Make a Change for Better Health this New Year

Have you set an intention to make better choices around diet and exercise in the New Year? Kudos for recognizing a change needs to be made and committing to it! As you begin to adopt new, healthier behavior, remember that change is a process. Be kind and patient with yourself. It takes about six weeks for a new behavior to become ingrained in our lifestyle, whether it’s exercising, eating more veggies and less meat, or limiting those sodas you’ve come to love.

Success involves creating plans for moving forward, as well as for for managing those inevitable setbacks. Here are some simple strategies to help you achieve your goals.

Know Your Why. Write down why you want to adopt a particular health behavior or change a poor one. Motivation is an important predictor of behavior, so be honest with yourself. Think deeper than just wanting to fit into smaller clothes – examine how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. Connecting emotion to your “why” strengthens your motivation and willingness to stick to the goal: I’ll feel healthier and stronger and more confident when I lose weight and fit into a smaller size.

Find Your Tribe. Enlist the support of loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Working toward a goal together provides social support that makes it easier (and more fun) to stick with making the change. You might start by telling the people closest to you what you are doing and why. Ask people for specific help: When you see me reach for a third cookie, please say something. Tell people what you need as you start and keep them updated as you progress.

Have a Plan and Be Flexible. Anything you want to achieve isn’t about finding the time, it’s about making the time – and that’s a choice in your power. Look at your daily and weekly routines to identify blocks of time when you can exercise or prepare meals in advance. It may mean getting up 20 minutes earlier or getting off social media. Do it. Make actual appointments with yourself and keep them. Planning also means knowing your environment – at home, work and play – and being aware of triggers that could put you off course. Examples: bring your lunch instead of going out; take a walk before eating; reduce temptation by removing salty, fatty snacks from the house; shop for food mindfully, staying in the outside aisles of the store where the food is typically healthier. And be flexible: life happens and things will get in the way. Those are temporary shifts. Get right back to your health routine the following day or as soon as possible.

Set Reasonable Goals. If you need to get up earlier to exercise, don’t start with an hour – start with ten minutes. Every five days increase by five minutes until you’re awake early enough to do the kind of workout that you want. Starting with small, reasonable goals makes them more attainable and gives you a sense of achievement. And that’s important when you’re first making a behavior change. Every small success builds up to bigger achievements.

Celebrate! In your plan, note the markers at which you’ll celebrate success. Incorporate a small reward for weekly successes and a bigger reward for milestones (e.g., 3 weeks of exercising daily, or losing the first five pounds). Rewards need not be expensive; rather, make them meaningful for you – and not food based unless you’re going out to a great new vegan restaurant.

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Doing Good for Others is Good for Your Health

Lower stress, higher self-confidence, and enhanced social relationships – sounds like the health benefits of exercise, right? Surprise! Those benefits also come from volunteering. Whether you’re working at a food shelter, giving time as a literacy mentor, or helping out after a natural disaster, the many ways of doing good for others is also good for your health.

In general, people volunteer because they believe helping those who are having a harder time in life can actually make a difference. That alone makes those who volunteer feel good about themselves, about others, and about their community. But there’s much more to it; research shows that the “happiness effect” of volunteering enhances social, emotional, and physical aspects of health and that these benefits increase as we age.

Social Benefits

  • Strengthens community ties
  • Builds in-person social networks to create genuine friendships
  • Reduces feelings of loneliness
  • Enhances professional networks and job opportunities

Emotional Benefits

  • Strengthens emotional stability for those with and without mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Contributes to a sense of purpose

Physical Benefits

  • Lowers stress and tension
  • Enhances brain function
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Promotes being physically active

People who volunteer tend to take better care of themselves; they typically have lower rates of heart disease, depression and anxiety. These health benefits don’t just apply to adults. They apply to kids and teens as well. As noted earlier, the benefits continue as we age and become even more pronounced for older adult volunteers.

So, find a cause (or two) that is meaningful for you, involve the whole family in volunteering, and celebrate all that it does for others and for you!

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Peppermint for Home and Health

Aromatic peppermint (Mentha piperita) has been used for centuries to add flavor or fragrance to foods, cosmetics, toothpaste and mouthwash, soaps, candles, and scented products for the home. Several different cultures also use peppermint leaves, oil, and fresh or dried powder in holistic health preparations.

As a traditional remedy, peppermint is used to awaken the mind and help relieve fatigue. Consider lighting a peppermint scented candle during the busy holiday season. Peppermint is also well known for relief of symptoms associated with the common cold and indigestion; it works by calming the stomach muscles and improving the movement of bile through the digestive system. Some scientific studies indicate that peppermint can improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Because the menthol component of peppermint acts as a decongestant, peppermint essential oil is a good choice for use in a diffuser, as a chest rub, or added to a warm bath. Dried peppermint leaves make for an excellent infusion for tea.

It is possible to be allergic to peppermint. Even though it can ease digestive complaints, it may not be appropriate for people who have acid reflux (GERD). Like many other herbs, peppermint can interact with other herbs, prescription medicine, or supplements. Peppermint can affect respiratory function in young children; it should not be used without the supervision of a trained medical aromatherapist. Be sure to consult your holistic physician or naturopathic doctor before adding any form of peppermint (oil, capsule, tea) to your health regimen.

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What You Need To Know About Digestive Enzymes

Have you ever wondered how the macronutrients in food – fats, carbohydrates and proteins – get where they need to be in your body? This is where digestive enzymes come into play: they move macronutrients, vitamins and minerals out of the digestive tract and into the bloodstream where they participate in functions such as growth and repair. If the body is deficient in these enzymes (due to genetics, illness, or food allergy), food cannot be properly digested.

What you need to know about your digestive Enzymes:

  • Proteases break down protein into amino acids and peptides.
  • Lipases break down fat into three types of fatty acids.
  • Amylases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Other enzymes target specific sugars:

  • Lactase breaks down the sugar in milk.
  • Maltase moves maltose, which is produced from starch, and converts it into glucose that the body uses for quick energy.
  • Sucrase works on sucrose and converts it into other sugar molecules.

Deficiencies in digestive enzymes often result in gastrointestinal distress, belly discomfort, and food intolerances after eating food that contains a starch, fat, or protein the body cannot break down. For example, if you’re deficient in lactase, you’ll feel ill (bloating, cramps, gas) after eating dairy products. These can seem like hard to diagnose stomach problems. Deficiency of these enzyme leading to gastrointestinal distress may also lead to anxiety and other mental and emotional issues.

Digestive enzymes are naturally present in many foods. Pineapple and papaya are rich in proteases and can help ease symptoms of IBS. Mango and banana contain enzymes that break down starches. Other excellent sources of digestive enzymes include kefir, sauerkraut, honey and ginger and other cultured foods for health. To reap the benefits, eat these foods at their peak freshness and chew mindfully as saliva activates many enzymes. Eat fruits raw as heating destroys the enzymes.

When treating digestive dysfunction, food allergy or sensitivity, a naturopathic doctor may recommend dietary changes and probiotics along with enzymes in pill form. Many factors influence how you should take these enzymes (before, during, or after a meal). Your alternative doctor can help determine how these digestive problem solutions can best support your journey of health.

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Avoid a Cold with Home Remedies

When you first feel yourself becoming sick there are holistic remedies you can start to avoid becoming ill or to shorten the duration of illness.  These suggestions are especially helpful if you do them early on – as early as possible.  They will help you fend off flus, colds, or minor infections.  Call a doctor if your symptoms become severe or if you do not improve.  If you are interested in natural remedies, then you will want to seek out one of our San Diego Naturopathic Doctors. There are some steps you can take to boost your immunity.

Eat Very Lightly or Not at All – With most illnesses the appetite is diminished, this is a natural response of the body.  Energy is needed to fight off the “bug” and the body doesn’t have the energy to process food.  Give your digestive tract a rest! Simple home remedy.

Get Rest as Soon as Possible – Many people ignore the early warning signs of illness and keep on working until they “drop.”  You will take longer to heal if you allow the illness to get a foothold.  If you feel a sore throat, headache, congestion, etc., coming on, take it easy.  If possible, take a day off from work.  This may prevent you from having to take three days later on.

Drink Plenty of Fluids – This standard advice is good advice.  You can clear the toxins from a “bug” out of your system with large amounts of filtered water and herbal teas. Our favorite herbal tea in our holistic office is respitussive tea.

Take Immunity-Boosting Supplements and Homeopathics*

      Vitamin C is a great alternative medicine option for a decongestant.          Take 500 mg every 3-4 hours with a small amount of food.  Cut back on dosage if stools become loose. Great home remedy option.

      Vitamin A is another natural remedy but can cause dryness of your mucus membranes.    Take 10,000 IU daily with food. Your naturopathic doctor can give more specific advise for proper dosing for your wellness.  (Women who are pregnant should not take high doses of Vitamin A as it can have adverse affects on the fetus.)

      Zinc lozenges are my favorite way to get zinc in for repairing cells.           Take 5-30 mg spread throughout the day.  This home remedy can be continued for 1-2 weeks without depleting copper stores in the body.

      Oscillococcinum can be a general option but our naturopathic doctors can advise on more specific homeopathic treatments for you. Take 6 pellets of this homeopathic remedy every 6 hours at the first onset of flu or cold symptoms.  Take away from food.

Take Immunity-Enhancing Herbs* – These herbs can be taken as teas (3-5 cups/day), tinctures (30 drops 4 times a day), or in freeze-fried capsules (1-2 capsules 4 times a day). Our naturopathic medicine clinic can help you choose the herbal remedies that are appropriate for you and your illness.

      Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower)                                Hydrastis (Goldenseal)

      Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh)                                 Trifolium (Red Clover)

      Ligusticum (Osha)

*These are adult dosages.  Consult your physician regarding dosages for infants and children.

Give Yourself a Home Hydrotherapy Treatment (A Hot Foot Bath) – Soak feet in hot water while wrapped in a warm wool blanket.  Put a cold cloth on your head and relax while you sit in a comfortable position for 10-15 minutes.  Take care to avoid getting chilled after this home remedy.  Or another alternative medicine option is the…

Throat or Chest Compress – Warm the throat or chest with a warm washcloth or hot shower.  Dry the skin thoroughly and apply a thin cotton wrap (to throat) or a thin cotton T-shirt (to chest) that has been soaked in cold water and wrung out so that it is not dripping wet.  Cover this with a wool scarf (throat) or a wool sweater (chest).  Go to bed this way.  By morning the scarf or T-shirt will be dry.  This treatment increases circulation and increases white blood cell activity.

Naturopathic medicine is a holistic way of supporting the body’s natural healing ability from illness. If you have questions about naturopathic doctors or holistic medicine, we are happy to help you find your answers. Please reach out to us by calling (619) 772-1164 or emailing info@journeyofhealth.org

Take A Naturopathic Approach to Antibiotic Resistance

When it comes to our health, there are two schools of thought: the Germ Theory and the Terrain Theory. Understanding the differences is critical, particularly because it involves the use of antibiotics, which should be used sparingly and for the right reasons. So let’s examine this often confusing topic.

The Germ Theory asserts that, regardless of the state of our health, germs that can cause disease will, indeed, cause disease. That’s because the germ is responsible for our illness and not the overall state of our health. Traditional medical practice calls for identifying and destroying invading germs, including bacteria (but not by viruses including cold and flu) through the use of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics are often over-prescribed and germs are mutating to survive them.

On the other hand, the Terrain Theory, embraced by holistic practitioners from a wide range of medical fields, asserts that germs that can cause disease will do so when the body is more susceptible and that the more healthy we are (the terrain) the less likely we will become ill; if we do, we will become less ill. In other words, when the body’s internal environment is at its best, then immunity, metabolism, and detoxification are at their strongest. Consequently, the body is less susceptible to illness and has the best defense against “disease causing” germs. Antibiotics are used sparingly and primarily in life-threatening situations.

It’s important to understand that taking antibiotics does not contribute to building immunity; they are prescribed for treatment, not prevention, and there is the real threat of resistance.

Antibiotic Risks and Drug Resistant Disease

When prescribed judiciously by doctors and used properly by patients, antibiotics can save lives by destroying bacteria or stopping it from reproducing. Despite the wonders of this medicine, there are significant problems:

  • 20% of people experience side effects including gastrointestinal, kidney, menstrual, and joint abnormalities after taking antibiotics. Risk for side effects increase with each additional ten days of use.
  • About 10% of people are allergic to antibiotics.
  • In the U.S. more than two million illnesses per year are caused by resistance to antibiotics, resulting in 23,000 deaths when these drugs fail to work.

Antibiotic resistance (AR) means that the germ targeted by the medication has mounted defenses that render the drug ineffective even when taken properly. Situations and conditions that present the greatest risk for AR include:

  • Overuse of antibiotics
  • Not taking the medicine as prescribed
  • Long hospital stays
  • Working in parts of the world that lack proper hygiene
  • Not having the ability to meet essential nutritional needs
  • Improperly handling raw meat, consuming contaminated meat, crops, or water
  • Contact with infected individuals

​Protect Your Internal Terrain from AR

Healthcare is faced with a dangerous rise in antibiotic resistance, making the more holistic “terrain approach” to battling germs vital to preserving health. Here’s what you can do:

  • Take a probiotic supplement, a quality multivitamin, follow a quarterly detox regimen, get adequate sleep, and eat a variety of whole foods
  • Choose organic foods (antibiotic-free meats, non-GMO grains)
  • Filter your water (drugs disposed of at landfills can get into groundwater supply)
  • Limit your intake of sugar and processed foods (these lower immune function)

The unfortunate truth is the “kill the germ” perspective is failing. We will reach a point where we do not have effective antibiotics. ​By bolstering the internal terrain, a healthy and vibrant person can mount the immune defenses necessary to protect their health. Speak with your San Diego Naturopathic Doctor about ways to strengthen your immune system to reduce the need for antibiotic use in the future.

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Calcium Does a Body Good

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and you might think that’s because of the essential role it plays in building strong bones; calcium’s importance, however, goes beyond preventing fractures and osteoporosis. It also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems. Numerous studies have established a relationship between calcium intake, absorption and assimilation and a person’s risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, insomnia, and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.

Eating a wide variety of whole foods is the best way to get the calcium your body needs for growth, maintenance, and repair. Even though dairy products contain and are fortified with calcium, foods derived from cow’s milk may not be the best choice for many people because of allergies, intolerance and other digestive concerns. Other valuable sources of calcium include almonds, dark leafy greens, legumes, and and nuts such as almonds. Be aware that just because you’re consuming the recommended amount of calcium daily does not mean your body is absorbing and utilizing it properly.

Recommendations for a calcium supplement vary by age, gender, and development (e.g., puberty, pre or post-menopause), and are influenced by health issues, lifestyle habits and taking certain prescription medicines. Different forms of calcium (e.g., carbonate, citrate) are absorbed differently by the body. Check with your San Diego Naturopathic Doctor to determine if you need a calcium supplement, and which form and amount is best for you.

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Think IRON for SuperPower

Wouldn’t we all like a little (or a lot) of superhero power now and then to help us scale life’s various mountains? If you’re nodding “yes” right about now, think Iron, a mineral critical to the circulatory system and life-sustaining functions. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the blood and is essential to powering the energy levels required for all physiological processes in the body.

Most people acquire sufficient iron from their diet, but a supplement may be needed by those who have strenuous physical regimens or who experience frequent blood loss (e.g. from heavy periods or inflammatory bowel disease). Foods containing the highest sources of iron are liver, organ meats, red meat, dark turkey meat, and shellfish. Legumes, certain seeds, and dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, do provide iron but you’d have to eat quite a bit, nearly every day, to obtain sufficient amounts.

If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet, headache, rapid heart rate, or unusual non-food cravings, you may be anemic and require an iron supplement. It’s important to have your iron levels tested by your Naturopathic Doctor before starting a supplement because iron can build up in the body (a condition called hemochromatosis). This can lead to life-threatening health problems involving the liver, heart or pancreas. A simple nutrient analysis done by blood test indicates if you are deficient; other tests can determine if you have difficulty absorbing iron provided by a healthy diet.

Because there are many ways to increase iron levels, consult with your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor who can recommend the right method, and if a supplement is needed, the correct form and dose for your needs.

 

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Three Steps for Lowering Blood Sugar

In this blood sugar diet blog, we have three strong evidence based recommendations for controlling your blood sugar.  These steps are essential for any blood sugar diet plan and part of any Naturopathic Doctor’s treatment plan.  We will take talk about what foods to avoid with diabetes and foods that can help lower blood sugar.  These tips are helpful if you are pre-diabetic to avoid becoming diabetic.  Once you become diabetic, you must become very aware of your blood sugar.  Adjusting to a healthy diabetic diet will protect your from having consequences from diabetes such as heart disease, kidney dysfunction, vision loss, stroke, amputations and so many more.  It will take time for the damage to lead to these and it is sad to watch a family member or friend deal with the effects of diabetes when they are not willing to take an integrative or holistic and nutritional approach to their diabetes. 

One ~ Eliminate Sugar
  • Don’t eat foods or beverages containing sugar. Avoid both artificial and natural sugars.
  • Read labels: Corn syrup, corn sweetener, sugar dextrose, glucose, fructose, brown sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, turbinado sugar, date sugar, raisin syrup, maple syrup are all sugar and should be avoided in even the smallest amounts.
  • Avoid the use of artificial sweeteners as a substitution for sugar. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners can cause aggravated hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), loss of diabetes control and precipitation of clinical diabetes in persons who were free from disease.  In diabetics, it has caused an aggravation of complications related to diabetes.
  • Naturally sweet foods must also be avoided. These include honey, fruit juice, grapes, raisins, dried fruits, fresh fruits, jams and jellies.
  • Avoid all the following: ice cream, cake, candy, soda (all carbonated beverages), pies, pastries, canned jellies, preserves, jell-o, most cold breakfast cereals, fruit juice, punch, breakfast syrups, and most processed food items.

What fruits can diabetics eat?

There is an allowable exception of one 4-oz. selection daily from the list below.  Make sure the fruits are fresh and organic whenever possible.  Research is also showing that a pint of berries are does not raise blood sugar levels dramatically in most diabetics and is protective of small vessels.

  • Apple
  • Papaya
  • Orange
  • Home canned fruit with
    no added sweetener
  • Melon
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Grapefruit
  • Pear

Sometimes a food intolerance panel can also be helpful to identify the foods that cause the blood sugar to rise.

Two~Eat Protein Rich and/or complex carbohydrate rich foods

Eat complex carbohydrates and protein rich foods in small to moderate amounts (in 1 to 4 ounce servings) at most meals or snacks.  This does not mean you should avoid other types of healthy foods that you enjoy, such as vegetables.  Protein is a very important part of allowing your blood sugar to be carried stable throughout the day.

Three ~ Eat small, frequent meals

Eat small to moderate amounts of food every few hours, particularly if your energy is low.  For example, eat 3 moderate meals daily.  You can have one, two or three between meal snacks as desired, or as needed to keep your energy and concentration up.

These are some basic suggestions but everyone is an individual so we encourage you to follow up with your naturopathic doctor or integrative doctor if they provide holistic medicine.  We specialize in this kind of thing so neither diet or diabetes are not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

What Is The Best Medication for PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the most common period related complaints of women in their reproductive years.  They can have PMS irritability and anger, nausea, cramping, pain and bloating.  PMS can also cause anxiety, depression, swelling, headaches and breast tenderness.  The best medication for treating PMS is considered oral contraceptives, however some patients have adverse effects usually because of a methylation defect, MTHFR.  Another treatment considered successful is the Serotonin selection re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), however these can have side effects too and women don’t feel like themselves.  The lack of resolutions of the symptoms without drugs or side effects often leaves women asking ‘what vitamins are good for PMS?’ or ‘how to stop PMS naturally?’

Integrative medicine has included Chaste Tree Berry as an effective herbal medicine to balance the cycle out and minimize symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome and even PMDD.  Naturopathic Doctors have found the research for Chaste Tree Berry, otherwise known as Vitex, as effective as oral contraceptives for PMS mood swings and PMS pain but without the side effects many women experience from oral contraceptives.  While this herbal supplement shows great promise, holistic medicine allows your Naturopathic Doctor to consider what other alternative medicine options may fit you as well.  Magnesium may benefit you for PMS cramps and may be an appropriate natural remedy if you have other signs of magnesium deficiency.  Evening primrose oil or progesterone may also be a goos fit. Assessing your overall health and body symptoms can help a integrative doctor fit the right tools to eventually be close to symptom free around your period.

There is a natural rise and fall to estrogen and progesterone during a women’s cycle that is important to understand and balance out.  When the estrogen is higher, a woman is more likely to be decisive and motivated.  This is the best time of the month to make decisions or work on a large project.  This is the time of doing.  Right around the time PMS shows up, there is a time of reflection and being and part of the natural cycle and big decisions are not best made here.  Just understanding this about your body can empower you.  The more you are able to create balance, the less symptoms or vitamins and medications you will need for PMS symptoms.  This is the natural rhythm of the menses cycle.  This is surely an alternative view but a holistic treatment protocol for PMS.  Our Naturopathic Doctors understand that your body has been through a lot and may have cellular memory contributing to your symptoms of PMS.  We are all about problem solving.

We specialize in this kind of thing so PMS or cramps is not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you, your specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!