Healthy Concepts

In my practice I have both chiropractic patients as well as nutrition/functional medicine patients. Often times with my nutritional/functional medicine patients we do specific lab testing to determine levels of certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients. If patients are not interested in getting a full nutritional work-up we often recommend the following nutrients to help provide a better picture of their overall health.

1. Vitamin D. As we live in a northern climate where the sun doesn’t shine consistently, adequate levels of vitamin D are important. We get vitamin D from the sun, which is absorbed through our skin. Vitamin D is helpful in reducing our aches and pains and helps boost our immune system. It also helps reduce anxiety and depression. One local lab uses the range of 30-100 to measure this important vitamin with the sweet spot being 60-80 in nutrition circles. We can get 15 to 20,000 IU in 20 minutes of sunshine without sunscreen. Populations north of Atlanta, Georgia frequently suffer from vitamin D deficiency. With the increased use of sunscreen, we block this important vitamin and therefore supplementation can be quite important. Nursing mothers are also encouraged to supplement with vitamin D for their infant.

2. Magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral and is involved in over 300 biochemical processes in the body. It can be effective as an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer and can promote better sleep. It is found in green leafy vegetables, but unfortunately most Americans do not consume enough leafy greens. There are different forms of magnesium to consider. If one suffers from constipation, magnesium citrate can be of benefit. Otherwise magnesium glycinate or magnesium lactate is a good form if constipation is not an issue. Traditionally 200 - 400 mg in divided doses can be effective. Magnesium can also aid in the reduction of migraine headaches but the dose is typically higher. There are several forms, including a liquid form for patients who do not like to swallow tablets. Coffee drinkers are often deficient in this mineral as it can be depleted with increased consumption. The best test to evaluate adequate levels of magnesium is a red blood cell magnesium blood test. I also like this mineral for my athlete patients. People who experience muscle cramps might also notice some relief with this wonderful mineral. Epsom salts also contain magnesium. One to two cups per bath with a drop or two of an essential oil like lavendar can make for a better night’s sleep.

3. Probiotics. There has been increasing interest in probiotics for improved gut health. There are over 100 trillion bacteria in the gut — some good and some bad. There are many brands on the market. I prefer the refrigerated probiotics and suggest products in the billions. I will often rotate various types with my patients. If a patient doesn’t do well on a probiotic they may suffer from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which I discussed in a previous article. A stool analysis can also give a snapshot of the microbiome to evaluate both diversity and abundance of bacteria.

4. Fish oil. Fish oil has many benefits and has an anti-inflammatory effect. It is important to get good fats in the diet and supplementation with various fish oils can be of benefit. A recommended dose is 1-3 grams a day. I also like to rotate fish oils every couple months. Fish oil is important for brain health and is also an anti-inflammatory for joint health.

If you are not feeling as good as you would like, you may be inflamed or have certain vitamin or nutritional deficiencies. We are happy to help you evaluate your nutritional needs. 

Let’s say that you decide to learn more about keeping your relationship happy and healthy — about keeping love alive. A quick look through Amazon, or zipping through Barnes and Noble will provide you with a choice between two basic types of information: “relationship books” that talk about romance, and give no information about sex, and scientific “medical books” that talk about sex, reproduction and the male and female body. The latter category is helpful if you have a burning desire to gaze upon a cross-section of male and female genitalia; really helpful if you decide to dissect your partner, but otherwise of little use for your relationship. The research of Dr. John Gottman, and the couples’ therapy methods that he and his lovely wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, have developed, has gifted the world with therapeutic techniques based on Dr. Gottman’s ground-breaking, extensive, scientific research. The Doctors Gottman really have given us The Art and Science of Love.

In 1972, Dr. Gottman began observing and interviewing what would become 3,000 real-life couples; following many of them for up to 20 years. Thanks to this research done with Robert Levenson, we can now predict, with 90 percent accuracy, which couples will divorce, which will stay married, and among those who stay married, which couples will be happy and which will be unhappy. The group of couples who stayed together reported a high degree of relationship satisfaction and who liked and enjoyed one another, were given the descriptive title of the “Masters of Relationships.” The couples who separated, or who stayed together and were unhappy, were dubbed the “Disasters of Relationships.” What did the Masters of Relationships know that the Disasters of Relationships didn’t know? As it turned out, the Masters of Relationships knew quite a bit.

The Masters of Relationships knew how to talk to one another in a way that could be heard and understood, without triggering defensiveness or stonewalling. They knew how to continue to dialogue about perpetual problems without becoming gridlocked. Beneath each problem or concern, is a positive need, and when that need is heard, understood and validated, amazing changes begin to happen. The Masters of Relationships understood this “power” of constructive conflict and embraced it. The Masters of Relationships were able to convey to their partners that nothing was more important than their partner’s happiness and well-being. Dr. Gottman encourages couples to embrace this rule for the health of their relationship: “Baby, when you’re hurt, I listen and the whole world stops until we figure out what you need.”

Can you and your partner learn to move through time together as the Masters of Relationships are able to do? Can you acquire the skills that they have? Absolutely. You both can learn the skills and make the changes; it isn’t rocket science. The Gottman Institute is a treasure trove of materials that have the potential to transform all of your relationships. Books, CDs, games, couples’ workshops and apps for your smartphones can all be purchased directly from the institute.

Currently, three different couple’s workshops are offered by the institute: The Art and Science of Love, Bringing Baby Home and The Seven Principles of Marriage. You can find out about how to access any of these workshops, and find a Gottman Certified Couples’ Therapist, near you on the Gottman Institute’s website. Gottman Certified Couples’ Therapists can coach you and your partner through the acquisition of a new skillset, which will empower your relationship with the knowledge of the Masters of Relationships. 

Hurricanes, earthquakes, mass shootings, devastating fires, government upheaval — withdrawing and going inward are understandable responses to the threatening events of the past year. Yet, if we are to live fully, we cannot stay in that small, self-protective space. How do we then bring ourselves to opening to vulnerability and therefore courage? Breathing and remembering that our truth does not lie in the fear but in the knowing that there is also good in our world. We are not alone, and stepping into our bravery and facing our fears is what powers us inside to take the high road; remain strong, ethical, loving and supportive — to ourselves and others. That is true courage and vulnerability with the compass pointing to wholeness. We have the power to bring ourselves back to wholeness, as well as humanity. Brene Brown encourages us to embrace compassion, courage and connection on our journey to wholeness.

Thomas Merton, a well-respected philosopher and Catholic Monk, stated that, “the only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self, and enter by love into union with the life who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls.” What a beautiful way to describe wholeness. How do we do this seemingly insurmountable thing? We begin by connecting within, where the core of our being holds the information, guidance and peace most of us are looking for. This involves finding our bravery in order to heal our seen and unseen wounds, shedding false beliefs, connecting strongly with our true self.

There are numerous practices that assist us to come back to our fullness. Keep in mind that different times and situations might require new combinations of practices. Here’s an opportunity to be creative and specific to individual needs and personalities. The following suggestions appear frequently across the healing arts and sciences: spend time being creative, rest, pray, meditate, practice yoga, spend time in nature, seek trauma healing, receive energy work, surround yourself with healthy people, be still, seek social support, strengthen your intuition, let go of what others think of you, remind yourself that you are enough. Remember, this is a way of experiencing life; not a one-time magic fix. We all have courage, and we all have the courage to be vulnerable. Breathe and step into it. Glinda, the good witch of the South in The Wizard of Oz tells Dorothy, “You have always had the power my dear. You had it all along.” This holds true for each of us. The power to remember we have all we need. We can do this!

So, accessing our courage paired with vulnerability, unlocks our innate ability to know our strength, worthiness and love for self and all beings. Thomas Merton encourages us to fully step onto this path of wholeness, “to hope is to risk frustration. Therefore, make up your mind to risk frustration,” and “…to be heroically faithful to grace and love.” Here’s to courage and vulnerability! Fruitful journeying to you! 

When you buy health insurance, you want to look at five basic items to find the best plan that meets your wants and needs.

1. Premium

You can pay a monthly premium from $0 up to about $1,200 per month. Tax credits based on your household income and other government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid can lower your monthly premium cost. If you have an employer group plan, your employer will pay a large portion of your premium with the balance taken off your paycheck. You always want to know your premium cost options to compare your plan benefits.

2. Out-of-Pocket-Cost

Deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays make up your maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) costs, or sometimes called your out-of-pocket limit. This is the most you would pay in any given plan year or calendar year. You can see MOOP costs up to $7,150 for one and $14,300 for a family of two or more. As these costs increase, you want to be more aware of your health and ask more questions about medical care benefits and cost.

3. Provider Network

HMO, PPO, POS, EPO and PFFS are all different types of insurance plan options to access providers. Preferred Provider Organizations allow you to see any doctor while the Health Maintenance Organizations require you to see specific providers.

You want to know your cost and access to providers both at home and away to avoid billing surprises.

4. Rx Formulary

A list of covered drugs, at different tier levels, encourages you to use lower cost medicines. If your medicine is not on the formulary, it is not covered.

5. Wellness

More health insurance plans are offering benefits to improve your health. Some of the plan offerings can be free fitness club memberships, health coaches, doctor visits online and by phone, over-the-counter products and devices to track your health improvement. Wellness plan designs can include HSA and MSA plans that offer a savings account for your health care expenses. Your incentive is to eat healthy and be active to reduce your need for expensive medical care. Any money left in your account at the end of the year rolls over to increase your HSA or MSA savings account while your deductible stays the same.

You can get expert help on all this with a licensed health insurance advisor during your annual open enrollment period.

Marketplace OEP is November 1 to December 15.

Medicare OEP is October 15 to December 7.

Employer group plans set their own annual open enrollment period. 

It’s 2006, and Tom and I attend our first alpaca auction out on the West Coast. Bidding begins and the room is filled to capacity for the live auction. Bidders are standing by on the phone and online ready to place their bids for the animal of their choice. First up is a female with a collection of show-winning banners that belong to her. Her proud owner has her on stage making it easy for everyone in the room to see her. After the auctioneer gives an oral description of the female the bidding begins. After a round of bids the auctioneer talks a little bit more about her positive attributes and the bidding resumes. When all bids are in she sells for an amazing price of $32,000. Later in that same auction, we saw males that had never even produced an offspring yet go for as much as $50,000. Males with a show-winning reproductive history sold for over $200,000. Wow!

During the period prior to 2008 (approximately 20 years) it was certainly not the textile side of the industry driving so many people to the alpaca business. It was, of course, the incredibly high prices that the animals were selling for that had everyone so excited. It certainly didn’t hurt that the animals were very cute, gentle and intelligent. Not surprising the majority of the people who could afford these animals were over 50 years old.

Fast forward to the recession of 2008

As American businesses slowed down due to the recession, so did the interest in these expensive animals. Little by little some of the largest, well-respected herds were being sold off at a fraction of the original price paid for the livestock. This created larger numbers of farms raising alpacas. Because they have become affordable, today’s owners range in age from 15 to 80. This factor alone will extend the sustainability of the industry. Today’s owners are focused on creating the best textile breeding stock possible while still selling their seed stock to new startup farms for a respectable price. If you are a quality breeder your stock is worth approximately 1/3 of what it was worth in 2005. In addition, the textile side of our industry is booming.

As part of a successful business model many owners now support a growing retail market for products made from the alpacas. Products include commercially produced goods, handmade goods, imported items and even terminal market products such as pelts, leather and meat. Alpaca compost has its own unique properties that thrill the avid gardener. The product demand has skyrocketed as breeders bring their finished alpaca goods to market increasing the consumer’s knowledge and desire for their items. Alpaca clothing will keep you warmer than wool in a comfortable way. The feel is that of wearing cashmere. No prickle factor here! The breathability and wicking properties of the fiber are unlike any other textile adding to the comfort factor. Clothing made from alpaca is unlike anything that buyers have had in their closets before. Meat produced from these grass-fed animals is very high in protein, omega-3 and flavor while being lower in cholesterol and fat than all other red meats. The products sell themselves. The American alpaca industry is not only growing in North America but because we sell so many of the products produced in South America, their lives are improving as well.

One thing that has not changed over the course of time has been the enjoyable lifestyle that raising these animals bring to all owners. Everyone would agree that being around the alpacas is special. I recently met an owner who had sold off her herd after the recession only to get new animals five years later. Her comment when I asked her why was, “Owning alpacas is like eating potato chips — you cannot just have one herd!” We both smiled with a true understanding of that statement. Even when our day comes to retire I believe Tom and I will continue raising alpacas.

Whether it’s hosting your entire extended family for Thanksgiving, worrying about overspending, not being organized, having concern about family dynamics, or trying to find the time to shop for gifts, the holidays can be an incredibly stressful time. With so many commitments, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and you may forget to take time for yourself. This season, it’s time to say goodbye to holiday stress!

We’re always looking for the best ways to naturally support our health, especially around the holidays. We’ve come up with five tips that may help you have a happy and stress-free holiday season!

Eat well

Sometimes it seems like the holidays have become synonymous with overindulgence. From the peppermint brownies your coworker brings to the office to the pecan pie your grandma makes every year for Thanksgiving, almost every holiday get-together offers an opportunity to eat poorly.

This year, beware of sugar! This source of empty calories can contribute to feelings of stress and tiredness. Too much sugar may also dampen the receptors that tell your brain to stop eating, so you may end up consuming far more than you intended.

Focus on food that is filled with the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Choose to incorporate leafy greens, whole grains, citrus fruits, and protein-rich foods like chicken and fish into your diet. You’ll feel better and be giving your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.

You may also consider having a healthy snack before holiday parties, so you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.

And, just like any other time of year, be sure to drink plenty of water!

Exercise

Even though the colder months make it tempting to curl up on the couch with a blanket, making the time to exercise can have many potential benefits throughout the holiday season. In addition to supporting your overall health and maintaining muscle health, exercise can be a great way to manage stress.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports, “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep and improve self-esteem.”

Whether it’s taking the family on a hike or hitting the gym for 30 minutes, you might be surprised how exercise calms your mind and leaves you ready to tackle your next holiday to-do.

If you need extra motivation to get moving, try finding a workout buddy to keep you accountable, or sign up for a local race that benefits a good cause. Of course, picking the perfect playlist and fueling up with your favorite green shake is also a great way to get in the workout mindset.

Sleep

While it may seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day (especially at this time of year), taking the time to get a proper amount of rest may support a healthier mood and outlook. It may seem obvious, but a lack of sleep can contribute to your stress levels.

According to the American Psychological Association, there is a direct link between sleep and stress. In a stress and sleep survey, adults who got less than eight hours of sleep per night were far more likely to report stress-related symptoms such as feeling irritable, overwhelmed and angry, and lacking interest, motivation and energy.

If you find that you’re having difficulties getting a full night of sleep, try fitting in a short nap during the day. The National Sleep Foundation reports that a nap of 20-30 minutes can potentially benefit your energy levels, mood and alertness. You can also try a sleep supplement.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to support health, and these oils are used to support everything from head pain relief to memory support. This holiday season, trying aromatherapy may be a natural way to calm your mind during times of stress. You can choose a holiday specific scent like fir, frankincense or peppermint, or scents like lavender and vanilla that seek to support a healthy mood. Many oils are also available in blends that offer stress support.

Essential oils are also versatile — you can diffuse them, use them as massage oils or add them to bath products. Simply find the oil that works best for you and makes you feel happiest.

Take time for yourself

One of the secrets to a stress-free season is making sure you re-center and refocus yourself, and remind yourself of the things that matter. Depending on your preference, taking the time to slow down and enjoy your favorite cup of tea, read a few pages of your favorite book before bed, practice your coloring, or start your day with a few calming breaths can be the perfect balm for recharging your mind and may help you with holiday stress.

While the holidays can be a source of stress, they can also be a time of joy. Focusing on the time spent with family and friends may also help you to relax and enjoy. We hope that these tips can help you have a more restful and healthy holiday season! 

No matter where you are in your life, you have a lot of decisions to make. When to buy your first house. What school to attend. Is it the right time for a job change? As things change in life, those changes influence your financial decisions too.

Following is a high-level overview of the financial information you should be aware of and consider during the various stages of your life. This is intended to be informative only, and everyone’s needs will vary based on their personal situation. You should always seek advice from a licensed professional when considering the purchase of financial products.

In your 20s

In your 20s, you’re usually just starting off in your first job and struggling to make ends meet; beginning to build a financial portfolio is probably not at the top of your to-do list. However, this can be a critical time as it can set your financial foundation for the rest of your life. A top priority should be building an emergency savings account to help you get through an unexpected loss of a job or a large and unexpected financial obligation. This should be separate from your normal savings and should only be drawn from under extraordinary circumstances. Also consider looking into disability income insurance to make sure your income and savings are both protected if you were ever unable to work due to a long-term illness or injury. Disability income insurance will serve you well throughout your career but the sooner you purchase, the better protected you’ll be. Additionally, this can be a time to begin thinking about starting an investment portfolio if you have the means, as the longer you’re invested the greater potential for long-term growth. Work with a financial professional to ensure your investments align with your appropriate level of risk for your specific situation.

In your 30s

Your 30s are the prime time to continue building a solid financial future. Hopefully you’re comfortable in your career, perhaps have gotten married and may even have begun building a family. This is when your financial options start to open up and you may want to start thinking about life insurance to offer protection for your family’s future against an unexpected death and loss of income. Term insurance for yourself and coverage for your children are usually affordable, easy to procure and can offer additional financial protection for you and your family.

This is also when you should be getting serious about your savings plans. Retirement savings should be at the top of your mind as you’ve started to make more money in your 30s and are becoming more comfortable navigating your bills and expenses. IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities and other retirement savings tools are important for you at this stage since the earlier you start saving, the more you’ll accumulate. And it’s never too early to start thinking about college savings for children.

In your 40s

In your 40s, many people have teenage children, tackle new challenges and opportunities in their professional lives and have established a level of income they can rely on comfortably. You can start to work with your child to investigate the various options (savings, aid, loans, grants, etc.) to help pay for postsecondary education. This also might be a time to start considering additional life insurance, as your assets and need for protection have grown as you’ve prospered both personally and professionally. Since you’re probably about halfway through your career, you should also start to keep an eye on the retirement horizon and on your overall retirement strategy. Make sure it aligns with your goals and dreams for after your career ends.

In your 50s

Your 50s are an exciting time in your financial life. Your children have probably left the nest and retirement is just around the corner. You should think about establishing a floor of guaranteed income, possibly by purchasing an annuity or insurance product, to meet your essential expenses that will continue into your retirement. This is the time to start considering how you want to live in retirement and beyond. What level of income would you like after you retire and how will you maintain your standard of living? Are you protecting your savings from the high costs of extended care? Whether you’re looking to purchase long-term care insurance or not, this is also a time when you should discuss your extended care plans with loved ones, and how that might affect everyone involved.

In your 60s

In your 60s, your retirement has probably arrived or is right around the corner. This is where managing assets, investments and financial strategies are critical. Even at this stage of life it is important for you to have some of your financial assets in an investment portfolio carefully managed for growth consistent with your risk profile. Meeting regularly with your financial representative at this life stage will help you stay on track with your financial goals. This is also a time to consider leaving a legacy through a life insurance policy that designates your children or a favorite charity as a beneficiary. The death benefit from life insurance can ensure that your spirit of generosity lives on and the causes you care about will be supported in the future. Another option for securing your future is Medicare supplement insurance, which will help with medical bills not covered by Medicare. This protection can help safeguard your retirement assets from additional costly medical bills.

No financial journey is the same. We all have different needs and goals at different stages of our lives. However, with a solid financial program in place along with the support of a financial professional, you can be prepared to make a lifetime of wise financial choices. 

Ingredients

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 ounces of 93 percent lean ground turkey breast

1 cup pre-chopped onion

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

11/2 ounces Beanitos chips, coarsely crumbled

4 (8-inch) whole-wheat tortillas

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup shredded cheese

1/2 cup chopped tomato

4 lime wedges

Directions

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add turkey; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add onion and next four ingredients; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in stock and juice; bring to a boil. Simmer 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chips.

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Place tortillas on a work surface; spread one tablespoon Greek yogurt over each tortilla. Divide turkey mixture evenly among tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheese and tomato. Roll burritos tightly to close. Serve with lime wedges. 

 

Recent decades have seen an explosion of research supporting the use of fungi in health promotion. Some common actions shared by many medicinal fungi include: balancing the immune system, liver support, anti-tumor, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, lowering LDL cholesterol, anti-inflammatory.

Let’s take a look at some of the readily available mushrooms we can use to support our health, using nature’s plants:

Chaga

(Inonotus obliquus, Hymenochaetaceae)

Chaga is very popular as an immune tonic and antioxidant. There is concern about the overharvesting of chaga, since it is not currently being cultivated, so avoid use as a daily beverage, but use as needed for health promotion. For example, prepare chaga chai with traditional chai spices to help prevent colds and flu.

Maitake, or Hen of the Woods

(Grifola frondosa, Meripilaceae)

Maitake is used as a liver tonic to balance the immune system, has demonstrated antitumor activity, helps lower blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels, and lowers blood pressure.1

Shiitake

(Lentinula edodes, Marasmiaceae)

Uses of shiitakes include supporting the cardiovascular and immune systems. They are antioxidant and used as a cancer preventive to increase stamina, improve circulation and alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Hemlock Reishi, or Varnished Artist’s Conk

(Ganoderma tsugae, Ganodermataceae)

There are different species of this mushroom: Ling-zhi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Ganoderma tsugae, which can be substituted for one another in recipes. Reishi is used to support underactive and overactive (e.g., allergies and asthma) immune activity. Reishi is used in traditional Chinese medicine for the liver, heart and lungs.1 It is helpful as a daily support for those who often suffer from respiratory infections. Reishi is also used for those with hepatitis C, or with a history of alcohol abuse or exposure to environmental toxins. It is an adaptogen (balances the body, supports its ability to manage physical, mental and emotional stress), known for increasing vitality, energy and overall resilience.3 Reishi is used for anxiety; it is noted to be balancing and grounding.

Here’s a wonderful recipe that can be used to support immune function — it’s a nice option for those who may not like elderberry syrup — or who want to try something different. It’s yummy. Even kids like it!

MAPLE MEDICINAL MUSHROOM CONCOCTION

Recipe from Juliet Blankenspoor, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine

Ingredients

1 cup dried shiitake slices (1 ounce, or 28 grams)

1 cup dried maitake slices (¾ ounce, or 21 grams)

1 cup dried chaga crumbles (2½ ounces, or 70 grams)

1 cup dried reishi slices (1 ounce, or 28 grams)

2 tablespoons cinnamon chips

2½ teaspoons decorticated cardamom seeds

¾ cup maple syrup

11 ounces organic corn, grape or cane alcohol (190 proof [95 percent]), or 21 ounces (621 ml) 100 proof (50 percent) vodka

Directions

  1. Add mushrooms, cinnamon, cardamom and 40 ounces of water to a pot. Stir well to coat the mushrooms and herbs.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 6-8 hours. Stir and check water level frequently. When water dips below the mushroom-herb mixture, add enough water so mixture is completely submerged.
  3. Turn off heat and leave uncovered to cool 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a straining cloth into a half-gallon jar.
  5. Press mushrooms with a stainless steel potato ricer.
  6. Measure 32 ounces of your liquid into a half-gallon mason jar. If you have less, add water to bring volume to 32 ounces. If you have more than 32 ounces, pour off the excess. Exact measurement is important, or your proportions will be off.
  7. Add maple syrup and alcohol.
  8. Shake well, and pour into your storage bottle.

Store in the refrigerator for one year; in a dark, cool cabinet for 6 months. Adult dosage is one teaspoon to one tablespoon, twice daily. 


References:

1. Hobbs, C. Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, and Culture. (Botanica Press, 2002).

2. Stamets, P., and Yao, C. D. W. Mycomedicinals: An Informational Booklet on Medicinal Mushrooms. (MycoMedia, 2002).

3. Winston, D., and Maimes, S. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. (Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., 2007).

Insulin resistance, syndrome X and metabolic syndrome are terms that are unfamiliar to many. They all refer to the same condition, and are used to give a name to this cluster of symptoms. I tend to prefer the term insulin resistance as it helps most people visualize the problem. Insulin resistance may affect as many as 60 million Americans and yet it is rarely addressed as the cause of many common symptoms. The suggestion is that if you have three or more of the symptoms listed, you should consider the possibility of insulin resistance as a causative factor.

There are a multitude of people who have several of these symptoms and are struggling to get these symptoms under control. The modern medical approach is to prescribe one drug upon another in the hopes of getting the symptoms under control. Getting the symptoms under control may be useful in reducing your risk; however, it rarely gets you closer to being healthier. In order to see the kinds of changes that improve your symptoms and reduce your need for medication, you must look to nature to help the body heal itself.

Even when using natural approaches to healing we can make the same mistakes as doctors. If we only target cholesterol or blood pressure and we miss the cause as being insulin resistance, then we will only be partially successful. You must understand this one important concept: if your symptoms are driven by insulin resistance and you only treat the symptoms and not the insulin resistance, then you cannot be truly successful in becoming healthier.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance describes a condition where the cells of the body become resistant or desensitized to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and acts as the carrier of glucose into the cells. As the cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas will produce more insulin and the excess of insulin causes the cells to become even more resistant to insulin. What follows in the body are dramatic physiological changes, leading to the symptoms described. These symptoms increase our risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. What is hard for many to understand is how these more serious problems spring from insulin resistance and that your diet and lifestyle can reverse these dramatic symptoms.

If you have three or more of the following markers, you should consider insulin resistance as a foundational cause of these symptoms:

  • Central obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen as demonstrated by a greater waist to hip ratio)
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol
    • Men: Less than 40 mg/dl
    • Women: Less than 50 mg/dl
  • Fasting blood triglycerides greater than 149 mg/dl
  • Elevated blood pressure (130/85 mmHg or higher)
  • Insulin resistance as demonstrated by the presence of pre-diabetes (glucose between 101 and 125 mg/dl)

In 2002, the National Institute of Health (NIH) designated insulin resistance as a new target for the prevention of coronary heart disease. High blood sugar is associated with a whole host of serious complications such as cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, amputations, pain, depression and autoimmune disease.

What causes insulin resistance?

There is little doubt that the standard American diet (SAD) is a major factor in the development of insulin resistance. On average, more than 50 percent of our calories are derived from high glycemic foods and/or highly nutrient deficient foods, refined sugars, refined and overprocessed grains and other carbohydrates, and the wrong types and amounts of fat.

What can you do?

Diet and lifestyle are critical elements and sometimes the hardest to change. Even when you can’t make a lot of dietary changes you can make some that would be to your benefit. Small changes made over time can add up to some significant benefits. You will also find that as you improve your glucose metabolism you will not crave foods in the same way. As you improve the nutrition that your body receives, your body will respond by being satisfied.

Dietary guidelines for insulin resistance

  • Watch your calorie intake. Log your food intake for a couple of weeks if you really want to know what you are consuming.
  • Avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Limit saturated fat.
  • Increase omega-3 fatty acids, especially fish oil.
  • Increase fiber, especially soluble fiber, with meals to minimize the blood sugar spike.
  • Reduce sugars and refined sweeteners.
  • Reduce refined grains and overprocessed carbohydrates.

Conclusion

Make an analysis of your overall health. If you have three or more of the symptoms described as insulin resistance, then follow a protocol designed to improve your insulin/glucose metabolism. Within three months (and often sooner) you should see significant improvements. 

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