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Thursday
Feb102011

Bridge Pose: A Yoga Pose for Body and Mind

The Bridge Pose is a powerful tonic for body and mind. It provides an invigorating stretch for the chest, neck and spine. Traditionally, its benefits are said to also include:

  • Calming the mind and alleviating stress and mild depression
  • Stimulating abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid
  • Rejuvenating tired legs
  • Improving digestion
  • Relieving the symptoms of menopause 
  • Reducing anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache and insomnia

It is also held to be a therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and sinusitis.

Learn how to do the Bridge Pose.

Wednesday
Feb092011

Ginger Almond Pears

This light dessert combines the sweetness of pears with the zing of ginger to make a warming winter treat!

Food as Medicine: Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds knowns as gingerols. Several studies have shown that regular consumption of ginger can reduce pain associated with arthritis.

Ingredients:

5 firm ripe pears
3 cups apple cider
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot 
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Salt to taste

Instructions:

1. Peel the pears, quarter them lengthwise, and core. Slice pears thinly and place in a saucepan with the apple cider and ginger root. Add a pinch of salt. 

2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until pears are tender, about 15 minutes. 

3. Dissolve cornstarch or arrowroot in 1/3 cup cold water and add to the simmering pears, stirring, until the sauce is thick and clear. 

4. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Serve warm or cold.

Learn more about ginger as an herbal remedy in yesterday's post.

Tuesday
Feb082011

Herbal Remedy of the Week: Ginger

If you're concerned about joint health, or suffer from motion sickness, nausea, or chest congestion, consider a naturally helpful anti-inflammatory agent: ginger. From the underground stem of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale), ginger can be bought as whole fresh or crystallized root; in honey-based syrups; as capsules containing powdered ginger extracts; and as alcohol extracts. Dried ginger preparations are actually more powerful than fresh due to a chemical conversion and concentration of its constituents. When purchasing, select products with only 100 percent pure ginger standardized for their content of active components. High doses may cause a burning sensation in the stomach; to minimize, take ginger with food. I suggest the following dosages:

  • To support healthy joints, take one or two grams of powdered ginger a day.
  • For nausea and prevention of motion sickness, take one gram as a preventive and 500 mg every four hours as needed, or eat two pieces of crystallized ginger or take ginger syrup or tea.
  • For congestion, brew tea with one-inch piece of peeled and grated ginger root per two cups of water; bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for five minutes; add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and simmer one minute more. Remove from heat. Add two tablespoons fresh lemon juice, one or two cloves of mashed garlic and honey to taste. Let cool slightly and strain.

Tomorrow's post: a recipe featuring ginger.

Monday
Feb072011

Sleeping Problems? Wake Up to the Risk

Having problems falling asleep may mean that you're headed toward metabolic syndrome, a combination of physical symptoms that raise the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. For some, loud snoring may indicate a doubled risk of metabolic syndrome (difficulty falling asleep raises the risk by 80 percent). The risk also increases - by 70 percent - among those who report unrefreshing sleep. All this news comes from a study published in the December 1, 2010, issue of Sleep. Investigators studied 812 adults ages 45 to 74 for three years to assess the relationship between sleeping problems and the risk of metabolic syndrome, which has symptoms including excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, low HDL (the "good" cholesterol), high blood pressure and high blood sugar. The researchers reported that loud snoring was associated with the development of high blood sugar and low HDL in particular, but noted that other sleeping problems were only generally predictive of metabolic syndrome. Other sleeping problems weren't associated with the development of any particular symptoms comprising metabolic syndrome but were associated with a higher risk of the syndrome itself. The researchers said that their findings suggest that physicians should screen patients for sleep complaints during routine visits.

Learn more about insomnia, one of the more common sleep issues.

Sunday
Feb062011

A "Safe" Facelift?

While I believe that attempts to halt or deny the aging process can be roadblocks to aging gracefully, there may be an acceptable alternative to some current “turn back the clock” trends: facial acupuncture. This therapy is far less invasive than a surgical procedure and does not carry the dangers associated with a traditional facelift (not to mention being less expensive). Facial acupuncture is also free of the side effects of therapies such as Botox injections, and it offers psychological benefits - patients may feel relaxed as a result of the therapy. With or without acupuncture, a healthy diet, exercise and stress reduction techniques are still my top recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, and the keys to aging gracefully.

Saturday
Feb052011

Beet Juice and Your Brain

Drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain, which may help reduce the risk of age-related dementia. This finding comes from a small study at Wake Forest University where researchers found that drinking 16 ounces of beet juice, which is high in nitrates, plus some high nitrate meals, led to increased blood flow to areas of the brain often associated with changes that lead to dementia. With age, these areas can become poorly perfused (blood doesn’t flow there as freely as it does in younger people), the researchers said. Other high nitrate foods that could increase blood flow to these key brain areas include celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables such as spinach and some lettuce. When you eat these foods, bacteria in the mouth turn nitrate into nitrites, which can help relax the muscular walls of blood vessels and increase blood flow. Only 14 adults age 70 and older participated in the study. After consuming high nitrate breakfasts the participants underwent MRIs, which showed increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes. The study results were published online in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society.

Here's a delicious recipe using nitrate-rich leafy greens.

Friday
Feb042011

My New Home (Photo Slideshow)

I recently moved from my ranch just outside of Tucson, Ariz. to a smaller home in the city. There's still a lot to do around the house, but in the meantime, I'm cooking, working, and spending time with my dogs, Asha & Ajax. Take a look:

Thursday
Feb032011

Breast Cancer Prevention - 6 Lifestyle Tips

According to the American Cancer Society, every three minutes, on average, another woman learns she has breast cancer. The good news is that there are several strategies that can help reduce risk. Try incorporating the following lifestyle changes into your daily routine:

  1. Get active. Regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes on most days) has been shown to be protective against breast cancer.
  2. Maintain your health care. Early detection is key: in addition to monthly self examinations, women between ages 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast exam performed by a health care professional at least every three years; women 40 years of age or older should have annual breast exams and talk with their doctor about mammograms.
  3. Supplement wisely. Folic acid, vitamin D and antioxidants all may help decrease risk.
  4. Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens. These chemicals with estrogen-like activity are found in common pesticides and industrial pollutants and as hormone residues in meat, poultry and dairy products.
  5. Avoid exposure to radiation. Limiting the number of chest X-rays you receive, especially at a young age, may decrease the risk of breast cancer.
  6. Talk with your doctor. If you have close relatives with breast cancer, your personal risk is increased. Let your doctor know your family history, and discuss other ways you can help to prevent breast cancer.

More details on lowering breast cancer risk.