Colorful Salad Ideas for Spring

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove, Pathways to Healing

Our bodies require a rainbow of nutrients for optimal health, and eating a variety of colors is one way to achieve this fundamental health goal. It can be easy to fall into the same eating routine once you find foods the entire family likes, but the truth is our bodies benefit from food variation. Children, especially, need a diversity of foods in their diets and adults benefit, as well.

Eating an assortment of colored fruits and vegetables is the best way to receive a complete range of the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function. Each fruit and vegetable has a distinctive color that indicates an abundance of unique nutrients. The range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have enormous healing powers that can help our bodies thrive.

This week, try buying a new fruit or vegetable that is not usually on your shopping list and find a way to incorporate it into a meal. Below are a few of my favorite nutrient-dense salad recipes to help you get started.

Rainbow Chopped Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette
Salad:
8-10 red radishes, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ pint yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 small zucchini, chopped
¼ small red cabbage, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

Avocado vinaigrette:
1 soft avocado, peeled and pitted
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup water, add more as needed

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in blender until smooth, taste and salt as needed. Chop all vegetables and toss together with dressing in a large bowl.

Colorful Kale salad
1 bag of organic kale or baby kale
1 tub of pomegranate seeds
Slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Healthy vinaigrette to taste

Toss all ingredients and enjoy.

Dr. Axe Raw Superfood Carrot Salad
Salad:
10 large shredded organic carrots
1 cup dried goji berries
4 organic green apples, chopped (you can use any color or what is on sale)
1 cup pecans

Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve chilled.

Asian Chicken Salad
Salad:
Handful of shredded kale, white cabbage or both!
2 slices purple cabbage
4 slivers of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
½ carrot, slivered
4 mini red bell peppers, cut into slivers
2 mini yellow bell peppers, cut into slivers
½ pulled rotisserie chicken, no skin
Handful of spring green peas, slivered
Handful of diced green onion
Handful of chopped cilantro
Handful of black sesame seeds
(Optional additions: red chili flakes, diced water chestnuts)

Dressing:
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

Heat oil, then add other ingredients and whisk together for 3-4 minutes. Let cool before dressing the salad.

Balsamic Beet Salad
Salad:
3 large beets
5 ounces mixed salad greens
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Vinaigrette:
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Cube the beets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water with lid on. Steam the beets until tender, 10-15 minutes. Combine the salad greens in a bowl and top with cooled beets and crumbled goat cheese. Make the dressing by combining the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and whisk. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.

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.

Tips For Golfers

By: Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways To Healing

Photo credit: Visit Lake Oconee

Golf is a challenging and often frustrating sport. Many golfers feel the mental component of the game is their greatest challenge, and undervalue the biomechanics and conditioning required to play the game well and play the game longer. This is a mistake that can lead to poor play and injury.

An extreme amount of compressive force – up to 10 times a person’s body weight – is exerted on the spine during the golf swing. Every joint involved in the swing is taken through its maximum range of motion. Many golfers contort their bodies into oddly twisted postures, generating a great deal of torque. Couple this motion with a bent-over stance, repeat 120 times over three or four hours, add the fatigue that comes with several miles of walking or hot summer weather, and you’ve got a recipe for lower back trouble.

“Most golfers go until they get hurt, then look for help,” says Dr. David Stude, member of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Sports Council and founding fellow of the National Golf Fitness Society. “Back pain is a warning sign there is an underlying problem responsible for a symptom that will likely get worse. Doctors of chiropractic look for the cause of the symptom and help reduce the likelihood of future injury.”

There’s a reason Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have all relied on chiropractic care throughout their careers. Tiger Woods has said, “…lifting weights and seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis has made me a better golfer. I’ve been going to chiropractors for as long as I can remember. It is as important to my training as practicing my swing is.”

Aside from regular chiropractic adjustments, Dr. Stude and the ACA suggest these simple measures to help you avoid back pain or injury, and improve your overall game:

  • Purchase equipment that fits. Don’t adapt your swing to the wrong clubs. Someone six feet tall playing with irons designed for someone five inches shorter is begging for back trouble.
  • For women: If you have “inherited” your significant other’s golf clubs, beware. Not only are the clubs likely too long, the shaft is often not flexible enough for a woman’s grip. Women play better with clubs composed of lighter, more flexible material, such as graphite.
  • For men: While men are traditionally stronger than women, they usually aren’t as flexible. Men should spend extra time stretching before and after play to increase trunk flexibility. Improved flexibility helps men maintain a more even and consistent swing plane, which leads to more consistent performance.
  • For senior golfers: If you show signs of arthritis in the hands, consider a larger, more specialized grip for added safety and performance.
  • Take lessons. Learning proper swing technique is critical. At the end of the swing, you want to be standing up straight; the back should not be twisted.
  • Wear orthotics. These shoe inserts support the arch, absorb shock, and increase coordination. Studies show custom-made, flexible orthotics can improve the entire body’s balance, stability and coordination. This translates into a smoother swing and reduced fatigue.
  • Photo Credit: Foot Levelers

    Warm up before each round. Stretching before and after 18 holes is the best way to reduce post-game stiffness and soreness. Take a brisk walk to get blood flowing to the muscles; then do a set of stretches. To set up a quality stretching and/or exercise routine, see a chiropractor or golf pro who can evaluate your areas of tension and flexibility.

  • Pull, don’t carry, your golf bag. Carrying a heavy bag for 18 holes can cause the spine to be compressed, leading to disc problems and nerve irritation. If you prefer to ride in a cart, alternate riding and walking every other hole. Bouncing in a cart can be hard on the spine.
  • Keep your entire body involved. Every third hole, take a few practice swings backwards and with the opposite hand to balance out the stress put on the back and rest of the body. Imagine going to the gym and working only one side of your body everyday for years, neglecting the opposite side. Golf tends to create this same type of imbalance in your spinal column, setting the stage for injury.
  • Drink lots of water, especially in the heat. Dehydration causes early fatigue. When fatigued, we compensate by adjusting our swing, which increases the risk of injury. Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages while golfing also causes dehydration.

If you golf consistently, you will no doubt feel the stress of the game. But by following a few simple prevention tips, it is possible to play pain-free. Chiropractic care is an effective solution for golfers who seek to rid themselves of pain and have a successful and enjoyable golf game!

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.

Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Some of the most common obstacles for fitting regular exercise into our daily lives are time, money, and energy. But what if I told you it was possible to invest in your health without having to go to a gym, buy fancy equipment or spend a lot of money?  Bodyweight exercises are a convenient and free way to improve your health and energy level.

Bodyweight exercises are strength training exercises that do not require free weights. Rather, an individual’s own body weight provides the resistance for the movement.

Multiple health goals can be achieved using bodyweight exercises, including weight loss, muscle gain, and increased range of motion.

Our skeleton’s job is to hold and support the entire weight of the body, but if you don’t move, the bone is sent the message that it doesn’t have to maintain as much density. Bodyweight exercises can help prevent osteoporosis by boosting the bone-building forces and improving bone density. Simply stressing your bones by the force of your own body weight stimulates more bone growth to protect your skeletal frame. Bodyweight exercises also increase muscle mass, meaning you rely less on your joints to move because your muscles are stronger. Additional benefits include improved heart health and circulation, reduced risk for diabetes, reduced stress and increased energy levels.

Bodyweight exercises work numerous muscle groups simultaneously and can be modified, which allows you to customize the exercises to your level of ability. They are simple enough to perform without supervision and have a low risk for injury. All you need is your own body and enough space to jump around a bit – and, of course, water is highly encouraged.

Push-ups are a great bodyweight exercise that strengthens the chest, shoulders and arms. (Be sure to stabilize your core by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.) They can be performed with various hand placements to isolate different muscle groups. Also, push-ups can be done at different levels of incline or decline. For example, beginners can start by pushing off of a wall or kitchen counter, progress to the floor on their knees, and eventually to their toes using full bodyweight.

Squats help build leg muscles and also help make daily living activities easier. You can begin squats against a wall and progress to air squats, but make sure your knees never bend past your toes. Other bodyweight exercises include bicycle crunches, reverse flies, tricep dips, planks, leg-raises, flutter kicks, bridges, donkey kicks, burpees, mountain climbers, lunges, sit-ups, reverse crunches, and step-ups.

You can customize your own workout by combining five to 10 different bodyweight exercises that target opposing muscle groups to create a circuit. Aim for 10 to 20 reps of each exercise. For best results do not rest much in between exercises in order to get – and keep — your heart rate up.

If you are not accustomed to physical activity, start with a few exercises and, after you become stronger and more adapted, add more exercises to your routine. Increase the number of circuits and repetitions of each exercise as you become more physically fit.

After completing bodyweight workouts, it is important to stretch to increase range of motion, flexibility, prevent injury, and decrease recovery time.  Aim to perform your bodyweight circuit two to three times per week.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a mom who chases after a toddler, or a mature adult trying to reduce your risk of falls, strength training helps build strong muscles and bones to make the activities of daily living easier! While high intensity workouts, cardio, and strength training have their benefits, bodyweight exercises are the most convenient and least expensive workouts for those lacking time and money.

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, Ga. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Reduce food waste and reuse thanksgiving dinner

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Food_WasteDid you know the average food shopper wastes 61 percent of the food he or she purchases? The hallmark of Thanksgiving is a dinner table covered with more food than you can possibly eat in one sitting. But the downside is that this holiday can also be top of the list when it comes to food waste. When it comes to meals, if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. To avoid facing a mountain of leftovers on November 24th, try some of these tips and tricks to help reduce waste and use your leftovers wisely.

Go to the store prepared with a list of the food items you need. Try to make an accurate prediction of how much food you will need so you are not left with unnecessary amounts of leftovers that you cannot use.

Use the whole vegetable.

If you will be eating carrots, beets or turnips, for example, you can eat both the root and the green. Rather than peeling veggies, leave the skin on. You will get more nutrients and reduce waste.

Compost your food scraps.

Many Thanksgiving leftovers can be turned into compost (with the exception of nuts, grains or meat). Composting benefits your own plants, the soil, and the environment. It improves the health of your plants, while also reducing pollution.

Freeze your leftovers.

If you cannot finish all of your food in a timely manner, freeze it for later use. A FoodSaver can package items so they Pumpkin_Pie_and_Hot_Rollscan be kept frozen for longer periods, without the risk of freezer burn. Roasted turkey can be frozen for up to three months, but be sure to remove the meat from the bones first. Unlike other forms of cooked potatoes, mashed potatoes can be frozen for many months. However, the mashed potatoes should be well coated with a fat like butter (mashed potatoes made with just broth will not hold up well in the freezer).

Keep in mind that gravy is quite perishable and will only last about two days in the refrigerator. Flour-based turkey gravy can be frozen in ice cube trays for up to four months (milk-based gravies should not be frozen, as they will separate when thawed). Stuffing can be frozen for up to one month. In general, dishes made with pumpkin, sweet potato or squash should hold up in the freezer — especially if they have been pureed first. Rolls and bread will last for months in the freezer. Make sure to separate the rolls and freeze them individually.

Send your leftovers to someone in need.

If you have prepared foods that were not or packaged foods you did not eat, there are certain organizations that will distribute them to people in need. If your kids or grandkids are within driving distance, they can always take a goody bag home and take some leftovers off your hands.

Create new meals.

Get creative with your leftovers, repurposing them as soup, salad or healthy casseroles. Turkey is a lean meat that is low in fat and an excellent source of protein, so do not let it go to waste! Turkey provides tryptophan that helps the body make niacin and serotonin, which helps your mood.

Some recipes to consider are sweet potato hash browns, turkey pot pie with stuffing crust, turkey shepherd’s pie, leftover turkey quiche, turkey tortilla soup, southwest turkey lettuce wraps, curry turkey salad, sweet potato pancakes and next day turkey primavera. 

Here are two simple leftover recipes you can add to this year’s post-Thanksgiving Day menu:

Muffin Cup Stuffing “Scotch Eggs”

Simply press leftover stuffing into muffin cups and make a nest for a cracked egg. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix stuffing with some stock until well saturated. Spray muffin cups with oil, press 1/3 cup stuffing mixture into each cup. Use a shot glass to pack stuffing into the cup along the sides. Crack 1 egg into each hole. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until yolk is set. Sprinkle with pepper and hot sauce.

recipe active photo Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Carcass Soup

1 picked over turkey carcass

1 ½ half cups left over stuffing

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon ground sage

2 ½ quarts chicken broth

garlic salt and pepper to taste

2 cups uncooked rice

1 (16 ounce) package frozen green peas

  1. Place the turkey carcass in a large, deep pot, and add the stuffing, celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, sage, and chicken broth. Pour in additional water if needed to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 1 hour, skimming off any foam. Remove the carcass and any bones. Pick any meat off and return to the pot, discarding bones and skin.
  2. Season to taste with garlic salt and pepper. Stir in the rice and return to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the peas, and continue to simmer until rice is tender, about 10 minutes more. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Recipe is taken from https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/130979/day-after-thanksgiving-turkey-carcass-soup/

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

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 leftover at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro.  The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Giving thanks and expressing gratitude promotes health and happiness

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Thanksgiving Table SettingEach year, on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans gather together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. While the ritual of giving thanks once a year is certainly beneficial, research suggests expressing gratitude more often could actually be life-changing.

According to studies, the benefits of gratitude rituals, be it giving thanks at mealtime, keeping a gratitude journal or sending thank-you notes, include:

  • Improved sleep, especially if your mind has a tendency to go into overdrive with negative thoughts and worries at bedtime
  • Higher levels of happiness and a more optimistic outlook on life
  • Greater likelihood to engage in healthy activities such as exercise
  • Higher relationship satisfaction
  • Higher work performance (in one study, managers who expressed gratitude saw a 50 percent increase in the employees’ performance)

EEGStudies have also shown that gratitude can produce a number of measurable effects on systems in your body, all of which can translate into improved health. Biological systems positively affected by gratitude include stress hormones, inflammatory and immune systems, blood sugar, blood pressure, cardiac and EEG rhythms, and cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters.

Depending on the kind of year you’ve had, you may or may not feel like you have a whole lot to feel thankful for. If that is the case, you may be wondering if it’s still worth trying to express thanks. In a New York Times article addressing the subject, Arthur C. Brooks, Ph.D., writes:

“In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful. For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult … Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others … But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances, and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness … If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the ‘thanks’ in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.”

The proven benefits of gratitude are such that your expression of it to a single day each year is definitely to your own detriment. If you’re unsure of where, or how, to start, consider starting by giving thanks privately in a journal or in prayer. Once this has become a comfortable habit, move on to expressing your gratitude publicly. Writing thank-you notes, saying thank you in person, or otherwise publicly proclaiming your gratitude all fall into this category.  

Starting each day thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for is another way to put your mind on the right track. Before getting out of bed in the morning, think of five things for which you are thankful. It can be as simple as the comfortable bed you slept in, the roof over your head, having central heat and air conditioning, the sun shining, or the birds singing. If you forget to start the day with thankful thoughts, try writing down a few things you are grateful for before turning in for the night. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found people slept better and longer when they spent about 15 minutes reflecting on things they were grateful for prior to going to sleep.

Gratitude JournalPractice being thankful for what you have. Create a list of 100 things you are grateful for in your life. You can list them in categories such as people, experiences you have had, qualities and abilities you have, etc. When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, your list can help you remember the many reasons you have to smile. Also, remember your future depends largely on the thoughts you think today. Each moment is an opportunity to turn your thinking around, thereby helping or hindering your ability to think and feel more positively in the very next moment.

Thankfulness is the one way we can improve our health without dieting, rigorous exercise, or taking a supplement. Practicing thankfulness every day can reward you with better health and a richer quality of life all year long.

Thank you for taking your time to read this column. I appreciate you, and wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and a life filled with gratitude.

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

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.

Himalayan Salt Lamps

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

himalayan_salt_lampHimalayan salt lamps are becoming more common these days. But what exactly are these large chunks of glowing pink rock?

Salt lamps, also known as rock salt lamps, are made from large chunks of Himalayan salt that have been hollowed out.  A light bulb is then placed inside the salt to emit light and heat. Deep mines in the western edge of the Himalayan Mountains are the only source of true pink Himalayan salt. Oftentimes, these lamps are purchased for the pleasant glow they emit, but they actually provide numerous health benefits, as well.

First and foremost, salt lamps can help remove contaminants and allergens from the air, which is helpful for those with seasonal allergies and asthma. While salt lamps may not completely “cure” these conditions, they can help to significantly reduce symptoms. The lamp also acts as a deodorizer, leaving you with fresher air to breathe inside.

How exactly does a salt lamp remove air contaminants? Water vapor in the air carries indoor air pollutants like mold, dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, pet dander and other allergens. Salt is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts water molecules to itself. Once the water vapor comes in contact with the salt lamp, pollutants remain trapped in the salt. Since the salt lamp is heated, the salt dries out and is able to continue the cycle of attracting water vapor and pollutants and releasing clean water vapor back into the air.

Salt lamps can also help reduce electromagnetic field radiation (EMF).  These days, many things around us release EMFs in the form of unhealthy positive ions, such as cell phones, computers and televisions. EMFs may be invisible to the naked eye but constant exposure is believed to increase stress and inflammation in the body, while causing side effects like fatigue and a weakened immune system. There have been numerous studies on the toxic effects of EMFs, and scientists have concluded: “chronic exposure to low-level radiation [from cell phones, for example] can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and a variety of cancers.”

Himalayan_Salt_LampOne way to neutralize electromagnetic field radiation is to increase your exposure to negative ions. Salt lamps are natural negative ionizers. When the gentle heat from the lamp warms the salt crystal, the salt emits a negative electrical charge, helping to counter the harmful positive ions from EMF radiation.

Himalayan salt lamps have been shown to help reduce anxiety symptoms. The warm, pinkish glow of salt lamps is calming and brings a happy presence into a room. The negative ions released by salt lamps are also believed to increase serotonin levels in the brain, boosting mood, increasing energy, and helping to relieve stress and depression. Many people find having a salt lamp in their bedroom produces a calming atmosphere that encourages sleep and focus.

Salt lamps can often be found at health food stores, and stores like Homegoods; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Whole Foods and Amazon. When purchasing a salt lamp, be sure to take into consideration the size of the room you are planning to use the lamp in. To effectively cleanse the air of a space, you need one pound of salt rock for every 16 square feet. You may need to use multiple salt lamps in larger, open rooms.

Keep salt lamps away from household moisture like showers, dishwashers, washing machines or window seals, because prolonged exposure to high humidity will cause the salt to melt. Always practice proper safety as well, keeping your lamp in a place where a child cannot pull or knock it down — salt lamps tend to be heavy! Make sure your light bulb is not too strong, which will cause the salt lamp to overheat. A night light sized bulb works just fine. You can check the heat of your lamp by touching the salt. The lamp should only be turned on while you are in the room or the house.IMG_9718

So, choose a room where you spend the most time, whether that is your bedroom, living room, kitchen, or home office, and try using a salt lamp.  Getting started is as easy as just plugging it in. Not only do salt lamps make a beautiful addition to your home or office, but your health may also enjoy a boost, as well.

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

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.

Nutritional Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Sweet_Potatoes_YamsSweet potatoes are high in fiber – just one medium sweet potato fulfills up to 15 percent of your fiber needs for the day. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar to prevent crashes and spikes in blood sugar levels. This makes sweet potatoes an excellent dietary addition for those with diabetes. (Compared to white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a lower score on the glycemic index.) The fiber in sweet potatoes can also aid in weight loss. Fiber helps promote satiety and cuts cravings as it moves slowly through the digestive tract. Since sweet potato is slowly digested, it is also great to incorporate on gym session days, providing you with long-lasting energy and fuel.

Vitamin A and C play a role in many aspects of health but are especially important in boosting immunity. One medium sweet potato contains 438% daily vitamin A requirements and 37% vitamin C daily value. Vitamin A and C help stimulate the production of immune cells that fight infection and disease. In addition to boosting immunity, vitamin A plays a large role in maintaining healthy vision. If you suffer from night blindness or dry eyes, this could be a symptom of vitamin A deficiency.

There are many different varieties of sweet potatoes, and they come in a rainbow of colors. The outer skin can be white, yellow, red, purple or brown, and the flesh can be white, yellow, orange or purple. Sweet potatoes that have orange flesh are high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals that are harmful to the body and may protect you from things like diabetes and heart disease. Beta-carotene can protect your skin, promote healthy vision and has been shown to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Studies show colored sweet potatoes contain more potent antioxidants than white sweet potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes contain the highest amount of antioxidants.

Some people refer to sweet potatoes as yams and use these terms interchangeably, however, there are some major differences. To begin, yams and sweet potatoes are two entirely different plants. Yams are related to lilies and grasses, while sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, while sweet potatoes originate in South and Central America. Sweet potatoes have tapered ends with smoother skin and vary in color. Yams tend to have rough skin with white flesh and are more cylindrical in shape. They also tend to be drier and starchier than sweet potatoes. While yams contain a large amount of potassium, manganese, vitamin C and B6, they are higher in calories and carbohydrates, and lower in protein. Both sweet potatoes and yams can be healthy additions to your diet when used in moderation and proper portion control.

The preparation method is crucial in order to preserve the nutritional content of these roots. Sweet potatoes are often deep-fried, salted and served in larger portions then necessary, thereby lowering their overall nutritional profile. Instead of fried, try them baked: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, cut potatoes into fries, toss in coconut oil, sea salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes. Then flip and bake until crisp, about 10 more minutes depending on thickness and desired crisp.

Sweet potato nachos are another personal favorite: Preheat oven to 425 degrees, slice sweet potatoes into ¼ inch rounds and toss with coconut oil, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, turning them over halfway through to ensure they do not burn. Remove from oven and add toppings like black beans, chicken or beef and cheese. Return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Finish by sprinkling with your favorite nacho toppings, such as chopped green onion, avocado or guacamole, salsa, greek yogurt, olives, jalapeños and salsa.

Other healthy recipe ideas include sweet potato hash, maple cinnamon sweet potato pancakes, turkey stuffed twice-baked sweet potato, sweet potato enchiladas or tacos, and sweet potato brownies.

As with anything in life, there are precautions. If you have a history of calcium-oxalate kidney stones, you may want to limit your intake. Sweet potatoes are high in oxalates that can combine with calcium and lead to the development of unwanted kidney stones. If you have diabetes be aware that, although sweet potatoes have many health benefits, they do contain carbohydrates that can raise blood sugar levels if eaten in excess. So, be sure to pair your sweet potato with a good source of lean protein and a non-starchy vegetable to make a well-rounded, nutritious meal that stabilizes blood sugar.

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.