Spices and seasonings have a lot to offer by way of health benefits. They aren’t just for making your food taste amazing, they can also do amazing things for your health and wellness. This is typically the “season” for stress, over indulging in empty calories, and also getting sick so we might as well add some “seasoning” to kick our wellness efforts up a notch.
Clove – Clove has one of the highest antioxidant rankings of any spice. This makes it excellent for antiaging. Add it to fruit salads, mulled cider, or spicy curries.
Cumin – This is what gives Mexican food it’s fire. It has also been shown in studies to reduce levels of bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and significantly lower blood sugar. This makes it a powerful fighter in the war against type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon – This is another great spice for blood sugar and preventing or controlling diabetes. Take one teaspoon daily in fall soups (pumpkin, squash) or on sweet potatoes.
Anise – Helps with tummy troubles and digestion. It actually relaxes your gastrointestinal muscles and provides you with relief.
Sage – Helps with mental clarity and memory. Perhaps this is why a profoundly wise person is called a sage??
Horseradish – This seasoning is a natural antibiotic and infection fighter. It can be taken to fight everything from bronchitis to UTIs.
Thyme – The antioxidants in thyme help with respiratory issues such as bronchitis. It just helps you breathe easier. Roast it along with meats, and add to seafood and soups.
Fennel Seed – This seed can help relive menstrual cramps and pain just as effectively and sometimes more effectively than those using the drug.
Turmeric – This spice is antiaging, it helps boost immunity, it fights disease by inhibiting the metastasis of cancer cells, and it helps you maintain a healthy weight. It is amazing.
It might be the season for stress and illness but a little “seasoning” can help!
This is a wonderfully hectic season. So many people get stressed out during the holidays and winter itself can be a real downer for our mood and general happiness levels. It is so very easy to forget the simple pleasures of life and to put your own health and mental well being to the side. By making a few quick and simple changes we can make feeling happy in the moment a little easier…
Turn It Off – The TV that is. Holiday ads are screaming “BUY, BUY, BUY!” Quiet the craziness by pushing the off button. Let your DVR handle things for awhile. Instead pick up a book or put on some music that you love.
Sleep Well – When things are hectic it is more important than ever to pick a reasonable bed time and stick with it. Your body needs to have a routine and you need the sleep. Get some blackout curtains and a wake up light if you can.
Let Nature Be Your Decorator – You don’t need pricey decor. Grab some pinecones, holly, evergreen boughs, stones, and citrus fruits (to make pomanders). You get lovely, sustainable, low cost decor and you benefit from the being outside to do the gathering.
Take a Whiff of Citrus – Speaking of citrus fruits…researchers have found over the years that citrus fragrance boosts feelings of well-being and increases levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood. Clean your house with citrus and use essential oils. I like to diffuse Citrus Fresh and also a combo of Purification and Lemon. Sooooo very nice! When out and about add some oils to a handkerchief and keep it in your pocket.
Drink Your Veggies – Don’t skimp on seasonal veggies when all those holiday goodies are around. Blend up some beets, carrots, kale, apples, and pears into a yummy green smoothie.
Don’t Try to Do It All – Make a list of all your planned activities and things that need to be done and delegate. There is no reason why you can’t spread out of the tasks and alleviate some of your burden. Also say no to some events, activities, and people when you just feel like staying home or doing nothing.
Self Care is King – Make plans to take care of you. Get a massage, visit a juice bar with a friend (yes even if you have out of town family at home), drink herbal tea and sit by the fire for as long as you want. It is not selfish to take care of yourself!
Go Tech Free– Get off Pinterest and Facebook and stop obsessing over the perfect lives and perfect homes you see represented on the net. Constantly comparing your life to the “highlight reels” you see on social media can make you feel bad about yourself. Also, constant cell phone buzzing, notification chirps, and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline. This is this exhausting mentally and physically. Put the gadgets away and “just be”.
Add Some Spice – Spicy meals trigger the release of endorphins, the morphine-like compounds that give you a natural high.
Make a few changes and “choose” to be happier…
What chance does a sleepless, working parent have when it comes to fighting off the seasonal ickies and viruses. Really good chances actually. Don’t let a cold or flu get you this winter. Do this by minimizing your risk and boosting your immunity NOW, when you are feeling well. Here are three strategies…
You’re Feeling Great, Thanks
You aren’t sick. In fact you feel fine. Well, that is awesome. Now is the time to make sure you stay that way.
Get plenty of sleep – Get 8-10 hours of sleep at least. It has been said that those who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are 3x more likely to catch a cold. Use blackout curtains to keep your room dark, drink sleepy time tea, and rub lavender oil on the bottoms of your feet 30 minutes before bed. If you have to go to bed when your kids do than so be it!
Eat a nourishing diet – Eat lots of seasonal colors including green. Drink up bone broth and Kombucha like it is going out of style. Add plenty of herbs and spices to your meals (garlic, turmeric). Eat lots of fatty fish. You need the vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, plant sterols, flavonoids, and probiotics.
Supplement Your Diet – I am a firm believer in supplementation. Try adding some Vitamin E, B-Complex vitamins, fatty acids (omega 3s), spirulina, CoQ10, and magnesium.
Kick stress to the curb – It is fact that stress makes you twice as likely to get sick after exposure. Do all that you can to eliminate sources of stress and find ways to deal that don’t involve unhealthy habits…ie junkfood and alcohol. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) than check out my post on What To Do When You Get The Winter Blues.
Get Active – Exercise helps you stay well. That is just the way it is. Though this time of year we may not be itching to go out in the cold to hit the gym and the darker days make us sluggish. Well, do something fast at home. Do some p90X or try one that I happen to love myself called Lift Weights Faster. Only have ten minutes? Knockout out a quickie dumbbell or kettlebell workout, guided by video step by step.
Have Sex – Yep, good ole hanky panky. This pleasurable activity increases endorphins, which than revs up the immune system. It also eases stress. So get busy if you don’t like blowing your nose every five minutes.
Oh Heck! You’ve Have Been Exposed!!
So now you have been exposed to the cold or flu by someone close to you. What do you do? Take it laying down? Heck no!
Scrub a Dub – Wash your hands like it is going out of style…before every meal for sure. Try to avoid touching your face and mouth unless your hands have just been scrubbed. Old fashioned soap and water is still the most effective way to prevent the spreading of illness.
Sanitize – I do not recommend hand sanitizer at it has some chemical nasties in it. No sense in rubbing that garbage all over your skin. Instead try a sanitizing spray such as Thieves oil. Grab a small spritzer bottle and add witch hazel to it. Then take a 1/2 teaspoon of epsom salts and add 5-10 drops of Thieves oil. Add the oil/salt to the spritzer bottle. Shake well and spray liberally as needed to sanitize surfaces (like the keyboard at work) and your hands/face.
Take a Booster – Eat/drink/supplement with healthy doses of garlic, bone broth, ginger, echinacea, astragalus, vitamin A, and elderberry syrup.
Ugh! You Feel Awful…
Take it easy – You need some TLC. Tell the kids they are eating grilled cheese sammies for the next few days and you plan on doing little else but taking care of yourself. Sleep as much as you can.
Take a sip – Drink immunity boosting hot tea with some coconut milk and honey.
Breathe easier – Diffuse some pine or eucalyptus oils into the air to help support respiratory function. You can even make a homemade vapor rub. The easiest way to do this is to add some of the desired oils to some olive or avocado oil and put them in a roller bottle. A hot water bottle on the chest after application helps speed up the relief. Easy peasy!
Soothe a sore throat – Slippery elm bark in some tea does wonders!!! You can also make homemade lozenges. Just make a dough with slippery elm powder, tea, and honey. Roll into balls, coat with more powder and allow to dry. Keep them in the freezer and you will always have some at the ready.
So who is ready for the season of sickness?? You, that’s who!
These days healthcare insurance costs a pretty penny. Frankly for lots and lots of people it is financially out of their reach or they have to take the cheapest option, which may mean high deductibles and large out of pocket costs. This is why healthcare is so widely discussed in the political arena…everyone (typically) wants to have access to affordable medical care and be able to get treatment if they get sick or have an accident of some kind. Yet the prices are skyrocketing and it is becoming a luxury that the average Joe cannot afford. So when you cannot afford health insurance what do you do? You make sure you are healthy and thus less likely to need it.
I know the kind of stress that having no insurance options can bring. I have been without it a few times in my life, usually due to job changes, and it was worrisome each and every time. It was especially worrisome after I got cancer and realized that going without health insurance for any length of time might disqualify me from ever getting it again, at a reasonable rate that is. Yet I view healthcare and health insurance quite a bit differently now. I stay insured just for peace of mind. After your body betrays you like that you always think in the back of your mind that it could happen again.
But my body didn’t really betray me though did it? I betrayed my body with years of bad dietary choices, the stress of having babies back to back, and an extremely sedentary lifestyle. After cancer I made numerous changes and don’t even feel like the same person. Now I see that my health or lack thereof is really within my control. It is the consequence of my own choices, good or bad. When you start to see it that way then you start to see healthcare a bit differently. Instead of paying premiums for health insurance, you start to see how you could funnel money towards preventative care so that you don’t have to rely on a broken system.
Now as mentioned I DO have health insurance. It is partly because of my past history with cancer but also because I have children. Sometimes the peace of mind is worth it. My husband has a union job with awesome insurance so it would be dumb not to take advantage but we have developed a plan to make sure we don’t need really it and that we can survive with a high deductible – emergency only type plan if we have to.
Here are some of the ways you can fund a ‘Do It Yourself’ Healthcare plan. These options/choices keep us healthy and free of illness. Yes, these action items might cost money but I really do believe that you have to pay for health now or you will pay for illness later…
Emergency Insurance and HSA’s – For many years we had a plan with a high deductible, making it for emergencies only. Our out of pocket costs for the dentist and a rare doctor’s visit, etc were paid for with our HSA (Health Savings Account). We sent money to that account every week pre-tax and it was there when we needed it. HSA’s are an awesome way to make sure your medical expenses are being paid for with pre-tax money and unlike an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) you don’t lose this money ever, it just keeps accumulating. I was really sad when we got better insurance and were no longer able to contribute to an HSA.
Healthy Food – Many say that eating healthy doesn’t cost more but in my experience it does. I choose to buy organic, pastured, grassfed, etc whenever I possibly can. We are paleo so we spend more on expensive meat and nothing on the cheaper grains and legumes so popular among the mainstream.
Primal Food – This is my personal preference but one that is based upon so much encouraging data. Eating paleo or primal is like eating according to the factory settings for the human body. If you want to thrive you should experiment with a paleo diet or at the very least reduce the amount of refined carbs and sugar you eat. You will be amazed.
Herbs and Spices – Spices are powerhouses whose health enhancing compounds rival or even surpass vegetables and fruit. Getting to know how spices can enhance health make us better informed about natural health and more able to make food our medicine. Check out my article on Everyday Spices That Promote Health and Fight Disease.
Gym Memberships – You will only get out if this what you put into it. It is just a waste if you join a gym and then never use it. Try a few places and see if you can find one that feels like your second home. The price tag is worth it because it is important to exercise daily.
Supplements – The quality of our soil means that our food (both plant and animal) is depleted in minerals and not as nutritious as it once was. I still make it a point to eat as well as I can but supplementation helps close some gaps. I personally take fish oils, krill oil, magnesium, Vitamin D, and probiotics.
Essential Oils and Home Remedies – Cheaper that visiting the doctor and they really work. Essential oils are actually part of my monthly budget and would be part of any self funded insurance plan we developed. I would probably set aside $50-$100 a month for oils, minimum.
Naturopathic Doctors – These doctors will actually try to help you get to the bottom of what is causing your illness or problem, they don’t just treat the symptoms as conventional doctors do. If you want to spend the money to visit a doctor then go this route.
Detox Your Home – Get rid of the toxins and nasty chemicals that lurk around your home. Use green cleaners, buy used furniture and clothing (no offgassing or pesticide residue), wash your clothes with a natural detergent, use personal care products that rate safe in the Skip Deep database, get rid of plastics. There are many ways to reduce your exposure to the toxics that are so common in every day products. Every step helps.
Fresh Air and Sunshine – Spend as much time as you can outside. We need the fresh air and the sunshine for our health . We also need the direct contact with the earth. Some research has shown that a physical connection with the earth, as in your bare feet on the grass and soil, can help with a variety of ailments both mental and physical. It is called Earthing. The best thing about this action step is that it is FREE!
I feel fortunate to have a healthcare plan via my husband’s employer but I feel even better about the fact that in my mind… we don’t even need one. Our own healthcare action plan actually improved our health, something you cannot usually say about corporate healthcare plans.
It is amazes me how our attitude’s change about sleep as we get older. When we are younger we relish staying up late, brag about it, and generally try to milk every moment we can by staying awake. As we get older though we start to appreciate sleep time…trying to make sure we get a solid eight or more hours of dream time. We might even take naps. I know I plan my day around sleep time. I always want to ensure I get enough rest. If that means I have to go to bed at 6pm, before the best prime time shows even start, so be it. That is what a DVR and the weekend is for. We cannot expect to be healthy, fit, and strong if we ignore the benefits of adequate rest.
So what if you have trouble sleeping. I am one of the not-so rare folks who do. I wouldn’t say I have full blown insomnia but I am definitely sleep challenged. It runs in the family. Like my father, I toss and turn and wake up numerous times each night. I have tried a variety of things to help fix these issues because I am not a fan of pharma meds and don’t want to go that route.
Here are some natural ways to help you sleep better… one of them was a game changer for me.
Blackout curtains or a sleep mask – Total darkness often means a better night’s sleep. It also helps regulate our hormones better. Artificial light messes with our sleep systems so make sure to block all sources with blackout curtains. That way your neighbor’s porch light or street lights won’t be impeding your sleep. If you have artificial lights in your room such as the displays on alarm clocks or cable boxes, turn them off or use a sleep mask if you would rather not.
On the flip side, waking up with natural light is also ideal. If you have to get up before th sun does, like I do then use a wake-up light. The warm yellow light begins 30 minutes prior to your alarm time, increasing in intensity as your chosen waking time approaches. They are fantastic!
Get rid of EMF near the bed – Electrical appliances produce toxic electromagnetic fields called EMFs. It is not a good idea to have these devices near you when you are trying to sleep. To make your bedroom an EMF free sanctuary use a wood bed frame if you can (instead of metal) or just put your mattress on the floor. Turn off electrical devices or if you can, turn off the fuse that powers your bedroom. If you use a cell phone as an alarm clock (like I do!) keep it as far from you as possible, even if it means you have to get up and walk across the room to turn it off. You can also buy an EMF Neutralizer for your cell phone.
Use a natural remedy – Many people swear by Valerian (an herb) and Melatonin (a hormone). For the latter, start with a teeny weensy dose, even if you have to cut an already small pill in half. It can be a powerful sleep aid but it can also have side effects for some people such as vivid nightmares.
For me the most effective remedy I have ever tried is lavender essential oil. it is AMAZING. I put a roller ball on a bottle of pure lavender oil and apply it neat (means undiluted) to the bottoms of my feet thirty minutes before bed. Then when I slide into bed I am out like a light and I wake few times if any. Total game changer.
Eat light – Don’t fill your belly right before going to bed. That fires up numerous systems in order to digest the food and assimilate all the nutrients. Eat a couple hours before bed time or eat a light meal.
Take a bath/shower – A hot bath or shower is very relaxing before bed. You can also use a few drops of essential oils to relax you even more. Try Roman Chamomile, Peace & Calming blend, or Marjoram.
Avoid stimulation – Don’t exercise right before bed, watch TV, or play on the computer. Take an hour or so before bed to wind down and stay away from artificial lights such as bright TV screens and computer monitors. We cannot expect our bodies to go from 60 to sleep in just a few seconds/minutes. We need to wind down naturally and prepare our bodies for sleep. After sunset use candles and install software on computers and phones to dim the lighting with he setting sun. Try f.lux. It’s free.
Do you have sleep tips to share?