Healthy Concepts

Because insulin is a major hormone, it is impossible for the body to balance its minor hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, for example) until insulin metabolism is balanced first.

Being insulin resistant puts a woman at a much greater risk for many other conditions including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, breast cancer and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Our metabolism developed thousands of years ago when our diet included fewer and more complex carbohydrates. Blood sugar imbalances, now rampant in our society, can become chronic and progressively serious, eventually leading to diabetes.

The first step of this progression is the development of insulin resistance, a state in which the muscle and fat cells no longer accept glucose. The body’s demand for fuel varies but the brain requires our blood sugar to remain stable. Getting the cells in the body the energy they need without changing our blood sugar level is a critical function played by insulin as it signals the cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. The body monitors what we have ingested, blood sugar level and cell demands, then releases insulin in the correct amounts. This process represents a healthy body that is “insulin sensitive.”

Many women’s diets are low in healthy fats and consist of an excessive amount of refined, processed carbohydrates from sugar and other processed foods, most notably those containing high fructose corn syrup. Some of these foods are marketed as “healthy,” such as some breakfast cereals, low fat yogurt, diet soda, white bread, bagels, pasta, etc. Consuming these foods causes a rapid rise in blood sugar. The body manages this high blood sugar with a compensatory rapid rise in insulin. The overproduction of insulin causes a rapid and drastic reduction in blood sugar for a short period of time. (The brain can only last a few minutes without a steady supply of its fuel: glucose.)

This drop in blood sugar levels triggers a compensatory rise in cortisol level (responsible for moving sugar out of storage and into the bloodstream), which generates more of the same cycle including cravings for more carbs and sugar. Extra insulin travels with the new rise in blood sugar to transport the glucose into the cells for storage or energy production. Over time, however, the cells lose their ability to take in large amounts of glucose and this state is called insulin resistance. The cells in the body literally alter the shape of their insulin receptors so the insulin no longer fits the receptor and insulin can no longer transport glucose across the cell membrane. Both the insulin and the glucose are left to circulate in the bloodstream.

The body is not designed for prolonged high levels of insulin. It disrupts cellular metabolism and spreads inflammation. Insulin disrupts fat metabolism. When the cells can’t absorb the extra glucose any more, the liver converts it into fat. Fat cells are loaded with glucose receptors so this is a vicious cycle. Ironically, while the insulin-resistant woman is gaining weight, her cells are actually “starved” for glucose so she feels exhausted and tends to eat carbohydrate heavy foods in search of energy.

The fat cells are now considered a metabolically active endocrine organ. The extra fat cells are little factories producing estrogen. This contributes to estrogen dominance, which causes multiple symptoms in the perimenopausal transition for women.

This cycle of glycemic stress places a great burden on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). Elevated cortisol interferes with the function of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and leads to increased progesterone conversion to cortisol and hence decreased progesterone, resulting in a state of relative estrogen dominance.

Anyone can become insulin resistant — even if they are thin. The more processed and refined foods we eat, the more insulin we require to metabolize it. The more insulin in our blood, the less responsive our cells become. As we age, this continual exposure wears out our tolerance for refined carbohydrates and reduces our sensitivity to insulin.

Women with the greatest risk for developing insulin resistance and progressing into Metabolic Syndrome are those who suffered from gestational diabetes, have hypertension, are seriously overweight or have a family history of Type 2 diabetes.

Women who are apple-shaped, carrying their weight around their abdomen, show less tolerance for insulin. If a woman’s waist/hip measurement is > 0.8 (divide waist measurement in inches by hip measurement in inches) she is at risk for developing insulin resistance.

A skin change called acanthosis nigricans, warty-like darkened patches of skin at the neck and armpits also indicates insulin resistance in over 90 percent of women.

The good news is that glucose metabolism is highly responsive to lifestyle changes and can be supported through dietary modification and supplementation. Weight loss improves insulin resistance. Specifically, losing abdominal fat is key. Also, to sustain weight loss, preserving muscle and lean mass is critical.

Diet and Lifestyle Interventions

Keys to an effective dietary prescription include:

  • Eat a balanced breakfast and eat foods with a low glycemic impact. Eat on a regular basis every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugar levels stable.
  • Reduce total calories while maintaining regular protein intake — consume some type of protein with each meal and snack throughout the day. Avoid dairy and meat that may have added hormones.
  • Shift carbohydrate intake from sweets and wheat and flour containing products to whole foods: primarily organic vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds such as chia, hemp and quinoa and home cooked cereals (not instant or refined), and less starchy vegetables and grains.
  • Select healthy fats and include small fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring and wild caught salmon, flax seed, nuts, olives and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, avocado, macadamia and coconut oils. Avoid all oils that are called “vegetable” and all corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola oils, and foods made with partially hydrogenated and trans fats.
  • Avoid all sweetened drinks: soda, fruit juices, sports and energy drinks.
  • Avoid all artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup and foods with preservatives and food colorings.
  • Eat foods high in fiber to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Include hard-shell beans such as kidney beans, navy beans and chickpeas. Adding a half cup of beans to a meal will significantly increase fiber intake or add other fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • Regular exercise is key but patients need to recognize that exercise without dietary changes is not going to be effective. Resistance exercise and aerobic exercise are both necessary. Exercise improves the sensitivity of the insulin receptors independently from diet.
  • One last note, never eat carbohydrates in isolation except for fruit. Fruit will not spike your glucose if you are not already insulin resistant. This depends on how insulin sensitive you are — fruit is a complex food that we evolved eating! 

Whether planning for the beach, park or ball field this summer, protecting your skin should be at the top of your mind — and shopping list. Research has shown that getting severe sunburn, just once every two years, can triple the risk of melanoma skin cancer. In the case of infants and toddlers, just five blistering sunburns can increase a child’s risk of developing melanoma by 80 percent.

Sunscreen use can help prevent skin cancer by protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Walk into any store and you will see an abundance of sunscreen options to choose from. I understand it can be overwhelming trying to decipher the difference between each bottle. It is important to recognize not all sunscreens are created equal. There are three main areas to look for when considering which sunscreen to buy.

Broad-Spectrum Protection

Look for sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum sunscreen protection. This type of sunscreen protects against the two types of UV light harmful to your skin: UVA and UVB. UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, where UVB rays can burn your skin. Too much exposure to either type increases your risk of skin cancer.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher

SPF is a measure of how well the sunscreen protects against UVB rays — UVA protection is not currently rated. When applied correctly, a sunscreen with SPF 30 can block 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. A higher number SPF blocks slightly more of the sun’s harmful rays, but does not allow you to spend more time outside without reapplication.

Water Resistant

The term water resistant means the SPF within the sunscreen can be maintained for up to a certain amount of time while swimming or sweating. It is common for the water resistance level to be a maximum of 40 minutes, but some brands are longer. Read the label carefully to find out its duration. Regardless, it is important to dry off and reapply often for continued protection.

While these three areas are crucial in deciding which sunscreen to choose it is also important to determine the type of application you need. Sunscreen comes in a variety of styles including creams, lotions, gels, sticks and sprays. Ultimately, it is a personal choice but each comes with their own benefit. Creams work well if you have dry skin, especially on your face. Lotions are best when needing to apply over a large area. Gels are great for applying in hairy areas such as the scalp or chest. Sticks are useful in applying sunscreen around the eyes. Lastly, sprays are convenient to apply on children, but know it can be difficult to tell how well you are applying — you may be applying less than you realize.

Regardless of if the sun is shining or clouds are hovering, it’s best to be proactive. Try to seek shade, if possible, be diligent with applying sunscreen, and wear protective clothing including a hat and sunglasses. The choices you make today, whether for you or your child, will have long-term effects on your skin health.

In Wisconsin, one of the most appreciated components of the spring season is “fresh air.” Opening our windows, seeing and feeling the sun shining, and the refreshing scent of the outdoors brings us back to life after a long winter.

In the beginning, the transformation is slow as trees and flowers begin to bud and grass starts to grow again. Before we know it, the vibrant greens and bright florals are back in full force — things are alive and well. And that means the season of lawn care and maintaining landscapes has begun too.

It’s an alluring image, but one that can quickly become clouded when considering the harmful chemicals and toxins associated with traditional lawn care practices. It’s not only detrimental to the grass in the long run, but also the health of our loved ones — both pets and people.

According to Dr. Phil Landrigan, professor of pediatrics at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, “there is... concern that pesticides of all kinds can damage the developing nervous system and can result in learning disabilities in children, behavioral problems and possibly chronic diseases like Parkinson’s.”

Troy Reissmann was made aware of the potential link between the chemicals and health complications while working for a conventional lawn care company. It didn’t take him long to reflect and realize he was going to change the course of his career, and life, for the better.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to contribute to the problem for the rest of my life, I want to do something to help it. Where do I begin?’”

After researching how to organically and safely treat lawns, he and his wife Lisa established Valley Organics in 2009. The local business provides the area — from Green Bay to Fond du Lac — with natural and organic lawn care to achieve healthy and lush lawns without the toxic effects.

A HEALTHY, HARMLESS ALTERNATIVE

Traditional chemical-based care uses a regimen of harsh and toxic elements to treat lawns, and Troy and Lisa say it also creates an unhealthy cycle that is hard to break.

“The main weed control that’s used is one of the two active ingredients that was in Agent Orange. It’s called 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D),” Troy explains. “It won’t kill the grass, but it will kill the majority of weeds. But in doing that, it also kills off a lot of new grass growth, which makes the lawn dependent on the chemicals.”

“Valley Organics is the opposite,” Lisa adds. “We want to make the lawn healthy and sustainable so eventually you can step down from treatments and simply maintain it to keep nutrients in the lawn. By then the root growth has gotten so much longer and it’s easy to sustain.”

They achieve this by providing all-natural fertilizing, core aeration, winterizing and special treatments like insect repellant by their one-of-a-kind tea.

Yes, tea.

“Intelli-tea” combines fertilizer, compost, worm castings, fish fertilizer and black strap molasses to create a concoction that adds live culture back into the lawn. After brewing for 24-48 hours, the tea is sprayed to feed the lawn with its lacking nutrients. Surpassing typical organic teas that have a 10 gallon to 100 gallon ratio of concentrate to water, Valley Organics prefers a much stronger concoction at 50 gallons of concentrate to 50 gallons of water to the lawn’s benefit.

“We found out through trial and error that we can actually get rid of a lot of lawn insects — not by killing them but by repelling them using garlic oil, peppermint oil and things that are too pungent for them,” Troy says. “It helps control the insect population and it’s also really beneficial for the lawn.”

In Valley Organics’ case, what’s safe for the lawn is safe for all of us — and that includes our two- and four-legged family members.

“We can tell people that what we’re putting on their lawn is safe and healthy, and won’t damage the environment, their animals or anything at all,” Troy says.

“We put a little flag out on the lawn saying that we were there,” Lisa says. “But it doesn’t say ‘Danger’ or ‘Keep Off.’ People ask us all the time if they can go on it, and yes you may. We don’t have to wear masks or boots when we apply the treatments. It’s not harmful!

“Canada and some states even have banned the chemicals,” she adds. “And more and more people are getting it every day,” Lisa says. “Our customer base is made up of a lot of pet owners, families with young children and now grandparents with grandkids who are understanding that it’s important.”

A CUSTOMIZED PROGRAM FOR EACH LAWN

Just like every family member’s health and safety is important, Valley Organics realizes each and every lawn is unique, and determines their plan of action. A four-step plan beginning in spring and continuing through the summer is often the most popular choice for new customers, and most plan choices regularly include grass seed as part of the first and last treatments.

“A soil test helps us determine what’s going on in the soil to proceed going forward,” Lisa explains. “Then we do a granule treatment and that includes seeds, which right away helps thicken the lawn up.”

The soil test results — showing pH levels, identifying dry clay soil versus sandy soil, etc. — determine what the next three steps are. They could be a combination of granule or a liquid-based compost tea.

“In addition to our fertilizers we have different amendments like lime or gypsum to help with anything the lawn might need,” Lisa says. “It’s tailored to that specific lawn. And sometimes it’s different from the back lawn to the front.”

Educating the public about transitioning from conventional lawn care to natural and organic is important for Troy and Lisa, and they often spread the word about information ranging from the benefits of natural lawn care on the honey bee population to why dandelions are a positive sight and what they describe as simple science.

“Grass needs three things to live: oxygen, food and water,” Troy says. “Rain takes care of the water, oxygen is aerating and pulling up the soil, and the food is up to you. You can feed your lawn nothing at all, you can use chemicals which are not sustainable, or you can feed your lawn something healthy like what we use.”

“There is an alternative to the chemicals,” Lisa says. “You don’t have to use them to have a nice lawn. It may take a little longer organically, but it’s possible and it’s worth it.” 

Valley Organics believes aeration is one of the healthiest measures you can take for your lawn by allowing moisture and oxygen to enter into the root system, which is why

new customers receive a FREE aeration in fall!

Stay informed!

Troy and Lisa are often met with customers who struggle with allergies and effects of conventional lawn care chemicals, and encourage people to visit www.datcpservices.wisconsin.gov/landreg/ to sign a registry to become informed about when your neighboring lawns will be sprayed. According to the site, “The Landscape Registry allows Wisconsin residents to be notified before lawn care and landscape companies apply pesticides to neighboring property. You list the addresses that you want to be notified about, and companies check that list against their lists of clients.”

“It’s nice to know when to bring your dogs in, have your kids play inside and even hang laundry on the line,” Lisa says.


Valley Organics Lawn Care

920-205-5252

www.valleyorganics.net

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Our deep respect for the land and its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables,preserved our landscape and inspired us with a powerful work ethic.” —James H. Douglas, Jr.

The April issue of Nature’s Pathways outlined some benefits of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and how farm share programs typically work, but we know that’s only the beginning of the valuable information regarding this special part of spring and summer. Below we focus on what it means for farms to be considered organic and how Integrated Pest Management is changing the game by eliminating pesticides.

What does it mean to be organic?

According to www.sustainabletable.org, “the philosophy of organic food production maintains certain principles: biodiversity, ecological balance, sustainability, natural plant fertilization, natural pest management and soil integrity. Since farms vary in product and practice, there is also a wide variety in how these principles are applied. However, generally, organic food products:

  • Are grown or raised by a producer who uses practices in balance with the natural environment, using methods and materials that minimize negative impact on the environment…
  • Are produced on land that has been free of known and perceived toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for at least three years prior to certification, and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are not used in production.
  • Are planted on a rotating basis within the farm system. Crops are rotated from field to field, rather than growing the same crop in the same place year after year. Cover crops such as clover are planted to add nutrients to the soil and prevent weeds.
  • Organic meat, poultry and egg products come from farms that use organic feed, do not administer added hormones to promote growth or any antibiotics and they allow animals the space and freedom to behave naturally.”

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Growing food in nontoxic and healthy environments, i.e. without pesticides and chemicals, plays a large part in keeping our current and long-term health a priority. It’s also a great reason to take part in local farm share programs that share the same belief in consuming only the best-for-us produce — both in delicious organic taste and also in its natural practices. So how do these farms control the insects and potential disease that are also associated with growing plants?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is one great way. According to www.beyondpesticides.org, it’s “a program that should be based on prevention, monitoring and control, which offers the opportunity to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of pesticides, and to minimize the toxicity of and exposure to any products which are used. IPM does this by utilizing a variety of methods and techniques, including cultural, biological and structural strategies to control a multitude of pest problems.”

We need your help!

Nature’s Pathways wants to highlight area farms that offer farm share programs to share the wealth of nourishment with our readers!

If you are a local farm that participates in farmers markets and/or offers a farm share program, and are interested in being featured in Nature’s Pathways, please email Karen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Check out these local CSA farm share programs!

Farm:

Where to find:

Types of shares:

Featured items:

About the farm:

Burr Oak Gardens, LLC

W5511 County Road B, Rio

920-992-3643

burroakgardens.com

 

CSA pick up sites located near Appleton North High School and at Goodwill North Central Wisconsin in Menasha on Thursdays, June 15 through October 26 (20-week season).

Mini share, Basic share, Double share, Double Every-other-week and Late Fall Storage share.

Fruits, vegetables, herbs. Honey available as an add-on in the fall.

We are certified organic through Midwest Organic Services Assocation (MOSA). We have been delivering to the Fox Cities since 2010. Our farm uses sustainable practices to produce wonderful vegetables and a few annual fruits that are suitable for growing in Wisconsin. We are always astonished by what mother nature does with a little rain, a little soil and a lot of light.

Field Notes Farm

1579 Church Street, Stevens Point

262-224-6027

fieldnotesfarm.com

Downtown Appleton Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.;

Future Neenah Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon;

Downtown Stevens Point Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-1 p.m.;

Pulse Young Professional's Bazaar After Dark.

Every week and every other week pick up, mid-June through mid-November.

Summer season is 18 weeks + 4 weeks of fall storage season. Each share is 3/4 bushel with 9, 11, 18 or 22-week pickups.

Work shares and Farm Artist shares available.

A variety of 8-15 household favorite vegetables each week, including weekly herb and

occasional fruits and apple cider.

We are certified organic and take pride in farming with a focus on soil health, building community and transparency. Each share features a newsletter with a story from the farmers, a list of the share's contents and simple recipes. We also have an orchard of peach, plum, pear and apricots. In the fall, we press apple cider to be fermented. We have a 5-month payment plan for our shares. Pick up sites in Appleton, Neenah, Amherst, Stevens Point and Plover.

Good Earth Farm

W8965 Oak Center Road, Oakfield

920-517-6727

goodearthfarm.net

Fond du Lac Downtown Saturday Market from 8 a.m.-noon.

Summer season CSA: Weekly Large, Medium, Small and Every-other-week shares from June through October.

Winter season CSA: November through February.

Mushroom shares and fruit add-ons available. Weekly newsletter, The ComPost, with news from the farm, great vegetable info, recipes and more!

We are a certified organic vegetable farm offering vegetable shares to the Fox Valley and surrounding areas. Our CSA is a fantastic opportunity to eat with the seasons and purchase locally from farmers who use sustainable and environmentally responsible farming methods. We offer many opportunities to see where your food grows, meet the farmers and have fun on the farm!

Oakridge Farms

125 County Road CB, Neenah

920-725-1541

oakridgeberries.com

Appleton Downtown Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Standard share, Half share and Market share.

Fruits and vegetables.

We are a family farm growing fruits and vegetables using sustainable farming methods. We focus on building soil health and using minimal chemical inputs on our fruit crops. We offer summer CSA shares, pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries and blackberries and offer a daily farm stand open mid-June through September.

Park Ridge Organics

N8410 Abler Road, Fond du Lac

920-979-9658

parkridgeorganics.com

Appleton Downtown Farm Market, Saturdays 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (our stand is on College Ave. in front of McKinney Photography).

Our on-farm store is open Monday to Saturday from June through October.

Full, Half and Quarter shares offered every week for 20 weeks (June through October). Late season shares (November and December), Winter Storage shares (January and February).

Vegetables, mushrooms, eggs (available for farm pickup only), pasta and herbs.

Park Ridge Organics has been certified organic since our beginning in 2003. It is a second-owned farm providing produce to over 300 members each season. Our farm grows high quality produce and takes strong measures to ensure food safety. With over 14 years of growing experience and soil management, our produce flavor is exceptional!

 

 


Sources: http://www.sustainabletable.org/253/organic-agriculture.

http://beyondpesticides.org/resources/safety-source-on-pesticide-providers/what-is-integrated-pest-management

Hawthorn is a flowering shrub or tree of the rose family. It is native to Europe and grows in temperate regions throughout the world.

Historically, hawthorn has been used for heart disease as well as for digestive and kidney problems. It has also been used for anxiety.

Extracts from the hawthorn leaf, flower or berry may be sold as capsules, tablets, or liquids.

How much do we know?

Hawthorn has been studied for heart failure in people. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump as much blood as it should.

Not much is known about hawthorn for any other health conditions as there is little or no evidence.

What have we learned?

Although some older, short-term studies suggested that hawthorn may have benefits in patients with heart failure, two longer-term studies completed in 2008 and 2009 — including a 2-year trial involving almost 2,700 people in 13 European countries — did not confirm these benefits. In these studies, unlike some of the older ones, patients were given hawthorn in addition to the recommended conventional treatments for heart failure.

What do we know about safety?

In most studies of hawthorn for heart failure, no serious safety problems have been reported. However, in one study, patients taking hawthorn were more likely than those taking a placebo (an inactive substance) to have their heart failure get worse soon after the study started. The reason for this is not clear, but one possibility is that hawthorn might have interacted with drugs the patients were taking.

Side effects of hawthorn can include dizziness, nausea and digestive symptoms.

Hawthorn may interact in harmful ways with drugs, including some heart medications. If you’re taking medication and you’re considering using hawthorn, consult your health care provider.

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. 


Source: Herbs at a Glance. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/hawthorn.

Ingredients

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish

3/4 to 1 pound seedless cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks

2 thin scallions, or 1 regular scallion, thinly sliced

1 large avocado, pitted and diced

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Juice of half a lime, plus more to taste

Salt and hot sauce (we used Sriracha) to taste

Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Directions

  1. Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together Greek yogurt, lime and seasonings, adjusting levels to taste.
  3. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with cilantro or parsley. Enjoy! 

Do you ever feel like you’re shouting underwater? Like no one understands what you’re trying to say? Or maybe you get mad when people can’t keep up with your thought process in a given project. Perhaps you would just like to know how to be a more effective communicator in general. Understanding how you communicate can help you to be a more effective speaker, writer and listener. It can explain why misunderstandings happen and what the barriers can be in your business or personal relationships.

Before partnering with someone, in romance or business, it is a good idea to have an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses each of you bring to the table. Knowing your Mercury placement in your natal chart can go a long way toward lowering your frustrations with those you are in constant contact with. You can learn how to tailor your approach to them to maximize the likelihood that you’ll be heard the first time.

Mercury is the fastest planet in our solar system — the messenger of the Gods — and the planet of speaking, writing and yes, even listening. Mercury deals with the logical and higher functioning mind, and showcases our ability to reason. Its place in your chart is affected by many factors but knowing the elements it is in, both in sign and house, is an excellent place to begin.

If you have your Mercury in a water sign or house you may feel as though you are speaking underwater as previously mentioned. You say something and people have a hard time hearing what you intend, as if it is being distorted along the way. Your logic has to be filtered through your emotions before you can fully digest what is being discussed. You are more apt to remember how a conversation or book made you feel rather than the specifics.

Mercury in an air sign or house has a quick style of communication, often speaking without regard for the consequences and getting frustrated when other people can’t keep up with their mile-a-minute logic. These are the quick-witted folks among us and the ones who need to have some sort of background noise going on to be able to study or concentrate. This is the consummate trickster placement. They delight in wordplay and “getting one over” on others intellectually.

Mercury in a fire sign or house can get impatient when communicating. They are not ones for repeating themselves. Excellent at raising the energy level in a crowd, people may look to them to lead because of it. They give their all to everything they say and can get burnt out if they feel as though you are not listening to their exacting specifications. Communication becomes a competition to see who can be seen as the smartest.

Mercury in an earth sign or house needs to take their time in getting their point across or sizing up a situation. The more you try to push them to speak or hurry up on that project, the thicker the brick wall of resistance you meet, though everything may appear to be calm and collected on the surface. These are the folks who have a perfectionist streak to their communication style and may get bogged down or hung up on the details. But when they do speak you know that a lot of thought has gone into it.

There is much more to your Mercury than I can cover in our short time together, but if this has piqued your interest you may want to check out where your Mercury is placed. If you go to my website, PhoenixRose.Net, I have a birth chart calculator on the main page. Put in your birth date, time, and location and look for the Mercury symbol. Click on it to see a breakdown of how you communicate and process information. Knowledge is half the battle, the other half is doing something with that knowledge. For help in understanding how best to work with your Mercury energy, give me a call, an email or a smoke signal. ;) 

With the cost of hearing devices ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 a pair, patients often ask us, “What’s wrong with the less expensive ones?”

The answer is nothing. In fact, budget hearing devices might be the perfect choice for you. The only way to find out which is best for your hearing lifestyle is to partner with an audiologist who understands the art and science behind selecting and fitting hearing devices.

The advanced technology of today’s hearing devices means you have more features to choose from. These added features, while providing additional benefits, also make a hearing device more expensive. However, depending upon your unique requirements, more is not necessarily better.

Think of it this way: if you were a serious athlete planning on running a marathon and you decided to purchase a treadmill to do some off-season training, you might choose a $4,500 model on which you could run full speed at varying degrees of inclines, all while the machine kept track of your heart rate and tracked your progress. You would probably also want to have a personal trainer experienced in achieving the highest possible performance to assist you in getting the most out of your investment and workouts. However, if you just wanted to take an occasional walk and perhaps lose a few pounds, a $500 treadmill might just do the trick.

The same considerations are true when it comes to selecting appropriate hearing devices. If you are very active, live in a variety of noisy environments and don’t want to be bothered adjusting volume, then you will probably be happier with hearing devices that include advanced features such as directional microphones, feedback cancellation or automatic adjustments. In conjunction with this, you will be most satisfied with your results with the involvement of an experienced audiologist to tailor the features of the device to your personal needs and achieve maximum benefit. If you live a quiet life and don’t mind making manual adjustments, then a more economical hearing device might be perfect for you. In short, it is the art of selection and fitting combined with the science of technology that will have the most direct impact on your level of satisfaction.

Our audiologists are skilled in matching your needs to the most appropriate technology and fitting the devices to provide maximum benefit. We have been trained to make recommendations for the type and style of hearing devices based on five important criteria:

  • Your personal lifestyle
  • Your level of hearing loss
  • The physical characteristics of your ear canal
  • Your cosmetic preferences
  • Your budget constraints

Our audiologists ask many questions because we want to get to know you. We believe that by investing time into understanding what your life is like and what is important to you, we will be able to ensure your optimal hearing while providing you with the best value. 

 

Sabamba Alpaca Ranch is about to celebrate 10 years in business. Our business has been made up of three key components over those years. Each of these parts plays a vital role in the total overall business plan: a fiber producing livestock farm, which works on product development/sorting and grading and shearing during the springtime; a bed and breakfast, which is most active during the summer months; and a retail alpaca store, which is most active during the fall and winter months.

Our business started with the purchase of a 12.5-acre farm, six pregnant female alpaca and one breeding male alpaca. Lucky boy! After purchasing the farm in the fall of 2006 we spent one year remodeling the 1890 farm house, which had been twice remodeled before us. We gutted it and refinished the house with the intent to open a bed and breakfast.

In the fall of 2007 we welcomed our first alpacas to the ranch, just as the last gate was installed. Our herd consisted of five pregnant females with cria (baby alpaca) at side and one open female with cria at side. Our first cria delivered at the ranch arrived in the summer of 2008. There was a stiff learning curve for the first twelve months in the business, which included alpaca birthing, handling and training, shearing, weaning, health care, showing, and the question, “What do we do with all this fiber?”

When we purchased our animals we invested a great deal of money into our business. Alpaca prices were at a premium in 2006. Then came the recession of 2008. Like so many other businesses ours was adversely affected by the recession. Prices of the animals plummeted by approximately 2/3 of our initial investment. Yikes! That was the bad news. The good news was that by 2008 I had discovered that the fiber produced by this animal is spectacular. So as we say in business, “shift happens!” We shifted our focus toward establishing a retail business where we could sell alpaca items. In 2009 we launched our bed and breakfast and our retail store.

Our first and favorite alpaca product is a heavyweight, super warm alpaca sock. The sock was produced through a national cooperative. As a member of this cooperative we could contribute our fiber and purchase finished socks at a wholesale price to sell in our store. It was a big hit, which was no surprise to us as we happily wear them every day. So life was good. Business was growing nicely and then the next shoe fell. Due to unforeseen manufacturing difficulties, the co-op ran out of sock to sell — just as our demand was growing! Who said owning your own business is easy? We went in search of a new manufacturer. One was found, but when we presented the product to our existing customers they were unhappy that we changed the sock. We believe the customer is always right and the co-op started producing socks again, so we went back to our original sock the following year.

The wholesale price of the sock had increased quite a bit so our profit margin was shrinking and the price of feed for the alpacas was not going down. Oh yes, and that breeding boy was busy! The herd was now up to almost 50. Then the next shoe fell. Our beloved co-op announced that it was going out of business due to financial issues. Now it was time to really step it up. Keep the change coming — we love change!

The co-op auctioned off their remaining assets and we were the successful bidder for the balance of their sock inventory. Those socks will be arriving at the ranch soon. Our own production recently launched last week with our first shipment of sorted fiber. We are going to a 4-day training seminar to sharpen our skills as graders so we can continue to produce a quality product. Hopefully we can produce enough socks to supply our store and other farmers in the area who also have farm store.

Challenges and changes occur often when you are an entrepreneur so you have to be willing to embrace them and rise above. Sabamba Alpaca Ranch and Bed & Breakfast has and has never been better! 

The gut or microbiome is becoming an increasing area of interest and study. It has been estimated that we have over 100 trillion bacteria in our gut. Wow! Lots of tiny but mighty creatures making up what is called the microbiome. As around 80 percent of our gut makes up our immune system, a healthy belly is in our best interest. The gut has also been called our second brain and has also been referenced as our “gut instinct.”

Did you know you have the same neurotransmitters in your gut as your brain and if your brain isn’t happy chances are your belly is not either? Newborns are first introduced to important bacteria as they enter the world via the vaginal canal and get bathed in bacteria, setting the stage for immune health. Cesarean section babies are at a disadvantage to this initial introduction. In some parts of the country OB docs swab the mom’s vaginal area and then wipe it on the newborn born via a C-section as they have less diverse bacteria initially. One might wonder if this could play a part in a C-section baby having more allergies and asthma.

A stool test can be a very useful tool in providing a snapshot of the milieu of the microbiome. This one- or three-day test can be performed at home and sent to the lab. Your practitioner can go over the results with you.

Consider the 5 ‘R’s when improving the function of the gut:

1. Removal. Often upon evaluating stool tests parasites and various pathogens are uncovered. Eliminating these stressors is one approach to achieving better belly health. There are many antimicrobial supplements to help target specific infections. Food sensitivities also play a large part in gut damage, especially gluten. Food sensitivity testing is a helpful avenue to pursue.

2. Reinoculate. Specific probiotics can feed our gut and help establish a better balance. Antibiotics, while important in fighting the bad bugs, can also damage the good bacteria. Taking a probiotic can support the good flora that gets knocked out with antibiotic use. There are several strains on the market, and your practitioner can help you determine which is best. Complex carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables are slow to be digested and also feed our gut. Resistant starch can also improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People on a gluten-free diet need to be extra vigilant about getting enough fiber. The bugs in our belly feed on this fiber and make nutrients that we need. Women in general need about 25 grams of fiber, and men about 30. Eating a wide variety of foods can boost your gut health. The average American eats the same 15 foods over and over again. Remember variety is the spice of life! Eating with the seasons can also help to rotate your foods. Remember when shopping to use the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” rules when purchasing your fruits and veggies. With increasing pesticide use the dirty dozen foods should only be consumed if you purchase it organically and the Clean 15 foods you can save your pennies on due to low pesticide use or a thicker rind to absorb the deleterious spray. EWG.com is a great website to learn more when you have time.

3. Repair. There are various herbal products that help repair the gut lining such as L-glutamine, deglcyrrhizinated licorice aloe and arabinogalactans.

4. Restore and 5. Rebalance. Restoring includes daily exercise and returning to healthy eating habits.

If your belly is not as happy as it should be, consider seeing a functional medicine practitioner for evaluation and to help achieve better health.

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