Category Archives: Nourishment

Staying Warm, Healthy, and Young!

In New England right now, it’s freezing and snowing heavily. You can feel that cold all the way down to your bones. There is nothing like a bone chilling polar vortex to make us feel creaky, lethargic, unfocused, and old. Luckily, Ayurveda, the oldest continuously practiced health care system in the world, outlines helpful recommendations for staying warm. Staying warm in the winter translates to feeling more energy, more relaxed, more focused, healthier, and yes, even younger. Sign me up!

1) Oil thyself! Ayurveda recommends a daily practice of abhyanga, or self massage with a high quality, nourishing oil. In addition to feeling good, daily self massage detoxifies the body’s tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function. It also reverses the aging process and is fantastic for keeping your skin young, supple, and glowing. As we age, our skin becomes dry and malnourished. Feed and moisturize it from the outside with high quality oil regularly, and you will be thrilled with how wonderful your skin looks.

Simply take some high quality oil, room temperature or warmed up for an extra special touch, and systematically rub it into your skin all over your body. Use circular motions over the joints and long strokes over the long bones of the arms and legs. Try to get into all the joints of the feet, toes, ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, and as much of the spine you can reach. All that oil will be soaking into the hands as you go, but you can also give them some individual attention around the cuticles and on the fingers. Don’t forget your nostrils! They tend to get dry and crack in the winter, allowing germs to get into your body. Just use your pinky finger to lubricate the nasal passages. You can find a great Nasya (nostril) oil from Banyan Botanicals (as well as other oils).

Oiling is best done in the morning, either before or after your shower. If you do abhyanga before, the warm water of the shower will help the oil penetrate into the skin. Just don’t try to wash it off. Only use soap where necessary (i.e. not on the arms and legs). If you oil after the shower, be sure to use minimal oil so it doesn’t rub off on your clothing. Either way, your skin will feel luxurious all day long! In the winter, oiling in the morning makes you feel like you’re wearing long silk underwear. Lastly, it is really nice to give yourself an oily foot massage before bed. Put on your old socks, and let it sink in all night long.

The quality of the oil you use is important. We recommend cold-pressed (or expeller-pressed), organic, oil in a glass bottle.

  • Sesame is a nice oil for all body types, just be sure it is not toasted (unless you don’t mind smelling like a stir fry!).
  • Coconut is wonderful for the skin but is preferable during the summer months, unless you tend to run hot.
  • Jojoba is also a great option and is most similar to your natural sebum.

 

For the face and neck, we recommend either jojoba or borage oil. Heavier oils can be too thick for facial skin. Experiment to find out the best options for your unique constitution.

2) Winterize your diet. In the winter, we need to balance the cold and dry air with grounding, warm, hearty, protein rich, moist meals. Soups and stews with root vegetables and clean protein sources are especially perfect! Spices are not only delicious, but have many health benefits including warming you up. Ginger, cinnamon, curry, turmeric, salt and pepper are all warming spices. Bring it all together with a spicy chili with crumbled tofu and beans or a kitchari. Check out our easy homemade Chai Tea, with warming spices.

3) Be strong! Muscles keep you warm, so use them several times a week with a workout of your choice. The best workout is the one that you’ll actually do. Find something you enjoy, and just do it. An invigorating hot Vinyasa Yoga practice combats the cold from many angles; it gets your body feeling more supple and fluid, it challenges and builds muscle, it gets you warm and sweaty, and the soothing pace calms the mind. Oftentimes humidifiers are used in hot yoga studios, so everything gets hydrated as well.

Stay warm and be well!

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Staying Healthy Through the Winter

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What if I told you that you don’t have to succumb to the inevitable cold, flu, and low energy of the winter? What if I told you that you can feel warm, healthy, happy, and energetic all winter long? It’s true! Every winter, we see our friends and family dropping like flies, addicted to cough syrup, not sleeping well, and feeling horrible in general, while we seem to be unaffected 99% of the time. Do we live in a bubble? No way! But we do embrace a few extra self care techniques, which we share below.

1) Call in the troops! We all need more good bacteria to fight the bad bacteria and viruses. A healthy gut microbiome is like armor against pathogens. There is a variety of ways to build your gut microbiome. Probiotic capsules are easy, but elementary my dear. The label might say “billions” of bacteria per capsule, but you get a gazillion more in fermented foods and beverages. So make a beeline to your nearest health food store and grab some tasty fermented veggies (like Real Pickles), kombucha (like GT), and Fire Tonic (like Mountain Rose Herbs). A spoonful of the veggies, a half bottle of kombucha, and just a shot of Fire Tonic will keep those germs from taking you down this winter!

2) Exercise to keep your immunity up, circulation flowing, metabolism stoking, and energy revving! Do what works for you – any style of yoga, Pilates, Barre, run, hike, weights, intervals, skiing, snow shoeing, or even just a walk. Make it your goal to move each day. For even more benefit, get outside while you exercise – the sunshine and fresh air will do you wonders. Your skin will glow, you’ll stay fit, and evade the cold and flu much more effectively.

3) Ayurveda, the oldest, continuously practiced health care system in the world, emphasizes the importance of regular, high quality sleep between the hours of 10 PM – 5 AM. This is when your body repairs, heals, cleanses, and reboots. Don’t cheat yourself of this! Habitual disrupted sleep, sleeping late, or taking naps does not compensate for good, regular, deep sleep during the night. To enhance your slumber, be sure to have a soothing night time routine, block out any and all sources of ambient light in your room, keep the room on the cool side, and avoid eating after dinner. Also, alcohol may relax you at dinner, but it definitely disrupts your vital sleep. So, it would be best to make alcoholic beverages an occasional treat, not a nightly habit.

4) Reduce sugar. Sugar cripples your immune system for up to five hours after ingestion. If you have a sugary breakfast, a sugary mid morning snack, dessert after lunch, a sugary beverage or chocolate in the afternoon, and dessert after dinner, you are taking your immune system down for most of your waking hours, and into the night. As you know by now, sugar is addictive, but it’s not really that hard to get used to less sugar in your diet. Consciously start eating less of it by choosing healthier snacks like vegetables and fruit, not adding sugar to your tea or coffee, and eating less desserts in general. The more you eat it, the more you want it, and the reverse is also true. You CAN change your tastes. To experience the joy of total freedom from sugar addiction, join us for our next cleanse!

5) Stay hydrated by sipping water all day long. This will keep your mucous membranes hydrated, which will then be able to protect you better against invading micro organisms. Two bonus side effects include much younger looking skin and energy through the roof all day long.

BONUS OPTION: Eat Juice Plus! This is the highest quality, most researched whole food supplement available. It helps you get the thousands of health promoting nutrients found in fruits and vegetables that you might be missing in your daily diet. It made a big difference for me!

Let us know how these tips work for you!

Sea Vegetables

If you want to boost your stores of iodine and other minerals from real food, which is always the best way, sea vegetables are your new best friend! Seaweeds are rich in a wide array of trace minerals, iodine, chlorophyll, and other phytonutrients. They are at least 10 times more nutrient dense than vegetables grown on land in most nutrients. For example, hijiki, arame, and wakame supply ten times more calcium than cow’s milk, while other seaweeds have twenty five times the iron content of beef. And there’s no downside!

Low iodine stores, a common cause of hypothyroidism, is easily corrected with regular intake of sea veggies. To get the iodine content of one gram of kelp, you’d have to eat forty pounds of land veggies. I don’t know about you, but I am not that hungry. Not only do sea veggies improve overall metabolism through boosting iodine, but they also amp up fat metabolism.

And, if you’re interested in cleansing and detoxifying, you’ll be happy to know that the abundant minerals and chlorophyll stimulate detoxification of heavy metals and chemicals from your body.

The benefits of sea vegetables go deep into your organs and tissues, and also show up in your skin and hair. Hair exhibits a glossy shine, while skin appears more radiant.

Try these!

If you are new to seaweed, try one of these ideas below. Start with smaller portions, as seaweed can be an acquired taste.

Dulse Flakes

Dulse flakes are a red seaweed that you can quickly and easily add to salads, soups, or anything you want to boost nutritionally. This seaweed is dry and keeps for many months, but hopefully you would eat through it quicker than that.

Wakame

Like many sea vegetables, wakame is extremely high in iodine, has an excellent potassium:sodium ratio (2:1), and is a great source of alginates that help block the uptake of heavy metals and radioactive elements from our environment. Try adding a little to your miso soup (use just a little because it expands as it rehydrates).

Kelp

Kelp is helpful for strengthening connective tissue and activating glands in the body, especially the thyroid. Phytonutrients in kelp may assist in the elimination of radioactive elements and toxic heavy metals from our bodies. As kelp has a very strong flavor, some take kelp capsules. We add pieces of kelp to beans as they cook, and to vegetable broth.

Nori

These are the big square wrappers that sushi is rolled in. Try creating a “hand roll” sandwich with some romaine leaves, sprouts, and strips of carrots, cucumbers, and avocado.

A great snack!

Seasnax are curiously addicting. Try them!