Archive by Author

Grass-fed vs Grain-fed Meat: What’s the difference?

13 Jun

Article  by Geoff Brokx

Summer time is one of my favorite times of the year and one of the first things that comes to my mind is barbecues. Barbecuing is a great way to get together with friends and family while enjoying time outside. Many people enjoy eating steaks, burgers, and other sources of red meat as the main course for their meal. However, there is a lot of controversy over the health consequences of red meat in the diet. So how can you enjoy your favorite steak without worrying about your health? Choose grass-fed!

Diet can impact the health of an animal similar to how our diet affects our health. Cattle naturally eat grass, yet most of the meat in our supermarkets today is grain-fed. Grass-fed beef ranks higher in many nutritional categories when compared to grain-fed meat. This is especially true when talking about omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid or CLA, and antioxidants such as vitamin A and E. Grass-fed meat is also lower in total fat and is a good source of Niacin, B12, B12, iron, zinc, and selenium. Grass-fed meat is almost always free of antibiotics and hormones as well.

If you have never tried grass-fed meat you are in for a treat. Grass-fed meat tastes different than grain-fed meat and needs to be prepared accordingly. Most people prefer to cook grass-fed meat medium rare due to its lower fat content. You can find grass-fed meat at your local health food store or find a local source at www.eatwild.com.

Nutrition in Grass-fed Meat

Grass-fed meat have shown to have higher omega-3 fatty acids when compared to grain-fed meat. Omega-3 fats are known as essential fatty acids or EFA, which means that our bodies cannot make them and we must get them from our diet. Omega-3 EFA’s are associated with lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease. They help reduce inflammation and have shown benefits in supporting brain function associated with depression, autism, Alzheimer’s, and bipolar disorder.

CLA is another type of fat found in grass-fed meat. Studies have shown that CLA can reduce carcinogens that are commonly linked to cancer. CLA also has the ability to reduce body fat. It can help keep metabolism high which helps burn off extra fat. Finally, CLA is also shown to prevent heart disease. CLA prevents the deposition of plaque and lipids in arteries.

Research has also found grass-fed meat to be higher in antioxidants such as vitamin A and E. Vitamin A comes from a class of antioxidants known as carotenoids. Carotenoids are responsible for the yellow, orange, and red coloring that we naturally find in foods. Vitamin A is a critical fat soluble vitamin that is necessary for vision, bone growth, reproduction, and cell division.

Vitamin E is another fat soluble vitamin that protects our body against free-radicals. Free radicals can cause damage within our bodies and may contribute to diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. These are just a few of the benefits of grass-fed meat. In my opinion, eating red meat can be a nutritious part of anyones diet. So enjoy your summer, turn on the barbecue, and enjoy a grass-fed steak!

Be your own Valentine: ways to nurture yourself and attract love in your life

6 Feb

Article by Anca Niculae, MA 

I must admit, I tend to have a cynical attitude towards the commercial focus of holidays. I see no purpose in having wall calendars anymore; just glance into your nearest store and you’ll know what month you’re in, based on the colors on the shelves. This month, it’s been reds and pinks, and everything fluffy, flowery and chocolaty. I don’t so much mind the chocolate part. So with sweetness on our minds, let’s talk about love, and we have to start with the person closest to you, meaning you. The way we love ourselves is connected to how we love others or the way we want others to love us. So sit down and think of the way you speak to yourself in the privacy of your mind, the way you think and talk about yourself, the way you treat yourself. Do you talk to yourself kindly, encouraging, with confidence, or do you self criticize, lecture or blame? Do you believe in yourself, appreciate yourself, do you nurture all of you? Start paying attention to your inner voice (is it a cheerleader or a judge?), your daily routine (do you eat healthy, exercise), and your balance in life (too much work or too much fun?) and little by little create small changes where they’re needed. Keep a gratitude journal about yourself or start using intentions and affirmations in order to strengthen your self-image; take time to eat more vegetables and go for more walks; make it a point to laugh during the day, even if you have to pull up silly youtube videos. By starting to love yourself more, you’ll feel more confident, and it will show; and guess what, not only will you like being in your own presence more, others will too. And who knows, someone might end up coming along with some flowers and a box of chocolates, just for you, Valentine.

Good vs. Bad Stress

2 Feb

Check out this great article from the Wall Stress Journal talking about good vs bad Stress.

Some stress = motivating and peak performance.

Too much stress = problems with memory and mental clarity and an increase in several chronic diseases.

Bottome line = learn to manage your stress levels!

Kitchen First Aid

27 Jan

by Dr. Mary Rondeau

The changing of the seasons brings about many changes in activities and routines. The sun sets earlier, the crisp air that comes through in the night leaves a generous deposit of frost on the windshield to be scraped in the morning, holiday stressors seem to creep in earlier and earlier and it seems that nearly everyone you come into contact with is like a walking germ factory ready to make your nose look like Rudolph’s just in time for the holidays. While prevention is the best medicine, there are a few tricks to keep in your back pocket when life gets ahead of you. The good news is that these tricks are not only easy, but most of them are probably already in your kitchen!

If a sore throat has started making dietary decisions for you use these simple tricks for soothing relief: Steep 2 teaspoons of sage in 8oz of boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain and use as a gargle several times a day. Warm pineapple juice will help do away with mucus in the back of the throat. Lemon and honey tea will provide much needed relief.

Holidays don’t seem to come without an abundance of chow worthy food. There’s no telling when one of those delicious dishes is going to send your stomach into a tizzy. If this happens, avoid eating dairy and fatty or sugary foods. Try drinking lemon juice squeezed into warm water. If overeating got the better of your belly, eat a few springs of fresh parsley. If the aftermath of the meal is gas and bloating, make a tea using 2 tsp of either, anise, coriander, dill or fennel seeds steeped in boiled water for 5 minutes. In the spirit of the season, tea made with peppermint, clove, cardamom or ginger is also helpful.

Even the most skilled chefs have inadvertent run-ins with kitchen knives. Be prepared with green and black tea bags to slow bleeding and decrease inflammation. Simply wet the bag and squeeze as much moisture out as possible before applying. Another tip is to apply pressure and cold to a bleeding cut to slow the bleeding. Try making a wash or soak out of 1 Tbsp of either thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, basil, marjoram, parsley or oregano steeped in 2c boiling water for 5 minutes with a cover on. Wait for it to cool and use it to wash and soak the wound.

It seems that burns are as common as candy canes this time of year. Be prepared to soothe the sting with cold water, egg whites, grated potato or cucumber applied topically to stop the pain. Green, black, or chamomile tea bags can be used as a poultice over the burn. Applying a thin layer of raw honey will form a protective coating to prevent infection.

While home remedies are effective and indispensible, severe conditions are still better treated in the ER rather than the kitchen.

Be safe, prepared and grateful this holiday season. A cut is just a cut, a cold is just a cold, but family and friends are better than gold. If you’d like more information on home remedies check out books by Dr. Mary Bove, ND.

Bullying: becoming involved in order to prevent violence

23 Jan

Bullying has been more prevalent in the media in recent years, and the emphasis on it tends to fluctuate as anniversaries of traumatic events or news of new bullying incidents surfaces. If you notice changes in your child’s desire and motivation to go to school, bullying can be one of the factors involved. Some of the changes can be: school avoidance, isolation, lower  performance, worrying or anger the night before or the morning of, sleep or appetite disruption. Check in with your child often, and pay attention for any mentioning of irritation or fear associated with a certain group or person. Take it serious; ask more questions, attempt to problem solve around it. Notice any sense of hopelessness or lack of control in the situation. If there’s any direct mentioning of feeling in fear, being ‘bossed around’, name calling, verbal or physical threats, take action. Bullying in schools has changed significantly in the last decades, as it can now involve serious harm to others or self. It is most important that your child sees someone taking action at the mere mentioning of bullying. Contact the school, check the policy, request a meeting, create change if change is needed. Bullying is not an individual problem; it takes a village to raise a child and it takes the family, the neighborhood and the school to address bullying. The best way to eradicate bullying is by having active bystanders: classmates, staff, parents, communities. Take a stand and be an active bystander for your child.

Mindful Breathing Exercise

21 Dec

Focusing on the breath offers a quick method to calm your body during stressful situations, and bring peace and clarity to your mind. The first step in mindful breathing is to become aware of each breath. Breathing through your nose, repeat silently: Breathing in: “I know I am breathing in.” Breathing out: “I know I am breathing out.” After a few breaths, you may choose to shorten the phrase to “In” and “out”. When performing this exercise, it is not necessary to pay attention to the duration or depth of your breath. However, you may find that during mindful breathing, your breath naturally becomes slower and deeper as your mind and body calm.

Whitney Seibert, PA-C

This exercise was developed by Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, and author of many books including “You Are Here”, and “Peace In Every Step: the path of mindfulness in every day life”.

Reaching Your Best Health… a balancing act?

14 Dec

I recently took a Biofeedback class from Jen Strating at Wholeness Center, and was amazed by my own ability to influence many autonomic, or so called involuntary functions in my body.   I watched on a computer screen as my heart rate and finger moisture increased after talking about a stressful event, and then saw how these measures decreased when I focused on deep breathing and positive imagery.  Biofeedback uses many indicators of stress including heart rate, sweat, muscle tension, and body temperature, to teach relaxation techniques that can later be applied in real life situations.  Biofeedback is useful for treating many mental and physical conditions including anxiety, insomnia, migraines, general stress, and chronic pain, as well as being helpful for anyone who wants a way to visually track mind and body balance.

One of the tools used in my biofeedback session involved measuring heart rate, with the goal of increasing my heart rate variability.  Two branches of our nervous system, the sympathetic branch, responsible for “fight or flight”, and the parasympathetic branch, responsible for “rest and digest”, moderate heart rate.  The sympathetic branch increases heart rate, while the parasympathetic decreases it.  High heart rate variability reflects a healthy balance between both nervous system branches, but frequently one branch becomes out of balance, and leads to physical and emotional symptoms.

Physical manifestations of an overactive sympathetic nervous system may include insomnia, high blood pressure, musculoskeletal pain, cold hands and feet, and constipation.  Emotionally it may result in increased anxiety and stress.   Conversely, an overactive parasympathetic nervous system may result in depression and decreased thought clarity.  Physically, a person may have diarrhea, dizziness, low blood pressure, fatigue, and weight gain.  However, with a healthy balance between both nervous systems, the body can respond optimally to life’s stressors.

There are many ways you can influence the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the nervous system.  Biofeedback provides a visual method for measuring the balance and learning different ways to improve the balance.  Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing, are other techniques that help calm the body, and bring parasympathetic balance.  Aerobic exercise and engaging in activities that bring joy and excitement will help boost an under-active sympathetic nervous system.  While many factors including diet, hormones, other medical conditions, and life events influence our nervous system activity, trying some of these tools and activities will help you develop positive coping skills, and learn to reach a healthier and more balanced you.

Article by Whitney Seibert, PA-C

Whitney Seibert is a physician assistant specializing in psychiatry and Jen Strating is a biofeedback therapist and yoga instructor at Wholeness Center.

Thankfulness – Start with One Simple Pleasure

17 Nov

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.  ~ Jean Baptiste Massieu

Article by Paula Curtis

As we near Thanksgiving, you might already be tired of being told to count your blessings.  That’s especially true when you’re not feeling particularly grateful.  The world economies seem to be teetering on the brink of insolvency, many have lost their jobs, politicians can’t be trusted, people you love are sick or dying, and as the holidays approach, family members act crazier than usual… Once you get started on your worry list, it’s easy to keep going.

It’s when you are feeling most depressed or anxious, though, that finding even one thing to be grateful for can make the biggest difference.  Forget all of the big stressors in your life for a moment and focus on just one simple thing that brings you pleasure.  For me, it’s my morning coffee ritual; grinding the beans, plunging the water through the French press, pouring in a generous dollop of half-n-half and savoring the first sip.  Aahh.  If you allow yourself to truly appreciate just one thing, another will usually appear.  Driving to work on the back roads and spotting a bald eagle perched in an old, gnarled tree.  Turning on the radio and hearing “KneeDeep” by Zac Brown on the radio.  Being greeted at the door by my dog Rainbow and seeing her body wriggle with pleasure at the sight of me…  Once you get started, it becomes easier to think of even more things that make you smile.  Pretty soon, you’re in the grateful place and on your way to greater health and well-being.

Dr. Robert Emmons at UC Davis has been researching the long-term benefits of gratitude and thankfulness.  Did you know that people who keep a weekly gratitude journal are more likely to exercise regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and stay more optimistic?

Emmons’ research also shows that young adults who perform a daily gratitude exercise are more alert, attentive, enthusiastic and energetic than their counterparts. Visit Emmons Lab website to learn more about the benefits of gratitude and how to measure it.

How grateful are you?   Take the following Gratitude Questionnaire developed by Emmons.  Using the scale below as a guide, write a number beside each of the 6 statements to indicate how much you agree with it.

1 = strongly disagree

2 = disagree

3 = slightly disagree

4 = neutral

5 = slightly agree

6 = agree

7 = strongly agree

1.  I have so much in life to be thankful for.

2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.

3.  When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.*

4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.

5.  As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.

6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.*

To score your questionnaire:

  1. Add up your scores for items 1, 2, 4, and 5.
  2. Reverse your scores for items 3 and 6. That is, if you scored a “7,” give yourself a “1,” if you scored a “6,” give yourself a “2,” etc.
  3. Add the reversed scores for items 3 and 6 to the total from Step 1. This is your total GQ-score. This number should be between 6 and 42.

If your score is 40 or higher, you’re well into the spirit of Thanksgiving.  If your score falls below that, consider starting a regular gratitude practice and see what happens.

Please add your comments.  What are you grateful for this year?  How haspracticing gratitude changed your life?

 

 

From premarital to divorce prevention: time to improve your relationship!

7 Nov

Statistics continue to show an increase in the divorce rate in our country, with a significant amount of marriages ending around 5-7 years due to high conflict, or around 10-12 years due to feelings of disconnection.  80% of people in divorce mediation reported deterioration in the intimacy as being the number one cause for divorce, as opposed to only 20% citing an affair. We might think that issues in communication would cause marital distress, and that relationships in conflict have poor communication. In actuality, couples in distress often communicate what they feel and think quite well; the issue ends up being around what happens during and after the communication. Often times, couples can spend months, even years, trying to change their interactions based on common myths, and leave out parts of the relationship that research has proven are critical to a relationship’s long term well-being.

Being in a relationship can be difficult at times, and when we take into consideration the pace of life we’re experiencing, it is easy to put the quality of our relationship on the back burner. The Gottman Method Couples therapy is a scientifically based form of therapy that is delivered in a structured manner so that you and your partner can directly attain the changes you’re looking for. After years of research, this effective form of therapy has been proven to provide positive results that facilitate the development of permanent positive changes in relationships. The focus of therapy is to decrease conflict, increase intimacy, respect and affection, and create movement in areas you’re feeling ‘stuck’.  A thorough assessment is done to best understand the health of your relationship: we assess strengths, as well as areas of struggle and need for growth. You are given a better understanding of how your relationship is functioning, and you can decide how to proceed with it, couples therapy being one of the possibilities. Once goals are set, by using in session video recording and specific interventions, you are able to understand the dynamics in your interactions, and learn new ways to approach issues so that you can both feel heard, comforted, and more solutions are created. You can learn science-based information about how your brain, body, and conflict style is preventing you from having more loving, intimate, and enjoyable relationships.  Oftentimes, progress is made quickly, giving you the peace of mind and a great sense of relief, and allowing you and your partner to do more enjoying of each other rather than suffering together.

If you’re looking to improve, change, or prevent issues in your relationship, you can schedule a free 15 minute consultation or an 80 minute intake session with Anca Niculae, LMFT, and you can start improving your relationship by utilizing the Gottman method.

A whole new way to parent: The Nurtured Heart Approach

24 Oct

If you’ve been feeling more tension, exhaustion and frustration as a parent, it could be due to some of the techniques or ways you’ve been relating to your child. In traditional parenting, taking action and having consequences in order to ‘fix’ or correct a behavior is often encouraged, or required. This type of parenting often focuses the attention on the negative behaviors, and gives little, if any attention to the positive behaviors. It easily leads to conflict, hurt feelings, tense relationships, slammed doors, tears, and exhaustion. It becomes more about control and power struggles, and less around guiding, loving, and enjoying each other. Kids feel not understood and alone, parents feel guilty and at a loss.

In the Nurtured Heart Approach, parents are to focus on taking action and giving consequences for all the wanted, positive behaviors, and give little, yet structured and consistent  attention to the unwanted behaviors. Given attention goes beyond praise and big compliments, which often become triggers and result in rolling eyes, under the breath comments, or even
outbursts. Kids with low self esteem tend to react negatively to praise and big words like “Great job!” and “Awesome!” The Nurtured Heart Approach teaches you specific skills to “Time In” and reflect to your child or adolescent the specific things you appreciate and value in those moments. It’s personal, specific, and highly efficient in bringing people closer.  By paying attention and letting your child or teen know how great they are, your relationships become more pleasant and less tense, leading to a lot more cooperation, respect, and joy. Before the year is over, give yourself and your family a new gift by learning about the Nurtured Heart Approach and by starting to transform your relationships immediately.

For a free 15 minute consultation or to start your NHA counseling, schedule an appointment with Anca Niculae, certified Advanced Trainer in The Nurtured Heart Approach.