory responses, antibodies often associated with autoimmune disease, and genetic variants correlated to inflammatory conditions. MRI, CT, and PET scans also provide visual inflammation in specific tissues and organs.   Functional testing: This involves digging deeper often with a more holistic approach to treatment by addressing lifestyle factors, diet, stress, and environmental exposure. Underlying imbalances are addressed with a more personalized approach, leading to preventative care that optimizes one’s best health. For example, food sensitivities, gut permeability, and nutritional and hormone testing aid in identifying underlying imbalances.     Resolution looks different for all of us, but persistent inflammation doesn’t have a chance when you advocate for your best health and address lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular movement, stress management, and a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Knowing your body and developing solid, sustainable habits builds a foundation equivalent to lifestyle medicine’s benefits. Decoding what is natural and short-term vs. persistent concerns is within your grasp as becoming more in tune is ultimately in your best interest for overall health and well-being.   Please check out one of my newest recipes incorporating delicious, warming and anti inflammatory chai spices. Chai Sweet Potato Blondies! This recipe is a must-try for a satisfying healthier alternative to keep in your rotation. In good health!