January 2012

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Coffee is a pick-me-up, let’s meet up beverage in America.

We treat it as a tool for extra alertness or we pivot social events around it. All things in moderation is a great mantra but if you find yourself in a cycle of groggy waking, caffeination, afternoon slump, caffeination, and restless sleep, it may be time to give yourself a healing gift and quit coffee.

Giving yourself time away from the false energy of caffeine will allow you to come back to your own healthy rhythms; restoring your adrenal system and easing you back into deeper, restorative sleep.

Due in part to it’s high levels of antioxidents, coffee does have some health benefits. However, it also raises our blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Prolonged use of coffee may stress our adrenal system. Since the thyroid gland works in tandem with our adrenals, we need to keep our adrenals healthy for the thyroid to work properly. Women are more likely to experience adrenal fatigue and thyroid disruption so this may be something to consider if you’re thinking about quitting.

Tolerance levels affect everyone differently. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune reported that The National Institute of Health found that caffeine “can leave you feeling wired 12 to 16 hours after the last cup, wreaking havoc on sleep” and “drinking just 100 milligrams per day — the amount of a small cup of brewed coffee — and then giving it up can lead to withdrawal symptoms ranging from headaches and depression to flulike nausea and muscle pain.” Only you know if your sleep is suffering or if you are sleepy during the day. This could be because you are drinking six cups or because you are drinking one cup.

If you only drink one to three cups a day, you might be able to quit cold turkey. Withdrawl symptoms are reported to last one to three days so convince yourself to try to go without for three days in a row. By the third day it’s likely you won’t crave it and you can extend another few days and son on. If you drink six cups or more, you may want to taper off. You can do this by limiting yourself to three cups a day, then two, then one. Or you can mix half decaf, half regular coffee for your portions. Some people find it easiest to switch to decaf, which has a tiny amount of caffeine and drink that for a week or so.

In the Morning:

Make a morning music mix of whatever gets you going.
Music is used to rehabilitate stroke victims and patients with Parkinson’s disease precisely because it increases mental focus. A Finnish study found that stroke patients who listened to a few hours of music a day experienced a 60% improvement in verbal memory and a 17% improvement in focused attention.

Eat a balanced breakfast.
A combination of protein, a little fat, and complex carbs will sustain your energy and feed your brain for hours.

Take an early morning walk.
Exercise increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain. That, in combination with the fresh air, will erase any morning mental fogginess. If you live in a city, try getting off the train a few stops early on your way to work in the morning. Or, you can start a walking group of parents at your children’s school. You can leave for your walk directly after dropping off your kids.

To combat the afternoon slump:

Drink water!
Often when you feel fatigued, it is a sign your body needs water.

Try a peppy, healthy drink
Perk up with a zippy drink of 3/4 cup sparkling mineral water and 1/4 cup natural fruit juice. Keep a large bottle of mineral water and a single serving bottle of juice in the fridge at work and you’ll have enough for four servings — almost the whole work week.

Eat a protein/fruit Snack
A handful of almonds with some dried apricots or a half of a banana will give you fuel to end your work day strong.

If you think you may struggle with cravings or withdrawl symptoms, give yourself some support. Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you overcome caffeine addiction, heal weakened adrenal glands and bring thyroid back into proper function. With your re-tuned body humming you’ll find you won’t crave caffeine. How will you use all that fresh energy?

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It is one of the great mysteries of life.

You are a full grown adult who has eaten thousands of breakfasts in your lifetime and yet you cannot think of anything to eat for breakfast this week. We’ve all been there!

Studies show that nutritious breakfasts containing lean protein and/or complex grains can give you improved concentration, added strength and endurance and can help you maintain a healthy weight. These benefits are especially important for growing children. “According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration, problem-solving skills, and eye-hand coordination.”

We want your families to enjoy these benefits so we’ve put together a list of 10 breakfast ideas that you can make ahead or put together quickly.

Nourish Your Family With a Healthy Breakfast1. Overnight Steel Cut Oats
Put 2 cups oats and 8 cups of water in crock pot overnight (8-10 hours) on it’s lowest setting and it’s hot and ready for you in the morning. For variety, try replacing one cup of the water with almond milk and add dried cherries or apples and cinnamon. Or, in the morning, mix in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to feel like you’re having pie for breakfast!

2. Mini Fritattas
Mix 6 eggs, shredded or chopped zucchini, sliced green onion, fresh or dried herbs and a cup of crumbled or grated goat cheese. Add diced cooked potato or other favorite vegetables. Spoon into lined muffin tins and bake in a 350 oven. When cool, place in a freezer bag and freeze to have on hand. These reheat nicely in a toaster oven.

3. Congee
This nourishing traditional food is perfect for cold winter mornings. It’s especially healing when you feel under the weather. Mark Bittman has some recipes with variations here.

4. Breakfast Burritos
Fill a whole grain or gluten free tortilla with any combination of beans, scrambled eggs, potatoes, diced squash or other veggies. Fold up and roll in wax paper, place in a freezer bag or container to freeze. On busy mornings you can grab one of these to take to work with you.

5. Vegan Apple Muffins
Healthy and delicious! Find the recipe here.

6. Gluten Free Vegan Latkes
These would are delicious hot off the griddle but you can also make a big batch ahead of time to freeze for easy weekday breakfasts. There are so many variations; try replacing the potato with 1/2 parsnip and 1/2 carrots. Or, replace half the potato with zucchini. Kids love latkes so this is a great way to give them some extra veggies. Recipe here.

7. Quinoa Cinnamon Porridge
Try this warming and fortifying porridge that follows Traditional Chinese Medicine principles.

8. Almond Butter Smashed Fruit Wraps
Spread almond butter on a whole grain or gluten free tortilla, then spread a couple of tablespoons of vanilla soy or coconut milk yogurt over that and add spoonfuls of mashed berries. Roll up. For an alternative, use fresh grapes sliced in half. It’s delicious! You can cut these in half to serve two.

9. Hard Boiled Eggs And…
Hard boil eggs on Sunday to have on hand for the week. In a hurry? Grab one and an apple to go. More time? Make some whole grain toast and add sliced hard boiled egg and some broken up smoked salmon. Add a cup of mint tea and honey in the winter and you have a quick, satisfying breakfast.

10. Sweet Almond Pancakes
These are so delicious they don’t need any topping but they would be great with stewed cinnamon apples or non-sweetened applesauce. Mix 1 cup almond meal, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbl oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 Tbl raw honey.  Cook as you would regular pancakes. These will not puff up so flip them when the underside is brown.

Check in next week for our last post in our series of three Get Healthy in 2012 blog posts. Our first post was how acupuncture can reduce stress to help you meet your goals.

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New Year ResolutionsWelcome to the New Year! What are you going to do with the bright new days ahead of you?

This is the first post in a series of three of simple ways to to get healthier in 2012.

I know many people balk at making New Years Resolutions but I think most of us do use this time to reflect on the past year and what we would like to build upon and what we would like to change. Consider the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective on this season. Winter is a time for gathering strength in the stillness. For instance, taking more time for rest by going to bed earlier and waking after the sun has risen brings extra energy to the internal organs, thus fortifying the body for the rest of the year. Yin energy is at is peak in this season, drawing energy inward, making it an opportune time for reflection. Contemplation in the quiet of winter can bring peace to our minds and spirits and prepare us for the changes we want to make.

What would you like to enhance or change in your lives in the coming year? How can we all bring more peace, joy, and satisfaction into our lives?

No matter what you are facing, acupuncture will bring vitality to your effort and sustain you on your way!

A seminal study published last month by Experimental Biology and Medicine, http://explore.georgetown.edu/news/?ID=61392&PageTemplateID=295, showed that blood levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), a protein linked with chronic stress, were diminished following acupuncture. This is thought to be the first study to show molecular proof that acupuncture reduces stress. The author, Ladan Eshkevari, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies is also an acupuncturist. She got the idea for the research when she noticed that most of her patients were reporting a “better overall sense of wellbeing — and they often remarked that they felt less stress.”

Maybe this past year you have been struggling with a chronic illness and you are feeling strained. Acupuncture will not only help by healing the imbalances contributing to the problem, it can refresh and sustain you by carrying away those unwelcome stress proteins and leaving wellbeing in their place. What could be better? Maybe you are considering giving up smoking or coffee. Acupuncture will help with withdrawl symptoms and again, the stress that occur when making changes. Or perhaps you have made wonderful accomplishments this year such as leaps in your career or a steady commitment to exercise.

Reward your self and sustain your health with a feel-good session of acupuncture. You deserve the support and happiness and we wish you much of it this New Year!

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