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Let the Sun Shine

Heading to the beach in the last days of summer? Be sure to catch as many rays as you can.

Ultraviolet B rays from the sun are a great source of Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that is necessary for bone health and promotes absorption of calcium. In addition, Vitamin D benefits our hearts, lungs, and brains as well as helps fight infection. (1,2)

Low levels of Vitamin D have been seen to occur in babies who are breastfed, older adults whose skin is less adept at absorbing Ultraviolet B rays and whose kidneys are less efficient at conversion to a usable form; people with dark skin, as higher levels of melanin compete for absorption of Ultraviolet B rays; and obese people, as body fat can prevent Vitamin D from being absorbed. (7,8)

Symptoms of low Vitamin D levels include a sweaty forehead, bone pain, depression, fatigue, poor sleep, and getting sick often. (10) People with low levels of Vitamin D are at risk for developing breast, colon, and prostate cancers; high blood pressure; osteoarthritis; and immune-system disorders. (9)

Our bodies do not produce Vitamin D naturally. Instead, we absorb the vitamin from the sun, ingest it in Vitamin D-rich foods, and sometimes take supplements. (1) We absorb Ultraviolet B rays from the sun through our skin. Generally, only about 25 minutes of sun exposure/day is sufficient to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D and we don’t need to get a sunburn or even a tan. In fact, even if we wear sunscreen most of the time, we can still absorb the necessary amount of Ultraviolet B rays. (35)

Supplements are another good source for Vitamin D, but proceed with caution as too much Vitamin D can be toxic! Our bodies have a system in place to stop too much Vitamin D being absorbed naturally, but we can take too much in the form of supplements. Symptoms of too much Vitamin D include vomiting, constipation, and dangerous amounts of calcium in the body. (9)

Diet is great source of Vitamin D through fatty fish like tuna and salmon, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, yogurt, mushrooms, and foods fortified with Vitamin D (such as milk, orange juice, and some cereals). (6,7)

Try a few of these Vitamin D-Rich Recipes!

  1. http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000001996452,00.html
  2. http://www.healthyfood.co.uk/recipe/grilled-salmon-burgers-caper-dressing/

 

References

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
  2. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/what-is-vitamin-d/
  3. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/
  4. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20504538,00.html#sunlight-0
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/6-things-you-should-know-about-vitamin-d
  6. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/calcium-vitamin-d-foods
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/vitaminddeficiency.html
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/health/27brod.html
  10. http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/vitamin-d-deficiency-symptoms/

Vaginal Dryness

Have you experienced the pain and discomfort of vaginal dryness?

Also known as vaginal atrophy, vaginal dryness is known to affect women of any age, though it is most common post-menopause. (1) Symptoms include soreness in the vaginal area; an itchy, burning feeling; and a burning sensation during urination. (2) A routine pelvic exam will show if the vaginal walls are thin, red, or pale. (2)

There are a number of factors that can cause vaginal dryness:

  • Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which attacks the body’s moisture glands causing dryness throughout the body (3);
  • Douching can lead to vaginal dryness by disrupting the balance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina. Doctors recommend that women do not douche, as it can lead to several health problems (4);
  • Certain medications, such as blood-pressure medicines, antidepressants, and allergy and cold medicines can also lead to vaginal dryness (5,6);
  • Anxiety and stress can affect sexual arousal (7); and
  • A drop in estrogen levels caused by menopause and perimenopause, childbirth and breastfeeding, surgical removal of ovaries (2,6), treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy (8), and nicotine dependence. (9)

Vaginal dryness can be eased by adhering to these tips:

  • Don’t douche
  • Quit smoking
  • Relieve stress and anxiety
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid scented soaps and lotions (2)

If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, don’t worry! You are not alone and treatments are available. Talk to your health-care professional about possible solutions.

 

References:

 

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-dryness/basics/definition/sym-20151520
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000892.htm
  3. http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/tc/sjogrens-syndrome-topic-overview
  4. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/douching
  5. http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-04-2012/medications-that-can-cause-sexual-dysfunction.html
  6. http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-dryness-causes-moisturizing-treatments#1
  7. https://www.everydayhealth.com/vaginal-dryness/guide/
  8. http://www.thebreastcaresite.com/chemotherapy/hormonal-changes-chemotherapy/
  9. https://smokefree.gov/quitting-smoking/reasons-quit/health-effects

Big Fish Benefits-Omega-3s

We’ve all heard about the benefits of fish oil through the years: The oils present in the tissues of certain fish which contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s), the “essential” fats that are said to contribute to the prevention of heart disease and stroke (1,2), lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and help in the treatment of kidney disease. This “brain food” is also thought to help in the treatment of depression, bipolar disease, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. Furthermore, fish oil can be used to treat painful periods, breast pain, and studies have shown it to aid in preventing miscarriage. (3,4)

However, these benefits are still being tested. For example, in March 2017, the American Heart Association stated that fish oil may not prevent heart disease in all people as previously thought. Instead, they have modified their stance to say that fish oil may be useful in preventing heart disease-related death in people who recently suffered heart attack or in patients with heart failure. (5)

Our bodies can’t produce omega-3s themselves, so we need to obtain them from other sources. The best place to get omega-3s is straight from the foods we eat. Wild fish that are high in omega-3s include salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines, and lake trout. Farm-raised fish can also be high in omega-3s, but can contain higher levels of contaminants, so these should be eaten less often. (3) Additionally, soybean, canola, and flaxseed oils, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, basil, dried oregano, and grape leaves all contain high levels of omega-3s. (3,6)

Fish oil supplements are a great option for people who are on vegan diets or who may not be able to afford fresh fish, which can be expensive.

For all the benefits fish oil is said to have, there can be several adverse effects at high doses, including but not limited to an increase in bleeding in patients with bleeding disorders or who are on drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Fish oil may also affect blood sugar levels and those with hormone imbalance or who are going through hormone therapy should use with caution. Additionally, fish oil may cause bad breath, frequent urination, constipation, gas, and dizziness. (7)

The FDA generally regards omega-3s safe when we eat 1-2 servings of fish per week or supplements are taken at a recommended dosage over the course of 2-3.5 years. (7) In general, healthy adults can safely take between 250 and 3000 mg EPA and DHA (the primary beneficial omega-3s) combined per day. (8) However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should opt for supplements rather than eating certain fish due to their high mercury levels. (3)

Here are some recipes to get your omega-3s naturally!

  1. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/basil-and-walnut-pesto-quiche/
  2. http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/oil-poached-tuna-salad
  3. http://skinnyms.com/walnut-crusted-chicken-breasts/

 

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-993-fish%20oil.aspx?activeingredientid=993
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet#1
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8305926
  5. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/03/13/CIR.0000000000000482
  6. https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2017/04/Experts-Help-Clarify-Who-Should-Take-Fish-Oil-Supplements
  7. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/safety/hrb-20059372
  8. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-omega-3#section8

The Buzz on Bug Bites

Picture this: You’re at a backyard BBQ, talking with group of friends. Every few minutes, you feel a sting or hear an ominous buzzing noise and you know you’re being eaten alive by bugs. But — nobody else seems to be bothered. It’s as if you’re wearing a big neon sign that reads “BUFFET IS OPEN!” But you’re not… right?

Maybe you are.

It turns out that some people are just more attractive to bugs like mosquitoes and ticks. For example, mosquitoes are drawn to people with high concentrations of cholesterol or steroids on the surface of their skin. They also like people who produce more uric and lactic acids. (1) Both mosquitoes and ticks are attracted by carbon dioxide and show a marked preference for Type O blood over Types A and B. (24) There could also be a genetic factor at play: 85% of humans produce a secretion that essentially advertises their blood type. It turns out mosquitoes are more attracted to this group of people no matter their blood type. (2)

Passion for Fashion?

Both mosquitoes and ticks can see color – and have preferences! People wearing dark colors like navy, black, and red are more recognizable to mosquitoes, while ticks lean towards light colors. (4,5)

Go Incognito

A few natural ways to dim that neon sign are:

  • STOP! The less you move around, the less carbon dioxide and lactic acid you will produce. (1)
  • Be CLEAN. The cleaner you are and the less sweat you have on your body, the less attractive you are to biting bugs. (6)
  • Avoid certain FOODS. Uric acid is produced when our bodies digest certain foods like anchovies, dried beans and peas, and beer (uh-oh!). (7)
  • Wear DARK clothing to avoid ticks. Additionally, clothing with built-in tick repellant is quite effective. (8)
  • Wear LIGHT clothing to avoid mosquitoes.

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/are-you-mosquito-magnet#1
  2. https://www.treehugger.com/health/7-reason-mosquitoes-bite-some-people-more-others.html
  3. http://www.sentinelsource.com/life_and_style/home_and_garden/why-do-some-folks-attract-ticks-more-than-others/article_b686c2c7-3eb7-5eab-8c9f-292c8bfeedac.html
  4. (http://www.tickbites.net/attracts-ticks-humans/
  5. https://www.treehugger.com/health/7-reason-mosquitoes-bite-some-people-more-others.html
  6. http://modernnotion.com/why-bugs-bite-people-others/
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003476.htm
  8. http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/top_ten_things_list

 

Gut Bacteria

Bacteria is everywhere. We are hyper-aware of the dangers of E. coli, Staphylococcus, Listeria, and Salmonella, so we try to make our world as healthy as possible by sanitizing and bleaching them away.

However, bacteria doesn’t only exist in the world around us; it’s inside of us all. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

From birth, every one of us will acquire more than 1000 unique species of bacteria in our gastrointestinal systems, or guts. We get our personal mix of gut bacteria from vaginal vs. caesarian section births; breast milk vs. formula; the bacteria on our family members and in our homes, schools, parks, etc.; and the foods we eat. Basically, we gather our gut bacteria from the world around us. Though most people share some of the same organisms, each one of us has a unique cocktail of gut bacteria that can work for and against our personal health throughout our lives. (1, 2)

The Good and the Bad

Our good bacteria is a wondrous thing. At its most basic function, bacteria aids in food digestion, produces vitamins B and K, and acts as a barrier in the immune system to boost health. (1, 3)

Ninety-five percent of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the gut, keeping an open line of communication with the brain. Pain, anxiety, mood, hunger, and illness are among the things constantly communicated between brain and gut via serotonin. (4, 5)

Gut bacteria is also seen to have an impact on weight. Recent evidence has shown that the gut bacteria in people of a healthy weight is more varied than that of obese people. A study performed on mice shed a bit more light on the phenomenon: Gut bacteria from sets of human twins with one obese and one lean twin were given to baby mice. When the mice were in separate cages and eating the same diet, those with the obese twin’s bacteria gained more weight. However, when the mice were placed in a cage together, the obese mice began to lose weight as they ingested the lean mice’s feces and acquired their beneficial gut bacteria. (6)

Healthy Gut

The best way to have a healthy gut is to promote a wide variety of bacteria… but how?

Fiber. A great way to boost healthy bacteria in your gut is to eat foods with lots of fiber, which can be digested by certain gut bacteria, causing them to reproduce. High-fiber foods to include in your diet could include raspberries, bananas, pears, whole wheats, barley, bran, split peas, lentils, a variety of beans, artichokes, green peas, and turnip greens. (7) Bonus: Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies can halt the growth of some bad bacteria. (8)

PRObiotics. Probiotics are the good guys! We can feed our guts the good bacteria through probiotic-rich foods as well as with over-the-counter supplements. Some probiotic-rich foods are kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt and other fermented dairy products, and pickles. (9)

PREbiotic Foods. Prebiotics are “selectively fermented” foods that can boost healthy gut bacteria. (10) Basically, prebiotics feed probiotics so that they can multiply in your gut. Some prebiotic foods are Jerusalem artichokes; dandelion greens; raw garlic, onion, and leeks; avocadoes; peas; and apple cider vinegar. (11)

Feed Your Bacteria. We’ve seen that certain foods, like fiber-rich foods and prebiotics, are better at promoting good bacteria because or bodies don’t digest them. But eating these foods, we are feeding the good bacteria in our guts. Alternatively, when we eat foods that are easily digested by our bodies, we are starving our gut bacteria and they need to find other things to eat… like the lining of our guts, which can lead to inflammation and discomfort. Foods to avoid include sugars, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. (12)

 

References:

  1. http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/news/20140820/your-gut-bacteria#1
  4. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/digestive-system-health/
  5. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5468
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829625/
  7. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber-foods/art-20050948
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757793
  9. http://www.drperlmutter.com/learn/resources/probiotics-five-core-species/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17311983
  11. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18746/18-prebiotic-rich-foods-for-a-gut-friendly-diet.html
  12. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/ways-cultivate-good-gut-bacteria-reduce-depression/

Fascinating Fascia

A Google image search for “musculoskeletal system” will provide seemingly endless drawings of skeletons and pink muscles.

But what holds our muscles together? What connects them to each other, to organs, and to bones?

Picture an orange. When the skin is torn away, we see the white fibrous material that holds skin to flesh. We also see the segments of the orange are encased in a membrane-like sac and connected by the same white material. Furthermore, when we break open a segment, we see that it is comprised of many tiny sacs, all stuck together.

Like the orange, the muscles and organs in our bodies are both divided and connected by fascia. Fascia runs through us: a web of connective tissue beneath our skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and groups of muscles and organs. (1, 2)

 When our fascia isn’t healthy, we feel it throughout our bodies.

Chronic strain and pain in our muscles and nerves can be caused by unhealthy fascia. Injuries, stress, age, habitual movement patterns (such as poor posture), as well as over- and misuse of body structures and long periods of inactivity are just some of the factors leading to unhealthy fascia, which is dehydrated, glue-like, hard, and tight. Unhealthy fascia can feel stiff and can be the cause of chronic pain and tension. (2, 34)

 Healthy fascia feels GOOD.

Healthy fascia is hydrated, smooth and slippery, elastic and pliable. (4, 5) Healthy fascia is painless and fluid: no stiff muscles, no pinched nerves, no tension.

So, how do we keep our fascia healthy? Here are three simple things you can do:

Hydrate. It’s not only important to drink plenty of water, but also to get the water to your thirsty fascia. Try yoga, Pilates, a roller, or cardio to get your blood pumping!

Varied Movement. Yoga, Pilates, and cardio are also great because they offer a variety of movement. Repetitive movement strains fascia over time; it’s better to change it up as often as possible. If you use exercise machines, make sure to change tempo or weight from time to time and mix in some other activities such as barre or cycling. Also, make sure to give your fascia a rest from time to time.

Relax and De-stress. Massage, acupuncture, a walk in the park; anything that relieves stress and tension will promote healthy fascia. (6)

References:

  1. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fascia\
  2. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17936/understanding-fascia-what-it-is-why-you-should-care.html
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eva-norlyk-smith-phd/fascia_b_1207768.html
  4. http://structuralintegration.massagetherapy.com/what-is-fascia-and-how-does-it-work
  5. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4283/Metaphors-in-Motion-Freeing-the-Fascia.html
  6. http://mobilitymastery.com/how-diet-affects-fascia-3-best-foods-for-healthy-connective-tissue/

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are creating a lot of positive buzz lately. It seems everyone is touting their benefits, but how can we tell if the fermented foods craze is more than just a fad?

Foods like dairy, fruit, and vegetables can be preserved by fermentation, which is the chemical process that breaks down glucose molecules when the foods are exposed to bacteria and yeasts. Beneficial microorganisms feed on the carbohydrates in the foods and reproduce and kill off harmful bacteria. The carbon dioxide gas given off during this process causes the frothing usually associated with fermentation, as in beer. (1, 2)

Some common fermented foods are:

  • Yogurt is essentially milk fermented with bacteria; the word means “tart, thick milk” in Turkish. (3) Cottage cheese, kefir, and sour cream are also fermented milk products.
  • Unpasteurized, “Raw” Sauerkraut is cabbage that has traditionally been fermented by salting and leaving in a de-oxygenated environment for several weeks. (4)
  • Kimchi is a Korean dish made primarily of fermented cabbage, but can also include radish, cucumber, lettuce, and mustard leaves. Most varieties are spicy. (5)
  • Some coffees can be fermented if processed through the “washed process”, wherein coffee beans are fermented in tanks of water. (6)
  • Chocolate and Vanilla are both fermented. To make chocolate, cocoa beans are stored together so that the pulp around the beans can be fermented. The beans can be wrapped in plantain or banana leaves, or stored in wooden boxes, for 5-7 days. (7)

Unpasteurized vinegar can be made from carbohydrate-rich foods such as grapes, apples, and rice. (9)

  • Sourdough bread is fermented with a “starter” (the base for sourdough bread created through a fermentation process in order to cultivate wild yeast from flour) for 12-15 hours, which breaks down gluten in the flour. (10, 15)
  • SOME “Pickles” are fermented, while others aren’t. As long as the foods are preserved through fermentation, rather than simply brined in vinegar. (11)

What health benefits can they provide?

Fermented foods are a great source of vitamins such as K2, which distributes calcium throughout your body, and B vitamins, which help to convert food into fuel. Additionally, the good bacteria in fermented foods help detoxify our bodies. (12, 16)

Fermented foods are also a great natural source of healthy bacteria and contain up to 100 times the probiotics as an over-the-counter probiotic supplement. Strains of good bacteria in fermented foods have been seen to destroy or inhibit the growth of bad bacteria: Lactic acid found in sourdough bread by German scientists was observed to kill microbes that are resistant to most antibiotics. (12, 13)

Too much of a good thing?

While there are many benefits to eating fermented foods, we should always look for the risks. In a 2011 study, researchers found that eating fermented soy products lead to a higher rate gastric cancer while unfermented soy contributed to a reduced rate of the same disease. (14)

People who do their own fermentation should also be aware of the threat of botulism from contaminated food. (14)

Here are a few ways to include fermented foods in your diet:

https://www.fermentedfoodlab.com/apple-cider-vinegar-and-honey-drink/

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/kefir-oats-nuts-maple-breakfast-jar

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/lacto-fermentation-recipes/lacto-fermented-kosher-dill-pickles/

Fermented Food
A set of fermented food great for gut health – cucumber pickles, coconut milk yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, red beets, apple cider vinegar

References

  1. https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/54958/that-coffees-rotten/
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/fermentation
  3. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/what-is-yogurt-history/
  4. http://pickledplanet.com/faqs
  5. https://cultureglaze.com/what-is-kimchi-fadfa73fe5cd
  6. http://www.thekitchn.com/yes-coffee-is-a-fermented-food-208726
  7. https://www.icco.org/faq/59-fermentation-a-drying/132-how-does-the-fermentation-process-work-on-the-cocoa-bean-and-how-long-does-it-take.html
  8. https://paleoleap.com/what-about-vinegar/
  9. http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337
  10. http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-crucial-difference-between-pickled-and-fermented/
  11. http://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx
  12. https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/gut-health-and-the-benefits-of-traditional-fermented-foods
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21070479
  14. http://www.dietnutritionadvisor.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-fermented-foods
  15. http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/long-fermented-breads-for-the-gluten-sensitive-taste-great
  16. https://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-k2/

 

Winter Blues

Mondays are usually synonymous with “blah.” No one ever really seems pumped when Sunday is over and the new week is beginning, and everyone knows Mondays have a bad rap. But what if you had a whole month of Mondays? Or several months? For some, winter is made up of an endless string of Mondays, each one more “blah” than the next. This month we’d like to talk about depression, and more specifically, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of seasonal depression that occurs most often during the winter months, usually beginning around the fall and ending in the spring [i]. It saps your energy, can make you feel moody or irritable, and can be more than just a “funk” that happens around the wintertime. We all know holidays can be stressful, but sometimes it’s more than that. When the days grow shorter, colder, and gloomier, it can make you feel hopeless, sad, or even trapped.

If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. This seasonal depression is common among women and those who live in places that don’t get a lot of daylight, or for those of us who are between the ages of 15-55, and for those who have a family history of depression and SAD [ii]. Symptoms of seasonal depression often include feeling anxious, tiredness or low energy no matter how much sleep you get, appetite changes especially with craving carbohydrate-heavy foods, weight gain, and moodiness [i].

Depending on where you live, winter can be long–as in, Arctic-March-Winds and Snow-in-April long. So what can we do to help relieve the strain of winter and Seasonal Affective Disorder? First, talk to your doctor if you think you may be suffering from Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. One of the most common treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder is light therapy [iii]. There are bright lights you can buy and use around your house to give the illusion of natural light, which is something our bodies and minds crave. So if you live in a perpetually rainy or snowy place, a little light and sunshine can still be found, even when you can’t book the last-minute-trip to Miami. Practicing self-care, which can be done in many different ways, also helps. Whether it’s taking the time to knit, or meditate, or bake your favorite recipe, spending time doing your favorite activities helps. Physical activity is also a big tool for helping manage Seasonal (or year-round) depression, especially aerobic/cardio exercise that gets your blood flowing, your heart pumping, and your limbs moving [iv]. It can be hard to be motivated to get moving, especially when the temperature is frigid. Luckily, the internet has brought us the gift of streaming and more and more fitness videos are available online, for free. For example, PopSugar Fitness has a seemingly endless list of fitness videos on youtube that cover yoga to cardio dance to strength training and Pilates, all at the click of a button. You can work out in the comfort of your home (in your most favorite, if not mis-matching, workout gear), with a friend or solo at any time of the day.

We all get the blues every once in a while, especially during the winter. If you find that you’re feeling sad or anxious more often than not, it could be a sign that it’s not just a “blah Monday” or a funk. Winter can feel long, cold, and lonely, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Once the holidays start winding down and the length of winter is still on the horizon, it’s hard not to feel depressed or down. But there’s hope and help out there for all of us. Speak to your doctor if you think you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression. He or she can help prescribe the right treatment, whether it be Light Therapy, an antidepressant, more physical activity or any other type of treatment to help you get feeling back on track. If you’re in need of someone to talk to you can speak to someone at the Lifeline at any time at this number: 1-800-273-8255 or if talking on the phone doesn’t work for you, you can text with a counselor via the Crisis Text Line to chat with someone at all hours on any day of the week. Remember that you’re not alone and there is always hope. For those of you reading this after December 21st just think: we’ve passed the winter equinox and the days are already starting to get longer. Spring is coming!

 

 

 

Resources:

[i]http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

[ii]http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-topic-overview

[iii]http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/sad

[iv]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder

[v] https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

[vi]http://www.crisistextline.org/textline/?gclid=Cj0KEQiAtK3DBRCBxt-Yxduq5p4BEiQAbFiaPeslWDhmR3T_bzSSrAvrgU7Izpf6pyZhg4eC6TpdHMoaAhKK8P8HAQ

Health Benefits of the Golden Spice: Turmeric

It sounds almost like something a witch in a fairy tale would instruct: Just eat this spice and it will cure all manner of ailments! Add it to your food or drink it as a tincture, rub the extract onto your skin, rinse your mouth with it, even use it in an enema — Turmeric, “the golden spice,” will cure what ails you.

Turmeric is a golden yellow spice in the ginger family and is well-known as the main flavor in curry (1). Native to southern Asia, turmeric has been used for thousands of years in cooking (2). In India, use of turmeric in Ayurvedic medicine goes back more than 4500 years, where it was thought to alleviate congestion, wounds, and even diseases like smallpox and chickenpox (3). Today, India produces nearly 90% of the world’s turmeric (4).

Curcumin (not to be confused with cumin) is the active chemical in turmeric that may decrease swelling, making it a useful treatment for conditions related to inflammation (1). Reports suggest that turmeric may aid in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, assist in balancing blood sugar and boosting kidney function, soothe indigestion, help people with ulcerative colitis stay in remission, and lessen the severity of certain forms of arthritis (2,5). Turmeric may also be a natural liver detoxifier, reduce the effects of some forms of heart disease, help wounds to heal, lessen aches and discomfort, and kill bacteria and viruses (5,6,7). Interestingly, studies have shown that turmeric may boost some chemo medicines and may also make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemo and radiotherapy (7). Furthermore, turmeric has been shown to slow the growth and spread of cancers such as melanoma (7) and to help prevent prostate, breast, colon, stomach, and skin cancers in rats exposed to carcinogens (5,8).

Turmeric is natural and has no toxic effects on the body, so it is generally considered to be safe. However, turmeric may interfere with drugs that reduce stomach acid and may cause stomach upset and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) (1,5).  Turmeric may also strengthen diabetes medication, which increases the risk of low blood sugar (5). Gallbladder problems could be exacerbated by the use of turmeric, large amounts of turmeric may reduce iron absorption, and blood clotting may be slowed, so doctors recommend that patients stop use of turmeric two weeks before surgery(1). Men who take turmeric may have lowered testosterone levels and sperm count, which reduces fertility (1).

Take advantage of the health benefits of turmeric! Try some delicious and healthy recipes featuring “the golden spice” and see how it works for you.

Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce and Carrot Salad 
Turmeric Masala Curry
Turmeric Tea

 

 

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingred ientid=662
  2. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78
  3. http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/turmeric-history/
  4. http://www.turmeric.co.in/turmeric_spice.htm
  5. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
  6. http://www.globalhealingcom/natural-health/8-impressive-health-benefits-turmeric/
  7. http://www.mindbodygcom/0-6873/25-Reasons-Why-Turmeric-Can-Heal-You.html
  8. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/turmeric

Vote for Women’s Health

This election, there’s a lot on the line – including your health. Cindy Pearson wrote on this topic for the National Women’s Health Network, a non-partisan organization that focuses on policy. She writes:

“Good health depends on more than just good medical care. Healthy food, clean air, and safe workplaces are just some of the non-medical parts of our lives with a tremendous impact on our health. We know that discrimination can compromise people’s health — whether those attitudes are expressed in the exam room, when a clinician disbelieves a woman’s report of disabling menstrual cycles, or in the workplace…”

At FemmePharma, we couldn’t agree more. The right to health is a fundamental human right, and true health is about holistic wellbeing. Women should not have to overcome discrimination from policymakers that compromises this. We have an absolute right to treatments and options that allow us to safeguard the wellness of our whole selves.

Pearson lists some of the important policies proposed by leading candidates that impact women’s health.  These include:

  • Repealing the ACA [Affordable Care Act]
  • Criminalizing abortion
  • Letting bosses decide whether insurance covers contraception
  • Defunding family planning
  • Banning laws protecting LGBTQ civil rights
  • Allowing approval of new drugs with few or no clinical trials
  • Opposing equal pay laws
  • Allowing political and business interference in decisions that should be based on science.

We have the power to put an end to these discriminatory policies. We can protect our right to health and wellness, for ourselves and every woman we know.

On November 8, stand up for women’s health. Vote.

 

You can find the full-text article here: https://www.nwhn.org/vote-womens-health/