For the Love of Beauty

Cognitive researcher and psychologist Nancy Etcoff, in a most interesting Ted Talk (https://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_etcoff_happiness_and_its_surprises), says that beauty inspires and motivates us. And Zen Master & peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, (http://thichnhathanhfoundation.org) says “When we recognize the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born.”

I would like to divert your attention from the Coronavirus craziness for a short while to share a few travel photos with you. Please comment below if you recognize – or can guess – the locations. (Posted at the end of the article.)

IMAGE #1: I spent a month in this lovely location, which marked my first visit to this state.
IMAGE #2: I was amazed to discover this snowy paradise on my way out of a National Park.
IMAGE 3: I love, love, love this city!
IMAGE #4: Again, I discovered this gem while leaving a vacation destination.
IMAGE #5: This place is really one-of-a-kind.
IMAGE 6: One of my favorite mountain ranges.

Blessings for Beauty, Inspiration, and Motivation,

Lisa

As promised, below are the image destinations:

  • IMAGE 1 – Big Sur, California
  • IMAGE 2 – High Country of Yosemite National Park, California
  • IMAGE 3 – Montmartre, a district of Paris, France, with many stairwells
  • IMAGE 4 – Just outside of Telluride, Colorado
  • IMAGE 5 – Yosemite National Park, California
  • IMAGE 6 – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Thinking Outside the COVID-19 Box: 10 Ways to Boost Immune Function

I’ve heard a lot about hand washing and social distancing over the past few weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. I have also heard about immunocompromised people dying from the virus. But I haven’t heard the first newscaster discuss the concept of boosting immune function. Have you? Doesn’t it make sense that we should all work to strengthen our immune systems right now?

If you share my conviction, you will find below a list of 10 ideas that may help you accomplish that. (Please review my disclaimer page & discuss with your healthcare provider before acting on any of them.)

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of mineralized water. (Not the same as mineral water.) Add Himalayan salt and/or fresh lemon or lime juice to your water to mineralize it. Also, eat lots of (home-cooked & organic, if possible) soups. Thank you Gina Bria, co-author of Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration, for these tips.
  • Drink daily green smoothies with (organic if possible) fruits and veggies. Think apples, oranges, pears, mangoes, cherries, blueberries, celery, cucumbers, sprouts, cilantro, Italian parsley, spinach, red leaf kale, cinnamon, cardamom, fresh ginger, chia seeds, and turmeric with fresh-ground pepper. Any combination is tasty, nutrient-rich, and deeply hydrating. Dr. Gerald Pollack, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, (Pollacklab.org) studies structured water, a special form of water found in plants, that the human body uses for optimal function.
  • Consume natural probiotic food & drinks such as (organic & raw, if possible) kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso soup. Stanford University of Medicine researchers Justin & Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs, (sonnenburglab.stanford.edu) say they feed their family a different natural probiotic food or drink each day to diversify the population in their microbiomes as well as those of their kids. Studies show that diversity in the gut is a major key to health across the board.
  • Eat fewer pre-processed foods, including fast foods and junk foods, and more high-fiber whole vegetables, including beans and lentils, as well as prebiotic foods such as onions, garlic, dandelion greens, and asparagus. Again, all in service of the microbiome.
  • One more tip for the microbiome, from the triple board certified Dr. Zach Bush (http://zachbushmd.com). A healthy microbiome, according to Dr. Bush, consists of between 20,000 and 40,000 species of bacteria. (Which explains why you should not eat the same foods all the time.) Spending time outside and in multiple ecosystems (for example, your backyard, a rainforest, a beach, a desert, a waterfall, a lake, or a river) can diversify your good bacteria.
  • Diffuse essential oils inside your home, which is the next best thing to being outside. Dr. Josh Axe (http://draxe.com) says that many essential oils are antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic. He suggests eucalyptus, peppermint, oregano, lemon, and cinnamon for immune function. Add some or all of them to your diffuser, vaporizer, or humidifier, if it offers that function, to purify the air that you breathe.
  • Even though you are practicing social distancing, make emotional connections. Make phone calls, send texts, or email friends and family to let them know they are in your thoughts and remind them we’re all in this together. According to Dr. Dean Ornish (http://ornish.com), those societies and cultures over the past several hundred thousand years who learned to take care of each other were more likely to survive than those who did not. Our species has a basic need for a caring community.
  • Practice expressing gratitude for your life and your blessings. Your feelings and beliefs have a strong impact on your biology, according to Gregg Braden (http://greggbraden.com), whom Dr. Deepak Chopra describes as “a rare blend of scientist, visionary, and scholar . . .” Your cells are always listening in on your thoughts, Braden says.
  • Take a break from watching or reading the news. Feeling fear on top of fear on top of fear creates a perpetual fight-or-flight mode in our bodies. This results in biological conditions that inhibit optimal function. Check in on the news only once or twice a day, or maybe even skip a day (unless you feel more anxiety as a result.) Instead of spending so much time sitting on the sofa watching or reading the news, do some yoga, stretching, take a walk, or some other enjoyable activity. (Movement is also good for immunity, so a twofer!)
  • And finally, get enough sleep to make you feel rested. When our immune systems are fighting to keep us well, more sleep may be required. You know this from personal experience, right? Listen to your body.

So, there you have it. I hope this list of immune function boosters empowers you to become healthier, therefore diminishing your fears of the virus.

Blessings for Immunity,

Lisa

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

Super-Simple Bok Choy Soup

According to the Universal Guideline for Human and Planetary Health, (WFPB.ORG),

Human and environmental health are dependent on one another. What we consume greatly influences our personal health, the economic health of our countries, and the health of the planet we all share.

Only a low-fat, whole food, plant-based dietary pattern has been clearly demonstrated to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases for decades and has been associated with improved wellbeing in all aspects of human health . . .

In the wake of Coronavirus, this idea becomes even more urgent. Folks who get the virus on top of some existing conditions are getting very sick and/or dying. Boosting immune function by eating more whole plant foods (for example, eating a sweet potato rather than sweet potato chips) and by hydrating, means you are being proactive, which I believe is just as important as washing your hands. And being proactive is a much better approach than panicking or worrying about a vaccine, wouldn’t you agree?

One cup of bok choy has about 75% of the RDA of Vitamin C, which, although you may have heard reports to the contrary, has been shown to help people who have the virus. Remember the info on propaganda in my Hydration – No, Really post? It applies here.

Bok Choy Soup is one of my easiest go-to recipes. It doesn’t require much time in the kitchen, and it’s amazingly delicious. I have shared it with friends, some of whom weren’t previously familiar with the vegetable, and they love it too. With the addition of a few chopped Yukon gold or baby red potatoes, it can be made heartier for chilly nights.

A big thanks to www.Vegannie.com for the idea.

Let me know what you think if you give it a go!

Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 bunch celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Himalayan salt to taste
15 oz cannellini beans, drained
*3 bouillon cubes
*6 cups water
1 large bunch of bok choy, chopped into 1” pieces (or 4-6 baby bok choys)

(*or sub 6 cups of your favorite broth)

Directions

Sauté the onions and celery in the olive oil over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the onions start becoming translucent. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring, for another minute. Add crushed red pepper and sprinkle with salt. Add beans and stir for another minute or two. Break up the bouillon cubes over the beans and add the water. Increase the heat to high. Once it is almost boiling, whisk the soup so that the bouillon cubes dissolve completely. Add the bok choy and reduce to a simmer for 8-10 minutes, or longer if you prefer the greens softer. Add salt to taste. Enjoy!

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

Hydration – No, Really

Good morning.  It’s a glorious, sunny winter day here in Arizona.  But it’s dry.  Always dry.  As much as I dislike the humidity of the East Coast, the dry cold (and heat) is a challenge for me as well.  So here I sit, writing and drinking my huge breakfast smoothie with lots of fruits, veggies, & coconut water.  

Due to some adverse experiences of exercising in this dry climate, I have dug into the science of hydration.  During college, I read Dr. F. Batmanghelidj’s Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, and it made an impression, with information on how chronic dehydration can result in high cholesterol, high blood pressure, chronic pain, asthma, allergies, etc.  However, since I hadn’t heard anything in the media or read other books supporting these ideas, I thought, ok, interesting, but hydration couldn’t possibly be that critical.  Otherwise, we’d all know about it.  Right? 

Wrong!  The past 20 years have taught me that much of the health information that we most need is not very publicized or, if it does happen to make a media appearance, a campaign of propaganda is often initiated to cause us to believe otherwise. Many times this is done in the name of profit, and usually to the detriment of our health and environment.  Or, the propaganda has been around for a lifetime and it’s really difficult to get folks to believe anything different.  (Prime examples that you might have heard include the myths that we should all eat a high-protein diet and dairy is essential for healthy teeth and bones.)  Dehydration creates a great many problems in the human body, driving a need for pharmaceuticals and contributing to a trillion dollar industry worldwide.

Dr. Zach Bush, a triple board-certified physician, says that virtually all of us are chronically dehydrated.  Pretty strong assertion, huh?  At his clinic in Virginia, he offers a device called a Phase Angle that measures the ability of cells to hold an electrical charge, which translates into an individual’s hydration level.  Dr. Bush says typically, a patient’s results are less than 7 on a scale that tops out at 10 (even those considered healthy.)  His cancer patients usually show a result of 4.5 or less, and death can occur at about the 3.5 mark.  And, apparently, improving your score on this test is not something that happens quickly.  A full year of committed lifestyle changes may increase your score by only 1/2 point.  In my mind, this brings the importance of proper daily hydration to the forefront.  Does it change your thinking?

My understanding of proper hydration has been furthered by listening to The Hydration Solution Summit from the Hydration Foundation and reading the book Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration coauthored by the podcast host, Gina Bria, and Dana Cohen, MD.  Interestingly, Bria is an anthropologist who has studied desert dwellers to learn their hydration secrets. The lessons from the podcast and the book are most practical, like why foods such as fruits & cucumbers are more hydrating than plain water, the reason adding fresh lemon juice and/or Himalayan salt to your water is helpful, and the fact that placing your water in a glass in direct sunlight supercharges it & helps hydrate you even more. The eight glasses of plain water a day that most of us believe we need is no longer the best recommendation, due to decades of heavy chemical exposure and tap water being forced through less than ideal city water systems & home pipes.  

Speaking of sunlight’s effect on water, don’t forget our body composition is more than 2/3 water. Time outside and other hydrating efforts influence our abilities to remember & feel energized, our cells’ capacity to clear debris vs. generate inflammation, and our power of creativity. Check out my post Water: The Miraculous Molecule for more on these ideas.

Staying on top of your hydration needs is one of the best things you can do to assist your body with optimal function. If you have health issues, you may find that simply eating more fruits and drinking fresh lemon water help you feel better. You can’t always believe what you hear. Don’t sell your health short: hydrate and thrive!

Blessings for Hydration,

Lisa

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

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