Pathways to Healing Blog page 2

Meal Planning

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

With the busyness of the holidays just around the corner, it’s a good time to consider prepping meals for the upcoming week or stocking the freezer for easy-to-reach-for meal options. This type of pre-planning can help save time and save money by limiting unnecessary trips to the grocery store and last-minute runs through the drive thru.

 

When it comes to meal planning, there is no “correct” method. Your approach may differ based on your cooking ability, personal goals, food preferences and schedules. If you eat fast food or takeout several nights of the week, you might have a goal to limit the times you eat out. If you already make a weekly shopping trip, your goal might be to choose one day when you do most of the cooking rather than firing up the stove or oven every night. If you are someone who regularly cooks at home, you might decide to spend a few extra minutes on Sunday creating a weekly meal schedule so you are not deciding last minute what to make and can be sure to have needed ingredients on hand.

 

The best way to start the meal planning process is to pick a day of the week to plan your menu — be it a menu for a week or a menu for the month. Then, make your grocery list. Be sure to take inventory of what you already have in the pantry, fridge and freezer. Some people prefer to designate a particular day of the week to a specific type of recipe and plan accordingly, such as Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Crock-Pot Wednesday, Stir-Fry Friday, and Soup and Sandwich Saturday.

 

If you need some inspiration for your menu, here are a few of my prep-ahead favorites:

 

Breakfast: Egg cups, sweet potato hash, yogurt and fruit bistro box, overnight oats, breakfast taco scramble or breakfast burrito, chia seed pudding, smoked salmon breakfast bowl and boiled eggs.

 

Lunch: Mason jar salads (put the dressing at the bottom or add at time of eating), sandwich wrap, chicken or tuna salad on greens or toast, burrito bowl, roasted vegetables or zucchini noodles with pesto.

 

Dinner: Chili, stews, soups, salmon and asparagus, chicken parmesan, quinoa salad with a southwest twist that can be eaten hot or cold, stuffed bell peppers, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and broccoli, one pan stir-frys and dinner casseroles.

 

The secret to efficient meal prep is multi-tasking. While foods are baking or simmering, chop fresh fruit and vegetables for grab-and-go snacks, or wash and dry salad greens for later. If you prefer not to pre-cook proteins, consider pre-chopping and marinating fish, poultry, tofu or meat so you can quickly pop them into the oven or a stir-fry later in the week. Consider making a double batch of a particular recipe or extra portions for another day or two of meals. Extra portions can also be frozen for later use. Get a head start on lunches by dividing prepared food into individual containers on prep day. You’ll earn yourself an extra 10 minutes of sleep knowing your lunch is ready for you to grab on your way out the door!

 

Meal planning is a great tool that can save us time during the busy holiday season, while also saving us money in the long run. Taking the time to develop this healthy habit now can help decrease stress and ensure we stay on a healthy eating track, even during the holidays.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Pumpkins are not just for carving

Pumpkins are not just for carving
By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Chances are, if someone mentions pumpkins, your first thought will be pie at Thanksgiving or carving jack-o-lanterns. But pumpkins are also a wonderful, nutrient-dense ingredient that can be added to soups, salads, casseroles, breads and even dog treats!

Pumpkins belong to the cucumber family and are related to cantaloupes. They come in large and small varieties, as well as different colors and shapes. Pumpkins pack a significant nutritional punch by providing a healthy dose of vitamin C, potassium, copper and manganese. The bright orange color of most pumpkins is caused by high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a plant carotenoid that converts to vitamin A in the body. Carotenoids act as an antioxidant in the body by tackling harmful free radicals and stimulate the immune system to work properly. Pumpkins also provide vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, B6, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. All combined, these vitamins and minerals have a dramatic effect on your health. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more potassium than a banana!

The seeds from pumpkins are also a concentrated source of minerals, vitamins, protein and fiber. Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which relaxes the body, calms nerves and improves sleep. Roasted pumpkin seeds are an easy, transportable snack. To roast pumpkin seeds, wash them thoroughly in cold water after extracting them from the pumpkin. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adding a sprinkle of natural salt helps bring out their nutty flavor.
When buying pumpkins to cook with, be sure to find one that is fully ripe. You can check this by tapping on the outside. Your tap should produce a dense, hollow “thump.” Pass on pumpkins that have cuts, wrinkled surface skin, or blemishes. Store your pumpkin in a cool, dry place and it should be good for several weeks.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Coffeecake Oatmeal is a healthy way to get your pumpkin fix this fall. This oatmeal has a healthy steel-cut oat base. The sweetness comes from the topping, but you can always add some extra sweetener or a splash of vanilla nondairy milk to make it a little sweeter. (This recipe uses a smaller slow cooker – 1 ½ to 2 quarts.  If making in a larger slow cooker, double or triple the recipe to prevent burning.)

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Coffeecake Oatmeal

Recipe courtesy of HealthySlowCooking.com

Ingredients:
• ½ cup (40g) steel-cut oats
• 1¾ cup (437ml) Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (or plain plus ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
• ½ cup (124g) pumpkin
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Coffeecake Topping
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or other sweetener if you don’t use refined sugar)
• 3 tablespoons pecans or walnuts, chopped
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

The night before:
Mix toppings in a small container and cover until the morning. Spray your crock with some oil to help with clean up later (optional). Add all the ingredients except the toppings. Cook on low overnight (7 to 9 hours).
In the morning:
Stir your oatmeal well. It may seem watery at the top but if stirred it should be a more uniform consistency. Top with coffee cake topping.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Cooking with Parchment

Cooking with Parchment

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

The two most common obstacles to getting a healthy meal on the table?  Time and effort. The solution?  Parchment paper. Meals prepared in a parchment paper pouch (sometimes referred to by the French term “en papillote”) may seem fancy, but this simple method is ideal for those with busy schedules, small kitchens or anyone tired of doing a sink full of dishes.

 

This “dinner in a bag” method requires wrapping a protein of your choice along with vegetables tossed in seasoning, in a parchment paper packet.  The packet can then be cooked in the oven or on the grill.  Food essentially steams inside the packet. The flavor comes from ingredients you choose to add, like citrus and herbs, which ensure tender and juicy results.

 

Parchment paper is a disposable non-stick surface that is resistant to grease, moisture and heat. You can buy a roll at most grocery stores (found near the foil and plastic wrap), or you can purchase pre-cut parchment sheets or cooking bags online. Parchment paper should not be confused with wax paper. Waxed paper is not mean for use in the oven, as the wax coating will melt if exposed to direct heat and burn.

 

Cooking in parchment is very healthy, as you do not need to add much oil or fat to the packets.  It’s also a convenient way to cook for one or many. Each pouch is usually one serving, and packets can be prepared ahead of time and baked when guests arrive. You can also customize each pouch, which is helpful for picky eaters or those with food allergies.

 

When you “pouch” your meal, leave food at least one inch from the edge of the packet and do not overstuff it. You will need to fold and seal the pouch tightly so all the ingredients stay inside and a tight seal is created for the steaming process. If the seal is not tight, your dinner will not cook properly or quickly. (You may want to watch a how-to video on YouTube before making your packets for the first time.)

 

Once you’ve mastered the basics, have fun with these recipes:

 

Lemon Pepper Salmon with Asparagus & Red Onion

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 14 minutes

 

Ingredients for two servings:

8 stalks of asparagus, trimmed each stalk cut in half

2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion

Two 6 oz. Sockeye Salmon fillet

4 teaspoons olive oil

6 thin slices of lemon

Sea salt and pepper

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare large oval of parchment paper (cut it 12”X18”) and fold it in half, then open it like a book.

Place asparagus pieces and red onion slices on one half of the parchment paper. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 

Place one salmon fillet on the vegetables. Drizzle the salmon with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with 3 lemon slices (you can add thyme, parsley or basil here). Fold the parchment paper over and starting at one corner start pinch the edges over tightly to close the packet. (When the edges are completely closed it will look like a calzone.)

 

Place the packet on a sheet pan and bake for 14 minutes on the center rack in the oven. Remove from oven and unwrap carefully (the steam will be hot coming out of the pouch!). You can cut off the top of the packet and serve in the paper, or you can unwrap and move the content to a plate.

Tip: You can also add thinly sliced potatoes as the bottom layer.

 

Greek chicken

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

 

Ingredients for two servings:

1/2 cup packed fresh baby spinach leaves

4 slices of tomato or cherry tomatoes cut in half

2 boneless skinless chicken breast

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 cup feta cheese

Sea salt and pepper

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare large oval of parchment paper (cut it 12”X18”) and fold it in half, then open it like a book.

Place the chicken breast on the parchment paper and season with salt and pepper. Place ¼ cup spinach on each chicken breast then the tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, onion powder and crumble the feta cheese over it.

 

Fold the parchment paper over and starting at one corner pinching the edges over tightly to close the packet.  (When the edges are completely closed it will look like a calzone.) Bake for about 35 minutes.

Tip: You can also add 1/8 cup sliced black olives to this.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Joint Pain

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

The belief that changes in the weather can affect joint pain has been around for centuries. Perhaps you had a grandmother who would assure you rain was coming because her arthritic knee was acting up. Or maybe you have earned a reputation as the family weatherperson because your joints become stiff and achy right before a snowstorm blows in. It’s common to blame joint pain flare-ups on changes in the weather, but does science really back up this belief?

It’s difficult to study the effect of weather on pain because you cannot control for weather in the same way you can control other variables in a study. Additionally, there is never just a single weather condition present at a time, so it can be challenging when trying to determine exactly what weather condition may be inducing pain. While there isn’t much in the way of controlled scientific studies, there are some theories that shed light on what might be happening to our bodies when there is a change in the weather.

Some people experience headaches when the weather is about to change. Scientists say this may have to do with barometric pressure changes, which create a sensitivity in joint fluids. When the pressure changes in our environment, our muscles, tendons, ligaments and tissues can expand or contract, causing pain. When the barometric pressure is low, joint fluids can receive less pressure, causing an increase in swelling and inflammation. Barometric pressure often drops before a storm, which may be why so many people think their joint pain or headaches can predict the weather.

For some people, colder temperatures are synonymous with joint pain. Researchers hypothesize that as temperatures drop, joint fluids have more viscosity. As a result, tissues become thicker and less moveable, making joints feel less flexible and stiffer than usual. Sudden dropping temperatures could have your joints feel more slow-moving or take longer to “warm up” for activity.

Researchers have also theorized that in colder weather the body tries to conserve heat by protecting the most critical organs, supplying them with the most blood flow. The body then limits blood flow to areas of the body that do not need as much protection – your extremities, hands, feet and knees – causing stiffness and pain.

While there may not be a hard and fast scientific correlation between weather and joint pain, the fact remains that people experience flare-ups in all kinds of weather. Here are a few simple ways you can find relief whether it is hot and dry or cold and wet.

Stay active
Motion is lotion for your joints, so keep moving — even when it might be raining or too hot outside. Activity prevents joint and muscle stiffness, promotes blood flow and ensures proper lymph drainage. Search up some quick at home yoga or stretching videos online or take advantage of an indoor pool for some low-impact aerobic exercise. On a recent rainy day trip to the Home Depot, I ran into a man walking his dog around the outer aisles of the store.  He had calculated how many laps he had to do to get a mile in. That man knew how important it was to go on a walk and was committed to getting the necessary steps for him (and his fur baby) to stay active and feel optimal!

Keep warm
Keeping your body warm promotes blood flow, which creates more viscosity in your joints and tissues. When heading out into cooler weather, make sure to use a vest to keep your core warm, and also socks and gloves for the extremities. Consider taking a warm bath using Epsom salts, drinking warm tea or simply putting a heating pad on problematic arthritic joints during cold weather.

Follow anti-inflammatory diet
What you put into your body has a huge impact on how your body feels. To minimize or avoid weather-induced joint pain, monitor what you eat. Try eliminating processed foods and lean more towards fresh whole foods like fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like fish and olive oil. For a full list of foods to fight inflammation, feel free to email me at pathwaysth@gmail.com and I will share the information with you.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

 

An Apple a Day

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – it’s a saying we have all heard at some point in our lives.  Caroline Taggart, author of An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work, says this saying came from Wales in the 1860s. The original verbiage was, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

 

So, does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? A JAMA Internal Medicine study sought to find out just that. The result? Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Data showed only 39% of apple eaters avoided physician visits versus 33% of non-apple eaters. But don’t let a lack of firm scientific evidence cause you to completely overlook the humble apple. Turns out this American favorite actually boasts many health benefits.

 

Apples contain a large number of phytochemicals including quercetin, which is a flavonoid. Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals found in almost all fruits and vegetables and are what give flowers and fruits their bright colors. Flavonoids provide many health benefits such as antioxidants, which help to protect against cancer, and other anti-inflammatory agents. Quercetin flavonoids are thought to protect against “bad,” LDL cholesterol and could help to lower blood pressure.

 

Additionally, results of a study published by the Journal of Food Science, suggest that fresh apples, bananas and oranges in our daily diet, along with other fruits, may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

 

When I conduct nutritional consultations, one of the topics I always discuss is gut health.  As it turns out, apples have a place in that discussion. Apples provide pectin, a soluble fiber that is also a prebiotic. A prebiotic is a non-digestible dietary nutrient, which beneficially influences intestinal bacteria by stimulating their growth. These “friendly” bacteria fight inflammation and prevent a host of digestive problems. In essence, apples provide your gut bacteria the food they need to do their job.

 

Within the last year, half a dozen studies have touted the benefits of apple peels.  One study in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found the peels of organic Gala apples, “showed a significant decrease in growth and survival of human prostate carcinoma and breast carcinoma.” The study concludes, “Apple peels may possess strong anti-proliferative effects against cancer cells, and [they] should not be discarded from the diet.”

 

Apple peels have the highest concentration of nutrients, so keep the peel on. But, when eating the peel, remember that organic is the best choice.  The Environmental Working Group has listed apples on its annual “Dirty Dozen” list for the last several years. Moreover, while it might be easier to “drink” your apples in the form of fruit juice, you may be better off sticking with the whole fruit. A study in the British Medical Journal found juice drinkers were at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, while those who consumed three servings per week of whole apples, blueberries, grapes, raisins or pears reduced their type 2 diabetes risk by 7%.

 

 

Healthy to the core, but that’s where it stops. Why? Well, inside the core of an apple lies its reproductive component — the seed, or pip — which can release cyanide, a powerful poison, when it comes into contact with your digestive enzymes. Not to worry too much though. One or two of these seeds will not be harmful for an adult, but if a child swallows a large number of seeds you should seek medical attention immediately.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

 

 

 

 

The Scent of Fall

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Fall is finally in the air! While the changing leaves add visual beauty to our surroundings, the comforting and soothing scents of the season are cropping up all around us. It’s time for pumpkin spice and everything nice!

While it’s easy to reach for candles and air fresheners to enhance those fall fragrances this time of year, these products may not be the healthiest choice. Many scented candles and air fresheners use synthetic perfumes. These perfumes are not aggressively regulated, so it’s difficult to know exactly what is being released into the air. On top of that, many candles and air fresheners contain phthalates. Phthalates are known endocrine disruptors that have been shown to play a role in hormone abnormalities and other health problems.

The good news is that it’s very easy – and a whole lot healthier – to make your own stovetop air fresheners from whole food ingredients. A basic stovetop potpourri made of spices, dried fruit peels, and extracts will fill your entire home with a wonderful toxic-free aroma that lasts throughout the day.

Additionally, simmering potpourri on the stove is a great way to add moisture to the air. I often leave mine on for an hour or two, replacing the water as needed. All of that extra moisture helps the heat to stay longer and carries the aroma throughout the house.

Below are several of my favorite simmering pot recipes.  Any of these recipes can be modified to suit your personal preference. There are an infinite number of combinations, so go ahead and experiment!

Be sure to discard the ingredients in the pot once the mix starts to smell or look “off.” (I’ve never simmered a stovetop potpourri for more than a week.) It also helps to have a dedicated pot for your stove top simmers, as cleaning the pot afterwards can be a chore and involve some scrubbing. This is definitely not something you want to do in your favorite pot!

Basic Fall Stovetop Simmer

  • 5 cups water
  • 2 navel oranges, peeled
  • 1 apple, sliced in half
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon-sized knob of fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel

Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and heat over low heat until simmering. I have kept this going for a few hours, adding additional water when needed. You can also place everything in a small crockpot and set it on low or high with the top off.

Other variations:

Ginger Orange

  • 3 cups water (or enough to cover the fruit and spices)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 oranges cut into wedges or 1 cup dried orange peel or 2 cups fresh orange peel
  • ¼ cup grated or thinly sliced fresh ginger or 2 Tbs. dried ground ginger

Cinnamon Apple

  • 1 quart water (or enough to cover the fruit and spices)
  • 2 apples cut into slices or 1 cup dried apple peel or 2 cups fresh peels and/or cores, organic if possible
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Tablespoons whole cloves or 1½ Tablespoon ground cloves (I think whole have a stronger scent and I love these cloves)

Apple Cider Chai

Winter Woods Simmering Pot

  • ½ cup juniper berries
  • 1 sprig thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 sprig rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)

Ginger Citrus Simmering Pot

  • ¼ cup grated ginger (or 1 tablespoon ground ginger)
  • peel of 2 oranges
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf

Citrus

  • 1 Orange, Sliced
  • 1 Lemon, Sliced
  • Cranberry Bliss
  • 1 orange
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon cloves

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Coffee

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

According to the National Coffee Association, 83% of American adults drink an average of two cups of coffee a day. In fact, the United States spends about $4 billion a year importing coffee, and coffee is considered the world’s second most valuable trade commodity behind petroleum.

So, coffee definitely has a wide fan base. But is coffee good for your health?

Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant for the central nervous system. The amount of caffeine in coffee varies dramatically depending on the bean used and the method by which the coffee is brewed. Dark roasts have a stronger, bolder flavor, but contains about 15 to 20 percent less caffeine than light roasts of the same variety.  This is because the roasting process of the bean reduces the caffeine content.

An average eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee from ground beans contains about 90-100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine compared to a cup of green tea that has about 40-50 mg or Coca-Cola, which has 45 mg. One-ounce of espresso contains about 30-50 mg of caffeine.  Decaf coffee in the United States must be 97 percent caffeine-free, meaning an eight ounce cup will still have 5-10 milligrams of caffeine.

Coffee can increase mental and physical performance and temporarily restore alertness, thereby increasing motivation and productivity. Coffee also increases blood flow to the brain, thereby increasing brain activity. Coffee can also be a performance enhancer and can contribute to higher stamina and concentration. One report, published by the School of Sport and Exercise Science, found athletic performance times were significantly faster among adult men who drank coffee prior to exercising compared to the placebo group, who drank decaf.

Coffee also contains a high source of antioxidants. When antioxidants are increased in the blood, it helps fight free radicals that can be damaging to the body. Coffee contains polyphenols, which are the same kind of antioxidants found in red wine and cocoa. These antioxidants may attribute to lowering oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially lowering your risk for disease.

There are potential drawbacks to coffee that are worth considering. The caffeine in coffee can leave some people feeling anxious and jittery. Additionally, consuming too much caffeine can have addictive side effects. Personal tolerance to caffeine is another factor to consider. For those prone to sleep-related problems, anxiety and heart palpitations, coffee might need to be off limits. People with low stomach acid or those who battle heartburn symptoms might be bothered by coffee, as well.

Since coffee contains caffeine, which alters your physiology and mood, it also has the ability to impact hormones and neurotransmitter function. Many people use coffee to mask fatigue and exhaustion from working long, tiring days. When caffeine is used to keep you going, or you depend on it to wake up, it may disguise underlying fatigue that may be coming from another health condition or end up causing one from lack of rest. Sometimes your body needs rest and time to reboot when you are worn out.

Black coffee is a better choice than energy drinks, soda, sweet teas and juices. Black coffee contains no sugar or carbs and minimal calories. Usually it’s what people add to their coffee that makes it unhealthy. If you do drink coffee, try to have it black or sweetened with organic cane sugar or stevia. For those who prefer milk in their coffee, reach for “no sugar added” nut milks (almond, cashew etc.), coconut milk or rice milk.

“Bulletproof coffee” has recently been gaining in popularity. To make bulletproof coffee, take 1 to 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter or ghee, 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 to 2 cups of hot coffee and mix in a blender for 20-30 seconds until frothy. Bulletproof coffee can trigger weight loss by activating ketosis, a metabolic state generated by lack of carbs that stimulates the body to burn fat as a source of energy. This coffee mixture can also be a great way to get healthy fats first thing in the morning, suppress hunger or decrease cravings while providing energy without the sugar spike and crash.

Some people maintain cold-brewed coffee is healthier than regular, hot-brewed coffee. Cold-brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in room temperature, or cold water, for an extended period of time (8-24 hours). Advocates claim cold brew coffee is up to 60% less acidic than typical hot coffee. Less acidic coffee can have a smoother taste and be better for teeth enamel and stomach acid balance. It also keeps fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Nitro coffee is cold brewed coffee put into a keg and infused with nitrogen gas. It offers that frothy and bubbly taste straight from the tap and does not contain (or really need) milk or sugar. Nitro coffee is less acidic than traditional hot coffee and includes about 30 percent more caffeine. Nitro coffee is becoming widely available in bottles and cans, so you can enjoy this trendy coffee at home or in the office.

Whether or not coffee is good for your health depends on your own body and how well you are able to tolerate it. If you do not have any issues consuming it, it’s safe to indulge in a cup.

Nuts

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

If you’re looking for a quick, convenient, nutrient-dense snack option, you really can’t do better than a small handful of raw nuts or seeds. There are a host of health benefits associated with eating raw nuts, which some experts even refer to as a “superfood.”

The Mayo Clinic notes that eating nuts can lower your LDL, or bad cholesterol, while improving the health of your artery linings.  In addition, nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein, antioxidants, fiber, amino acids, minerals and omega oils. These nutrients boost heart, brain and digestive health, while fighting free radicals. The high fat and protein content of nuts also helps with satiety and controls hunger by stabilizing blood sugar.

Almonds are the most nutrient-dense nut. The almond skin is rich in antioxidants including phenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that one serving of almonds contains a similar amount of polyphenols as a cup of steamed broccoli or green tea! Almonds also have one of the highest protein contents of nuts, nearly one gram of protein per almond.

Brazil nuts contain a high amount of the trace mineral selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant and aids in boosting the immune system. It is believed that selenium can benefit heart health by its ability to fight inflammation and increase blood flow.

Cashews contain a large amount of oleic acid, a heart-healthy fat. They are also a great source of biotin, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Hazelnuts are rich in many antioxidants, as well as vitamin E, arginine and B vitamins.

Macadamia nuts have the highest protein concentration in one serving. They are also a great source of fiber, magnesium and potassium.

Pecans contain over 19 vitamins and minerals! They are second highest in protein content and include calcium, copper, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and include B vitamins, as well as A and E.

Pine nuts may help with weight loss because they contain pinolenic acid, which triggers the release of an appetite-suppressing hormone. Pine nuts are most often used in recipes to make pesto.

Walnuts have recently been hailed a “superfood,” due to high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.  Pumpkin seeds are a nutritional powerhouse with a wide variety of nutrients ranging from copper and zinc to magnesium and manganese, and are also high in protein. The high zinc content in pumpkin seeds can boost prostate health.

(It’s important to point out that, although commonly viewed as a nut, peanuts are actually legumes and grow underground. For a variety of reasons, I do not recommend my patients eat peanuts.)

While nuts and seeds are very healthy, they are high in fat and protein. It is very easy to overindulge in nuts, eating too many servings (and thus consuming too many calories) in one sitting. One serving is considered one ounce. The following list details how many nuts are in a single serving. Eating a variety of nuts is your best bet, and moderation is crucial.

 

Almonds (20-24 nuts): 160 calories, 14g fat, 6g protein

Brazil Nuts (6-8 nuts): 190 calories, 19g fat, 4g protein

Cashews (16-18 nuts): 160 calories, 14g fat, 4g protein

Hazelnuts (18-20 nuts): 180 calories, 17g fat, 4g protein

Macadamia (10-12 nuts): 200 calories, 22g fat, 2g protein

Pecans (18-20 halves): 200 calories, 20g fat, 3g protein

Pine Nuts (150-155 nuts): 160 calories, 14g fat, 7g protein

Walnuts (14 halves): 190 calories, 18g fat, 4g protein

Pumpkin seeds (140 hulled) calories 153, 13g fat, 7g protein

When purchasing nuts, look for raw options. Roasted nuts are often processed in hydrogenated oils (a harmful fat source), which destroys the nutritional benefit nuts have in their raw form.  Additionally, roasted nuts are frequently coated in sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.  If you prefer roasted nuts and seeds, roast them yourself so that you can control the roasting temperature to keep the nuts as nutrient-dense as possible. Raw pumpkin seeds, for instance, can be roasted on a low-heat setting in the oven (no more than 170 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes), and sprinkled with Himalayan or other natural salt.

Nuts are a simple addition to your daily diet. Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle nuts on top of a mixed green salad for enhanced crunch. Add chopped nuts to hot oatmeal to increase the protein and fiber content. Eat nuts with your fruit and yogurt, or add to your granola. You can also create a simple pre- or post-workout snack by mixing nuts with dates and dried fruit for a healthy homemade 3-ingredient energy bar.

Choose one or two ways to begin incorporating raw nuts into your diet. By making this simple change now, you can begin to reap numerous health benefits in the weeks and months to come.

 

 

 

 

Shin Splints

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Have you ever experienced pain in the front of your lower leg after vigorous physical activity? If so, you may have experienced shin splints, a common injury that occurs between the knee and ankle.

While not a serious condition, shin splints can be very painful and can reoccur. Shin splints may start out as a muscle ache and then progress into sharp, shooting pains accompanied by swelling. The pain is usually located on the front of the lower leg, along the outside or inside of the shin. The pain begins when you perform weight-bearing physical activity and worsens after exercising is complete. In severe cases, any weight-bearing activity, such as standing or walking, will make the lower leg throb or burn.

The pain associated with shin splints results from an excessive amount of force on the shin bone, muscles and tissues that attach to the surrounding area. The force causes inflammation and swelling of the tissues, which increases the pressure leading to pain.

Common causes of shin splints include:

  • beginning a new exercise routine
  • running with bad form
  • improper alignment of the feet (i.e. fallen arches, overpronation, supination, flat feet)
  • not allowing appropriate recovery time
  • running on hard surfaces, such as pavement
  • running on unstable terrain or uneven surfaces
  • activity that involves going uphill or downhill
  • wearing new sneakers too long
  • wearing worn-out sneakers
  • improper warm-up techniques before activity
  • lack of flexibility or mobility
  • not properly stretching after activity
  • sudden change in physical activity
  • a previous injury that healed incorrectly
  • participating in sports that have fast stops and starts, such as soccer, tennis, basketball, racquetball and dancing

Shin splints can also be caused by repetitive stress placed on connective tissues, as can happen with over-training. If the root cause of your pain is not addressed, the pain can reappear quickly.

There are some steps you can take at home to help ease the discomfort of shin splints. Since the injury is caused by activity, rest is always the most important step. Rest allows the body time to recover and can make a huge difference. Rest does not mean being inactive and idle all day. Rather, just decrease the intensity and duration of your activity to allow your legs time to heal.

Ice or cold compresses placed directly on the problematic area can reduce the swelling and help numb the pain. Apply for 10 to 20 minutes at a time and repeat 3-5 times for the first few days. Elevate the legs for additional healing.

To prevent shin splints – or keep them from reoccurring – follow these steps:

  • Focus on proper tissue recovery after activity. Foam rolling, massage and stretching the calves can all be helpful. To foam roll the calf muscles, place the foam roller on the floor. Place the lower part of your leg on top of the foam roller, and move the leg back and forth and side to side, for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 minutes daily.
  • Wear supportive shoes. Some sneakers support your feet and shins more than others.
  • Replace your shoes once they are worn out, typically every 350 to 500 miles.
  • Consider adding arch support. Insoles are a great addition that can properly support your feet. Be sure to talk to a professional who specializes in measuring and assessing feet and arches.
  • Wear compression socks or compression wraps. Both can be helpful in supporting the soft tissue surrounding the shin.
  • Incorporate cross-training. Perform multiple types of exercise each week, rather than continually performing the same activity with the same force. This helps reduce the amount of repetitive stress on your legs, builds strength in other areas and takes pressure off your shins. For example, if you are a runner, try breaking up your weekly activity by adding a day or two of yoga, TRX, biking, swimming or simply walking.
  • Warm up prior to activity and perform proper stretching before, after and in between workouts – especially focusing on the glutes, IT bands and calves.
  • Do not exercise through the pain.
  • Ensure you maintain proper form when exercising.

Some choose to self-diagnose shin splints, but it is always advised to see a doctor or physical therapist. They can take a proper case history, perform a physical exam and take an x-ray in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment and rule out more serious injuries that can mimic shin splints, such as a stress fracture.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Every day we are exposed to organisms that touch our skin, are inhaled, swallowed and inhabit our mucous membranes. The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against sickness and disease. When the immune system is up to par, we stay healthy. When the immune system is compromised or underactive, we have a higher risk of developing health conditions and infections.

With school back in session and fall just around the corner, It is important to focus on maintaining a healthy immune system. There are many things we can do to improve our immunity and decrease our risk of illness. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure, so wash your hands frequently and avoid being around people who are ill. Below are a few more ways to stimulate your immune system:

  1. Reach for Oils:

Essential oils like oregano, myrrh, cinnamon, frankincense, and clove have immune-stimulating effects on the body. Oregano oil is known for its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasite compounds.  Myrrh also has antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties. Clove contains 30 times more anti-oxidants than blueberries! (Antioxidants help protect the body against bad viruses and bacteria and reverse the damage of free radicals.) Cinnamon has protective, immune-boosting properties.

Clove, oregano and cinnamon oils are very hot and should be diluted before any use (at least 1 drop of essential oil to 3 drops carrier oil). Also, since the oils are very potent, they should not be taken for more than two weeks at a time.

  1. Try Echinacea:

Echinacea has been shown to be powerful immune system stimulator. The University of Connecticut conducted a study that was published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal that found echinacea can reduce the chance of catching a cold by 58 percent! The study also found echinacea reduces the duration of the common cold by almost one and a half days.

  1. Add Some Astragalus:

Traditional Chinese medicine has been using Astragalus for thousands of years because of its adaptogen properties. Adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants that help balance, restore and protect the body making you even more resilient to the damaging effects chronic stress has on your immune system.

  1. Go for Ginger

Research has found ginger can help restore proper function of the immune system.  Ginger may also help cleanse the lymphatic system, which is our network of tissues that help rid the body of toxins and waste. Ginger is particularly effective in calming the body during bouts of nausea. It can be purchased as an essential oil, as well.

  1. Experiment with Elderberry

Several studies have shown elderberry has the power to boost the immune system and help treat symptoms of the flu and common cold. Journal of International Medical Research found when elderberry was used within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms, it reduced the duration of the flu, with symptoms being relieved within an average of four days.

  1. Boost Your Vitamin D

As the weather cools and we head into fall and winter, we are naturally getting less sunlight exposure. As a result of this, our body produces less vitamin D. Research shows that vitamin D promotes immunity and helps protect the body from infection. Consider adding some foods high in this important vitamin, including halibut, carp fish, mackerel, eel, salmon, maitake and portabella mushrooms, rainbow trout, cod liver oil, sardines, eggs and tuna.

  1. Reach for Fresh Juices

Green juices, made with fruits and vegetables, are packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins – all of which provide a huge boost to the immune system. Try this immune-boosting juice recipe:

Ingredients (all should be organic):

-1 bell pepper (red, green, yellow or orange)

-1 head/stem of broccoli

-1 lemon

-1 cucumber

-1 knob ginger

-1 TBS apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Add all ingredients, except apple cider vinegar, to a vegetable juicer. Pour juice in a glass and add apple cider vinegar. Stir gently and drink immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.