So many people have high blood pressure! Whether you’re one of them or you know someone with this issue, not to worry…always make sure you get checked out by a competent health care provider. According to the American Heart Association, about half of all adult Americans have hypertension.
Do not let this go untreated. It can develop into a heart attack, a stroke, and other adverse health effects – but that goes without saying. Of course, there are many medications available, and I would suggest if you have an acute case of high blood pressure and need to get it under control while working out alternatives to getting it down to normal levels, by all means take them.
There are lifestyle changes you can make including mindfulness activities, nutritional changes, supplements, and exercises. These are all advisable changes to make no matter what your situation is. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?!
Let’s start with exercise. If you’re not very physically fit, do exercises by starting a little at a time. For example, if you can walk, try to get 1,000 steps in a day, slowly increasing them as you are able. I use my phone to track steps as it worked the best out of all ways I tried. So, I try to have my cell phone in my pocket most of the time.
You can also run or go on a treadmill, or you can ride a bike, go swimming, etc. Make sure you do this also under supervision of a competent health care practitioner, so you don’t end up hurting yourself!
If you read my information regularly, you know what a huge fan I am of healthy nutrition! What you put into your mouth accounts for about 75% of your overall health, so it’s very important. General guidelines are consuming fresh produce, especially veggies, don’t overload carbs or starches, and when consuming, use whole grains. Use moderate amount of healthy fats, like full butter if you eat dairy (although it’s mostly fat), extra virgin olive oil, etc. Oils should ideally be cold pressed for better nutritional value. If you eat meat, use high quality red meats and poultry, fish, etc. For example, use organic or natural, grass-fed meat, free range chickens, wild caught or responsibly farmed fish, etc. All of this will increase nutritional value and decrease toxic load.
Adding supplements which are heart healthy is an excellent idea. If you have serious health conditions, please check with your competent health care practitioner before embarking on a supplemental protocol to make sure it’s healthy for you. Although there aren’t many, there are a few supplements that don’t play nicely with certain medications and health conditions, so err on the side of caution and be sure!
Take a high-quality multiple vitamin/mineral to cover nutritional bases. One of the healthiest supplements you can take for your heart is Coenzyme A10 or CoQ10, as it’s nicknamed. Since fiber is very heart healthy, you should be getting ample amounts through your diet, but you can also add a fiber supplement like psyllium husks. Omega-3 fatty acids are very heart healthy. Many people take fish oil (make sure you purchase one that is highly absorbable), but I personally take Icelandic Cod Liver Oil, as my body uses this much more efficiently than fish oil.
Magnesium is also heart healthy. So is the amino acid L-Carnitine. Green tea, which is something you can drink, can also be taken as a supplement. Garlic is also extremely heart healthy, and you can eat it (my preference – almost all of my dishes have garlic in them) or take them in supplement form. Pomegranates are also heart healthy, and again, you can drink it or take it in supplement form.
If you’re a smoker, please do everything you can do to quit! As a drug counselor, I get it – much easier said than done. Tobacco is highly addictive and really tough to beat, but people do it successfully all the time … so can you!
Many recommend reducing salt intake; in any case, use salt a bit sparingly and use healthy salt preparations such as kosher salt, or red sea salt, as well as other options.
If you’re overweight, changing your diet may help you lose weight, which is a good idea for heart health.
It also goes without saying that reducing your stress load is desirable. Think about everything you do, and perhaps you can streamline and omit some things that are not particularly necessary or helpful to you. So, time management is in order! Many people need to learn how to say no more often – is that you?!
Mindfulness activities help greatly in reducing stress and helping you be calm and focused so you can think more clearly and make better decisions. Think yoga, meditation, binaural beats, deep meditation music, bubble baths, reading, being in nature, etc. Do what works best for you – after all, you are an individual. What relaxes you the best? Remember to take time off and go on vacations or at least staycations.
Lasting change often comes gradually. So don’t overload yourself all at once. Do a little bit each day, sustaining it, and adding onto it. I know you can do this!
If you have questions or need help, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
There’s no doubt about it – Vitamin D has been trending in the news within the last couple of years, mainly in conjunction with whether it can help in treating COVID or not. But Vitamin D is very helpful in conjunction with kidney function, as well. For some reason, we have been seeing many inquiries about this in recent weeks.
It’s well known that Vitamin D is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin due to the fact that our bodies – particularly the skin – make it in response to sunlight. Our liver converts this Vitamin D from the sunlight to the form that is measured by a blood test. So, spending a bit more time in the sun is a great way to up your levels of this all-important vitamin.
You can also get Vitamin D through certain foods and supplements which will ensure that you have ample levels in your bloodstream. Vitamin D is fat soluble. Salmon, herring, and sardines contain Vitamin D. So does cod liver oil, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms, and other fortified foods (think milk). Spinach also has the vitamin, as well as kale, okra, collards, soybeans, white beans, etc.
Too much Vitamin D can hurt your kidneys. Since it’s fat soluble, it stays in your body longer than if it were water soluble (where things wash out quickly). So, it’s important to have just the right amount! Most people either have adequate amounts when measured in their blood, or they have too little, which can make us vulnerable to other disease since it’s important to immune function.
Too much of this wonderful vitamin can also contribute to constipation, nausea, and kidney stones. So, it’s very important to work with a competent healthcare practitioner and have it measured occasionally so you really know where your level is. If it’s low, then you can take supplementation or try focusing on the foods that are rich in Vitamin D and spend a bit more time in the sun!
But how is it supposed to help kidney function?
There are also many benefits to having enough Vitamin D in your body. It may play a role in reduction of risk for multiple sclerosis, decrease your chance of developing heart disease, and help reduce your risk of getting the flu.
Vitamin D can reduce depression, according to some clinical studies. Another study was conducted with people who have fibromyalgia, and it showed that Vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in these people dealing with anxiety and depression.
Vitamin D may help with weight loss or in heart disease. In a study conducted with overweight people, those who took a daily Vitamin D supplement together with calcium were able to lose more weight than those taking a placebo. In another study with overweight individuals, those who supplemented daily with Vitamin D showed improved heart disease risk markers.
Healthy kidneys have many Vitamin D receptors, and they help turn the vitamin into its active form. If you have kidney disease, your kidneys cannot activate the Vitamin D. Without the ability to control calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, your parathyroid hormone goes outside of its normal healthy level.
Recommended doses vary, from about 400 IU up to 2000 IU per day. I like to err on the side of caution and find out where my blood level is first!
Several herbs have been studied and are known to be good for the kidneys, as well. These are milk thistle which contains silymarin and helps repair kidney tissue faster and is chock full of antioxidants. It is known to reduce inflammation in the kidneys as well. Marshmallow root is known to be anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. This root can act as a diuretic which can help flush out toxins from the kidneys.
Parsley – of all things – contains many flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all good for the kidneys. Like marshmallow root, it can have a diuretic effect. Beetroot helps dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow, which enhances your kidney function. Beetroot is also anti-inflammatory. Ginger, also great for the digestive tract, can lower inflammation and remove toxins from your organs.
The great news is that many people can recover if their kidneys are not functioning well. Eating a very healthy diet and taking some needed supplements like Vitamin D in appropriate amounts, practicing mindfulness, reducing stress, and more goes a very long way toward helping everything in your body including your kidneys achieve improvement and abundant health.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
This is a wonderful time of year, celebrating the holidays. However, as we all know, the food and drinks are often not so healthy! You may have the mindset that in order to be nutritious and good for the immune system, such food and drinks can’t possibly be all that yummy. But wait - that’s just not true!
Let’s look at some possibilities for delicious yet healthy drinks. While you can probably buy them somewhere, you should also consider making them yourself!
Sparkling Apple Cinnamon
For instance, ingredients like apples always pair well with cinnamon. Since apples have quite a bit of sugar occurring naturally in them, consider combining cold, pure apple juice with some sparkling spring water. Add a good natural source of cinnamon to it and you can even put a cinnamon stick into the drink because it looks so good! Apples have quercetin, which is an antioxidant that has brain protective properties. Do you want the drink warm? Slightly heat up your drink using regular spring water or add a little real cream or coconut water (or combination according to taste). Apples also have phytochemicals which may help protect against colon cancer, heart disease, plus diabetes. Plus, phytochemicals can protect against infections and other invaders like viruses so they’re good for your immune system. Yum. Also consider sugar-free pomegranate juice (please read the ingredients on the label or just make it yourself from the actual fruit), as well as drinks containing lemons and limes. Berries are lower in sugar and can really sweeten and brighten up a holiday drink. Just be careful with the alcohol – if you use it at all, use it in moderation. That’s needs no explanation!
Healthy Hot Chocolate
Let’s look at making some delicious hot chocolate for the season, but in a healthier way. You can use real cream, or half-and-half, or coconut milk, etc. as the base. Then you can melt some high cacao percentage dark chocolates from either a bar or as chocolate chips (you can buy them in most supermarkets – use at least 60% cacao or higher which is healthier). There is a little sugar in the chocolate to sweeten, but you can also use 100% cacao chocolate from a bar or powder, and use a healthier sweetener like erythritol, or stevia. These ingredients are available for purchase in almost every grocery store. Erythritol behaves just like an antioxidant so it may also be immune-protective. It does not spike the blood sugar or insulin. Stevia leaves are the sweetest part of the plant. Stevia may help lower insulin and blood sugar levels. Be careful about purchasing over-the-counter preparations as some of them are more processed than others and are combined with ingredients that may not be so healthy. Now dark chocolate has many health benefits! It is fiber-rich and provides several minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, etc. Dark chocolate, while it contains some caffeine, will not keep you up at night because there’s just not that much in there! Dark chocolate also is a terrific source of antioxidants, so it is another boost to the immune system.
Mashed Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes
Now let’s move onto the food. Basically, you can make any recipe healthy, or at least healthier, by using the right ingredients. Most of us have heard of mashed cauliflower. Well – it’s delicious when made well. If you consume dairy, add some real butter and cream when mashing. It looks like mashed potatoes and unless you’re really paying attention, you might even assume you are eating mashed potatoes! Cauliflower does not spike your blood sugar, but white potatoes might. Cauliflower contains many minerals and some vitamins, is low in calories (that is until you start adding the cream and butter….), and high in fiber. It is also a great source of antioxidants which is immune system protective and staves off inflammation. You can also prepare mashed sweet potatoes in a similar manner. While this has more starch, it is also a great source of fiber, vitamins (think B and C), and a variety of minerals. They contain beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A (another antioxidant) when you eat them and are thus also good for the immune system. Use your imagination for adding other ingredients, like coconut butter, a tiny touch of maple syrup, etc. In fact, if you use a family recipe, just swap out unhealthy ingredients (like table sugar) and use something healthier. (Do they have to be overly sweet?!)
Low-Starch Turkey Stuffing
Do you roast a traditional turkey for the holidays? If so, most likely the only possible unhealthy ingredient is the stuffing, which is usually made with white flour. There are gluten-free options out there, although they are not starch free, but it’s a “cheat” you might consider just this once. You can put the same seasonings and veggies in it. In fact, many people make breads these days out of almond and coconut flour, which have antioxidants, so you might consider making a loaf of bread with these (which are much lower in starch), slicing it, and toasting it. Then cube it to create your stuffing mix, add your favorite seasonings, and prepare as you would any other stuffing mix.
Veggie Based Dips
How about healthy dips? First of all, think healthier carbs. You can use split peas for example with onion, garlic, salt, and other ingredients and put it in the food processor. Add a little olive oil and/or lemon juice. Split peas may also help blood sugar levels and are known to be heart health protective. Or you could consider a dip made largely of any combination of veggies, which are of course healthy for the immune system and a lot of other things! Consider serving with rice crackers or raw veggie slices. Consider making an onion dip by sautéing onions, salt, and pepper till browned, and adding it to some Greek yogurt, or sour cream (or a combination). You can put chives on top!
Basically, you can dial back the holiday junk foods, sodas, etc. and create some new and delicious holiday food traditions using real, unadulterated ingredients. These are always healthier, and flavors are also often brighter. Search online for inspiration and recipes – there are many online. While we haven’t gone into healthier baked goods here, there are many recipes to be found online, according to the eating style you are following.
As always, have a happy, holistically healthy day and holiday season!
As we are all aware, we are living in unprecedented times of internet use. So, it makes sense, given all the concerns of being online in various formats, to learn how to navigate through this successfully. (I’m thinking of social media, YouTube, just being online looking things up, doing schoolwork online…you get my drift.)
Ever since the times when internet use became widely available to all, parents wanted kids to turn off their televisions, phones, desktops, laptops, etc. and spend more time doing activities which might help them be more creative, develop their communication skills more, and help them become more of their individual selves.
Of course, all of this can happen while being online, too!
As of 2019, American kids were spending up to about 8 hours a day in front of screens, with maybe one hour spent outside. The downside to so much screen time is poorer sleep quality, increased stress levels of the unhealthy kind, lessening of attention span, and more.
Did you know that when your kids spend more time doing outside activities their moods improve, their attention spans increase, and even ADHD symptoms have been clinically noted to be reduced?
Outside activities promote better quality energy release, and kids get more Vitamin D from soaking in the sunshine – a big plus when it comes to immunity. Even the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, the natural way the body has to not be depressed and feel happy, increases its production.
Since a pandemic was declared in early 2020, continuing through 2021, more than 1.5 billion kids and teens are online, learning, socializing, getting exposed to dangers like sexual exploitation and cyberbullying (or harassment), and violence (not to mention other adults).
So, what can you do about all of this?
You as parents, or even just adults, can let your government representatives know of your concerns and encourage them to offer free awareness and education on child safety while being online.
You can also learn about and implement security and protection measures already available to you if you aren’t already doing this.
You can let your schools know your concerns about being online and ask them what safety precautions they are taking on your kids’ behalf.
As to what you can do as a family unit, you can set limits on screen time and schedule activities like reading to your kids before bedtime, family night board games (or other types of games), and you can go bike riding together.
Use your imagination as to what other types of activities you and your family might relate to, and don’t be afraid to try out different things. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised (or you can know what you never want to do again, too!).
Since many things have reopened, maybe you can go miniature golfing or go to a museum! Maybe your family enjoys tennis. Or perhaps you can equip your back yard with games like building a labyrinth or shoot some hoops.
You’re only limit is your imagination!
It’s also a good idea to check on everyone’s mental health during such times. If you have a good insurance plan, you might have counseling services available. There are also many free services out there, so check your local areas for information.
Supporting your mental health will also help support your physical health, and vice versa. So, make sure you and your family eat plenty of fresh veggies in the form of salads, lightly steamed, or stir-fried, fresh whole grains (if you are inclined to eat them), and good quality protein sources. Go easy on highly processed foods, especially wheat and other refined grains and anything with sugar and other chemicals in it.
For those of you who eat meat, I often find high quality meat in the marked down section of my grocery store. I buy and throw them in the freezer. I’ve been doing that a long time and have never had anything go bad on me.
Above all else, practice excellent self-care, both for yourselves and your kids, and teach your kids how to do this too!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
- Dr. P
Certainly, I think nearly everybody would agree that these are trying times. It’s been about a year and a half since this “pandemic” was proclaimed…worldwide.
Many of us don’t know what to think or do. Should we be worried or not so much? What are we to think when there is so much contradictory information coming down the pike, right?!
First of all, our beautifully crafted human bodies are designed to fight off marauding invaders successfully. This means anything from a virus (as is the case here) or a bacterial growth, a bite from a predator in nature, etc. We do this through our immune system.
Our bodies are so wondrously designed that even if we are genetically programmed for certain weaknesses (and we are), there are more natural ways to quell the expression of those adverse gene combinations which leaves us feeling, well…pretty darned good!
I’m living proof of that. If you haven’t been following my writings, then I’m here to tell you I conquered debilitating and lethal autoimmune disease, plus a host of other undesirable (potential) conditions.
I would have to say that for the past 25 or so years I have been studying and working directly with people in various capacities (like counseling, teaching, and consulting), and for those who have followed holistic ways of living, supervised by competent professionals, I haven’t seen them fail.
So, how do you do it?
Holistic means that you look at something as interconnected parts of a whole. In the health arena, it means that you learn and implement multiple lifestyle changes to create a healthy, resistant, resilient new you!
Okay – easier said than done!
One of the most important changes you can make to improve immunity is by changing your diet. In broad, general terms, you do this through lowering or eliminating your junk food habits (eating junk foods only if they’re made in a truly healthy manner).
Unfortunately, this includes so many foods we just love, like soda (both those with sugar and with alternative sweeteners), cakes, other baked goods, pizza, chips, and more. But remember that most of these foods and drinks can be made in a healthy way, so don’t despair…completely! LOL!
The two main dietary culprits are wheat (including other starches) and sugar. If something says sugar free on the label, check it out to see if it has other forms of sugar that our government says we can term “sugar free.” This is important, especially if you are really vulnerable to these so-called foods. Most of us are.
It is important to start adding healthier foods. Whole foods, like meats, cheeses, lots of low- to no-starch veggies, salads, lightly steamed, stir-fried, etc. I hated this when I first started but my taste buds changed so now, I actually crave these foods.
Please know that everyone’s body is different, plus our needs change, so there is no one-size-fits-all diet approach to good health.
Veggies and a little fruit (they have sugar) are very immune-friendly. So are foods that are fermented. Do you like miso soup? Enjoy it, it’s fermented! I like mine with a touch of sesame oil in it. Kimchi is also fermented, and sauerkraut, and even pickles (make them yourself without sugar and chemicals please).
Eat healthy yogurt which is full of probiotics, healthy fat, and other nutrients. A prebiotic food is something like a piece of green banana or a small piece of a raw white potato! These work in tandem with probiotics.
Avoid foods and products that have been more than minimally processed. Start cooking more! And please try to avoid foods with chemicals in them, as they are not healthy.
There are basic supplements that are always good to take, like a good multiple (I’m not thinking of those overly processed ones in the conventional arena), antioxidants (I’m thinking about Vitamins C and more), but a great multi vitamin should have lots of these included, so READ LABELS!
Working with a competent health practitioner will enhance your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients that are so desperately needed. I can’t recommend this enough. But, having said that, there are so many excellent sources of information available online. You just have to know which ones are better in general and specifically for you. Some might be excellent for some, but your body doesn’t absorb them!
Now, if your immune health needs work, it might be a good idea to take extra precautions while you’re building up your own body’s ability to fight. If you’ve had an organ transplant, or if you’re on multiple medications, then err on the side of caution.
Even if you can’t be (professionally) weaned from your medications, eating a diet full of foods that are healthy for you will still make you stronger and healthier!
I always prefer to lay the foundation of diet and supplementation first, because therein lies about ¾ of your total health, including your immune system.
If you are interested in learning more about health for your immune system, please check out the full holistic guide designed just to do that: Immunity for Your Health.
Other things you can do for your immune health are taking time for self-care, especially in the form of mindfulness activities. This can be different for each person, so experiment! For some it is meditation. For others it’s listening to music, taking a bubble bath, or turning on binaural beats (sound waves).
Do you have too much stress in your life? It’s time to change that as well! Too much negative stress overtaxes the body, and the immune system can easily take a hit. Time management is a great skill to hone or build. A great resource with tips and activity prompts for managing stress is my holistic guide Mindfulness for Your Total Health.
Remember – you have to be the one to take good care of yourself!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
- Dr. P
For many years, the world has known it’s of critical importance to save our lives, that of our friends and family, community, etc. Through marvelous inventions and discoveries, we have become a highly industrialized and technologized world. (Yes, technologized is a word – I checked – LOL!) But these more modern technologies, having brought convenience, ease, and other advantages, have also brought in larger, egregious problems.
Being eco-friendly is all about reduction of pollution, protection of wildlife, conserving our natural resources, and other actions which will slow the rate that the climate is changing. So, developing habits to help bring about these healthy changes in our own lives also benefits our community and eventually the rest of the world. By doing the suggestions below, our good deeds not only help us, but help to influence others in a very positive way.
Finding ways to be more eco-friendly can help bring out your creativity (and there’s everything right about that), and you may find yourself meeting others in your community through it. The United States is one of the countries that produces the most waste and changing this begins with each individual.
Sustainability is how we cut greenhouse gases, reduce waste, and educate ourselves and our young people. For example, carbon dioxide (CO2) is what we release through our activities (deforestation and burning fossil fuels), and there are some natural processes which release this waste product (to humans), such as volcanoes.
We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. CO2 is a nutrient for our plants, so our waste product is feeding them! Similarly, plants emit oxygen as a waste product, which is why having plants around us is healthy for human beings.
There are now plants which capture and convert these CO2 waste emissions into urea, which is a nitrogen-based nutrient which helps create plentiful harvests...reaching net-zero emissions.
Healthy living is a “must” for individuals and families and communities if we want to reduce all the health-related suffering that is going on. And how would you like to grow old? With disease, pain, suffering? Or do you want to remain healthy and vital until the day you leave this earth? I certainly know what I want – I’m sure all my readers know it, too.
Healthy living, or making excellent lifestyle choices, involves not only what you eat, what supplements you take, it also means having a more calm, mindful existence. This means we look at all our daily lifestyle practices which involve not only what we ingest, but what habits are giving life to our planet versus the ones that are contributing to its destruction.
Tips for Living Eco-Friendly, Sustainably, and Healthy
There are many, many more things you can do to become more eco-friendly, contribute to sustainability, and become healthier yourself – these are just a few! So, invest some time in learning about where you can start making a change to your lifestyle, start with the easier things, and build new habits over time.
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
- Dr. P