Taking care of you microbiome

 

 

So now you know from my Facebook video that you have hundreds of trillions of bugs living in and on your body, that help you will all kinds of body functions. For reference, there are more bacteria on the back of your hand than there are people in the world!!

 

Having a healthy balance of these bugs(microbes) will ensure your digestion and absorption is optimal (hello great skin and energy!), immune system is on point and brain health is in tip top shape. I like to think of my bug as my partner in health and I want to do my best to take care of them so they protect me from sickness and get inflammation in check.

 

Here are 4 tips for taking care of your bugs so they will take care of you.

 

  1. Eat plenty of fiber! You bugs love fiber and if you feed them enough two things will happen. First they will produce compounds call Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) will are super stars at fighting inflammation in the body. Next the fiber will help to prevent autoimmune conditions by keeping leaky gut away.

 

                   Leaky gut = autoimmunity. Fiber = no leaky gut.

              The FDA recommendation for fiber is 38 grams per day for men and 29 grams per day for                             women. If a lot of fiber makes you bloat, that ok. Just start lower, maybe 10-15 grams and                             gradually increase by 5-10 grams per week.

 

  1. Avoid hyper-sanitization! Your immune system, just like your body, needs to workout to be in top shape. While there is no evidence that we need to get sick more often to boost our immune systems, we do need to get dirty! This keep our immune system on alert. Just like if you decide to skip the gym and lay on the couch for months, if you immune system doesn’t workout- it gets lazy!

 

                Some opportunities to get dirty include

                Dirt (gardening)

            Shaking hands

            Computer keyboards

            Door handles

            Cell Phones

            Shopping cart handles

            Outdoor activates

            Being in new environments

 

Put down the hand sanitizer and embrace microbial diversity!

 

  1. Eat Fermented foods! Probiotic supplements are all the rage right now but food is always going to be the best medicine. Eating a variety of fermented foods will provide the best microbial diversity to keep our bugs happy! Fermented foods include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, kombucha and other fermented vegetables. You only need a small serving of 2-tablespoons a day (more might bloat you). Check out fermentedfarmer.com to buy awesome fermented foods, or even better, make some yourself! If incredibly easy to make sauerkraut; here’s a recipe.

 

  1. Avoid antibiotics! You can probably tell from the name that antibiotics are bad for your bugs! They kill good bacteria and can let more harmful bacteria over populate (bad!). it can take years for bacteria to re-normalize after just one round of antibiotic but the reality is your bugs will never be the same.

 

Consequences of antibiotic use include:

            Increased susceptibility to illness

            Emotional disturbances

            Digestive disturbance

            Skin issues

            Autoimmune response

            Weight issues

            Altered immune response

            Malabsorption of nutrients

 

Antibiotics should only be used if your life is threatened. Otherwise, there are plenty of natural solutions to things like sinus infections that will not harm your bugs.

 

Keep in mind the important of the bacteria in your body and remember, if you take care of you bugs, your bugs will take care of you!

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Chinese Medicine – Beyond Acupuncture

In Western cultures, acupuncture is probably the most well known part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). But there are actually five main branches of TCM, and at H+H we incorporate some or all of them to create a comprehensive, individualized solution to health problems.

Mindset

There is a proven connection between the mind and body, so if your mind isn’t in the right place, it will be challenging to have everything else come together as it should. To transform your thinking, a practitioner of TCM may suggest daily meditation, yoga, exercise, or keeping a journal to track your thoughts. Positive thinking is a learned activity for many who have always looked at the glass as half empty, and it can take practice and guidance to master right thinking.

Oriental Nutrition

TCM is all about balance, and practitioners understand that the phrase “you are what you eat” is completely true. When your diet is nutritionally and energetically balanced, you will breathe more deeply, sleep better, stay healthy more often, and feel all of the benefits that are associated with a healthy diet.

The Oriental approach to nutrition is not just about eating the right foods but eating them in a way to get the maximum nutrition from them so that your body will absorb what it needs. Food combining is a bit of a science, and recipes and formulas will transform eating into a time to heal, strengthen, and fortify your body.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the act of inserting very fine needles into certain designated areas along the body’s meridians. Each spot on the body is associated with a different function, and a licensed acupuncturist knows exactly where to put the needles to regulate the circulatory and nervous system and bring your body into balance. Acupuncture stimulates the body to heal itself, and that is the miracle of the needles.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Ancient Asian cultures used plants and herbs thousands of years before Westernized medicine became the status quo, and modern TCM practitioners continue this tried-and-true methodology. Chinese herbs are mixed together according to the patient’s specific needs, in a symphony that plays the exact tune that will producchinese herbal medicinee the desired results. Herbs are a viable alternative to prescription drugs because they tend to have fewer (if any) side effects while still addressing the presenting issue directly.

A practitioner of TCM will create and prescribe your unique blend of Chinese herbs through pills, creams, or teas. Often, these alternatives can be taken for a much shorter p
eriod of time than prescription drugs.

Cupping

Cupping is an ancient form of bodywork that involves putting glass cups on the body, usually the back, using suction. Along with acupuncture, cupping helps the body to release toxins that have built up, thereacupunctureby detoxifying the system. Cupping also relaxes the muscles, improves circulation and helps to put the mind into a state of relaxation, or Delta state. This is the slowest of the four brainwave frequencies, and certain frequencies will trigger the release of human growth hormone, which is beneficial in healing and regeneration. When the brain is this relaxed, your body begins to heal more quickly — again illustrating the strong connection between brain and body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole and how the organs and circulatory systems work together. By incorporating the right mindset, nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and bodywork, your recovery will be more effective and more long lasting.

 

If you have questions about how TCM can make a difference in your overall health and well being, contact Harmony + Health Acupuncture at 602-955-5444 to make your initial appointment. We will create a unique plan that provides exactly what your body needs to heal and regenerate itself.


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Let’s Talk protein

Protein is one of the three macronutrients (the others are fat and carbohydrates) that is essential to life.  Protein is needed to maintain the immune system, build and repair muscle, regulate blood sugar and to maintain energy throughout the day.

 

There is often a debate about how much protein is optimal, and what are the ‘best” sources of protein.

 

As to how much, the recommendation varies based on your goals and body composition.  If you are trying to add muscle, or are an athlete, your protein requirements will be higher than a sedentary individual.  A starting point is to consume .8 grams per pound of body weight.  So, a 150 lb. individual may consider consuming 120 grams of protein per day as a starting point.

 

Now let’s talk about protein sources.  If you are a meat eater protein is easy, it is found in all meats and seafood, beef, lamb, poultry, pork, fish, shellfish etc.  Other animal sources of protein include dairy, whey protein, and eggs.

 

If you are not a meat eater, you will need to be more thoughtful about your protein consumption.  Grains and beans for example have protein, but they do not contain all the 9 essential amino acids that are found in animal protein. There are a few exceptions: quinoa, flax and chia seeds, buckwheat and soy all contain complete proteins.  A plant based protein powder can be great option as well, look for one with a combination of sources for a more complete amino acid profile such as pea, hemp or rice.

 

If you would like to optimize your protein consumption, the first thing to do is to track your food intake for at least a week.  If you use one of the apps such as My Fitness Pal or Chronometer, tracking can be very easy and you can easily see your daily protein intake.  From there you can fine tune based on your health goals.

 

Let us know if we can help.

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Dietary Fats – Signs you may need more!!

Many of us were brought up eating and drinking low fat foods.  Skim milk, no fat yogurt, low fat margarine and mayonnaise.  The list goes on.  Unfortunately, the low-fat craze has led to the fattening of Americans.

 

Finally, the pendulum has swung, and we have re-learned about the importance of fat in the diet, not all fats mind you, but the “healthy Fats” (see below fats to avoid)

 

So, what are some signs that would tell you to increase fat in your diet?

 

  • You are always hungry, or you are not completely satisfied after meals
  • You get cranky or angry easily
  • Your memory is not great, you experience brain fog
  • To increase your HDL (good) cholesterol
  • You have difficulty losing weight, or your weight tends to yo yo.
  • Your joints ache
  • You have dry skin and or dry eyes
  • You experience hormone imbalances

 

What are some examples of healthy Fats?  How do I add these to my diet?  If you want to add additional fat to your diet, you need to do it responsibility.  It is not a good idea to add fat by ordering a supersize french fries at a fast food restaurant.  We would also not recommend increasing your ice-cream intake

 

To add fat to your diet, try some of these ideas:

  • If you eat dairy, switch to full fat versions of cheese, milk, sour cream, cottage cheese etc.
  • Add some healthy fat to your vegetables and salads examples include:
    • Extra virgin olive oil (best when eating vegies raw, do not heat above 350 degrees
    • Add grass fed butter or ghee (clarified butter) to cooked vegetables
    • Sauté your vegetables in ghee or coconut oil
  • Eat avocados
  • Snack on nuts
  • Put butter on your toast
  • Enjoy some nut butter
  • Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your smoothie
  • Enjoy some of the fat found on your grass-fed meats, leave the skin on chicken when you cook it. Eat fatty fish such as salmon

 

Fats to avoid (because they are processed) include: canola oil, any seed oil, margarine, corn oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, hydrogenated oils (they are solid at room temperature).

 

Let us know if we can help you introduce healthy fats into your diet, we would love to help you feel better!!

 

Ann & Emily

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Minerals in the diet – are they important?

The answer is YES, but let’s start with some background info.  Some minerals are household names such as the macrominerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, and Phosphorus.  There are also microminerals that are present in much smaller quantities in the body including: Iron, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Chromium, Selenium, Boron, Iodine, and Molybdenum.

 

Where do nutritional minerals come from?  Well yes, you can find them in the supplement department in your local store, but let’s talk about where they are found in nature.

 

Minerals are naturally occurring elements found in rocks and stones.  As rocks break down over time, they release minerals into the soil.  Plants, then absorb the minerals from the soil, and are then eaten by animals.  Therefore, us humans get our minerals from eating plants, and animals that eat plants.

 

Here is the problem today:

  • With conventional farming practices, crops are planted over and over again in the same soil. Plants pull minerals from the soil, but there is never an opportunity to replenish minerals.  Therefore, the plants, and the animals that eat them are mineral deficient
  • Highly processed foods (those shelf stable foods found in convenience stores and in the center isles of grocery stores) are depleted of minerals.

 

Are minerals essential?  Every human cell depends on minerals for proper function including energy production, growth and healing.  Minerals are also essential for the proper utilization of vitamins and other nutrients.  Minerals are required to heal and maintain health.

 

So, what to do? 

  • Eat as many different plants (vegetables, fruits) that you can. Organic farming methods replenish soil minerals so eat as much organic as you can.
  • If appropriate for you, eat a well-rounded diet which includes organic vegetables, organic fruits, sustainably harvested seafood, and a variety of grass fed, grass finished and responsibly raised meats and poultry.
  • Take mineral supplements as recommended by your healthcare provider. Look for Whole Food sources rather than supplements that are synthesized in a chemical factory

 

Happy Health!!

Ann & Emily

 

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Ancient Wisdom for Modern life: It’s not all about the hustle.

 

 

I’ve made it my summer project to study one of the classical Chinese medical texts, The Yellow Emporer’s Canon on Internal Medicine. Sounds exciting right? It actually is quite interesting and although I read it while in school it’s much more applicable to practice now that I have a few years of real world experience under my belt.

 

Right in the first chapter I found something I wanted to share. The book is a series of questions from the emperor, and subsequent answers from his Taoist master/court physician.

 

The emperor asks” I am told the people in ancient times could all survive to more than 100 years old, and they appeared to be quite healthy and strong in actions, but the people at present time are different, they are not so nimble in actions when they are only fifty, what is the reason?”

 

The Master answer was very insightful and I think could be of value to modern day people. I will break it down into bullet points for you:

 

  1. The people of ancient times kept their daily behavior in accordance with nature.
  2. They lived their daily life in harmony with the way of recuperating the essence and vital energy.
  3. Their behaviors were all kept in regular patterns such as their food and drink were of fixed quantity and their daily activities were in regular times.
  4. They never overworked.

 

What the master is saying is that these people who were healthy and strong up to age 100 lived a life of balance. They knew when it was time to work and time to rest. There are seasons for planting seeds, seasons for those seeds to grow, a harvest and then a season for the soil to rest.

 

They constant go-go of modern life can be unavoidable. To me the modern version of what the master is saying is that it’s ok to not always be in hustle mode. That hustle and rest must be in near equal proportion. That rejuvenation and self-care are essential to thriving throughout our lives. Do you have any rejuvenating activities you do on a regular basis? Do you have a self-care routine?

Stay tuned for tips and suggestions on how to establish a self-care routine!

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Depression or Sadness, is there a difference?

Normal life has its ups and downs, and sadness is a part of life for all of us.  Perhaps you are sad because you have a romantic or family relationship that is not working out, you have not gotten the job or promotion you desire, you are lonely or isolated.  If you have recently lost a family member or someone you care for deeply, you may feel profound sadness.  There are countless reasons to experience sadness and you may ask, am I depressed?

Sadness is a normal response to a difficult time, it is normal to be sad, and sadness is not a disease state.  Sometimes the terms sadness and depression are used interchangeably.  You might feel sad or “depressed”, but if this is due to a tough incident or event, it is not the same as the clinical disease called Depression.

Depression on the other hand is an overwhelming sadness about everything.  It is a medical condition that goes beyond life’s ordinary ups and downs.  People with severe depression do not just pull themselves together after an episode of sadness.  In fact, when experiencing clinical depression, you may feel sad for no identifiable reason.

So, if you are feeling sad, we will make several recommendations.  Get outside, spend time in nature, exercise, spend time in quality social interaction, volunteer, eat foods that are nourishing, take care of yourself, however that is meaningful for you.  Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine will also help you process sadness so that you can move on with your life.

Treating depression takes a more multifaceted approach.  Treatment may include therapy, medications, lifestyle modifications.  Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are helpful in this multifaceted treatment plan.

Please let us know if we can be of help

Ann & Emily

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