Welcome to Tick Season

Frances T Meredith, MD

Prevention is the best medicine

We are all familiar with Lyme disease and likely know someone who has had to deal with this incredibly complex, and sometimes debilitating disease. Lyme, caused by multiple species of the Borrelia bacteria,  is not new, the Borrelia bacteria having coexisted with humans for thousands of years. What is new is that our immune systems are increasingly compromised by the stressful and no longer organic world in which we live. In addition, ticks that most often carry Lyme disease are now all over the United States. Lyme is now endemic EVERYWHERE in the US, though the species of the Borrelia bacteria vary in different areas of the county. And thanks to global warming, tick season is now all year round in many areas, though certainly numbers increase as temperatures warm in the spring.

To make things more complicated, Lyme disease, most often spread by hard Ixodes ticks, is also carried by other ticks as well including several soft ticks. Lyme bacteria are also found in mites, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies and in tick feces (and those little suckers poop continuously while feeding; think bite, itch, scratch, I’m in!). Other infections often travel along with Lyme including Babesia and Bartonella. These little suckers are smart and know how to evade our immune systems to become “baggage for life” and create havoc all over our bodies.

 Prevention is indeed the best medicine with avoidance and early detection of tick bites the goal. According to Stephen Buhner, an internationally renowned expert on Lyme and coinfections, a blend of essential oils is about 99% effective for repelling the major tick species that carry the many Borrelia species that carry Lyme and coinfections (Healing Lyme, 2015)

Here is his recipe: Take ½ teaspoon of each of the below essential oils, add the oils (4 tspn total volume) to 8 oz pure grain alcohol (95%), blending well and storing in a brown glass bottle out of sun. Subdivide this into 1-2 oz brown herb bottles with spritzer/spray attachment, using this to apply liberally and often during tick season when going outdoors.

-Rhododendron tometosum (Labrador tea; NOT Rhododendron anthopogon)
-Tagetes minuta
-Chamaecyparis nootkatensis
-Artemisia absinthium
-Myrica gale (bog myrtle)
-Juniperus Virginia
-Eucalyptus citriodora (lemon eucalyptus)
-Origanum majorana (marjoram)

I have just ordered these myself, most of them very cheap on Amazon, though several more expensive and coming from Canada. The bottles are also available on Amazon. The total price was $152 which should provide a family with several seasons of protection.

In addition Stephen Buhner suggests Andrographis tincture applied to tick bite site, covering with a “moistened glob of bentonite clay, cover with thin cotton, and leave on for 12-24 hours)”. This tincture is also easily available on Amazon.

This will make for a fun and fragrant home chemistry session! Time to get out there and enjoy some gorgeous spring weather, safely.

Your partner in health,
Frances T Meredith, MD

How To Choose A Safer Sunscreen

Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC



Summer is coming and while sunlight is vital for health AND is an important way for us to obtain Vitamin D, it is important to practice safe sun exposure and prevent sunburn, which is a risk factor for skin cancer. A recent study in JAMA found that chemical ingredients from sunscreen were detected in the bloodstream after one use, sometimes for days after. These ingredients are also detected in breast milk, and have been associated with lower testosterone levels in teenage boys.
Recently Johnson and Johnson voluntarily recalled 5 of their sunscreens due to the presence of benzene, a carcinogen in these products. 
Using a safer sunscreen without known harmful chemicals is important.  EWG, the Environmental Working Group, is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They score products based on safety data. EWG scores 0-10, 0 is the cleanest and 10 is the worst. Here is a list of ingredients to avoid with the EWG ratings:

  • Oxybenzone(EWG 8), sometimes called benzophenone-3, is banned in Hawaii due to its harm on aquatic life, and yet still found in around 40% of non-mineral based sunscreen. In animal studies, it is an endocrine disruptor and there is some evidence it has a similar impact in humans too – In an evaluation of CDC-collected exposure data for American children, researchers found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements had significantly lower total testosterone levels. It is also a contact allergen, may cause systemic toxicity, and be harmful to aquatic life.
  • Octinoxate(EWG 6) – (aka OMC or methoxy-cinnamate) linked to endocrine disruption as well as reproductive toxicity in animal studies. Harms coral reef.
  • Homosalate(EWG 4) – linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity. 
  • ParabensPhthalates – endocrine disruptors, can hide under the guise of ‘fragrance’, so avoid the word Fragrance on that ingredient list. 

Lowest Risk Ingredients: Zinc Oxide (EWG 2), Titanium Dioxide (EWG 2), Avobenzone(EWG 2).

Some recommended brands that use the better ingredients are Babo Botanicals, Earth Mama, 365 Clear spray, Think Sport, Blue Lizard and Badger. For a complete list of safer sunscreens you can go to www.ewg.org.

For more information on using safer products for your skin, contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our Health Coaches.   

Your Partner in Health!
Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC

How to Ground Your Energy When Feeing Anxious

The last couple of years have been hard on everyone.  The pandemic has caused so many disruptions in our lives – lost jobs and income, friends and loved ones becoming ill, children home from school and missing socialization, feeling more isolated and less connected.  It’s no wonder that an even greater number of people have reported feeling anxious. 

Talk therapy, supplements, exercise and medication are beneficial solutions for curbing anxiety.  There are also practical strategies you can utilize when experiencing anxiety.

1)  Box Breathing – If you’ve ever practiced meditation then you know how helpful mindful breathing can be to calm your nervous system.  Close your eyes and then breathe slowly in for four counts.  Hold your breath for four counts and then exhale slowly for four counts. At the bottom of the exhale count to four while doing nothing.  Repeat this process for a total of four times.  Once completed you should feel much more relaxed and centered.

2) Name Objects in Your Line of Vision – If your thoughts are spiraling out of control you can change your state of mind by simply naming objects that you see.  Keep doing this as long as you need to until you feel your energy begin to mellow.  This works because you are changing which hemisphere of your brain is being used, moving from the emotional side to the logical side. 

3) Mantras – Taking the time to recite a mantra is valuable for grounding feelings of anxiety.  Some examples are “I am safe”, “I am peaceful”, “I am loved” or “With every breath I feel myself relaxing”.  Write down your own affirmations that resonate with you the most and then say them repeatedly when you’re feeling anxious.

4) Gratitude – We cannot be in a state of fear or anxiety and be in a state of calm or peace a the same time.  Pausing to “count your blessings” will transition your energy into a more relaxed vibration. Write down five things you are grateful for or if you can’t write them down, list them in your mind.

The next time you find your heart beating fast or your mind racing, try practicing these strategies to ground your energy.

The next time you find your heart beating fast or your mind racing, try practicing these strategies to ground your energy.

If you or someone you know can benefit from working with our health coaches please contact our office to make an appointment. 

In health,
Sara Yadlowsky, FMHC

Nasal Cleansing Using A Neti Pot

Breathing is a necessity of life. Keeping the nasal passages clear is an important part of the body’s immune defense system.

As we breathe, we inhale various pollutants, allergens, mold, and dust into our nasal passages. The nasal passages are designed to protect us by filtering out these airborne particles. Unfortunately, this filtering system can become overloaded by inhaled irritants, resulting in congestion, inflammation, or infection. Additionally, certain foods can promote inflammation and mucus formation, further clogging of the nasal passages and sinuses.

Nasal cleansing can help keep sinuses clear and improve the ability to breathe freely. The practice of nasal irrigation (also known as neti) has been around for thousands of years. Water, and in some case herbs, are used to gently open and stimulate the nasal passages. Using a neti pot or similar device makes this process easier.

Basic Nasal Cleansing/Neti Pot Protocol

Materials needed:

  • 8 oz water—distilled, sterile, or boiled for at least 3 minutes and then cooled (note: do not use water directly from the tap)
  • ½ teaspoon uniodized (or Kosher) salt, or botanical glycerate/tincture as has been recommended
  • Nasal cleansing (neti) pot


Directions:

  • Prepare the saline solution and fill the nasal cleansing pot
  • Lean over a sink and tilt your head to one side so that your forehead and chin are at approximately the same level. (This can also be done easily when taking a shower.) This prevents water getting into your mouth.
  • Place the spout of the pot into your upper nostril. While breathing through your mouth, pour half of the solution through the upper nostril so that it drains through the lower nostril. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it. Persevere.
  • Blow the nose to clear both nostrils.
  • Turn head and repeat on opposite side with the remaining solution. „When finished, wash the nasal cleansing pot.
  • Repeat once or twice a day as recommended.
  • Note that for 15-30 minutes following a session you may find you need to blow your nose as the stimulatory action of the salt or medicated solution result in additional ‘flushing.’ These recommendations should be followed under the supervision and guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.


If you or someone you know can benefit from working with our health coaches please contact our office to make an appointment. 

In health,

Clarissa A. Kussin, N.D., FMHC, ERYT-500

Long COVID

Susan D. Denny, MD, MPH

Over the past year I have seen an increasing number of patients with symptoms of post-acute sequelae of Covid 19 (PASC), also known as long Covid. 

What is long Covid?  As defined by the CDC, long Covid is a range of new, returning or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks following SARS-COV-2 (Covid 19) infection.  Symptoms can vary significantly by person and can include fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, disturbed sleep, joint pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, loss of taste or smell or shortness of breath.  Most of the patients I have seen with long Covid suffer from fatigue and brain fog and many have other accompanying symptoms.

In a recent systematic review of 57 studies comprising more than 250,000 survivors of Covid 19, most symptoms included mental health, pulmonary and neurologic disorders which were present 6 months after SARS-Cov-2 exposure. 1

How many people are suffering from long Covid?  Clinical trials have shown anywhere from 31% to 69% of people who have had Covid infection will suffer from long Covid. This is a present and emerging health care crisis with tens of millions of Americans currently suffering and millions more at risk of developing this syndrome. Chances are that you or someone you know has long Covid.

How long does long Covid last?  This appears to vary significantly by person.  Some clinical trials have shown average length to be about 3 months while others have shown that symptoms may last more than a year. An emerging consensus is that most people have symptoms for 6 months or more.

Who gets long Covid?  While some clinical trials show a relationship to acute disease severity, others have shown a significant risk for long Covid even in mild or asymptomatic cases.  In other words, it is possible to develop long Covid even if you had no symptoms of acute Covid infection.

A study just published in Cell on January 24, 2001 followed 200 patients over two to three months following their COVID-19 diagnoses. The researchers determined four biological factors that they say are associated with whether a person will develop long COVID.

The first factor is the level of viral RNA in the blood at diagnosis. The second is the presence of autoantibodies—those that attack the patient’s own body. Third is the reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus, a common virus that most people are infected with and recover from early in life. The last is Type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, the most predictive factor for long Covid was the presence of autoantibodies in the blood. 2

Several other studies have found significant autoantibody levels in patients with long Covid.  In one study just published this month, researchers found signals of autoantibody activity that are usually linked to chronic inflammation and injury involving specific organ systems and tissues such as the joints, skin and nervous system in patients with long Covid. 3 We know that certain viruses can trigger the body’s immune system to begin attacking itself through a process called molecular mimicry.  That appears to be a significant source of cellular damage and inflammation in patients who develop long Covid.

Another study published in Gut examined changes in the gut microbiome in patients with long Covid.  They found that an altered gut microbiome composition is strongly associated with persistent symptoms in patients with COVID-19 up to 6 months after clearance of SARS-CoV-2 virus. 4

Can long Covid be treated?  Yes.  While conventional medicine has yet to find a medication to treat long Covid, a functional medicine approach to this illness works well.  Addressing the root cause(s) of ongoing inflammation in the body from the viral over stimulation of the immune system is a top priority.  Evaluation and treatment of increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut), gut dysbiosis and a disrupted adrenal axis works well to help rebalance the immune system, calm inflammation and improve symptoms. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from long Covid, please contact our office to make an appointment with one of our functional medicine providers.

In health,

Susan D. Denny, MD, MPH

References:

  1. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(10):e2128568. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.28568
  2. Su  Y, et al. Cell. 2022;doi:10.1016/j.cell.2022.01.014.
  3. Liu Y, et al. J Transl Med. 2022;doi:10.1186/s12967-021-03184-8.
  4. Gut (2022). DOI: DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-325989

Benefits of Infrared Sauna

Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC


Curious about how using an infrared sauna can benefit you? Keep reading to learn why this has become one of my favorite health practices.
 
Infrared saunas can provide a host of health benefits by using far- and near-infrared light to penetrate body tissue. Now they are even more accessible with smaller, in-home options.

Unlike traditional saunas, which must heat the air to very high temperatures, infrared saunas heat your body while the surrounding air stays cooler. Infrared saunas are definitely more comfortable than traditional saunas which is a big bonus if you are sensitive to heat. Plus, infrared energy can go deeper into your skin, helping you sweat even more and helping your cells eliminate toxins better.

7 Benefits of Infrared Sauna:

1) Detoxification – Sweating is one of the body’s most natural ways to eliminate toxins, making it a crucial part of detoxification.

2) Cardiovascular Health – Countless studies have shown that the cardiovascular benefits associated with infrared sauna therapy are numerous and varied, and include improved circulation, lower blood pressure, enhanced vascular function and lower risk of heart-related disease.

3) Immunity/Cell Health – The heat generated by an infrared sauna stimulates energy at a cellular level which, in turn, increases the body’s production of white blood cells. Infrared sauna usage can also strengthen the immune system by stimulating cell regeneration. This kind of regeneration can help your body dispose of cells that might be old, damaged, or ineffective and replace them with new cells.

4) Pain Relief – If you suffer from muscle aches or joint pain, infrared saunas can relieve this form of inflammation by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscles.

5) Physical Fitness – The heat generated by an infrared sauna will cause your core temperature to increase, which can also lead to an increased heart rate – the same increase in heart rate that you experience when exercising. An article titled, Effect of Sweating, in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that a 30-minute infrared sauna session could burn roughly 600 calories.

6) Relaxation – The heat generated by the sauna will also help to relax muscles and relieve tension throughout the body, allowing you to relax and de-stress.

7) Anti-Aging/Skin Purification – Infrared sauna technology can help purify your skin by eliminating toxins from your pores and increasing circulation, resulting in clearer, softer, and healthier-looking skin.

If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of infrared saunas, here are a few things to keep in mind:


Start slowly. It doesn’t feel as hot when you walk into an infrared sauna, so you may feel inclined to stay in there a long time right off the bat. Start off by sitting for 5-10 minutes and work your way up from there.

Stay hydrated. Ensure you drink enough to stay hydrated, as you’ll lose fluid through sweating.

Listen to your body. Our bodies are wise and will start to show signs if they are unhappy. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Warm and sweaty is OK – but if you feel excessively thirsty, dizzy, nauseous, headache-y, or have any other symptoms that do not feel right, get out of the sauna.

Don’t eat a huge meal.
 You wouldn’t gorge before going for a run or other vigorous exercise – it’s best to sit in a sauna on a light or empty stomach.

Rinse off in a clean shower.
 With all of the impurities released during a sauna we want to ensure they are washed away

 

There are many local spas that offer Infrared Sauna as a service or you can explore purchasing one for your own home. Two reputable companies are Sunlighten and Therasage. 
  

Contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our Health Coaches to learn more about healing health practices, like infrared sauna, that can help you along in your journey to optimal health.  

Your Partner in Health!
Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC





References:
Biro, S. (2003, November). Clinical Implications of Thermal Therapy in Lifestyle-Related Diseases. Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood), 228(10), 1245-1249.
Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2015). Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine JAMA Intern Med, 175(4), 542. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187.

LENTILS “THE POOR MAN’S MEAT”

Didem Miraloglu, MD, MS



 Lentils are known to be one of the most nutritious plant based proteins. Lentils date back to 8000 B.C where it was found on the banks of the Euphrates River, what is now northern Syria. There are many different preparation of lentils throughout the Middle East as well as the rest of the world. Each region adds part of its heritage where the lentil meal becomes richer and more flavorful.  Lentils are part of the legume family. Most of world’s lentil production comes from India and Canada. Lentils can lower cholesterol, and protect against diabetes and colon cancer. They are known as “Poor Man’s Meat”, since they are rich in nutrients and low in price. 1 cup of lentils provides 16 grams of fiber, 18 grams of protein, 38 mg Calcium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 6.6 grams of iron , 71 mg of Magnesium and 0 gram fat. Since they are high in net carbs, they need to be avoided in a strict keto diet. With their low glycemic index, they are a good nutritional source for diabetics. There are brown,  green and red lentils. There are also those that are in between these colors. Here is one kind of Turkish recipe for red lentil soup. 

TURKISH RED LENTIL SOUP
 
INGREDIENTS:
 
2 cups red lentils
6-7 cups vegetable or meat stock
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 tablespoon pepper/tomato paste
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried mint
Salt to taste
Lemon juice
 
Wash the lentils and place in a pot. Slice the onions and carrots into small pieces and place in the pot with lentils.  Add stock and cook on medium heat until it boils. When it starts to boil add the paste and continue to cook for another 30-40minutes on low heat. Once all the ingredients are well cooked, use a hand blender to homogenize the soup.
 
Melt the butter or ghee in a small skillet, then add mint and pepper flakes. Stir for a minute then add to the soup and boil it for another 2 minutes. Add salt to taste. It is now ready to be served with lemon juice. Afiyet olsun!
 

Contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our Health Coaches to learn more about healing with foods that can help you along in your journey to optimal health. 
 
Your Partner in Health!
Didem Miraloglu, MD, MS

Neurofeedback Therapy

Robert Baric, DC

We have invited several expert practitioners to educate our practice community on approaches to healing that are complementary to Functional Medicine. Our expert this week is Robert Baric, DC who will educate us on Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is quite different from “biofeedback” with which you may be familiar. Dr. Baric is board certified in neurofeedback and has over 26 years of clinical experience. His passion for health and wellness has emerged throughout the years as he continues to deliver the most up to date knowledge to his patients, while providing them with impactful treatment in addition to neurofeedback, including nutrition, acupuncture, chiropractic techniques, and other applied therapies. I will hand off the microphone to Dr. Baric.
 


 
 Neurofeedback Therapy: A Compliment to Traditional Medicine
Amidst 56 years of positive research and clinical trials in neuropsychology, neurofeedback has emerged as a modality of complementary therapy that is “evidence based”. Neurofeedback therapy has gained increasing popularity due to its non-invasive properties and the sizable body of research supporting its efficacy, along with it being an alternative to traditional pharmacological treatment. Essentially, neurofeedback is EEG-biofeedback, where a method of retraining brain waves through operant conditioning is utilized. Various conditions like ADHD, depression and anxiety, addiction, and insomnia are all cognitive disorders that can negatively impact an individual’s brain waves.

 The first step to neurofeedback therapy is an initial brain scan that determines if a patient is a suitable candidate for neurofeedback therapy. A quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG) shows brain activity and function allowing professionals to understand what ailments may be present and what can be done to mitigate symptoms at the root of the problem. The qEEG process takes just 45 minutes, recording brain waves with the eyes closed and opened. The results are then analyzed and a customized training protocol is created specifically tailored to the patient. Treatment includes monitoring the dysfunctional area while rewarding the preferred wave formation, with the reward being a TV show of the patient’s choice.  Brain waves are monitored, and using operant conditioning, stimuli are adjusted to guide the brain waves back into a healthy pattern.  If accepted as a patient, most individuals experience a marked improvement by sessions 10-15, most conditions requiring 40 sessions to finalize neuroplastic changes.
  
There are multiple conditions for which neurofeedback is impactful, with few being the most prominent throughout my years of experience. 
 
 Depression and Anxiety
The zeitgeist proves the need for complementary treatment options for individuals suffering with depression and anxiety. Approximately 33.7% of the population suffers with anxiety related disorders in their life, often comorbid with depression (1).  The Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology yielded results showing significant improvement in patients symptoms of depression with neurofeedback (2). Similar results were shown in patients with anxiety disorders, with the Journal of Industrial Psychology exhibiting results where neurofeedback therapy was deemed essentially as effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety as medication (3). 
 
 ADHD 
Children and adults suffering with ADHD recognize notable improvements in their focus and attention after a series of neurofeedback treatment. When a group of students received either neurofeedback or pharmacological support, evidence showed those in the neurofeedback group improved in executive control to a greater extent than the pharmacological support group (4). A plethora of research supports the decrease of ADHD symptoms in both children and adults. 
 
 Insomnia
Brain waves play a significant role in the ability to sleep. If a patient is unable to enter into a restful and deeply restorative state, there could be a misalignment in brain waves causing a patient to feel unwell and never feel rested. Medications can be utilized to aid in sleep, but frequently result in a feeling of grogginess upon waking. Neurofeedback actually tackles the problem at hand at the root by retraining the brain waves in order to get quality sleep without the use of medications. 
 
For issues involving the brain and cognition, it is essential to tackle the issue from multiple directions, utilizing multiple forms of treatment.  As a pain-free and relaxing process, neurofeedback will maximize its growth throughout the coming years. Neurofeedback will continue to provide millions of individuals with a fully customized treatment plan to ensure optimal brain health, and alleviate years of morbid symptoms.

If there are any questions about neurofeedback please reach out through email or phone and MyBrainDr would be happy to discuss any inquiries. 
 
Email: admin@mybraindr.com
Phone: 919-721-4800
Website: www.MyBrainDr.com

Food and Mood

Blair Cuneo, PA-C

I think about many things this time of the year with seasons changing and holidays approaching. As a functional medicine provider, I consider how changing landscapes not only affect my patient’s physical health, but also their emotional health. This landscape or “environment” of less direct sunlight, more time indoors, increased celebratory food and drink and increased holiday stress has a major impact on mental health for many of us.

Our relationship with food is complex, as is our body’s response to our culinary selections. We hope that our bodies can effectively digest food and absorb its nutritious content, but how do we know if it doesn’t? We hope the foods we are eating are contributing to healthy neurotransmitter production, healthy immune system messaging, but what does it feel like if that’s not the case?

You’d think that your stomach would definitely let you know if any of the above was amiss, but consider this: approximately 30% of us will have a gastrointestinal/gut symptom if there are imbalances in digestion or immune activation, while the majority of us will have a “beyond the gut” symptom first, such as headaches, mood changes, sleep disruptions, fatigue and pain. Thus, the majority of people may not be thinking of a direct relationship between green bean casserole and their anxious or sad days.

Several things need to happen when we eat a meal. First, we need to be in a “rest and digest” state. This signals to the body it’s time to produce digestive acids, enzymes and bile to sterilize the food, break it down and absorb it well. Next, we need healthy proteins that can be broken down by these digestive supports to become the basic amino acids that our body will use as the building blocks to create neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Neurotransmitters are signaling molecules, providing communication between nerves. The balance of neurotransmitter production, absorption and clearance, affects mental and physical health. Further, this building of neurotransmitters requires cofactors of several micronutrients like zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin D.

To cap things off, there can be immune system reactions to foods, allergies and/or sensitivities that are contributing to inflammatory messaging that starts in the gut, but travels “beyond the gut”, affecting our emotional state.

In my practice, I regularly see low levels these cofactors, low levels of digestive enzymes and gastric acid, high stress and of course, the daily challenge in regularly making healthy eating and drinking choices.

In order for a body and mind to be healthy, each of these areas needs to be considered, evaluated and addressed.

While there are objective tests available for providers to check your nutrient and digestive status, there are also excellent lifestyle supports to begin making a shift in your wellness today.

-Eat at regular intervals. It is less stressful for the body when it knows it can count on you to feed it. This also helps the timing of the digestive acids/enzymes release where there are patterns in meal timing.

-Whole foods. Limit processed foods. Head to the refrigerator, before you head to the pantry. Each meal should contain a protein, small amount of fat, and colorful fruits and vegetables.

-Mindful eating, not distracted eating. Try to avoid multitasking while eating. As often as you can, eat at a table, focused on your food and the company that you share. Look, smell, taste and chew well! Even the process of chewing is signaling release of enzymes.

-Connect with your healthcare provider to review your micronutrient and vitamin status. You might discuss multivitamin, magnesium and/or zinc supports and also test your vitamin D to help assign dosing recommendations.

Remember, Food can be medicine! Make sure you use it wisely!

Your Partner in Health!

Blair Cuneo, PA-C

How Many “New Year Resolutions Have You Made?

Erica Nelson, MSPH, NBC-HWC

How many ‘New Year resolutions’ have you made over the years? Do you ever wonder why so many promises made with the best of intentions fade away into chocolates and flowers by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around? With the popularity of books like The Power of Habit by James Duhig and Atomic Habits by James Clear, the inevitable social pressures to make resolutions, and the loss of so much routine and normalcy over the last 2 years, the time seems ripe for some intentionality around building or replacing habits with behaviors that will serve us well.

The dramatic and unexpected shifts to working from home, changing jobs, and reduced social interaction have forced many of the routines that once worked for us to be eliminated or drastically changed. Maybe you miss the drive to and from work that you once thought was stressful. Maybe you are exposed to significantly more trauma and environmental stress than you were accustomed to. Maybe you are grieving the loss of a family member you depended on. No matter what has changed for you, you have the power to decide how you want to spend your time and energy going forward. January 1 is not the only opportunity to make a change – if you look around, you just might find there are chances around you every single day to make a new choice.

 As we delve into another year of uncertainty, I invite you to consider a few thoughts and strategies to support you on your path. Cheers to drawing nearer to YOUR vision of the healthiest version of you.

  1. You are the expert on you.

Take some time to yourself to get clear on what matters most to you – not  to your family or friends or employer. What does ‘healthy’ mean to you? Health may be physical, emotional, financial, relational, spiritual… any aspect of your life that affects your ability to have your desired experience most days.

  • Self compassion is not selfish.

If 2020 & 2021 taught us anything it’s that some days just won’t happen the way we desire or expect them to. Many of your circumstances and situations are beyond your control. The way you respond, however, is under your sole control. This is why it is called responsibility or ‘response-ability.’ When you choose to let go of thoughts about mistakes made by yourself or others, you are free to return that energy to doing the next right thing for you. Name that negative voice in your head and tell it to go away. I like to say ‘Shut up, Sharon!’ (No offense to anyone named Sharon out there.) If you fall short some days, simply begin again.

  • Replace – don’t restrict.

Once you identify a behavior that is no longer serving you, consider changing or replacing it instead of trying to quit ‘cold turkey.’ Your brain likes the predictability of your responses to certain things (triggers) in the environment. It is a much smaller effort to alter your response than to just stop responding. If, for example, you want to stop drinking alcohol or sodas the first step would be to notice what comes before you drink the undesirable beverage. Next, choose a more desirable beverage to have when you are presented with those triggers.

  • Willpower doesn’t work and motivation is a myth. Mindset matters.

To increase your odds of success in replacing one behavior with another, make the desirable replacement beverage (or other behavior) very convenient and the undesirable ones very inconvenient (not in your house.) Finally, notice and appreciate yourself each time you choose the behavior you were aiming for. For some, a habit tracker – paper or electronic – serves as a useful reward. Making the choice on your own terms makes the ‘stress’ of change into a positive stress. Try to think of it in positive terms like ‘I GET to do this’ instead of ‘I HAVE TO do this.’ Eventually we all have a day when our resolve is not as strong and putting these supports in place will make it easier to endure, or begin again.

  • Set yourself up for success.

Do not try to quit drinking alcohol, caffeine and sugar all at once! At most, take on one or two changes at a time. Start with the things that matter most to you and celebrate as you notice the promises you are keeping to yourself. See if you don’t feel so great when you make one change that you want to make another!  

Your Partner in Health!

Erica Nelson, MSPH, NBC-HWC