Author Archives: evergreeneaston

7 Tips to Help Kick the Sugar Habit

The start of spring and summer often inspires us to make healthier choices.  Whether you hope to gain more energy, lose weight, sleep better, or just feel that it’s time for a change, reducing sugar intake is often a top priority.   We constantly hear and talk about the benefits of quitting sugar.   If you’re contemplating a sugar cleanse, you’ll find that psychological preparedness is vital. Part of that preparedness involves coming up with a plan that you can stick to.                                   

Sugar is addictive. It alters biochemical pathways in our brain and tampers with our dopamine receptors, which makes us feel good. In order for us to get the next dopamine spike, however, we need a greater dose of sugar. That’s why about 80% of processed American food are laced with some form of sugar.  We live in a culture where sugar is ubiquitous and oftentimes indistinguishable, carrying cryptic names like anhydrous dextrose, crystalline fructose, and evaporated cane juice. Sugar itself is a refined carbohydrate and source of calories that our bodies use as energy or store as fat. By the way, not all sugar is bad; it naturally occurs in fruits and other foods that, along with their healthy fiber content, provide our body with necessary nourishment. Excess sugar, and those hidden added sugars we don’t even realize exist can cause a multitude of issues.

High sugar content in processed food has been shown to contribute to common diseases such as high cholesterol, heart disease, fatty liver disease or cirrhosis, hypertension, hepatic insulin resistance, and slower metabolism & obesity.  Increased appetite, insomnia, brain fog, mental chatter, depression, and various other symptoms all generate from excessive sugar consumption.

Here are some useful tips I use to help clients kick the sugar habit:

1. Find the sweetness in your life.

It is vitally important to invest in our own well-being, and the lack of self-nurturing is a common missing thread.  Creating space for ourselves, and finding time to do things that bring joy are necessary to our health and wellness.  Often, the people who are most susceptible to sugar cravings are working stressful jobs, living stressful lives, and feel out of balance.  In these cases we may disconnect from what our passions are in life, to the point where life has become a series of obligations rather than enjoyment. Taking the time to invest in ourselves is a great long-term strategy to give up habits that do not serve us.  When we are at ease and feel satisfied with life, the impulse to reach for sweets when stressed is greatly reduced.

2. Drink apple cider vinegar.

Raw apple cider vinegar helps to destroy candida yeast overgrowth in the body, which is often a contributing factor in sugar addiction. The body craves sugar to feed this yeast, which continues to grow and cause more cravings – as well as a host of other unpleasant symptoms. Be sure to buy only raw vinegars (apple cider or otherwise), as regular pasteurized vinegars can feed candida overgrowth and cause more sugar cravings. Apple cider vinegar also helps to change taste buds and after a while of supplementing with it, sugary foods often end up tasting too sweet. I have found people to crave less junk when they sip apple cider vinegar throughout the day.  You can also use this vinegar to make your own healthy salad dressing.  Try: Braags Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

3. Properly fuel your body.

In general, you want to get your calories from a balanced diet of the macronutrients protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you focus on clean eating—eating whole unprocessed foods as much as possible—you will be able to refocus your eating plan.

Protein helps your body feel full longer, so increasing it in your diet will help to curb those cravings, especially at that midday snack time. Try snacking on nuts, yogurt, or a hardboiled egg in place of processed and packaged snacks. Your body will thank you for it.

Carbs fall into three categories—sugars, starches, and fibers—but the body breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. Find yourself drawn to french fries, bread, and pasta? Your sugar fix originates in excess carbs.  Avoid white and refined flour, rices, pastas, breads—and try nuts, seeds, and whole grains instead. If the carb is in its natural, unadulterated form, then it’s a good choice. When your cravings hit, try high-fiber foods to fill your belly and keep your digestive system moving like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And don’t get stuck in the meal-label game—switch it up! Have eggs for dinner, avocado for breakfast, or oatmeal for lunch.

4. Stay hydrated!

While you can crave anything from chocolate to a salty snack, cravings for sweet foods are common when the body is dehydrated because it interferes with brain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness.  Dehydration also makes it more difficult for the body to produce glycogen, a major source of fuel for our cells. A lack of fluids can cause difficulty in the production of energy output, and can trigger sugar cravings. It’s also not uncommon for the body to confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger, meaning that you may feel hungry when what you really need is water.

5. Train your taste buds to like bitter.

Train your taste buds to like the taste of bitter—it really does a lot to suppress the cravings for sugar. Try plain unflavored yogurt, and bitter greens like watercress, arugula, chicory, endive, and kale. Within 30 days, your taste buds will reset and you’ll crave less sugar.

6. Take the “sugar destroyer” herb.

Gymnema sylvestre is an herb in the milkweed family and known as a “sugar destroyer” in Ayurvedic medicine, and it desensitizes our taste buds to sweet items. It can help promote healthy blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol due to supporting a healthy pancreas and liver function. It helps regenerate beta cells in the pancreas, which secrete insulin in order to take up sugar into the cells for energy. It also helps make cells more sensitive to receiving insulin. We tend to crave sweet items when we’re low on energy (perhaps not enough insulin or cells are resistant), stressed (increased cortisol causes the body to use sugar so we need to replenish), or poor sleep (also increases cortisol), for example, and gymnema helps balance spikes in blood sugar that could additionally be triggered by a poor diet. A few drops on your tongue before a meal can offset desiring sugar and last for about three hours, especially in conjunction with a nutritious diet and the desire to quit sugar. However, caution should be used if someone is taking oral medication or insulin, as it can alter prescription dosages.  Try: Himalayan Herbals Gymnema

7. Utilize high-quality peppermint essential oil.

One of the easiest ways to begin your journey involves utilizing high-quality essential oils to retrain your brain, to curb the sugar cravings, and to revitalize your life. Amazing research has been done concerning cravings and essential oils. The most famous is a study by Dr. Alan Hirsch, who found that peppermint oil is amazingly effective at curbing cravings. Simply inhaling the scent of peppermint also awakens the senses and enables the brain to focus on the real task at hand. While it may be hard to believe that a scent can keep you from bingeing on sugar, aromatherapy can be the key to many of your health care concerns as an all-natural way to reclaim your vitality and wellness.  Other essential oils that may help to curb cravings include black pepper, bergamot, cassia, cinnamon, clove, fennel, grapefruit, lemon, marjoram, and wild orange. Try: Amrita Therapeutic Essential Oils

We all have things we can change in our diets, our lives, our mindsets. Reducing sugar intake can be just the start of rebalancing your life. Don’t drastically cut out sugar from your diet and cause uncomfortable detox. Take it slow and let your body adjust. Start with a habit of awareness—being aware of labels, of what you put in your mouth, of your triggers, and of your personal wellness. Try mindfulness based exercises like yoga, tai chi, and meditation. Utilize high-quality essential oils to refocus your mind and body to rely less on sugar and more on the power of aromatherapy.  You can make this change in your life by replacing sugar with a positive lifestyle that fuels your mind, body, and spirit!

*The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

About the Author

Freya Farley is Evergreen’s Executive Director and an Acupuncturist at the Wellness Center at Evergreen where her practice focuses on Women’s Health and Fertility.  Along with acupuncture, and herbal medicine, Freya practices a food-as-medicine approach, helping her clients utilize the healing powers of food to nourish their bodies mind and spirits.  She offers private consultations & treatments as well as a weekly Community Acupuncture Clinic. The presence of yoga throughout Freya’s life has influenced and informed her ongoing path of health and wellness and she offers Open Studio morning yoga sessions to join in her practice.

Breathe Easy: Seasonal Allergy Relief

 

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the excitement of spring can be marred by sneezing and stuffy noses.  Many clients come into my office at this time of year looking for allergy relief.  Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be quite effective at helping to ease symptoms and boost the body’s natural ability to respond less reactively.  Seasonal allergies have a strong correlation to our overly clean lifestyle and overuse of antibiotics, and some communities are also hit hard due to pollution exposure and poor diet. Vitamin D deficiency is another common underlying factor in people with allergies, and I generally recommend using a good quality supplement daily.  As inevitable as allergies may seem, there’s quite a bit you can do to minimize and potentially eliminate this seasonal occurrence.

First, aim for a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet focused on whole foods like fresh local vegetables – especially seasonal bitter greens, fish, free-range animal products, nuts, seeds, and other plant foods. Incorporate fermented foods like kimchi, live kraut, kombucha, and shoyu into your daily routine, which can improve the wellbeing of your body’s beneficial bacteria and make you less reactive to various allergens.  (One exception would be in histamine intolerance, where fermented foods can make symptoms worse.)  Avoid any food allergens or intolerances that are problematic for you – common culprits include wheat and dairy.  Avoidance of these specifically reactive foods can make you less reactive to environmental allergens.

Eating raw honey has numerous benefits. It is a great antioxidant and has antibacterial, antifungal and anti-allergenic properties.  The practice of consuming raw local honey is a popular natural remedy for allergies. Bees collect pollen from the environment as they gather nectar from flowers, and in turn, honey from local sources will contain safe amounts of this pollen.  It is thought that eating raw local honey conditions the body to the presence of these local pollens.  Herb infused honeys are a wonderful way to include many added benefits. (Stay tuned for another recipe…)

Use a Neti Pot daily to irrigate and cleanse the nostrils and sinuses.  Neti flushes out irritants and thins the mucus, which results in  less congestion and easier breathing through the nose. It also alows the cilia in the nasal passages to do the job of filtering the air more efficiently. Stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, aromatherapy and massage are also helpful in reducing allergies.  In response to stress the body releases hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. While stress doesn’t actually cause allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing the histamine in your bloodstream.

Also consider the following herbs & a sparkling tea recipe for some all natural allergy relief…

Nettles

The benefits of nettles have been documented for centuries. Nettle tea is used to improve heart action, for headaches and for any internal bleeding. Nettle is said to be extremely beneficial for the kidneys, being useful in expelling gravel from the bladder and dissolving kidney stones. It is a powerful blood purifier that drives out toxins and metabolic wastes by stimulating the kidneys to excrete more water. Nettle tea is said to clean out the entire intestinal tract while activating the body’s natural defense mechanisms. It is used as an overall health tonic and to treat high blood pressure, anemia, skin inflammations and more. It is tonifying for the Liver and Kidneys, builds blood, and it is full of vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids.  Stinging nettle contains various compounds that decrease allergy-related inflammation and histamine. This is somewhat surprising considering that nettle’s stingers actually contain histamine.  Although the effects of freeze-dried nettle capsules are modest, it is a very safe herb. Anecdotally, herbalists report immediate symptomatic relief with nettle fresh-plant tincture.

Sparkling Nettle Lemon Mint Tea 

Nettle tea is springtime’s natural elixir. One of the earliest green plants to emerge each spring, nettles can be easily brewed into a tea which has healthful, restorative benefits which boost the immune system and awaken the body to spring.

Ingredients

  • Dried nettle leaves and stems, as needed (see note)
  • Boiling water, as needed (see note)
  • Ice, as needed
  • 1 tbsp honey per serving
  • ⅛ preserved or fresh lemon (or a ½-inch [1.5-cm] chunk) per serving
  • several mint leaves per serving
  • 1 cup sparkling water per serving

Instructions

  1. To steep the dried nettles, place the nettles in a teapot or a nonreactive pot and pour the boiling water over them. Let the nettles steep for 15 minutes, then strain them from the water.
  2. Add ice to a tall glass and muddle the honey and mint with the preserved lemon. Pour in ½ cup (120 ml) of the strong nettle tea and finish with the sparkling water.

Notes:

As a general rule of thumb use 1 tablespoon dried nettles per 1 cup water. But to make this strong to enjoy with ice and sparkling water, use 2 tablespoons dried nettles per 1 cup water. For example, to make 4 servings, use 8 teaspoons nettles and 4 cups water.  *Best – Use double the amount of fresh nettles leaves if you have access and steep overnight for a stronger tonic.

Other common herbs for allergy relief:

Reishi  & Astragalus

These immune tonics help modulate or regulate immune system response when taken on a regular basis. This means that your body is better able to fight germs yet less over-reactive in allergies and autoimmune disease (for some with autoimmune disease astragulus may stimulate the immune function too much to tolerate well – reduce intake to build up slowly). Complex starches, called polysaccharides, in medicinal mushrooms and astragalus send your immune system back to boot camp, improving immune cell function and signaling. Polysaccharides extract particularly when simmered in water for hours. Reishi and astragalus blend well with chai spices like cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg for tea, or you can add them to soup broth. Feel free to include other medicinal mushrooms like shiitake and maitake, which have similar polysaccharides. Reishi has unique anti-inflammatory and adaptogen properties and has performed well in preliminary studies for asthma and allergies. If you don’t tolerate mushrooms, astragalus root has similar polysaccharides and has been shown to decrease the severity of seasonal allergies.

Butterbur

Among all the herbs used for allergies, butterbur has by far the most clinical research to back its use for allergies, with widespread use in Europe for seasonal allergies, migraines, and asthma. Studies have found it significantly better than placebo and comparable to common allergy medications Zyrtec and Allegra. It can be used symptomatically for occasional symptoms and daily in chronic allergies. Unfortunately, this isn’t a do-it-yourself remedy because butterbur root contains liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Seek PA-free butterbur such as Petadolex.

I hope this helps you get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather!

*The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Evergreen’s Wellness Center; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

About the Author

Freya Farley is Evergreen’s Executive Director and an Acupuncturist at the Wellness Center at Evergreen. Her practice focuses on Women’s Health and Fertility, which at its essence is the manifestation of balance and health within the body.  Along with acupuncture, and herbal medicine, Freya practices a food-as-medicine approach, helping her clients utilize the healing powers of food to nourish their bodies mind and spirits.  She offers private consultations & treatments as well as a weekly Community Acupuncture Clinic. The presence of yoga throughout Freya’s life has influenced and informed her ongoing path of health and wellness and she offers Open Studio morning yoga sessions to join in her practice – (free to those registered in another class!).

Gentle Cleansing Techniques for Springtime

Spring is finally here on the Eastern Shore! It took long enough – now what?  According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the cleansing season.

We each react differently to this seasonal shift, and in fact, I have a client who dreads springtime; there is too much drama, too much chaos.  The sun is out and we are compelled to come out into the world also to meet its challenges.   To make room for the new growth, creativity and action of spring, cleansing practices help to remove debris and stagnation built up through the long, cold winter.  In the same way that you spring clean your home, take an opportunity to cleanse and rejuvenate your body!

While there are many cleanse programs available, such as juicing, fasting, or eating raw fruits and vegetables, these methods can feel intimidating and extreme. The good news is that there are more subtle and gentle techniques that you can use to support your body in clearing toxins.

Why Cleanse?

Why should you consider incorporating cleansing techniques in your life?

Your body is an incredible organism that has a natural built-in filtration system to help you get rid of toxins, the harmful substances that have a negative impact on your health. The primary organ that helps to process excess toxins is your liver. Your liver is a powerful filter for toxins, but it’s worth noting that you are exposed to more toxins than any previous generation. This influx of toxins comes from pollution in the air and water, toxic ingredients in beauty care and household cleaning products, electric and magnetic fields from technology, and more.

Some common symptoms of an excess toxic load in your body include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Infertility
  • Skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.)

Here are some gentle cleansing techniques to try this spring so that your body will begin to eliminate toxins more effectively and efficiently, and keep you feeling ready for anything.

  1. Dry Skin Brushing

Dry skin brushing specifically helps to activate the lymphatic system that resides directly underneath your skin. You can think of the lymphatic system as the stream that helps to get rid of toxins. When you activate your lymphatic system, it helps move toxins more efficiently through your body.

This cleansing practice is best done before you get into the shower. To get started, you’ll need to buy a dry skin brush or glove (look in your local health food store or online). Your dry skin brushing practice will only take about three minutes. Starting at your feet, brush your skin in a circular motion up toward your heart. Work your way up your entire body. Then, using the same circular motion, brush both of your arms—starting from the hands.

Once you are done, hop into a hot shower to experience the full benefits of this gentle cleansing practice. Skin is the body’s largest organ. As you can release toxins through your skin, this exfoliation method also supports healthy detoxification through your skin.

 

  1. Greens Powder

While I recommend increasing the amount of green vegetables in your diet as a great place to start, I know it can be difficult to get the variety of concentrated nutrients that you’ll find in a greens powder supplement by eating alone. The concentrated vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (such as polyphenols, terpenes, and organic acids) that are found in a complex greens powder are helpful for gently opening up detoxification pathways and supporting liver cleansing. Most greens powders contain sea algae such as chlorella and spirulina, which are phytoplankton from the ocean that have antioxidant effects in the body. Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll, which assists in heavy metal and pesticide detoxification.

I like to add one scoop of greens powder to a cup of coconut water with half a fresh lemon in the morning. This is a great way to jumpstart your system and help the body cleanse the liver & kidneys. Drink your greens powder either in the morning or mid-afternoon as a gentle way to boost your energy levels.  (Though not for the faint of heart – I love Amazing Grass Elixir Brain Blend with a blend of fermented and easy-to-digest greens like wheatgrass and alfalfa, adaptogenic herbs that help the body deal with stress, and plant extracts like matcha, lion’s mane fungi, and chocamine that may help with concentration and clarity.)

  1. Yoga & Breath Work

The movement and breath work in Yoga can help gently cleanse the system, oxygenating and rejuvenating the whole body.  Gentle twists can, in fact, help “wring out” the organ systems and help them release the last remaining stuck areas.  Deep yogic breath fills the entire lungs with fresh pure oxygenated air and each exhale releases toxins.  In addition to cleansing your lungs, this form of breath work also helps to oxygenate your cells, which helps to purify your blood.  While most people’s everyday breathing is shallow and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), this full yogic breath stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and allows the body mind spirit to rest easy releasing built up cortisol thereby allowing other hormonal systems to rebalance.

  1. Bodywork

Massage and bodywork stimulates the release of metabolic waste products stored in the cell tissue.  The circulation resulting from massage enhances oxygen exchange among local tissues and improves colon drainage capability, this is a good addition for helping escort impurities out of the body.  Integral to detoxification, the lymphatic system sequesters circulating threats in the body and aids in their elimination. Thus, draining the lymph nodes of accumulated toxins with lymphatic drainage massage removes blockages and improves their cleansing function.  Drinking plenty of water will allow for the elimination of waste products from the body, thus detoxifying the cell tissue and boosting the immune system.

  1. Salt Baths

Skin is a toxin carrier and what better way to flush the toxins out than have a nice detox bath.  Soak up daily in warm water with Pink Himalayan Salt, Sea Salt, or Epsom salt and a few drops of your preferred aromatic oil to draw toxic waste swiftly out of the pores. Bath salts are beneficial to health due to the presence of minerals in them, primarily magnesium. A salt bath helps relieve stress, detox the body, sleep well, improve blood circulation and decrease blood pressure. Since magnesium plays a crucial role in all intracellular physiological functions, a deficiency in the mineral can lead to various neuromuscular, cardiac and nervous disorders.  It helps you sleep better, maintain healthy heart rhythm and blood sugar levels, and regulate hormones. The sulfur in these salts can help in the production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, which plays a major role in methylation, a biochemical process in the body involved in almost all of its functions.

  1. Infrared Sauna

An infrared sauna helps to increase your blood circulation and stimulate your sweat glands to help get rid of toxins. They also heat the body from the inside out, raising your core temperature and driving toxins and heavy metals out of the largest organ in your body—your skin.  Infrared sauna treatments may be available at different levels: near, middle, and far.  These different levels represent the different sizes in infrared wavelengths and refer to the intensity of the treatment. Near-infrared levels are best for wound healing and increased immune function, middle-infrared levels are ideal for increasing circulation and promoting muscle relaxation, and far-infrared levels are used primarily for detoxification purposes. If you are new to using an infrared sauna, start slowly by going in for 10 to 15 minutes. Eventually work your way up to 25- to 45-minute sessions, three to five days per week.

There are many different ways to support your body’s detoxification process. These gentle cleansing techniques help maintain your health and prevent disease. “Gently” press the reset button and start experiencing the many healing benefits of cleansing toxins from your body this spring!

*The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Evergreen’s Wellness Center; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

About the Author

Freya Farley is Evergreen’s Executive Director and an Acupuncturist at the Wellness Center at Evergreen. Her practice focuses on Women’s Health and Fertility, which at its essence is the manifestation of balance and health within the body.  Along with acupuncture, and herbal medicine, Freya practices a food-as-medicine approach, helping her clients utilize the healing powers of food to nourish their bodies mind and spirits.  She offers private consultations & treatments as well as a weekly Community Acupuncture Clinic. The presence of yoga throughout Freya’s life has influenced and informed her ongoing path of health and wellness and she offers Open Studio morning yoga sessions to join in her practice – (free to those registered in another class!).

 

Communing with Angels

Author Henry Hall Sloan will lead a workshop entitled: “Communing With Angels” in the great room at Evergreen on Sunday Dec.3 from 1:30-3 pm. Henry has led meditations with groups for over 25 years.

This event will draw from his 5 Angel books including:
A Spiritual Journey: Whisperings from Angels, and Communing With Angels: Within the Cathedral of Your Heart.

Henry has appeared on 2 national radio shows reading excerpts from his books.

There is a recommended $ 5-20 donation for this workshop at the door.

2017 Winter Solstice Singing Bowl Meditation

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017  6:00PM

Join Lainie Wrightson & Barbara Haddaway as we welcome the Solstice with a Crystal Bowl Meditation.  


Welcome winter and the holiday season with 
a renewed sense of balance.
 Take this hour to relax, regroup and enjoy the serenity of the Crystal Singing Bowls.

 
This is our gift to you.

Donations will be accepted at the door and help   

Evergreen keep more programs like this coming to our community.

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All are welcome.   
  We hope to see you there!