Health on Vacation

June 9th, 2015

Summer time is here. Families all over are taking vacations. Some families are getting away for weekend excursions. Others are traveling for a week or two at a time. Last year our family is less than a mile from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida spending a week with my dad. We know keeping everyone fed and happy is an adventure in itself. Here are the tips and strategies we are using to make sure everyone is having a magical adventure.

First is sleep.  Sleep is crucial when the days are full of walking and caloric expenditure. Each adult is getting at least 7 hours and every child is getting a minimum of 8 hours at night. During the hottest part of the day (between 2 and 4 pm),we are leaving the parks or finding an activity in the shade for an afternoon rest. Exhaustion and sunburn can put a damper on the fun quick.

Staying hydrated is the next important tip. Everyone is drinking at least 8 ounces of water first thing in the morning.  Most summer recreation spots will let you bring water. The goal is to consume over half of our body weight in pounds as ounce of water. We are using frozen water bottles to help keep things cold in our cooler and then drinking the ice cold water later in the day after it has melted. We are also packing Emergen-C packets around with us. Without taking up too much space, an Emergen-C packet adds a quick flavor burst while also providing electrolytes and antioxidants. We are limiting each person to 1 soda per day.

The next important tip is to use sunscreen.  When we spend time in the sun, everyone is using an EWG (environmental working group – http://www.ewg.org) approved sunblock and reapplying sun protection hourly. Using wide brimmed hats and long sleeve shirts is another great way to protect the face and arms from sunburn. Do not forget to apply sunblock to the feet and the backs of the calves.

On vacation we have a realistic expectation regarding food and nutrition. It is not the same as eating at home, yet it need not be all fast food and junk food either. We start each vacation day with a typical breakfast at our condo – eggs, gluten free granola and yogurt, fruit, and some sauteed veggies. This is a great foundation for the rest of the day.

Packing snacks is the difference between overspending on food that you slows you down for the rest of your day and having the energy to keep up with the “vacation” schedule. Here’s a few of the staples that keep us going:

Homemade trail mix – Use a variety of nuts and unsweetened fruit. Avoid chocolate, avoid a melty mess and portion out into individual servings before heading out for the day.

  • Apples and squeeze peanut or almond butter.
  • Beef Jerky.
  • Gluten Free Almond Butter and Banana sandwich.
  • Cut veggies – cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, and bell peppers are perfect.
  • Snack Bars – We usually take less than 1 per person and share when we eat these. Snack bars are convenient and also often high in calories and sugar. They are perfect when you need a quick snack and can be kept in easily accessible locations for a quick bite.

By keeping health a priority when on vacation we are showing our children that health is an everyday investment. We are also encouraging an easy recovery when we return back to our normal routines at the end of the vacation. Too often when we need a vacation to recover from our vacation, food and drink can be to blame. With a little planning, we need not take a vacation from our health.

~Dr. Swanz

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Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Summer Fun In The Sun

May 15th, 2015

Summer is the time of year when individuals and families are playing at the park, cooking out in the backyard, swimming and boating, and just generally soaking up the sun.  The sun, much like food, has the potential to be harmful if not approached with balance and knowledge.  We want to be exposed to enough sunlight for our bodies to make Vitamin D but need to know how to do so safely.

The sun produces two main types of radiation we should be concerned with, UVA and UVB.  UVA radiation penetrates deeply into the skin.  It is less likely to cause a superficial sunburn, while causing premature wrinkles and DNA mutation.  It is the DNA mutation from the UVA radiation that is considered a strong contributing factor for skin cancer development.  UVB radiation from the sun affects the skin more superficially causing tanning (or sunburns) and vitamin D formation.  Vitamin D encourages the absorption and metabolism of calcium and helps maintain your immune system.

In June 2008 the Archives of Internal Medicine stated that “lower levels of vitamin D increases risk of dying from all causes.”  Regarding cancers, a vitamin D deficiency has been correlated with: breast, colorectal, brain, melanoma, stomach, kidney, ovarian, lung, pancreatic, leukemias, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and esophageal cancers.  Other illness that have been shown to be related to a vitamin D deficiency include: Diabetes, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, autism, developmental delays, osteoporosis, immune function, gum disease & dental health, and cardiovascular disease.  We need to make sure we are getting enough Vitamin D on a regular basis and in the summer the sun can offer this protection.

It was in the late 1980’s that we were advised to limit sun exposure and began to use sunscreens regularly.  Since then cancer incidence has increased, including the prevalence of skin cancers.  The chemicals in most sunscreens are primarily blocking the UVB radiation to prevent sunburns (and hence Vitamin D formation) while doing very little to protect the skin from the UVA radiation.  To help increase vitamin D levels through sun exposure, we only need 15 to 20 minutes of mid-afternoon sun daily.

To protect ourselves and our families from sunburn, wrinkles, and DNA mutation from extended sun exposure use a sunblock that protects from both UVA and UVB radiation.  I recommend a block with zinc or titanium dioxide as the blocking agent.  This creates a physical block that inhibits sun radiation absorption at the skin.  Avoid products that contain: parabens, oxybenzone, and benzophenone-3 because of the potential allergic and hormone concerns from these chemicals.  Spray sunscreens with these ingredients pose a particular risk because of the potential for inhalation when applying them.  For extended periods of sun exposure away from water, tight knit clothing and hats are the ideal way to protect skin from solar radiation.

Also remember the protective benefit of naturally occurring phytonutrients from vegetables and fruits. The same phytonutrients that help to protect the plants from the UVA and UVB radiation will minimize the oxidative, inflammatory, and DNA damage at our cellular level.  So eat lots of fresh and local fruits and veggies this summer and enjoy the sun responsibly.

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Homeopathy First Aid

April 28th, 2015

Here is a list of remedy descriptions I often share with patients to use as a resource at home.  These remedies can be purchased in potentized preparations at our local health food stores.  I typically recommend a 30 C or 200 C potency for a home first aid kit.

Arnica Montana

It is ideal for the aches with bruises and sore muscles. Arnica is especially suited when the skin color turns black and blue. It is perfect for bumps on the head and other parts of the body.

Belladonna

A very common fever remedy. Extreme heat and redness, often intense and throbbing pain. Typically red, flushed face, especially right sided. It comes on quickly and progresses rapidly, a sudden attack. No thirst with the fever.

Chamomilla

A common children’s remedy for colic and teething, but also ear infections, fever, etc. A chamomilla child is sensitive and irritable, almost besides themselves with pain. The children are whiny, restless, and impatient. They don’t want to be spoken to or touched. Often point at something they want and when given it will through it away. Chamomilla children can also be red and hot, like Belladonna, but typically it presents on both cheeks of the face with Chamomilla. Typically the only thing that calms the child is being held and carried about the room.

Drosera

A common cough remedy. A cough that comes on at night as soon as the child’s head hits the pillow. A cough in prolonged and periodical fits of rapid, deep, incessant barking and choking. Sounds like a loose cough, but nothing comes up. The cough is typically better when the child sits up in bed.

Hypericum

An excellent first aid remedy for injury to the nerves, especially localized to the fingers and toes. Perfect for fingers slammed in the door, toes stubbed on walls and doors. An intense, extreme pain. Hypericum may also be indicated for insect stings and bites as well as burns on the fingers and toes – if the pain is intense.

Ledum

Ledum is a first aid remedy for puncture wounds produced by sharp-pointed instruments. An injury that requires ledum is typically purple, puffy, and cold… may feel numb. Even though injury feels cold to the touch, it is better with cold applications and worse with heat. One should strongly consider ledum for insect bites and stings in areas other than fingers and toes. Ledum can also facilitate the removal of foreign bodies stuck in the skin, like splinters, ingrown hairs, etc.

Coffea Cruda

Sleeplessness with nervous agitation and restlessness. Difficulty falling asleep or back to sleep because of an active mind. Restless sleep. Inability to fall asleep due to excessive caffeine intake.

Nux Vomica

A broad acting remedy especially suited to digestive disturbances (nausea and vomiting) following over indulgences in food and/or drink. Head pain as if head was beaten with an axe and extreme tension in forehead. A Nux Vomica patient is very irritable with heightened senses, can hardly bear noises, odors, bright light, etc. Generally want to be left alone to sleep it off.
Homeopathic Dosing Instructions: Take 3-5 pellets every twenty to thirty minutes for a few hours. If symptoms do not begin to subside after three doses of a given medicine, it most likely is not the best suited remedy for the patient.

All descriptions of these common remedies are synthesised from the Concordant Materia Medica, by Frans Vermeulen.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these remedies call Dr. Swanz at 812-716-4325.

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Posted in Homeopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine |

It Takes a Team

April 9th, 2015

I have always appreciated the saying “work smarter, not harder” as a truism for our focus and energy expenditure during the working day. It represented the difference between being simply busy and being truly productive in areas that matter. Recently my friend Matt Allman further expounded on this topic by suggesting it isn’t just smarts or what we know that matters; it is wisdom or the application of our knowledge that will create the most significant impact for our lives. Matt’s message struck a chord and inspired this column.

Our knowledge base regarding health and wellness is increasing considerably. We are becoming smarter every day through our exposure to health information in magazines like this, on television, on blogs, from our naturopathic and integrative doctors, through YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter posts, and on and on and on. My patients often say “Doc, I know what I should be doing. I’m just not doing it.” And the trouble here is that often many of these individuals will continue to search for more information, possibly jumping from one medical office, one gym membership, and one health website to the next always looking for that missing piece of the puzzle that will transform their health. Instead of trying to consistently become smarter regarding health, we must start applying in a wise manner the information we already have. I think the first and most valuable step on this wise journey is the recognition that we are most successful when we walk alongside others. We know we are more effective at work when tasks and responsibilities are delegated between individuals and specific to their strong suits. In a similar manner it takes a team to be healthy.

If you want to transform your health, you need to be wise and begin to build a team that will support you on your journey. To start you must engage your community in your plan. This is as simple as telling the people you spend the most time with – friends, family, and coworkers – that you are tired of waiting to transform your health, you are starting today, and you would like to invite them along beside you. Some individuals may not be eager to come along and that is fine. Express your understanding and thank them for supporting you on your path. Very often those individuals that are reluctant at first will see the progress and benefits you are attaining and ask to participate down the road.

An important component of enrolling others is mutual accountability. The goal is greater health and now with an engaged team you can count on each other to encourage and reinforce the things you already know. This is wise, not just smart. For example it is often a weekly occurrence that individuals will bring donuts or cake to share into the office. When you have mutual health goals and a team supporting you at work, it is easy to make the shift to bring in a veggie tray and some bean dip instead. When you share with your community that you are going to exercise for at least 20 minutes 3 times per week, you can expect to be asked about how it is going. And even better, you may find a new workout buddy to share in your fitness routines.

The pursuit of health is a continuous process. It isn’t something you achieve and then the work is over. Every day we make choices and every choice can either move you closer or further from your health goals. By taking the information we learn, applying it wisely to our own life, and enrolling others in our pursuit of a more healthy life we can assure ourselves success on this journey.

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Questioning Your Health

March 20th, 2015

Do you want to FEEL healthy? Or do you want to BE healthy? What is the difference? I believe it is possible to FEEL healthy, to be free of symptoms that would indicate disease or imbalance, and not actually BE healthy. Our conventional medical system that is directed towards alleviating the symptoms has the potential to help an individual to feel more healthy without actually helping the individual become healthier. I do not believe feeling healthy through the absence of symptoms is the same as being healthy through a diet and lifestyle that is in accordance with the needs of our body. I am sharing this distinction again to help demonstrate a concept I believe is vital towards reclaiming our health. In order to truly become healthy, we must begin questioning our health and our choices in order to challenge ourselves and inspire change in the way we are living. Do you want to help motivate your family to make changes in their lifestyle choices so they will both FEEL and BE healthy? If so, you must begin questioning the choices they are currently making.

It is crucial to question in a manner that will encourage discovery for yourself or your family. For example, when talking with our children about nutrition we want to pose questions in an open ended fashion. Do not simply ask your children if they want salad with dinner. If you ask this, they say “yes” or “no”. Instead create a dialogue about nutrition by engaging the children with questions they can not simply blow off with a one word answer. Try something along these lines:

I was thinking about making either a salad or a veggie stir fry to eat with our grass fed steaks tonight. Which do you think would be a healthier and more tasty option for our family? Do you have any suggestions on how to prepare it? Oh, you don’t really want salad or veggie stir fry? What would you suggest we eat instead to be certain we are getting our 9 to 12 veggies servings per day?

By asking open ended questions we draw the other participant into the conversation. This is empowering and allows that individual to help direct and create the desired outcome still within the perimeters of our overall objective – to get the kids to eat some veggies with dinner.

The same technique can be employed regarding exercise. Do not simply ask your partner if they want to go to the gym with you, especially if you know they don’t like working out at the gym. Instead mention that you have been sitting all day at work and your body is really craving some physical activity. You want to spend time with them too. Do they have any suggestions on an activity that would be enjoyable for both while also providing some level of physical exertion.

When we engage our loved ones with open ended questions in discussions about healthy living, and encourage each other to make healthy choices, we can begin to improve our own and their health.  Interacting in a fashion that is more encouraging and supportive can help us chose activities and behaviors that make us both FEEL healthy and BE healthy. Ultimately, this is our goal. Good luck on your journey.

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Life – A Balancing Act

March 2nd, 2015

The theme for March 2015 is balance. Balance is an important component of naturopathic medicine because it must be embraced during a holistic perspective on health.  Health requires balance in our lives. And without balance we can’t be truly healthy. The two are mutually inclusive.

The seat of a chair rests on four legs of equal length; so too our health depends on the stability of four pillars: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. Too often individuals examine one of these pillars looking to improve health, while overlooking or neglecting the other three. More often than not this single focus can actually potentiate the imbalance. There is no such thing as a single causative agent or imbalance regarding our health. Our health, or lack thereof, is the sum of the totality of our being.

Becoming aware of the importance of our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being is the first step towards understanding how to strengthen them completely. When we are aware, we can shift our focus and efforts appropriately to balance these aspects of ourselves to optimize our state of health. We can then begin to rest comfortably with our entire being and let our own natural healing processes unfold.

Here are simple and basic recommendations for strengthening each of our four pillars of health:

  • Physical health requires exercise on a regular basis. We are beings that are not accommodated to sit in an office or classroom all day with limited or no physical movement. Because so many of us spend most of our days with little physical activity it is important to incorporate exercise into our routine. Physical health declines with both over and under use. We must perform exercise that can push us past our comfort zone and be stressful enough to force our body to respond in an adaptive way. It is possible to overdo it if you are not careful. If you haven’t exercised recently in the past year, please seek the advice of your primary care physician and a personal trainer before starting a new program.
  • Mental health requires learning and mental stimulation on a daily basis. Our jobs can be monotonous. And watching television after work is the equivalent of eating junk food all day for nourishment. We must stimulate our minds to keep our mental health sharp. Read books about topics you are passionate about. Learn for the sake of learning. When I read books I write a summary about the book and create at least 3 action steps I want to take related to what I have learned. It keeps me engaged in the material and inspires me to put into action the thoughts and ideas that come up while exposing myself to new concepts. Mental decline is so often a concern that patients have when they come into my office. We must exercise our mind to keep our wit sharp.
  • Spiritual health requires that we recognize a purpose to our life outside of our self. It isn’t necessarily all about religion. In fact, too often individuals attend church weekly and still feel that their life is lacking spiritual meaning. This is because they have not engaged with a purpose outside of themselves. To cultivate a healthy spiritual self we must embrace those things that are important to us and give of our self in pursuit of supporting a better world. This can often be accomplished through volunteering of your time to a cause that is near to your heart. I do think it is a noble act to give money to charity, but simply giving from your wallet won’t provide the same level of return on investment that giving of your time will.
  • Emotional health requires that we embrace actions and people in our lives that provide enjoyment and a sense of fulfillment. Certainly pursuits that support spiritual health can overlap with emotional health and vice versa, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be so. Music provides wonderful enjoyment in my life. I often play music whenever I am doing tasks or chores that allow a soundtrack. It doesn’t do anything to support my greater purpose, but it does keep my smiling and moving to the beat. It is even that much more enjoyable for me when I can share my love of music with the people that mean so much in my life.

I hope these ideas about creating balance in our health inspire you as we move into another year. Your health is your most valuable asset, invest the time and effort to balance the 4 pillars of your health and enjoy the benefits of holistic well-being.

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Posted in Naturopathic Medicine, Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Invest In Your Health

February 20th, 2015

When my wife Robin and I applied for supplemental life insurance we answered numerous questions regarding our health and lifestyle. I informed the interviewer that I have an annual exam with my primary care doctor and also see a naturopathic physician, an acupuncturist, and a chiropractor. The interviewer questioned my need for a chiropractor. I told him that I feel better overall and my physical performance and capabilities improve when I visit my chiropractor regularly. I see my chiropractor to feel better, not because I feel bad. I invest in my health and have a team that supports me to cultivate and achieve my goals.

Our current medical system revolves around diagnosis and treatment, not prevention. It addresses issues after they have arisen, neglecting approaches that may thwart the onset. This woeful paradigm is locked in place by corporate interests that legislate against any change threatening the financial bottom line of their companies. The institutions that should be encouraging preventative healthcare – medical establishments, pharmaceutical industries, insurance agencies – will not begin to acknowledge or change practices because of the financial interests at stake. These industries have increased profits when the consumer is chronically ill. Plain and simple, the financial health of the business trumps the health of the consumer. We no longer can depend on our “healthcare industry” to keep us healthy. The ball is in our court and we have to change the way we play the game.

If we focus on maximizing our own health and the health of our family, this change will spread into our surrounding community. You can use your consumer dollars to do several things to align with a “preventative healthcare” mindset. Now is the time to invest in your health.

  • Shift your insurance coverage to a Health Savings Account. Use your HSA money to see a naturopathic physician, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist without the constraint of an insurance plan that won’t cover preventative care practitioners.
  • Invest more money on fresh vegetables and fruits from the local farmer’s market to consume at home. You pay the local farmer or you pay the local pharmacist, it is up to you.
  • Spend time being physically active. Direct your recreational budget towards businesses that engage your body. Don’t spend money at the movies, instead take the kids to the zoo and walk around.
  • Stop purchasing products from companies that lobby against the interests that matter to you – things like: mandatory GMO labeling, avoiding big business “organic” producers, avoiding monsanto and companies that support monsanto, protecting our bees, etc. I recommend visiting www.buycott.com to download the offerred app to your smartphone. You can scan barcodes on products you are purchasing to see if they come from manufactures that are aligned with your ideals.

Substantial change begins with basic steps. Remember, preventative healthcare is often more simple and less costly than curing or treating disease.

~Dr. Swanz

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Posted in Homeopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Three Tests To Run This Year With Your Doctor

February 1st, 2015

When seeing your primary care doctor it can be difficult to know which blood tests are important and which are not.  For my patients there are three non-standard tests I recommend they have when doing blood work at their annual check up. The information is not crucial to any particular diagnosis, however the tests provide information that helps to paint a picture of the underlying health and may inspire meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes that will impact overall health and wellbeing down the road. As a side note, if you have insurance, often one annual physical is covered.  The blood tests may cost extra but are well worth the expense.

Vitamin D – The 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D test is the most accurate way to check your vitamin D status. Greater than 90% of my patients have been lower than the optimal range when checking this marker. Vitamin D is crucial for immune function, bone health, cardiovascular health, mood, and so much more. Because Vitamin D is chronically low in our society today, I recommend 2000 to 4000 IUs of Vitamin D3 for my patients until they get their levels tested. We then may adjust the dose depending on the results of the level.

Hemoglobin A1C – The HA1C test is a standard test for individuals with diabetes. It differs from a blood sugar test in that the blood sugar test is specific to that particular point in time, while the HA1C gives a broader reflection of the blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. For a diabetic, the HA1C indicates how well the individual has been controlling their blood sugar levels with diet, medication, and/or insulin over the past few months and can provide information for making changes to any of these areas based on the results of the test. I think everyone should have this checked, diabetic or not, because individuals that are not diabetic, may be walking the edge of developing diabetes yet their fasting blood sugar may be in the normal range when they have blood drawn for their annual exam. Eating for stable blood sugars is an important component of long term health and vitality. If you have your HA1C checked and the value is above a 5.6% it would be valuable to discuss with your doctor how to eat for healthy blood sugar levels. If you doctor tells you to “eat more whole grains” ignore that doctor and find a new one.

High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein – The HSCRP test is a measure of inflammation. Currently this test may be run if the patient is at risk for heart disease based on other factors such as elevated cholesterol, lipids, triglycerides, blood pressure, or other indicators. The HSCRP test is not specific to cardiovascular inflammation. In fact it is a measure of inflammation throughout the body. Someone with an autoimmune condition does not need to run this test because we already know they are hyper inflamed. Someone with a normal lipid panel may still have systemic inflammation and the HSCRP test could give us an indication of this status. Inflammation is a unifying theme for the chronic diseases that are causing so much trouble in our society today. If someone can get a glimpse of their inflammatory status before developing any chronic disease and then begin to implement lifestyle and diet changes to address the inflammation, this is a perfect example of preventative medicine.

The final important point I want to make about these three tests is that individuals can continue to have their levels checked during future blood work so that they can fine tune various interventions to improve the results and optimize the overall status of their health. Next time you go to your primary care physician, ask them to check these three markers in your blood.

~Dr. Swanz

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Organic or Not Organic… Is that the Question?

January 15th, 2015

Stanford University Scientists published a meta-analysis article in the Annals of Internal Medicine casting doubt on the nutritional quality of organic foods. A meta-analysis is not an experiment; it is more appropriately described as a research project. The Stanford scientists scoured the medical databases to find studies that investigated the nutritional and toxic qualities of foods. Based on the data they collected they concluded that there was nearly no nutritional benefit in eating organic food. They did acknowledge that the contamination from pesticides and toxins was found to be significantly lower in the organic produce. I am going to elaborate on the two primary problems I have with both this analysis and the multiple news stories it created.

As my egg article from the last issue demonstrated, there is plenty of poor research that is being performed and published. And certainly this is also the case regarding organic / non-organic foods. I am not trying to say that if a study on organic food showed no nutritional health benefits that it can’t be a good study, but we must consider if all studies are providing the same level of quality and testing. For example, studies on organic foods have shown more nutritional value in foods grown on older organic farms. Brand new organic farms don’t have the nutrient rich soil we would expect to find on a mature farm. This seems like an obvious discovery, but consider how this might influence a small scale study in a university lab where two crops of tomatoes are being grown and compared for nutritional quality – one crop meets all organic standards and one is grown following the conventional methodology. I would not expect there to be a significant difference in the end nutritional results because the organic crop is a first generation product. The problem here is that this study would be perfectly fine to publish and be included in the meta-analysis performed by the Stanford crew. Because we know there is a naturally occurring discrepancy on the research methodology performed by scientists looking at the nutritional value in organic foods, we would expect the findings to bridge the gap between no nutritional benefit and very beneficial in the foods. This is the case and hence the results from the meta-analysis pulling a large majority of these studies together is going to leave us pretty close to smack dab in the middle regarding the findings. When the overall result is an average nutritional state, it is understandable why the researchers would propose that there is little nutritional benefit in organic foods, even though there absolutely have been individual experiments that demonstrated a nutritional advantage from organically grown produce.

The meta-analysis did find a significantly lower amount of pesticide residue on the organic foods vs the non-organic foods. Once again this seems like an obvious discovery, yet the headlines from the study downplayed the importance of this finding. Any organic food, regardless of the maturity of the farm, the soil nutrient quality, the age of the produce when it was picked and tested, is going to have less pesticides used in the production. This finding should be enough for many to choose organic foods over the conventionally grown counterparts. Pesticide and herbicide use are two of the primary areas where we are exposed to neuro-endocrine disruptors. These various chemicals can behave like hormones in our body. Neuro-endocrine disrupting hormones are considered to be contributing factors in the health concerns we are dealing with today: thyroid issues, diabetes, cancers, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases are just the tip of the iceberg. We want to avoid these chemicals whenever possible and by choosing organic foods we can do that.

What is important to me has little to do with organic vs non-organic produce. Study after study has shown that health in an individual that consumes more fresh produce and fruits is better than that of an individual that doesn’t eat produce regularly… organic or not! Research is conclusive, the more veggies and fruits we eat, the healthier we will be! It is just that simple. I stress the benefit of eating locally, and often encourage that even more than I do consuming organic foods. The reason is that local produce is allowed to ripen on the vine and has spent nearly no time sitting in a truck or on a shelf. Heat and time are the greatest threat to the nutritional quality of food. So eat locally and eat veggies and fruit because our health depends on it. If you are eating store bought non-organic produce, please be sure to wash it to lessen the exposure to toxic chemicals. And if you can afford organic produce for your family, choose it! We can pay the grocer, or we can pay the pharmacist. The choice is ours to make.

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Where Should We Focus for Holistic Health

January 3rd, 2015

A new year provides a blank canvas for our health and life. There is a promise and potential of change that is invigorating and motivating. There is a collective momentum from people all over the planet hoping to better their life and we have the opportunity to capitalize on this energy for ourselves and our families. My hope is that as we strive to improve our wellbeing we embrace a holistic perspective and focus on cultivating a healthy and balanced self in 2015. To do this, we must consider our health as three distinct and interrelated parts comprising the whole of who we are: physical, mental/emotional (I consider mental and emotional as one aspect in our person and for the rest of the article will use the term “mental” to encompass both), and spiritual.  In 2015, let us widen our perspective and bring all aspects of our self together. Here is how I believe we can best achieve this goal.

Often the physical aspect steals our attention and restricts the health of our mental and spiritual self. This is a tragedy when we limit our focus to only a third of our human potential. The basics for physical wellbeing are simple. We must drink clean filtered water to properly hydrate the body. We must move our body and develop symmetry in our strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. We must sleep 7 to 8 hours each night so that our physical body can repair. We must eat real foods that provide the nutritional foundation our body requires. These are the simple, though often not easy, changes we must make to heal our physical being.

Healing our mental self requires a change in the attitudes and beliefs we maintain regarding our life. In order to do this, we must begin a practice that encourages a dissolution of the Ego and detachment from our physical self. I believe practices such as meditation, prayer, and mindfulness are ideal for this type of shift to happen. The goal is a deeper recognition that we are not the physical body that we associate as ourselves. We are so much more than the confines of our physical package. When we let go of those physical limitations, we are capable of being healthy regardless of our physical state or diagnosis.

To heal spiritually we need not go to a church. That is a physical building and the church community is made up of individuals that are walking around and interacting through their physical bodies. The limitations are physical. This is a not a criticism of any church or religion. I am grateful for my own church community and the support it provides. To heal spiritually we must detach again from the Ego and physical self. We can detach and connect to the spiritual world by practicing 4 ideals that will connect us to other humans, animals, plants, and the world in which we live. Here are the ideals: Forgive, Gratitude, Joy, and Love. When we forgive the transgressions we have suffered, when we show thanks for the blessings we have been given, when we embrace the joy that is being alive, and share that joy though love all around us we are on our way to spiritual health. Our spiritual health grows through our interdependence and connectivity with all of creation. Please do not let the physical limitations of your religion, your church, your identity restrict your ability for spiritual health.

Holistic health is a balance and symmetry between our mental and spiritual self-reflecting in the physical body. It has nothing to do with the lack of disease or physical symptoms. It is an internal peace and outward calm that is capable for us all when we embrace the limitations of our physical self and limitless possibilities of our mental and spiritual nature. It is such a gift to be alive in this New Year. Cheers to 2015.

~Dr. S

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