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What Is Watsu?

Watsu is a unique form of bodywork that combines immersing the body in warm water with traditional Shiatsu massage. The premise of Watsu is that water takes weight off the vertebrae so they can be manipulated more easily. Watsu is said to:

  1. Decrease muscle tension
  2. Promote a deep state of relaxation
  3. Increase mobility and flexibility
  4. Decrease stress
  5. Reduce pain
  6. Promote better sleep

A typical Watsu session is performed in water that is 92 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit, and involves a series of movements that the practitioner performs with one hand as he or she balances the recipient with the other. Expect to be gently rocked, stretched, turned, bent and arched. Watsu is offered at spas nationwide and in treatment centers as a form of physical therapy.

Learn more about Watsu, including how to find a practitioner.


Go to Bed Earlier to Stay Slim

If you're trying to lose weight or want to avoid gaining extra pounds, one trick may be to go to bed early. A new study from Northwestern University indicates that people who stay up late tend to consume an average of 248 more calories per day - and more fast food - than those who go to bed earlier. The study was a small one, involving only 51 people with an average age of 30. The participants who stayed up late - typically hitting the sack at about 3:45 a.m. and getting up about 10:45 a.m. - not only consumed more calories, fast food and non-diet sodas than the study participants (who went to bed by 12:30 a.m. and got up by 8 a.m.) they also ate only half as many fruits and vegetables. The extra calories were generally consumed at dinner and later in the evening. An extra 248 calories a day can add up to two pounds of weight gain a month if you don't work them off with increased exercise. The study was published online on April 28, 2011 by the journal Obesity.


Bottled Water: Bad for the Environment

Bottled water may be convenient, but when the bottles are empty, about 75% of them never see the inside of a recycling center: they are either sent to landfills or are left behind as unclaimed trash. Even recycling has an environmental cost, as empty bottles must be shipped, shredded and re-formed into other products, all of which takes energy.

The bottled water served on restaurant tables is often shipped from overseas, and the bottles are discarded after one use. The waste and expense are enormous. At my True Food Kitchen restaurants we use a system that creates bottled water on-site, in reusable glass bottles. The result is not only better for the environment, it also saves money for both the restaurant and its customers. “We can charge less than other restaurants for bottled water and still make a profit, because our costs are lower,” says restaurateur Sam Fox, my partner in the restaurant. “This system is good for everyone.”

Learn more about the glass bottled water system used at True Food Kitchen Restaurants - and make a pledge to begin minimizing your consumption of single-use bottled water!


Pass the Parsley...and Celery!

Parsley and celery contain a compound that may help protect against breast cancer, possibly by blocking the growth of tumor cells. This interesting finding, from a University of Missouri animal study, suggests that apigenin, a flavonoid found in parsley, celery, apples, oranges, nuts and other plant products, seemed to block or delay tumor formation in rats that had been programmed to develop breast cancer when exposed to MPA (medroxyprogesterone acetate). MPA is a synthetic hormone that has been found to accelerate human breast tumor development in women on hormone replacement therapy. In the rat study, apigenin blocked the formation of new blood vessels needed by breast tumors, and also reduced the overall number of tumors the rats developed. However, apigenin didn't stop cancer cells from forming in the breast in the first place. The investigators said that they're not yet sure what dose of apigenin would be appropriate for humans, but suggested that eating some parsley and fruit daily could help ensure that you're getting the minimal amount. The study was published online April 19, 2011 by Cancer Prevention Research.

Q&A: Pour on the Parsley?


Should You Take a Multivitamin?

Eating right, getting regular exercise and managing stress are all vital to achieving optimum health, but sometimes these just aren’t enough. While vitamins and supplements shouldn’t be taken as substitutes for a healthy diet, they can act as insurance against nutritional gaps in the diet and as added defense against increasing toxic pressures from the environment. If you use drugs like alcohol, tobacco or caffeine, if you are under a great deal of stress or if you are sick, your need for some micronutrients and protective phytonutrients may be greater than your diet can supply. Because of all these variables, a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is the best way to ensure that you are getting what you need.

Read: Multivitamin for kids?


Mindful Meditation for IBS

Dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) isn't easy, but the stress (and the symptoms) involved may be lessened with mindfulness meditation. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have presented a study showing that women with irritable bowel syndrome were able to reduce their symptoms by 38 percent with mindfulness meditation compared to only a 12 percent reduction for women who took part in a support group. The study involved 75 women between the ages of 19 and 71 (average age about 43) who were randomly divided into two groups. For eight weeks, one group took part in mindfulness meditation training sessions while the others attended meetings of a traditional support group. After eight weeks, the severity of symptoms had dropped by 26.4 percent in the mindfulness meditation group and by only 6.2 percent in the women in the support group. At the three month mark, the reduction of symptoms had improved to 38.2 percent in the mindfulness meditation group and to 11.8 percent in women in the support group. The findings were presented on May 7, 2011 during Digestive Disease Week.

My take? Mindfulness is the technique of bringing all of our awareness to the here and now, to the immediate sensations in our bodies and our breathing, for example, rather than letting much of it slip away in contemplation of the past and future or of other subjects that are not present. The assumption is that when we act with full awareness, our actions are more likely to achieve what we intend, and that when we feel with full awareness, we are more likely to feel fulfilled. Many studies have found that meditation has a beneficial effect on health. It can relieve mental and physical stress and, by extension, help with common stress-related illnesses, including IBS.

More on mind/body treatment for IBS.


How Much Sleep Do You Need? (Poll)

Here's a Q&A on short sleepers: individuals who can thrive on only a few hours of sleep each night. Short sleepers are rare, however; most of us need seven to eight hours a night to feel our best.

How much sleep does it take to keep you going?


Celebrating Cilantro

Summer is an ideal time to try fresh, seasonal herbs in your meals, and one of my favorites - and an easy one to grow - is cilantro (Coriandrum sativum). Considered a healing herb, cilantro is traditionally used in India as an anti-inflammatory agent and studied in the U.S. for its cholesterol-lowering properties. It is the fresh leaves of the same plant that provides coriander seeds, and imparts a pungent flavor, that lends itself perfectly to Mexican and Vietnamese dishes (for the best flavor, add freshly chopped cilantro right before serving).

You can easily start cilantro seeds in potting soil in a small pot and place on a bright windowsill or a back porch. Keep in mind that not everyone shares my love of cilantro - it tends to be a “love or hate” herb. It’s been speculated that a genetic variation makes some people despise cilantro - rather than sharp and tangy, these people find cilantro tastes like soap or aluminum foil.

Try Tofu with Cilantro Sauce for dinner this week!