Daily Tips

How to prevent skin cancer

  • Love Your Linens

If you’re lucky enough to hop into a boat this summer, instead of donning that gorgeous bikini, think about covering your gorgeous skin.  Wear protective clothing that is lightweight, loose-fitting, and tightly woven.  Organic linens and cottons in light shades can feel wonderful against your skin even in extreme heat.  Add to the ensemble sun glasses with medium to dark lenses and a wide-brimmed hat and you’re good to go!

Note: Be aware that the sun’s rays can reach you even through clothing.  So, if you must be outdoors for extended periods of time, apply sunscreen before getting dressed.

  • Timing Is Everything

The sun’s rays are at their most potent between the hours of 11am and 4pm.  If you can, plan your activities around these times or minimize your time spent outdoors during these peak hours.  If you must be out during these hours, seek shade under an oak tree or big umbrella, and most important, apply sunscreen.

According to M. Sara Rosenthal, Ph.D., in her book, Stopping Cancer at the Source, “many of us don’t even understand sunscreen or how to apply it properly.  And sunscreen is crucial.  In fact, some have estimated that if sunscreen is used regularly in the first eighteen years of life, the lifetime risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer would be reduced by an impressive 78 percent.”  That said, it is never too late to become sunscreen savvy and put your newfound savvy knowledge to practice.  First, purchase a sunscreen that is natural and free of chemicals.  Seek out the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  These ingredients protect against UVA and UVB rays without harmful side effects.  Look for “broad spectrum” on the label which means the sunscreen offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays and contains an SPF of at least 15.  Apply your screen 20 minutes before going out and reapply approximately every 2 hours.  If you are swimming, sweating, or showering, of course reapply again.  And make sure if you’re wearing little covering, such as a bikini at the beach, enlist a friend to help you cover those hard-to-reach places.

  • Check It Out

One of the smartest preventative measures you can take is to get regular checkups.  This is crucial as most skin cancers are curable if discovered in the early stages.  Knowing your skin, so that you notice any changes is essential.  Seek medical attention if you note any of the following: birthmarks or moles which change color, size, or shape; new growths on the skin, patches of skin that swell, itch, bleed, ooze, or become red and bumpy; sores that do not heal.

  • Eat For Longevity

Now for the good stuff!  There are plenty of preventative measures we can take in the comfort of our own homes all year round to prevent cancerous cells from forming.  First off, the proper diet can do us a world of good, and can even enable our bodies to stave off the dreaded c word altogether.  Eat a high fiber diet with adequate amounts of organic fruits and vegetables.  These foods are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and invaluable phytonutrients which are believed to have anticancer properties.  Foods that are loaded with antioxidants are also necessary because they have anti-inflammatory properties and inflammation has been linked to squamous cell carcinoma.  Foods which contain vitamin C and beta carotene, such as carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, apples, nuts and seeds, and olive oil all have anti-inflammatory effects.  A potent antioxidant found in grapes and berries called resveratrol can keep skin cancer cells from proliferating.  Add smoothies to your morning routine and pack them with organic yogurt, berries and flaxseed.  Whole grains are also necessary elements in the anticancer diet.  They too are loaded with antioxidants among other nutrients including lignas, phenolic acid, and other phytochemicals.  Include organic quinoa, couscous, millet, barley, and rye in your diet.  Beneficial beans have complex carbohydrates and vitamins.  They are also non-animal sources of protein and contain fiber just as whole grains do.  When possible, avoid sugar and saturated, hydrogenated, and partially hydrogenated fats and oils as these substances foster a toxic internal environment.  Steer clear of processed food, fast food, and foods with additives or artificial ingredients.  According to Ayurvedic medicine, even avoiding leftovers can help fight the battle against all kinds of cancers because older foods lose their life force and vitality and become more difficult to digest.

  • Nutritional and Herbal Supplements

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that neutralizes several of the most damaging free radicals and also reactivates other antioxidants.  An added plus to alpha-lipoic acid is that is both lipid- and water-soluble, which means that it can go nearly anywhere in the body.  This is a characteristic to other antioxidants.  Flaxseed and Fish Oils are essential oils necessary in maintaining healthy skin.  Vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants that promotes healing by boosting the immune system.  It also helps produce collagen, a key skin component.  Any good antioxidant combination formula that supplies 200 micrograms of selenium daily is beneficial because again, antioxidants help protect against potentially cancerous causing free radicals.  Pine bark and grapeseed extracts are also examples of good antioxidants.  Coenzyme Q 10 is a powerful antioxidant which is hoped to have some success in fighting cancerous activity.

Red Clover is an effective blood cleanser.  In order for tumors to grow, they need a blood supply, so they send out chemical messages that induce the body to grow new blood vessels into and around them, a process referred to as antiogenesis.  Red clover contains genistein which is believed to have an antiangiogenic effect.  Taking milk thistle on a daily basis is another good idea as it an amazing detoxifying agent and gives the liver, our detoxifying organ much support.  Research had shown that cat’s claw can kill cancerous cells without doing damage to normal ones.

  • Spice Things Up

There is also a magical herb believed by the long tradition of Ayurvedic medicine to have a number of anti-cancer properties.  Turmeric soothes the cells, stimulates the proper enzymes, and protects the intelligence of the cell’s DNA.  Indian households have been cooking with this healing spice for over 5,000 years, adding it to their veggies, lentils, and legumes.  Westerners have proven its health benefits by pointing to its star ingredient curcumin, which abounds with cure-all properties.  Because turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, it has the ability to eat away free radicals.  It also stimulates glutathione S-transferase, a cancer protecting, detoxifying enzyme.  When applied as a topical application, turmeric can inhibit skin tumor promotion.  Like  other antioxidants, tumeric has anti-inflammatory properties which help block the growth of cancerous cells as well.  So, don’t hesitate to start cooking up those curries this summer, and always.

  • Sip Your Green

Long regarded by ancient cultures as a powerful proponent in fostering good health, green tea is presently being considered a possible cancer preventative and even an aspect of cancer treatment.  This is so due to its many amazing healing properties.  Green tea is rich in flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-allergen activity.  It also combats free radical damage to protect against degenerative disease and boosts enzyme production in the body.  Its properties also include antiviral, antibacterial, and antibiotic properties.  National Cancer Institute studies are investigating the protective effects of a pill form of green tea against sun-induced skin damage.  Another study is investigating the topical application of green tea in shrinking precancerous skin changes.

It’s never too late to start protecting your precious skin.  Always use a good sunscreen regularly, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security.  And don’t count on a suntan or a naturally dark skin tone to protect you.  It is true, that light colored skin burns more easily and lighter skinned individuals are more prone to developing skin cancer, all shades of skin are subject to sun damage.  Moreover, sun damage is cumulative.  While you may not see its effects immediately, they may show up at some later date in the form of skin cancer.  That said, take advantage of those summer festivals in the sun and be good to your skin.

“The Power of Dance and Movement”

The fact that there has always been dance compels us to accept it as an old and deeply rooted human activity whose foundations reside in the nature of being human. It will continue as long as the rhythmic flow of energy operates, and until humans cease to respond to the force of life and the universe. As long as there is life, there will be dance.

-Margaret N. H’Doubler

For as long as I can remember, I have danced; for as long as I can recall, few things in life have brought me greater joy. My journey through movement began at the age of three, studying the Western styles of jazz, tap, and ballet. In the high school years I explored modern dance and my passion for creating an emotional picture inspired by the canvas of enchanting music. Years later, I found myself in New Orleans, steeped in the rituals of African Dance and the primitive beat of the drum. I also joined a samba troupe and samba danced down St. Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras. After an adventure in India, yoga became an integral part of my daily life. Presently, the intoxicating rhythms of Flamenco feed my soul and spirit every day.

Along my expansive and continuing journey through dance and movement, it has from an early age served as a powerful tool in my development and sense of self. It has provided me with a means to explore various cultures, traditions, and rituals that I may have not otherwise come to understand. It has helped maintain my physical health, and has become one of my most beloved means of spiritual practice, thereby enhancing my overall mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.  Whether a seasoned dancer or not, every one of us can benefit immensely from various forms of dance and movement.  May the following information inspire you to further explore the great joys of your body as a vehicle for self-expression and fulfillment.

Dance Therapy

Dance scholar Margaret N. H’Doubler, author of “Dance: A Creative Art Experience”, once said, “if all children in every school from their entrance until their graduation were given the opportunity to experience dance as a creative art, and if their dancing kept pace with their developing physical, mental, and spiritual needs, the enrichment of their adult life might reach beyond any results we can now contemplate.

Dance is an extremely potent tool in the development of self. Suzie Tortora, a dance therapist in Cold Spring, New York, observes, “from the beginning, each baby develops his or her own personal communicative dance to express how he or she perceives and experiences his or her surroundings.”  In the early years of one’s self development, it is through movement that young children discover the world. It is also through movement that they communicate with their surroundings and let the world know how they feel. Dance therapists can get a feel for a child’s experience by observing his or her nonverbal communication. In time, a therapist helps a child discover more varied movement, which eventually enhances and expands his or her repertoire. This, in turn, expands a child’s ability for self-expression in the world and enables greater interaction with others.  This approach can be highly beneficial for any and every child, regardless of their stage in emotional, mental, and physical development.

Dance Therapy is a powerful vehicle for mental, emotional, and physical healing. Based on the principle that body and mind are interrelated, dance movement psychotherapy is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional and physical integration of the individual.”  According to dance therapy, the qualities of movement and postural structure of an individual are a reflection of a person’s emotional expression. Suzie Tortora adds, “for me, the word dance has come to symbolize all nonverbal expression which has the potential to be communicative. The goal of my work-from individual psychotherapy sessions to parent-child counseling to teaching creative dance is to help the participants learn how their nonverbal actions accompany and add meaning to their verbalizations. Understanding the role movements and gestures play in our interactions facilitates greater awareness of self and others.”

Yoga

There are a myriad of mind-body practices to explore. Yoga asana is one of the most popular and beneficial forms of therapeutic movement, and one of my favorites. Asana is defined as “posture,” its literal meaning is seat.  Asanas are more than just stretching as they open the energy channels, chakras, and psychic centers of the body.  Yoga has served as a calming oasis in my own life for the past nine years and continues to teach me how to slow down, meditate, and  move my body in ways that other types of movement fail to explore. While traveling, yoga grounds and centers me. It is an ideal form of healing movement while traveling through life, literally and metaphorically, because it needs nothing but the body and the breath. Yoga helps me to connect with the spiritual world, as it has done for so many humans around the globe for thousands of years.

The benefits of yoga as a form of healing and expressive movement are great. From a physical aspect, yoga strengthens muscles, increases flexibility, improves endurance, and calms the mind and body. Yoga is a wonderful form of meditation in motion. It also focuses on the power of breath, which helps to maximize one’s inner energy source while allowing it to flow through the entire body, bringing much healing and a sense of calm.

Alexander Technique

Another life-enhancing form of movement therapy is the Alexander Technique. The basic teaching of the Alexander Technique is that when the neck muscles do not overwork, the head balances lightly at the top of the spine. As this relationship between the head and the spine is of critical importance to health, how we manage this relationship is directly related to the rest of the body. In fact, it determines the quality of the entire body’s coordination.

A teacher of the Alexander technique helps a person see what his/her movement style is, and how it fosters reoccurring problems like a bad back, chronic neck or shoulder pain, or any limitation in executing physical activities. By implementing the technique, students learn to rid the body of many harmful habits, heighten self-awareness, and use his/her own thought processes to restore poise to the body and graceful, natural movement-the way we were meant to move.

Pilates

The Pilates Method is a physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century. Joseph Pilates, a boxer, circus performer, and self-defense trainer of English detectives, was interned at a camp in Lancaster with other Germans as ‘enemy aliens’ during WWI.  It was here where h spent much of his time to further develop his exercise techniques.  Pilates called his method Contrology, referring to its emphasis on using the mind to control the muscles. Pilates focuses on the core postural muscles that are essential in keeping the body balanced and providing spinal support. The exercises also teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine. They strengthen the deep torso muscles, which help to prevent and alleviate back pain. While following the method, one learns how to control body movement through a series of exercises (with names like swan or mermaid,) while keeping the mind focused on the task.

The method attracted the attention of dancers George Balanchine and Martha Graham, two legendary dancers and choreographers of the 20th century. Dancers are drawn to Pilates because of its deliberate movements, controlled breathing, and emphasis on alignment. These techniques are believed to improve strength and flexibility throughout the entire body without building bulky muscles. Research and theories in motor learning, biomechanics, and musculoskeletal physiology help support the phenomena and overall health benefits experienced by those who practice this particular therapeutic movement method.  These benefits include the developing of the deep muscles of the back and abdomen, the creation of length, strength, and flexibility in muscles, and the greater support given to the spine by the exercises which give awareness of neutral alignment of the spine and space between each vertebrae.

Feldenkrais

The Feldenkrais Method, another form of body movement, believes that the body is the primary vehicle for learning. With this particular approach practitioners help people to expand their repertoire of movements. The method also enhances awareness, improves function, and enables people to express themselves more fully. Through movement sequences that bring attention to the parts of the self that are often ignored, the technique addresses the question of how to facilitate the learning that is necessary for organizing the whole self and recovering excluded and unconsidered movement patterns or actions.

Feldenkrais is expressed in two main forms: Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration. The first form is made up of verbally directed movement sequences presented primarily to groups of people in a classroom setting. Several hundred hours of Awareness Through Movement lessons are to be taken to achieve the best results. The lessons make one aware of his/her habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and expand options for new ways of moving, while simultaneously improving efficiency and increasing sensitivity. Functional Integration is a hands-on form of tactile, kinesthetic communication. Through gentle touching and movement, a practitioner teaches a student how to move in more expanded motor patterns.

Gurdjieff Movements

The Gurdjieff Movements center around movement exercises and sacred dances developed by GI Gurdjieff.  The technique also focuses on inner practices of attention, sensing, breath, awareness, feeling, and mental imagery.  Patty Kane Horrigan, a teacher in the Gurdjieff style of movement therapy in NewYork reminds us that most of the population is not as aware of our bodies as we can and should be.  In reference to the Gurdjieff movements, she says that the movements were designed to keep us focused on just that-what the right hand and the left hand are actually doing.  “Many of the gestures are contradictory to what we expect-they’re not very fluid.  In fact, they’re immensely angular, they require divided attention.  Each part of the body may have a different tempo, and you’re doing them in a group where people are traveling in all sorts of directions.  There’s not time to do anything except be there and try to find a way to manage all the different elements.  If ever there was an activity that showed the uselessness of negative emotion or empty thinking, the movements are it.  You can’t waste a second on doubt, criticism, idle thoughts or any of the million other activities that go on inside our heads.”

She continues, “Making the efforts to do these movements can be humbling.  It doesn’t take long to see how little knowledge, let alone control we have on our own bodies.  But when we try, it can be glorious.  There’s something so powerful about experiencing the body we live in, about feeling its connection to the world.  Movements are ultimately a very emotional experience.  They open up feelings at a very different level.  These movements are part of a spiritual tradition that teaches that we work on so that we can ultimately work with and for others and can be of service to the universe.  But for those who are interested in that journey I can’t think of a better place to start than the body.”

Dance Ruminations

Trishki Doherty, a modern dancer explains how dance has enriched her life in boundless ways.  “Dance became a way for my deep inner self to speak and thus helped me establish my identity, a sense that I am someone, and this helped me transcend mental illness.” For forty years dance has played a center stage role in her life, and continues to each day.  On a physical level, Trishki notes that it has given her a strong body and a much straighter spine, as it cured her scoliosis to a point where it was no longer a major problem.  “Dance gave me good posture and a beautiful body (previously I had a very weak spine, and was “top heavy” and not in proportion.)  It has helped me have a strong and healthy body as I approach my elder years – probably helping me live longer and have a better quality of life.  Dance has also helped me appreciate all different kinds of music – for as I dance to different music, it seems to open up the channels to really hear and experience it.”

Jacques D’Amboise, a former principle dancer with the New York City Ballet and founder of the National Dance Institute once said, “It’s your pulse, it’s your heartbeat, it’s your breathing. It’s the rhythms of your life. It’s the expression in time and movement of happiness and joy and sadness and energy. It’s a venting of energy. It’s extraordinary, and that’s common to all cultures and it’s common to all individuals.”  Dance, like language, is found in all human societies. It is one of the only universal forms of expression. One of dance’s universalities is the use of the human body itself as a vehicle for self-expression and intercommunication. All dance is charged with power. It serves as an emblem of cultural identity, an expression of religious worship, an expression of cultural mores, and a medium of cultural fusion. Dance is a means of social order, and is perhaps the art form whose dynamics are most closely related to the dynamics of life. It is ever-changing, ever-flowing, with every body that moves, from one corner of the planet to the next.

I spoke with my flamenco teacher, Miel Castagna as to how flamenco dance has affected her life.  “When I think about how dance has enhanced my life, my mind becomes overcrowded with words. I think when you are a dancer, there is somehow no other option of how to be or what to be.  Dance IS your life.”  She explains that for seventeen years she has tried to get a “real” job and find a “normal” profession, but aside from becoming a mother, flamenco is the only thing that fills her heart with such complete and intuitive passion.

I agree. If I eliminated dance from my life, my existence would be less rich. I can even say it would feel like an integral part of myself had died.  I absolutely adore flamenco because of the utter amount of emotion it entails. It embodies sorrow, love, joy, honor, and even death. Like other forms of ethnic dance, the meaning behind the dance is paramount. It tells a story, a feeling, and often times translates an entire history of a particular culture.

The desire to know oneself and express one’s deepest feelings using the body is an incredibly humanistic, primal instinct, which crosses barriers of language.  When I am moving my body through a dance or through a yoga asana, I experience a divine sort of freedom: an ability to express myself from the heart, which awakens a natural intuition and a feeling of connection to the rhythms of the universe. Dance becomes prayer, and movement becomes life.

This piece was originally published in Chronogram magazine.

Kick the sugar habit!

According to a CSFII USDA survey, we Americans eat 20.5 teaspoons of granulated sugar every day. This statistic is a bit absurd when compared to the figure consumed by the French. On average they consume one-eighteenth the amount that we do. Could this be the reason why the French eat lots of butter, animal fat, and cheese while suffering from fewer cases of chronic disease? Perhaps the paradox is not so much a paradox after all.

Why Sugar Is Bad

Sugar is a processed substance that is foreign to our bodies. For this reason alone, it is best to consume organic sugar in small quantities, but preferably not at all. Another great reason to decrease you sugar intake is that it impacts the physiology of our bodies in dramatic ways. Sugar is largely responsible for obesity (excess sugar is stored as fat), cancer, diabetes, gum infections, tooth decay, yeast infections hypoglycemia and hyperactivity. Sugar can also decrease growth hormone, encourage cancer, increase cholesterol, encourage fatigue and food allergies, incur gallstones and contribute to osteoporosis. In addition, when it enters the body, it feeds harmful bacteria that live in the mouth. It also suppresses immune function. This list is just a sampling of the ill-effects that sugar has on our bodies.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes anywhere between 150 to 170 pounds of simple sugars in one year. This is the equivalent of eating ¼ to ½ pounds of sugar each day. Less than 100 years ago, the average intake of sugar was only about 4 pounds per person per year. This is a huge difference and a statistic that tells us we are consuming above and beyond what nature intended. Just take a look at the food you eat on a daily basis. If you enjoy the more obvious sugar laden foods like pastries, donuts, cookies, cakes, and candies, then you know you’ve got some work to do. And if you eat these sweets in moderation, great, but there are numerous foods out there (namely processed foods) which contain way more sugar than you would think just by virtue of the way they are made. White bread, white flour products, processed fruit juice and even rice cakes not only have more sugar than your body can take, but they also have a high glycemic index. When we eat foods with a high glycemic index, we often experience wild swings in blood sugar which causes a high. The high is then followed by a low, hypoglycemic state which can result in depression and irritability. Over the long term, these foods leave you insensitive to your own pancreatic insulin. When this happens, your body loses its ability to control blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes, depression and obesity.

Refined white sugar contains no nutrients whatsoever. It contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes-just empty calories. In order to digest it, the body has to take nutrients from its storehouse of enzymes and nutrients. All of the B vitamins which are essential to nerve function and vitamin C, which is required for keeping the immune system active and for repairing connective tissue are needed in this process. Calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are also taken from various parts of the body in order to make use of the sugar. Think about that each time you add white sugar to your morning cup of coffee or take a bite of that glazed doughnut. Is it really worth it?

What We Can Do

Perhaps it’s time to re-examine our relationship with sugar. Maybe it should be treated like any other addiction, because let’s face it, most Americans are addicted to sugar- whether we are conscious about it or not. In fact, researchers have found that there is a strong correlation between alcohol and or other addictive drugs and a strong craving for sugar. Those who are addicted to sugar have strong withdrawals when sugar is removed from the diet.

Think about what you eat on any given day. For breakfast, you may have cereal (lots of sugar there), perhaps you add sugar to coffee or tea and some mornings French toast is on the menu. At lunch you will most definitely find sugar in restaurant foods, in salad dressings or in pasta sauce. For a snack, yogurt seems like a healthy option but most contain upwards of 15 grams of sugar. At dinner there is sugar in ketchup, BBQ sauce, pizza and bread. Then there’s dessert and voila-you have incorporated loads of detrimental sugar to your daily diet. Still, there are other sources from which we obtain sugar that might not be so obvious. Certain types of crackers, canned vegetables and fruits and peanut butter are some examples. Just take a look at labels as you shop. If sugar is one of the top ingredients in the product, gingerly put it back on the shelf.

Unfortunately, we are biologically programmed to eat sweets. It is in our genes. Our biological sweet tooth was well under way when we were still living in caves. In order to make it through the day we had to eat nutrient-packed foods. Berries and other fruits helped boost our energy levels to enable us to perform the physical tasks of a typical day.  If we fulfilled our collective sweet tooth today with fruits only, having a “sweet tooth” would not be such a negative thing.

The good news is, there are so many wonderful alternatives to sugar. When it comes to sweeteners, it is important to avoid all products containing aspartame, splenda, saccharin, refined white sugar, desserts made with white flour and white sugar. In moderate quantities, these sweeteners may be replaced with stevia, agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, certified raw, organic honey, pure grade B maple syrup, rice bran syrup, carob candy and organic chocolate, preferable raw. By cutting back on your intake of sugar you will be doing your body a huge favor. If you break down occasionally there’s no need to feel guilty, but do try to avoid it. With time, your body will thank you immensely.


Turn Your White Wedding Green

Tying the knot but still want to be environmentally friendly?  There are many ways to make your white wedding green.  Here are some tips to make your special day sustainable as well as unforgettable:

Weddings are a multi-billion dollar industry.  In the U.S. alone, nearly two and a half billion people get married each year.  They are often unnecessarily costly on a personal level as well as an environmental one.  Fair-trade issues show up in areas ranging from flowers to the after-dinner coffee. When you start planning the big event, think about ingenious ways to make use of resources.  For example, while purchasing products, look into using borrowed, rented, or secondhand items before purchasing new ones.  If new items are purchased, consider buying products from companies and countries that do not use child labor, or support companies that donate a percentage of their profits to environmental causes.

Invitations and Programs

When the time comes to create invitations, consider printing them on recycled or recyclable paper.  Use a reply postcard, which needs no envelope, and forgo the inner envelopes, saving paper and money.  An alternative to paper invitations is to email or telephone guests.  Use an eco-conscious provider such as Working Assets or Earth Tones.  You can also create a website with details about your wedding-directions, hotels, other weekend events, to avoid having to print this information out for everyone.  If you do use paper invites, encourage guests to recycle their invitations, or have seeds embedded in the paper so that guests can plant the invitations and enjoy the flowers that grow from them.

Have the order of your service printed on 100% recycled PCW paper that has been processed without chlorine.  Use your program to let your guests know how significant the environment is to you, and all the ways you have considered the earth in planning your wedding. This will educate your loved ones and inspire future bride and grooms to be.  Collect programs at the end of the ceremony and recycle them.

Flowers

Flowers are a huge part of any wedding ceremony.  One way to consider your environment is to select an organic flower source or consider growing your own bouquets.  When the ceremony has ended, recycle flowers by giving them to your bridesmaids or local hospices.  Use potted plants in place of cut flowers for centerpieces.  These can then be given as gifts or enjoyed in your new home together.

Wedding Favors and Gifts

It’s also a positive sustainable statement to avoid disposable items in the details of your wedding.  Plastic cutlery, paper plates, disposable cameras, and tacky wedding favors are nice ideas but most guests will most likely throw them out anyway.  If you are going to be buying gifts for your wedding party, consider non consumptive options like massage therapy gift certificates, useful gifts like wine, soap, and fair trade coffee. Soy candles make lovely gifts and set a fragrant mood.  Decorate with soy candles and then let your guests take them home.  They also burn cooler and longer.  A small bag of organic tea in a cute paper tea-cover makes a healthful gift.  And like the nuptials themselves, something that grows is an ideal wedding favor from the green bride and groom.  Give potted flowers.  Try sunflowers, marigolds, poppies, or morning glories. These gorgeous blooms can beautify your reception and make the perfect favor.

Food and Drink

Serving organically grown food, will put fewer fertilizers and pesticides into the    environment and into your body, as well as promote sustainable agriculture.  You may want to consider a vegetarian menu.  Plant proteins use fewer valuable resources, meaning less land and water- per pound than livestock.  Buy organic champagne.  Another idea is to prepare your own food or have a pot-luck reception.

The Ring

If a diamond is a girl’s best friend, choose a conflict-free one.  (Many diamonds come from Angola or Sierra Leone where rebel military groups terrorize the people, and profit from mining operations).  Buying a vintage diamond is another option.  If your heart is not set on the precious gem, nix the diamond altogether and opt for a simple band or other type of ring that has value to you.  Visit http://www.greenkarat.com for alternative ideas.

The Dress

Look for a wedding dress made of organic materials or buy a previously-owned gown. Some boutiques have obliged by actually designing wedding gowns in hemp and other light-on-the-earth fabrics. Other brides take great satisfaction in giving their mother’s gown a second run.  Another idea is to choose a simple dress that you’ll enjoy wearing again.  When the ceremony is over, if you don’t have nostalgic ties to the dress learn how you can donate it to charity at http://www.idofoundation .org.

Familial and Friendly Involvement

Perhaps one of the best ways to stay “green” while tying the knot is to recruit friends and family to get involved.  Do you have a friend with a knack for simple flower arrangements?  Perhaps your mother’s old veil is just waiting to make an appearance after living in the closet for decades.  Surely an aunt or sister would be honored to make a homemade wedding cake.  Do you have photographer friend who will take fabulous photos?  A musician friend who plays Spanish guitar?  You’ll be surprised at how many people are happy to play a part.  The wedding then becomes more intimate and interactive, and less of a spectacle.

Venue

When selecting a venue, choose one where you can have both the wedding and the reception.  You may be able to have a beautiful wedding on the property of a friend or family member’s home.  Gardens are gorgeous locales as are places overlooking bodies of water, mountain vistas, etc.  Perhaps a small wedding in the comfort of your own home is possible.

The Honeymoon

If you have the time and the resources for a honeymoon, be mindful of your destination.  If you simply wish to relax on your honeymoon, consider finding a hotel in an exotic locale that has adopted sustainable practices.  Look for a “green hotel” at http://www.greenhotels.com.  These hotels have programs that conserve water and energy.  Another option is to travel locally.  You may be so tired you’ll be glad you didn’t travel far, and you can put the extra money saved toward your future home.

After the Ceremony

When the ceremony has come to a close, give away as much as possible: donate flowers to a local hospital, send leftover food to a homeless shelter, take your dress to a re-sale shop, etc.

In creating your new life together, practice making sustainable choices in your daily life together.  Invest in socially responsible companies when planning for your retirement and financial future.  If you are still establishing a home, think about registering with an eco-conscious retailer to minimize receiving unnecessary trinkets from guests who aren’t sure what you need.

Simplify wherever you can without compromising your sacred day.  Fewer details will translate into less stress, less over-consumption, and more fun for you and your loved ones.  Be ingenious.  Create your own traditions.  It’s certainly worth it!

(I previously published this piece in “Alive” magazine.)

Coconut Oil: the healthy and ecological saturated fat

A sustainable and renewable resource, coconut trees are abundant in the tropics and while not a local food source to most of mainland North America, it is a renewable one with coconut trees growing abundantly in tropical regions.  Polynesian women have been using coconut oil for thousands of years as an external beauty product and an internal medicine.

Saturated fats are essential to living a long, healthy life.  According to Teya Skae, author and founder of Empowered Living www.empowered-living.com.au,“saturated fatty acids are what gives our cells structural integrity, so the cell walls are not weak and can protect the inside of the cells.  Saturated fatty acids are needed for the proper utilization of omega-3 essential fatty acids because omega-3’s are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats.”

In the modern American diet however, saturated fats most commonly come from animal sources-cream, eggs, meat, cheese, butter and poultry.  Unfortunately, the ecological implications of a diet heavily reliant upon animals is not only bleak for our individual health, but incredibly draining on the planet.  Kerrie K. Saunders author of The Vegan Diet: as Chronic Disease Prevention, writes, “raising animals for food is by far the greatest consumer and polluter, of fresh water on the planet, draining off 60% of our continent’s entire fresh water supply.”  Now more than ever our dietary choices have huge sociological and ecological implications, and as the toxins in our external environment increase, we must protect our bodies with the foods we internalize.

Dr. Ryan Shelton of Whole Body Health in Overland Park, Kansas is a proponent of coconut oil for the following reasons:  “It is functional food,” he states.  “That is, it is a food that can have powerful medicinal properties if used appropriately.  The complex mixture of lipids (fats) found in coconut oil have proven health benefits.  They can serve to increase metabolism and thus assist with energy and weight loss.  They can decrease Lipoprotein (a), which is important for cardiovascular disease.  They can help protect the liver against damage from alcohol, drugs, and other environmental toxins.”  He adds, “One lipid in particular has potent anti-viral properties, making it important for strengthening our immune system against viruses.  The mixture of saturated fats in coconut milk is difficult to oxidize under normal circumstances, making it an ideal fat with which to cook.”

Using even the healthiest of organic vegetable oils, including olive oil, in baking and frying creates free radicals because all vegetable oils oxidize, especially when used in cooking.  Organic virgin coconut oil does not oxidize even at 170 degrees celsius.  In addition, nearly 50% of the fatty acid in natural coconut oil is lauric acid, which converts to the fatty acid monolaurin in the body.  Lauric acid has adverse effects on a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses. It destroys the lipid membrane of such enveloped viruses as HIV, measles, Herpes simplex virus, influenza and cytomegalovirus.  Coconut oil also contains caprylic acid and capric acid, both natural anti-fungals known to fight yeast overgrowth.

When purchasing coconut oil, be sure to buy only virgin organic oil.  Avoid refined oil as it is sometimes hydrogenated.  High heat is used in the refining process which destroys many essential nutrients of the coconut.

Sidebar:

Here are just a few ways you can add coconut oil to your diet:

1.  Coconut milk is a great base for smoothies.  Blend one banana, 1 cup coconut milk, and one cup orange juice.  Substitute the banana for ½ cup fresh pineapple for a different taste, or simply blend 1 can coconut milk with a half can of water, and two tablespoons honey for a refreshing afternoon drink.

2.  Whenever you stir fry, use coconut oil for a tropical, healthy flavor.

3.  As a substitute for butter have multi-grain toast in the morning with coconut oil (which melts nicely on the warm bread) and organic blueberry jam.  In addition, substitute coconut oil in pancake batter, cookies, muffins, and cakes.  Try adding coconut oil to your popcorn instead of butter.

4.  In salad dressing, you may want to try using equal parts coconut oil and olive oil.  Then add other ingredients.  A simply nutritious combo includes: ¼ cup red wine vinegar, ½ cup coconut oil, ½ cup olive oil, sea salt and fresh herbs to taste.  (These may include garlic, thyme, herbs de province, oregano, etc.)

5.  Add it to tea and coffee.  This is a great substitute for milk or cream.  You can also try adding a teaspoon or two to warm cider or hot chocolate.

6.  For a creative dipping oil, mix 3 ½ tbsp. coconut oil, 2 tbsp diced onion, 1 tbsp diced garlic, ½ tsp. basil, ½ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the mixture begins to simmer.  Turn off the heat and let cool.  Use this as a dip for bread, a topping for pasta or veggies, or as a salad dressing.

Eat less, live longer

The Okinawan islands in Japan are home to the world’s largest concentration of people over the age of 100. These centenarians follow an extremely healthy diet based on nutrient-dense foods such as green vegetables, sweet potatoes, fish, soy-based foods and whole grains. They eat very little, if any, meat, eggs or dairy products, and few sweets. Also notable is the fact that they eat 17 percent less food than the average Japanese and 40 percent fewer calories than the average American. While the type of food they eat certainly contributes to their longevity, the amount they eat is believed by many to be a central factor in their long life spans.

In the United States, the Okinawan diet has many followers, and now a small group of individuals has adopted a similar calorie-restrictive way of eating they believe is indeed the key to longer life. Sometimes referred to as followers of the CRON (Calorie Restriction for Optimal Nutrition) or CR diet, these dedicated souls eat 10–40 percent fewer calories than the national average. They eat a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet, just less of it than most people. Their medical checkups are said to show that they are aging slower than an average American of the same age.

The CR diet developed from data compiled by bionaut Dr. Roy Walford during the scientific study Biosphere 2. The main objective is to create meals that combine nutrient-dense and calorie-lean foods in different ways, in the belief that the diet will activate a specific anti-aging gene. Calorie restriction is one of the few dietary disciplines that has been documented to increase both the median and maximum life span in a variety of animals, among them fish, rodents, dogs and non-human primates. Scientists who study calorie restriction and practitioners of the CR diet believe it may also be true for humans.

If you are interested in following a CR diet, it is very important to note that calorie restriction does not simply mean eating less, which can lead to malnutrition. It means getting the most out of what you put into your body. Lisa Walford, co-author of The Longevity Diet (Marlowe & Company, 2005) encourages us to “begin slowly; replace fatty and unhealthy foods with healthy ones, lots of vegetables and good sources of protein. Anyone practicing CR intelligently will recognize that every bite either nourishes and replenishes the body, or congests particular physiological systems and forces the body to work hard to overcome unhealthy fare.”

The Okinawan diet and the CR diet plan are not so different from one another. The concept of the Okinawan diet is limiting calorie intake by emphasizing high volume, high-nutrient foods with a low caloric density. Both diets emphasize eating green vegetables which are low in calories but high in nutrients, along with carbohydrates having a low glycemic index such as tofu, sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains like quinoa and barley. Low glycemic carbohydrates have numerous health benefits. They increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, improve blood cholesterol levels and sustain energy while keeping dieters feeling full until the next meal.

The Okinawan diet advises eating miso soup before each meal so as to reduce the tendency to overeat. Many CR practitioners eat a “tease meal” before a regular meal to keep glucose levels low and to discourage overeating. The CR tease meal may consist of a small handful of walnuts, almonds, blueberries and cranberries, or half of a boiled sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are staples in both the Okinawan diet and the CR diet plan due to their high level of antioxidants.

Both diets advocate eating very small amounts of fish in order to benefit from omega-3 fatty acids. The CR diet plan suggests that your dietary fat should come from monosaturated fats found in olive oil, avocadoes and nuts. Nuts are also staples among Okinawans. Both diets advocate the elimination of simple sugars and flours because they provide very little nutritive value for the amount of calories they contain. They also have a high glycemic index which should be avoided whenever possible.

Ali Ronan, a fair-weather CR practitioner says, “The best advice I can give is to get some software that allows you to track what you are eating. This will give you information that you probably never knew about regarding what is going into your body. I would also recommend researching as much as you can about CR, dieting, healthy eating, exercise and other related topics. Having this information will be key in developing your own way of practicing CR. CR is not like Weight Watchers. The plan isn’t laid out for you, so you really have to step up and take an active approach to planning what you are eating, not just your calories, but your nutrients too.”

Before jumping headfirst into CR, you should consult your physician. Talk with your doctor about the plan and have some basic tests done to see where your body stands. Tests such as blood pressure, body weight, body temperature, complete blood cell count (CBC), a lipids panel, liver function panel and basic metabolic panel should be taken first to see whether your body is ready. If you are practicing CR to lose weight, it is absolutely necessary that you lose weight slowly. Losing weight rapidly can release toxins into the bloodstream, causing more harm than good. Your goal should be to lose one pound every two months until you reach your goal. For further information, visit www.crsociety.org.

Choosing the right olive oil

When consuming olive oil, choose one that is as fresh as possible, preferably under a year old. A label reading extra-virgin is no guarantee of quality. As with almost all modern agricultural farming and production, a lot of factory produced olive oil is stripped of its health enhancing nutrients. To find the best organic olive oil, look for an extra-virgin that is cold-pressed, unfiltered and looks cloudy. It is possible to find real olive oil that is made in the traditional way, typically on small family run estates.

Don’t eat before bedtime!

This is perhaps one of my greatest unhealthy habits. I love to snack at night. Lounging on the couch with  a loved one after a long day while sharing chocolate bon bons…one of life’s greatest pleasures! I’m not saying to cut out the couch-lounging, bon bon nibbling completely, I’m just saying we should try to do it earlier in the evening and relax with a cup of herbal tea or glass of pellegrino with a slice of lime closer to bedtime. Why? Because sleep and eating don’t go together. Eating before bedtime winds you up, instead of calming you down. Staying away from food after the sun goes down will result in better zzzz’s and help you lose weight.

Cooling Inflammation

There are over a hundred diseases that are caused by or involve inflammation. These include heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer. The most common cancers all have one thing in common-inflammation. Research has shown that most precancerous and cancerous cells show signs of inflammation. There is also evidence that the longer inflammation is present, the higher the risk of getting an associated cancer. Researchers have also identified inflammation as a significant factor in the development of solid tumor malignancies. There are chronic inflammatory conditions that do not have an established cause, infections being ruled out.  This in turn suggests that the process of inflammation provides the prerequisite environment for the development of malignancy.

While we now have the knowledge that inflammation is understood to be a lead player in many degenerative diseases which cut our lives short, we also have the knowledge to take preventative measures in order to avoid these miseries. First of all, we can have our CRP levels checked. CRP refers to the C-reactive protein which measures inflammation in the blood. If you smoke, have high blood pressure, are overweight, and don’t exercise, there is a good chance your CRP levels are high. In order to lower these levels, we must of course refrain from smoking, reduce stress in our lives, have a healthy exercise routine and follow an anti-inflammation diet.

Diet, without question influences inflammation. The food choices we make can determine whether we are in a pro-inflammatory state or an anti-inflammatory one. Following an anti-inflammatory diet is simple. The principles include eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of wholesome foods, refraining from saturated fats, processed and refined foods, and eating lots of organic fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as one good source of omega-3 fatty acids each day.

Omega-3 fatty acids not only decrease inflammation, but they also prevent irregular heartbeats, reduce plaque in artery walls, and decrease blood clotting, blood fats, and blood pressure. They also help reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. There are three omega-3 fatty acids-EPA, DHA, and ALA.  EPA and DHA are derived from marine mammals while ALA is derived from plant oils.  Foods containing ALA are flax oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, walnut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, omega-3 enriched eggs, Atlantic salmon, and sardines canned in oil. Foods with EPA are herring, salmon, mackerel, blue fin tuna, shark, and sea bass. Lastly, DHA is found in salmon, tuna, herring, bass, mackerel, sardines, shark, and omega-3 enriched eggs.

Water is also an essential component of reducing inflammation. Drink eight glasses of pure water a day. If you have trouble drinking water, try adding lemon or see if sparkling water with lime or lemon or even cucumber tastes better.

Moderate exercise will induce a powerful anti-inflammatory response while rejuvenating the body and relieving stress. Stress is a significant cause of inflammation.  When we are under significant stress, due to bodily injury, excess exercise, chronic disease, lack of sleep, or chronic anxiety, the body produces cortisol in an attempt to shut off the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Cortisol acts as an effective response to short-term stress. If however, the body has high levels of stress and inflammation on a long-term basis, cortisol levels will be chronically high too. High cortisol levels are linked to all kinds of stressors, including: prolonged exercise, excess caffeine in the diet, being overweight, low blood sugar form a low-carbohydrate diet, skipping meals, and stuffing yourself at meals. High cortisol levels will predispose you to a host of illnesses-including cancer.

Meditation is an excellent way to reduce cortisol levels. Actually any activity that allows you to focus on breathing techniques and alleviate the mind of troubling thoughts will have a positive effect.  Yoga, massage, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, exercise, gardening, sitting in a hot tub for twenty minutes-whatever allows you to shut off your mind and just be, will do a world of good in preventing and/or relieving chronic inflammation.

Supplements:

The best way to obtain all of your daily vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients is by eating fresh foods with lots of fruits and vegetables. The following supplements may be added to the diet to decrease inflammation:

Vitamin C, 200 milligrams a day

Vitamin E, 400 IU of natural mixed tocopherols

Selenium, 200 micrograms of an organic (yeast bound) form

Mixed carotenoids 10,000-15,000 IU daily

A daily multivitamin-multimineral supplement that provides at least 400 micrograms of folic acid and at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D. They should contain no iron and no preformed vitamin A.

Calcium citrate. Women need 1,200-1,500 daily while men should get no more than 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day.

Fish oils-if you only take one supplement for your entire life, take this one, which inhibits the activity of the enzyme delta-5-desaturase that makes AA, arachidonic acid. It is the number one anti-inflammatory supplement you can take.

Tumeric- the Indian spice contains curcumin, a phytochemical which inhibits the enzyme which makes ararachidonic acid. Turmeric can be used as often as you like in cooking, but taking a supplement will ensure greater inflammation relief.

Ginger-contains phytochemicals called xanthines, which inhibit both the cyco-oxygenase (COX) enzymes, that make pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, and also the lipo-oxygenase (LOX) enzymes, which make pro-inflammatory leukotrienes. Use fresh ginger in cooking as much as possible or take a capsule.

Aloe vera- Taking aloe orally will reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Ingest one tablespoon of organic aloe daily.

Add CoEnzyme Q-10-60 to 100 miligrams of a softgel form with a large meal.

Sesame oil- is ripe with lignans which contain sesamin.  This is an inhibitor of the enzyme which makes AA, arachidonic acid.  Take 1-2 teaspoons a day.

Alcohol- in moderation (one drink per day for women, two for men) reduces inflammation

Extra virgin olive oil- contains a phytochemical called hydroxytyrosol.  This compound appears to inhibit the enzymes that produce pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, just as aspirin does (without the negative side-effects).  Take 2-3 teaspoons a day.

5 fun foods (aphrodisiacal)

A team of U.S. and Italian researchers analyzed bivalve mollusks – a group of shellfish that includes oysters, mussels and clams – and found they were rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.

Strawberries gained their reputation as an aphrodisiac due to their large number of tiny seeds symbolizing fertility. In art and literature, the strawberry was usually portrayed as a symbol of sensuality and earthly desire and has been described as fruit nipples. Strawberries contain more vitamin C than any other berry. They also contain a good amount of potassium, folic acid and some iron and fibre.

Chocolate is believed to have been thought of as an aphrodisiac since as early as 600BC. It is known to increase serotonin and Phenylethyalanine levels in the brain. Phenylethyalanine effects the brain’s mood centers and induces the emotion of falling in love.  It can gently stimulate the central nervous system and gives an immediate and substantial energy boost thus increasing stamina.

Honey has been known as an aphrodisiac as far back as the 500 B.C., even Hippocrates prescribed honey for sexual vigor.  Everything about honey is romantic from the way it’s made to its golden appearance. Honey is an aphrodisiac due to its rich B vitamin and amino acid content.

Chilies heat up your sex life due to capsaicin, which gives a kick to peppers, curries and other spicy foods. Capsaicin stimulates nerve endings to release chemicals, raising the heart rate and possibly triggering the release of endorphins giving you the pleasurable feeling of a natural high.

More reasons to eat your carrots !

Eat carrots for your digestive system: people who eat raw carrots at least once a week have half the risk of developing stomach cancer as those who rarely eat them.  Similarly, people with a high intake of carrots are 56 % less likely to get pancreatic cancer.  Carrots also protect against colo-rectal cancer. Eat carrots for your respiratory tract: many studies show that eating carrots regularly confers significant protection against cancers of the lung, pharynx, larynx, and mouth.

Eat carrots for the female reproductive system: studies show that high carrot consumption protects against breast cancer; in one, it was found that eating carrots just twice a week halved a woman’s risk of breast cancer, compared to women who never eat them.  Other research links carrots with a reduced likelihood of ovarian cancer.

Eat carrots for your skin: Italian researchers have discovered that a diet which includes plenty of carrots (along with cruciferous and leafy green vegetables) halves the risk of melanoma.  This result builds on Australian research, which found a correlation between eating carrots and a reduction in developing skin cancer.

Superfood-Papayas

Papayas are an excellent source of antioxidant nutrients, such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids. They also contain beneficial amounts of potassium, vitamins E and A, folic acid and fiber. Papayas contain papain, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of proteins. This particular enzyme is used in digestive enzyme dietary supplements. Papayas provide protective benefits against heart disease, cancer and other diseases associated with free radical damage. Increase the health benefits of a succulent papaya by eating it with walnuts!

Why My Neti Pot is Fun!

They say that it’s all about life’s little pleasures and I couldn’t agree more, especially when one of mine is a white porcelain genie’s lamp resembling neti pot. It’s short, it’s stout, and yes, you pour the non-iodized salted warm water out…into one nostril and out of the other. Sound uncomfortable? At first, yes, but after a while the clearing sensation I get from a morning neti pot ritual feels really, really good. Not only does it feel good, but it has some real health benefits. Bathing the sinus cavitites in this warm saline solution is known to help sufferers of sinusitis, allergies, sinus headaches, cold and flu. I don’t know about you, but as long as my memory serves, I have had that irritatingly stuffed up feeling most mornings. Maybe I was blessed with mucous loving genes or maybe we just live in a time when there are too many dust bugs floating through the air. Whatever the reason, I have my little neti to thank, for allowing me to breathe a little easier every day.

Lemon balm-mellow, uplifting herbal tea

Lemon balm is native to Europe and northern Africa and has been cultivated for over 2000 years. Also known as Melissa tea, it is still known today in France as a remedy for fatigue and headaches. It is a gentle lemony tasting herbal tea that has a soothing and uplifting effect when drinking. Lemon balm is known to have sedative effects and is a good tea to drink in the evening to help you sleep at night. If you want to drink it to promote restful sleep, you may wish to combine it with valerian and/or chamomile. Lemon balm has also been used for menstrual cramps. You can make lemon balm tea from the fresh or dried herb. For a hot tea, steep 1 tsp. of dried lemon balm per 1 cup boiling water. If you are using the fresh herb, use 1 ½ tbsp.. per one cup water. Letting the herb steep for a while-7-10 minutes should do the trick. Sip 2-3 cups per day if you are interested in drinking it for medicinal purposes. Otherwise, drink it whenever you like. It’s a nice addition to your tea drinking repertoire!

Dance your way to good health

When was the last time you cut a rug, grabbed a partner, and tangoed across the living room? If you can’t remember, it’s time to put on those dancing shoes, and dangle that red rose between your teeth. Dancing, according to Beth Shubin Stein, M.D. is an excellent aerobic workout. It tones many different muscle groups while encouraging proper balance and posture. In addition to the physical benefits of dance, there are mental and emotional ones as well. Learning new routines challenges the brain while connecting with your fellow dancers enhances social connections. Most importantly, dance is just plain fun. .

Here are some excellent ways to get that booty shakin’:

Take a class. Salsa, Ballroom, Tango, Flamenco, African, Belly, Tap, Ballet, Classical Indian, Mexican Folkloric, Modern, Brazilian, Hula. There are so many forms of dance the world over, and many are easily accessible to the novice and seasoned student. Classes are a great way to get motivated and meet many interesting people from various walks of life.

Find your style. Discovering your personal style is a great way to find out more about yourself and what moves you, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What is your dance dynamic? West African dance is upbeat and will give you an exceptional cardiovascular workout, while many forms of ballroom dance move in graceful waltzes and passionate tangos. Have you always wanted to travel to a particular place on the globe? Exploring the fiery rhythms of flamenco allow a greater knowledge of Southern Spain and the gypsy culture it embodies. Perhaps you’re looking for something on the meditative side. Balinese, Thai, and Indian classical dance are great vehicles to explore the sacred.

Try it at home. A great way to get started is to simply put a favorite cd in the boom box and dance around the living room for a half hour. If you’d like to stay in your home but would prefer a bit of guidance, find a few DVDs to follow. Maybe you want to try a particular style before committing to a class. Videos are a great way to do so.

Spirulina, nature’s superfood

Spirulina is a wonderful supplement to take for a number of reasons. It has been experimentally known to treat certain allergies, anemia, cancer, liver toxicity, viral and cardiovascular diseases, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and triglycerides and a weakened immune system. It is a rich source of amino acids, chlorophyll, B vitamins, GLA, carotenoids, and other nutrients. Spirulina has been shown to have immune-enhancing effects, it detoxifies heavy metals, and it protects against radiation sickness. A phytonutrient in spirulina known as phycocyanin has been shown to stimulate the production of blood cells as well.  This is the spirulina product that I have and it’s made right here in Kona, Hawaii!  While the price may seem high, there are 151 servings in this 16 oz. bottle. One serving a day is what I recommend.  That’s a good 5 month supply!  I usually add it to smoothies, but you can sprinkle it on a salad or incorporate it into dressings and even baked goods, although I’ve never tried it.  I’ll be thinking of more ways to incoporate this superfood as the days here on the Big Island progress, and if you have any ideas send them my way.

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