Archive for August, 2013


Mind, body, sprit – Going gluten free? Not so fast…

Walk around any grocery store these days and you’re likely to see “Gluten Free” used as a selling feature for a variety of items. The push to cut gluten from their diet compels many people to find alternative (and more costly) options to help them become healthier or lose weight.

The fact is, unless you suffer from Celiac Disease or have been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, you probably don’t need to eliminate gluten from your diet.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat that gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape, which is important for breads and pizza dough. It is used as an additive in a variety of processed foods that may surprise you, including McDonald’s french fries.

The small intestine is damaged when people with Celiac Disease eat foods or use products containing gluten. Villi, the microscopic protrusions lining the small intestine, allow nutrients from food to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If the villi are damaged, a person becomes malnourished regardless of the quantity or quality of food eaten. Celiac Disease is commonly misdiagnosed because some of the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, anemia, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Should I go gluten-free?

If you are not bothered by Celiac Disease or have not been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, going gluten free doesn’t make much difference from an overall health standpoint. If you’re choosing to go gluten-free without diagnosis in order to eat healthier or lose weight, be advised that foods which would normally contain it are usually processed and are higher in fat, calories and carbs.

Make sure to eat a balanced diet. Don’t cut carbs completely from your diet. As always, it’s advisable to consult your physician before making a drastic change to your diet.


Mind, body, sprit – Natural ways to lower your blood pressure

According to studies, somewhere between 50 and 60 million Americans have high blood pressure. Lifestyle choices, bad habits, diet, genetics… all can play a role.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can damage the kidneys and lead to stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.; stroke is third. (Cancer is second.) With these statistics, reducing blood pressure has become a large and important facet of the pharmaceutical industry. But there are ways that you can decrease your blood pressure naturally.

Get up and get moving

Being overweight is a contributing factor. Getting regular exercise and a healthy diet will go a long way toward maintaining a healthy weight. Aerobic exercise is shown to reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure as well as in people who don’t.

Get a good night’s sleep

Although it is nearly impossible for most American adults to get eight hours sleep a night, the more rest you get, the more relaxed you will be. If you have sleep apnea, see a specialist.

Drink in moderation

Studies have shown that a beer or glass of wine a night can actually have some health benefits. But more than one or two and the risk of hypertension increases significantly.

Reduce your stress level

Meditate – don’t medicate – is the mantra of many. Taking 20-30 minutes with no distraction to relax and let go of stress has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.

No smoking

Nicotine increases activity of nerves that raise blood pressure and heart rate. We shouldn’t really have to say this, given the proliferation of studies over the past few decades. But… don’t smoke!

Reduce your salt intake

To reduce the amount of salt you consume, cut down on the amount of processed foods in your diet. Fresh is always better. Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned no-salt-added vegetables. Use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat, rather than canned or processed foods. Canned foods use extra salt, so rinse foods such as tuna, beans and vegetables.

Add these foods to your diet

In addition to modifications in your diet, studies show that adding these foods may reduce high blood pressure

  • Kiwi, which is high in lutein
  • Peas, bananas and other foods high in potassium – adding foods rich in potassium has the same effect as adding a supplement such as potassium chloride.
  • Watermelon – Summer’s favorite food to cool off contains fiber, lycopenes, vitamin A and potassium
  • Tofu – WebMD reports that eating tofu and other soy foods such as soy nuts, miso, edamame, tempeh and soy milk — is linked with decreased blood pressure.
  • Chocolate – Did you think it was all going to be fruits and veggies? Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which seems to promote dilation of blood vessels, and in turn can lower blood pressure.

Maintaining your blood pressure is necessary to avoid heart disease, stroke and other illnesses. Consult your physician if your blood pressure is high.


Mind, body, sprit – Little things make a big difference

Think about the number of people that you encounter during the day. If you’re like most people, you don’t give it much thought. But you can make a big difference in the day of a lot of those people by doing things to make them feel good.

Some of these things fall into old-fashioned manners and others into the “pay it forward” philosophy. You don’t have to go out of your way, it doesn’t cost anything, and best of all, you’ll make yourself feel good in the process.

  1. Look someone in the eye and smile
  2. Open the door for someone
  3. Wave at your neighbors
  4. Send a thank you card to someone who made a big difference in your life
  5. Mentor someone – it can be a child, college student or an adult who needs a second chance
  6. Teach a class in something you enjoy at local community centers, free university or an MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)
  7. Learn a few great, clean jokes
  8. Tell a friend you appreciate them
  9. Say “Thank You” more often
  10. Make dinner for an elderly neighbor
  11. Make sandwiches for homeless people and distribute them one evening
  12. Collect all your old books and take them to a school or homeless shelter
  13. Give a stranger a sincere compliment
  14. Volunteer for a charity organization that’s close to your heart
  15. Anonymously buy dinner for someone at a restaurant

In the grand scheme of things, little things mean the most. Remember, it doesn’t take much to make someone feel good. Especially yourself.


Mind, body, sprit – The benefits of alone time

We live in a super-connected, high-energy world with a lot of responsibilities that pull us in different directions. With all of the commitments that vie for time and attention, you may find that you don’t have time for yourself to concentrate on what makes you you.

The secret is to schedule some time away from everything and devote a little time to yourself and reap the benefits to spending time alone.

Giving your brain a chance to reboot

With no distractions, you’ll have the chance to clear your mind, focus and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.

Enhancing the quality of relationships with others

Spending time alone helps you focus and will help you appreciate the relationships – both personal and professional – that you have with others.

Improving your productivity

As you are able to give yourself some time and recharge, you’ll find that you’re more productive because you’re not thinking about other things. You’ll be able to fully concentrate on the tasks at hand.

Thinking about things

Make sure that you have the opportunity to listen to your own voice, form a clear opinion about whatever issue you’re thinking about without the influence of others.

Discovering yourself

You need the opportunity to develop yourself as a whole person and do the things that are important to you and that gives you joy and fulfillment.

So make sure that you’re spending enough time on yourself. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas of what to do, take a look at the suggestion of what to do with your alone time. (Link to

Block off a few hours and don’t feel guilty about taking the time to relax and recharge. Yes, you may even have to schedule it, but it will be worth it!