January 2016 Edition
In our January 2016 Newsletter: Your brain is 73% water. It takes only 2% dehydration to affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills!
Earth-friendly 2016 Diet Resolutions
Too many of us have become Eco-Zombies… careless about the relationship between the health of the planet and the health of our own bodies and minds. From farm to fork, the way food is grown, processed, and distributed affects not only its quality and variety, but also impacts our health and the sustainability of Mother Earth. That’s why a lot of people who are concerned about both the size of their waist and recent extremes in climate change are making Earth-friendly dietary choices.
A useful starting point for understanding the relationship between the environment and your health is “planetary boundaries,” or tipping points in our planet’s natural air, land, and water systems. Recently, a team of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified these boundaries and related changes in natural systems, such as air quality, biodiversity, and land use. Breaches to these boundaries and the altered environmental trajectories could result in rapid, irreversible changes that threaten the conditions under which humanity can thrive on Earth. According to the scientists, 3 of the 9 planetary boundaries have already been crossed: climate change, biodiversity, and the global nitrogen cycle. The direct and indirect effects are seen in loss of biodiversity; soil, air and water pollution; polar ice melting; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; species endangerment and alterations in habitats; and inadequate development of water and land resources to meet food and energy needs. These changes have inexorable effects on human health, including increases in food and waterborne disease; disease carried by wildlife (e.g., Lyme, West Nile, Ebola), malnutrition, and rising rates of cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, and diabetes.
Our reliance on factory farms – a.k.a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs-is a big contributor to environmental rifts and the degradation of health. Most meat, poultry, eggs and dairy sold in the U.S. come from CAFOs, a major driver of deforestation, habitat destruction, and climate change. To prevent disease and promote faster growth, these animals are given hormones and antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance, a serious public health problem. Animal feed consists largely of subsidized Genetically Modified (GMO) grains grown with toxic pesticides and fertilizer, which end up in the water supply and on our produce.
“Grass-fed” beef may be more humane for animals but even the most humane farming practices wreak havoc on ecosystems. We have to feed billions of people, too many of whom consume too much of any kind of meat.
Fish aren’t off the hook, either. Overfishing has depleted many marine species and degraded marine ecosystems. Fish farms face similar problems to CFAOs. When it comes to reducing the negative impact food production on the planet, reducing seafood consumption is part of the equation.
Earth-friendly Diet Resolutions
Every day, you have three chances to choose a healthy, Earth-friendly diet consisting of more fruits, veggies, and legumes and no (or less and more carefully chosen) meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. In turn, you’ll create a healthier future for Mother Earth.
Grow Your Food. Growing food helps save money, reduce the environmental cost of factory farming, and gives the whole family an “agri-education.” Use organic soil, compost, and practice conservation-friendly watering to help your garden grow.
Eat Organic, Seasonally & Locally. Choose organic and in-season foods from local farms (Community Supported Agriculture-CSA) to support your local economy.
Go Meatless on Mondays. Just 1 day a week, try replacing meat-based recipes with savory vegetarian options.
Fish with Care. Like beef, farm raised fish also contain chemicals that affect our health and the environment. Choose locally caught, sustainably raised fish like tilapia, catfish or carp or “lower food chain” seafood including squid, clams or mussels.
Start a Farm-to-School Program. Talk with local public schools about partnering with CSA farms and serving vegetarian options to students.
Support GMO Labeling. The only way to know if a food has been genetically manipulated is for labels to indicate products are GMO-free. When it comes to your inbox, sign petitions for GMO labeling laws.
Food for Thought. . .
“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” – Swami Sivananda
Reduce Your Foodprint & Save Money
Each day, Americans toss out enough food to fill the Rose Bowl stadium! As much as 40% of edible food in the United States goes uneaten. That’s a drain on your wallet of between $28-$43 a month. All that uneaten, but perfectly good food doesn’t just lay waste to your budget, it rots in landfills and pollutes the planet.
While your virtual self is looking for spare change in that mountain of food trash, we’ve got good news: With a little mindfulness, there are easy ways to reduce your foodprint and put money back in your pocket!
Net-Zero Your Fridge. Before you restock, make sure it’s emptied of all edible food. If you really must stick to a shopping schedule, try freezing, canning or preserving foods.
Befriend Your Freezer. Most frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. Freeze leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad.
FIFO Your Meals. Plan and cook meals using the “First In, First Out” rule. Place the most recently bought items toward the back so older items, in the front, are used first.
Love Leftovers. Look for recipes that will help you get creative with using leftovers.
Shop Smarter. Plan your shopping and avoid impulse buys. If you have no idea how much food your family wastes in a month, do what restaurants do to manage profit and loss: keep a log of what you buy and what you throw away.
Get Savvy about Expiration Dates. “Sell-by” and “use-by” dates are manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. The dates are not federally regulated to indicate safety, except on certain baby foods. Not sure if you should keep a food or toss it? Search online for a shelf life guide.
Bought Too Much? Donate or Compost. Non-perishable and unspoiled food can be donated to a food bank, soup kitchen, church, or a neighbor in need. Perishable food you can’t donate can be composted to recycle their nutrients and nourish the planet.
Use the Resources List to access charts, instructions, and tools to help you reduce your foodprint.
Vegetarian dishes are a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. Meat-less (and cheese-free) meals use fewer natural resources from farm-to-table.
- 24 oz. tomato sauce (fresh seeded tomatoes food processed; organic, roasted tomatoes, or your choice)
- Approx 1-2 tsp. each: Fresh (or dry) Basil, Oregano, Parsley (adjust to your taste)
- Dash of sea salt
- Dash of fresh ground pepper
- 5 T. Earth Balance (soy free) or 5 T. Sunflower Oil
- 1/4 c. gluten-free flour mix
- 4 c. coconut milk beverage, unsweetened (So Delicious brand or make your own)
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Noodles: Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles (Tinkyada noodles are awesome)
Tomato Sauce Preparation
Mix ingredients together and heat up but do not bring to a boil. The longer it sits, the more flavor the herbs release into the sauce.
Bechamel Sauce Preparation
- Heat Earth Balance on low heat till melted (If using Sunflower Oil heat on medium for about 5 min).
- Whisk in 1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix; Immediately add 4 cups coconut milk.
- Whisk continuously over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until thick.
- Add sea salt, ground nutmeg and garlic.
Preheat Oven to 350°F. Cook noodles as box instructs, rinse and lay out flat on parchment paper right away, but do this right before you put the lasagna together so noodles do not dry out.
Put the Lasagna Together
- 9×11 baking dish
- Place a layer of tomato sauce in baking dish, layer of noodles, spoon Bechamel sauce over noodles;
- Drizzle some tomato sauce, layer of noodles, Bechamel, Drizzle of tomato sauce;
- Last layer of noodles, tomato sauce and Bechamel.
- Cook at 350°F for 30 minutes, allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Quartered or chopped artichoke hearts, zucchini or other squash, diced/shredded onion, spinach or just about anything you like can be added in between the layers. Can also use sheep’s milk Manchego cheese if that is a tolerated food. But you don’t have to use it as the Bechamel thickens up and acts like cheese.
Boost for the Brain? Bacopa monnieri
Bacopa monniera (Brahmi, water hyssop) is an Ayurvedic botanical medicine used to enhance learning, memory and attention span. It has been used for centuries in India as a treatment for epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, and disorders of memory and attention. Brahmi has not been as widely researched in modern scientific studies as have other Ayurvedic treatments. Through case studies and long-standing Ayurvedic and naturopathic approaches, it’s worth noting that scientists are now interested in Brahmi as a therapeutic intervention for ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and age-related memory loss.
How Does It Work?
The way medications work, especially those that affect brain function, aren’t always fully understood by doctors. Brahmi is believed to have an effect on certain brain substances called neurotransmitters, which are involved in thinking, learning, mood, and memory. Some research suggests that Brahmi may have a protective effect on the cells, keeping them from either failing to function properly or helping them resist damage that can occur from infection, toxins, and the aging process. A few clinical studies with healthy adult participants showed an improvement in their ability to retain new information over a period of time. Improvements in memory have also been seen in children from a rural Indian village. Further studies, including long-term studies, are necessary to fully understand these effects in adults, young people, and for various health concerns.
Be careful not to confuse Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) with other natural medicines that go by the same name. It may interact with other medications. Consult your wellness practitioner to determine if Brahmi is appropriate for you, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or recovering from surgery or illness.
Clear Your Mind with Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage, with its woody stems, grayish leaves, and lovely purplish-blue flowers, is a native perennial of the Northern Mediterranean coast and an herbal member of the mint family. If you’re only familiar with Sage for seasoning savory dishes, you’re missing out on a fascinating botanical remedy.
Ancient Greeks and Romans burned sage in ceremonies, believing it would impart wisdom. Early European herbalists used Sage to clear congestion, purify the blood, and cleanse the teeth. In Native American and indigenous cultures around the world, shamans use White Sage to cleanse both persons and spaces of evil influences. Priests still burn Sage in religious ceremonies. Even though we can’t prove Sage will raise your consciousness, many people burn Sage to facilitate relaxation during yoga or meditation.
Today, we know that Sage leaves and flowers contain chemicals with antibacterial, astringent, and antiseptic properties. At your local holistic market, you can find Sage in a variety of products. It is used in natural deodorant, and in mouthwash because it fights bacteria responsible for gum disease. In herbal remedies, a sage tea or tincture can help ease sore throat, congestion, digestive cramping, and support mental wellness. In aromatherapy preparations, sage is most often used as an essential oil in an air diffuser or in candles. Dried White Sage is most commonly burned (known as smudging) as incense with the intention to clear the lungs, ease mental stress, and enhance mood.
Using Sage as a botanical remedy is very different from cooking with the herb. Medicinal preparations and essential oils derived from Sage contain thujones, a naturally occurring chemical in the plant. If you take a higher dose of medicinal Sage than is recommended, it could cause serious health problems such as tremors, rapid heart rate, vertigo and vomiting. Consult your holistic health practitioner for guidance on the safe use of any Sage remedy.
Meditate: It Does a Brain Good!
Amazing changes happen to mind and body when you meditate. During meditation, there is a physiological shift called ‘the relaxation response’ (RR). This response is exactly opposite the stress response that so many of us have a hard time avoiding in our daily lives. You may think you have lots of ways to relax-sleeping, watching TV, reading-but these activities do not produce the same physiological changes that happen when you meditate.
In addition to changes in brain waves, heart rate and respiration rate, meditation results in disengaging from the thinking process. You become a detached observer of the clutter that fills your mind and learn to let go of it all, one breath, one moment at time. Your troubles won’t magically disappear, but your perspective about them will shift, even if you meditate just a few days a week.
How does Meditation work?
When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that can have a negative effect on your health. Research shows having stress hormones (e.g., cortisol) circulating through your body for prolonged periods is associated with certain diseases. Meditation brings about the RR and reduces the levels of stress hormones. Now, your immune system is better able protect you from illness, recover quickly, and restore optimal wellbeing.
What can Meditation Do For You? Alot!
- Reduces tension-related pain
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves quality of sleep
- Strengthens neural pathways
- Improves emotional stability
- Enhances creativity
- Boosts brain chemicals associated with mood, memory and learning
Start a Meditation Practice
Begin with 5 minutes a day and progress to 20 minutes at least 3-4 times a week. Use sounds of nature, music, a candle, or a guided imagery to help you get started. Meditation is often done seated or lying down. Use cushions or a chair to support your posture. Eyes closed or open is up to you.
You’ll soon discover that meditation is a state of mind involving awareness and acceptance, that you can do in the midst of any activity.
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.