21 Jul

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How I Cut My Grocery Bills By 35% Using PlanToEat Meal Planner

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2014-07-20_21h21_52

 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


2014-07-20_21h20_39 So you’ve set out on a journey to live a healthier lifestyle. You’ve committed to cooking for yourself and / or your family. Maybe you even bought a recipe book or two. This process can be a daunting task without the right system in place. I must admit, I always had good intentions when it came to planning meals effectively and efficiently. However, I usually kept up with the process for about 1-2 weeks and it fell apart from there. Plan To Eat Changed All That.

The Next Generation Of Meal Planning Software Is Here… And It’s Great

Plan To Eat is an online-based meal planning software that is simple, intuitive, and easy to use. It has taken all the drudgery out of the meal planning process. I never thought I would say this, but I actually look forward to meal planning now. I know it will be painless, and help me to produce healthful meals.

Plan To Eat keeps all your recipes in the cloud, which makes them accessible from nearly any device. This is extremely advantageous if you are in the store as well and need to check your shopping list on a mobile device.

What I love about Plan To Eat is how quickly I can organize a whole week of meals. I’m sure you are a busy person like me, so you likely don’t want to muck around with meal planning. Well, with this software, I can now plan all my meals in under 45 minutes for the whole week. Importing recipes from websites is simple. It is usually performed in 1-2 clicks. The software is very accurate the majority of the time when importing a recipe. I rarely have to make modifications to the recipe after it has been imported. Everything is automatic. Plan To Eat will even generate an automatic shopping list for you based on your recipes for that week.

Pros

  • Simple, yet elegant design.
  • Accurately imports recipes into a planner within 1-2 clicks >95% of the time.
  • Meal plan an entire week of meals in less than 45 minutes.
  • Automatic shopping list that is divided by section (and can be further sub-divided by store.)
  • Share recipes online with friends.
  • Free 30 Day Trial! Click here!
  • Low cost for what you receive.

Cons

  • It doesn’t always import the ingredients from every website correctly (<5% of the time). However, that is hard to fault the software. There are so many variances in website coding and design.
  • No dedicated app for mobile devices (as of this writing.)

Price:

As of this writing, the current price for Plan To Eat is: $4.95 a month or $39 a year (only $3.25 a month). I can almost guarantee you will save much more than the subscription cost in grocery bills to justify the purchase.

For my full review of Plan To Eat, please see the video above or click here.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

07 Jul

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Heal Your Gut, Restore Your Health Seminar: Part 2 of 2

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HealGut3

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


 

CLICK HERE FOR PART 1 OF THIS BENEFICIAL GUT HEALING SEMINAR.

“Heal Your Gut, Restore Your Health” is  a recent 2-part seminar I delivered at Mindful Movement and Physical Therapy. The content focuses on identifying and addressing  underlying lifestyle factors that contribute to modern day-chronic disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Acid Reflux Disorder, and more. If you delve into the literature, deep connections exist between the mind, gut, and overall wellbeing. This is because the gut is our first interaction with external environments. It acts as the gatekeeper to our inner world.

I’ve seen repeatedly people can recover from most chronic gut pathologies if the right modifications to diet and lifestyle are implemented. Medications tend to be ineffective for long-term management of gut disorders, and frequently come with costly side effects. Fortunately,  a functional medicine doctor or holistic clinical nutritionist can often help to turn around the most problematic dysfunctions.

For  free downloadable resources from this seminar, please click the links below (these include the resources for part 2, which will be posted next Monday, July 7, 2014:

Heal Your Gut, Restore Your Health Outline (.docx)

GMOs and Your Food (.docx)

PowerPoint Presentation Summary slides (.pptx)

If this seminar interested you, check out some of my other gut health videos and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more helpful tips in the future!

Healgut4

30 Jun

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Heal Your Gut, Restore Your Health Seminar: Part 1 of 2

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HealGut1

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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Check back every Monday for more empowering health articles!

By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


 

Please check back Monday, July 7th 2014 for part 2 of this highly beneficial seminar. 

“Heal Your Gut, Restore Your Health” is  a recent 2-part seminar I delivered at Mindful Movement and Physical Therapy. The content focuses on identifying and addressing  underlying lifestyle factors that contribute to modern day-chronic disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Acid Reflux Disorder, and more. If you delve into the literature, deep connections exist between the mind, gut, and overall wellbeing. This is because the gut is our first interaction with external environments. It acts as the gatekeeper to our inner world.

I’ve seen repeatedly people can recover from most chronic gut pathologies if the right modifications to diet and lifestyle are implemented. Medications tend to be ineffective for long-term management of gut disorders, and frequently come with costly side effects. Fortunately,  a functional medicine doctor or holistic clinical nutritionist can often help to turn around the most problematic dysfunctions.

For  free downloadable resources from this seminar, please click the links below (these include the resources for part 2, which will be posted next Monday, July 7, 2014:

Heal Your Gut, Restore Your Health Outline (.docx)

GMOs and Your Food (.docx)

PowerPoint Presentation Summary slides (.pptx)

If this seminar interested you, check out some of my other gut health videos and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more helpful tips in the future!

Please check back Monday, July 7th 2014 for part 2 of this highly beneficial seminar.

Healgut2 

 

23 Jun

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Contrast Soaking: What Is It, How Can It Help Me?

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Hotsoak1

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


What if you could find a way to reduce whole-body muscle and bone pain, shorten workout recovery time, and improve the function of your heart without any significant side effects? No drugs, no injections, no surgery! I’ve been searching for a while now, and such a treatment exists: It is called contrast hydrotherapy (contrast soaking).

Contrast hydrotherapy (CH) is the process of alternating immersion in a cold-water source and hot water. Sometimes this is performed for just an extremity (sprained ankle), or it could be utilized in the entire body (up to neck) for systemic inflammation and osteoarthritis.

When it comes to health challenges, there is one factor we all share: Inflammation. It is the root cause of nearly every chronic disease. Our Western medical system recognizes this, but usually only temporarily reduces inflammation through steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Unfortunately, these drugs bring with them costly side effects.

ColdSoak1Contrast hydrotherapy is not a new fad. It has been used for generations as a means of healing the body from musculo-skeletal ailments. Contrast hydrotherapy is proposed to reduce edema (swelling) via a “pumping” action. Hot water causes blood vessels to vasodilate (get larger) and the cold water then constricts the vessels, drawing in the inflammation and redistributing it throughout the body to be processed by the appropriate systems (1).

Linebackers in the The National Football League (NFL) and Olympic athletes frequently use contrast soaks during training periods to improve recovery time associated with the rigorous abuse to their bodies (2), (3). Studies have also shown that hydrotherapy can reduce the symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (4). I’ve found that these benefits seem more pronounced in contrast soaks.

Contrast soaking is an effective means of reducing inflammation throughout the body. (5) Some studies have examined the effects of contrast hydrotherapy on the heart. These studies suggest that contrast hydrotherapy may play a role in improving the efficiency of the heart with repeated exposure by increasing the ejection fraction of the heart (4)

Personally, I am treating disc herniations at T6-T7, T7-T8. If it were not for this practice of contrast hydrotherapy, I do not think I would be remotely functional. Fortunately, I am very determined to heal. So I wanted to pass this information on to you.

What is is the catch? Why aren’t more people doing this? Well, it’s intense! The initial transition from hot to cold water definitely gets your attention. However, the effects afterward are well worth a few minutes of cold water! Try it for yourself and see!

Please discuss this with your healthcare provider before trying contrast hydrotherapy, especially if you have a diagnosis of: Rheumatoid arthritis, a cardiac history, diabetes, or autoimmune disorders.

SOURCES:

(1) Alternating hot and cold water immersion for athlete recovery: a review

(2) Effect of Hydrotherapy on Recovery from Fatigue

(3) Effect of hydrotherapy on the signs and symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness

(4) Improvement in ejection fraction by hydrotherapy as rehabilitation in patients with chronic pulmonary emphysema

(5) Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body

30 Apr

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Prioritizing Lifestyle Choices Based on Relative Risk

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HC-ExtendedLogo-Black2

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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Check back every Monday, Wednesday for more empowering health articles!

By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


We make choices every day. Some may seem trivial, while others shape the very foundation of our existence. Just the other day, I was speaking to a gentleman in our clinic about his dietary habits. He told me that he was vegan. Naturally, I was curious about the reasoning behind his lifestyle choices. Why do people choose deliberately to focus on a particular lifestyle habit over another? I asked him this, with a pleasant and refreshing response. He told me, “I chose to become a vegan because of the relative risk of cancer. I eliminated dairy and meat after several years because they tend to contain the largest levels of pesticides.” This is true, considering the further up the food chain you eat, the higher the concentration of pesticides. In fact, several sources estimate that the overwhelming majority (>80-90%) of the pesticides we consume can be found in meat and dairy products (1).

Of course, this is mostly examining conventional factory-farmed meat, but it illustrates a point. We can strategically calculate which types of activities will yield us (and the world) the greatest benefits. We only have so many minutes in a day, so we must choose our battles wisely.

Here are some common lifestyle pitfalls, the research behind their relative risks, and potential solutions:

RELATIVE RISK SCORES: 0-10, 0: No Risk, 5: Moderate risk, 10: Extreme Risk

Lack Of Exercise / Exercise Performed Incorrectly

ManRunningExercise is an absolute essential part of a productive existence. It is highly anti-inflammatory in nature, and can improve the function of every organ system in the body (2). It is preventative against disease and can also be used as a treatment for a significant majority of chronic ailments (2).

So, just how important is exercise? Well, the CDC (3) estimates that regular exercise can prevent and minimize the effects of several diseases. When combined with other lifestyle factors, some disease processes can even be reversed.

What else should I know about exercise? Intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise will vary depending upon several factors. A thorough assessment and review of your current health should be performed by a licensed Physician or Physical Therapist before engaging in any strenuous exercise.

Exercise must also be performed correctly. If done improperly, it may lead to serious injury. Please be certain to receive proper training by the appropriate professional before beginning any exercise program. Also, remember that we do not always need to do high-intensity exercise all the time. This can lead to overuse injuries, fatigue, or burnout.

Potential Solution: WRITE OUT (very important) small, reasonable goals. Include dates of when these goals will be achieved. This will program your subconscious mind how to keep you on track. Create specific details on how you will achieve these goals. Constantly review these details and recite your goals in the mirror daily. (Yes I mean it!)

Relative Risk: 8/10

Excessive Sitting

It is ironic I am blogging about excessive sitting as I type out this lengthy blog article. However, I am taking frequent stretch breaks, getting up to walk for short distances, and breaking up my work into chunks. I also will go through short yoga routines or Pilates exercises to maintain balance throughout my spine, hips, and other areas prone to tightness.BabySitting

Some news sources have claimed that extended sitting is equally detrimental to your health as smoking. Is this true? No, the evidence between the two does not compare. However, greater sitting time certainly does increase risk for disease. This is independent of the amount of physical activity. The more you sit, the higher your risk of mortality, heart disease, and cancer. (5)

I found this little interesting nugget in a study of diabetics: “Interrupting sitting time with short bouts of light- or moderate-intensity walking lowers postprandial glucose and insulin levels in overweight/obese adults. This may improve glucose metabolism and potentially be an important public health and clinical intervention strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk.” (4) In Layman’s terms: Breaking up long sitting periods will help you to maintain a more balanced glucose level in your blood so a starchy / high sugar meal is less stressful on your pancreas.

Potential Solution: Break up long sitting periods with short bouts of exercise, stretching, or walking. Current research (4) recommends at least 2-minutes of light-moderate intensity of walking for every 20 minutes of sitting. A short Yoga or Pilates routine would also be another plausible idea. Also consider foam rolling as a means to prevent muscle or fascial adhesions. If you sit a lot, a standing / treadmill desk is another option to consider. However, prolonged standing without movement comes with its own set of problems.

Regular bodywork is crucial to counter some of the detriments from sitting. Connective tissue tends to tighten down to surrounding tissues that can be difficult to stretch. Sometimes, an external force may be necessary to correct this. Consider options such as: Foam rolling or structural integration techniques like: Rolfing, Hellerwork, or Kinesis Myofascial Integration. These techniques all work to increase body awareness, decrease postural deficits, and restore fluid movement throughout the body.

Relative Risk: 7.5/10

Consuming Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

GmoAt the time of this writing, GMOs are a hot topic of debate. Two major GMO labeling bills have come to fruition (Proposal 37 in California, 2012; I-522 In Washington, 2013) and have failed to pass by a relatively narrow margin.

A lot of questions still remain about GMOs. Despite the continual onslaught of new biotechnology projects and impending release of GMO animals (salmon), little to no evidence exists to the safety of GMOs… on either end. That’s the problem. No human clinical trials have been released to the public that GMOs are dangerous or safe. So we are supposed to just believe there is no threat. Think of it this way: Before a pharmaceutical drug is released on the market, several peer-reviewed clinical trials must be completed and repeated to demonstrate efficacy and safety. Why is this not so with GMOs?

It is important to keep in mind that GMOs are NOT the same as hybridization of crops. Many proponents of GM technology claim we have been modifying crops for generations. This is not true. GM technology involves the forceful insertion of genetic material into a host (plant, animal, bacteria, etc.). This has not and would not ever occur(red) in nature. The potential genetic consequences are poorly understood and should be approached with a serious caution.

Since we don’t really know, this comes down to more a question of intuition: Do you really trust the same company who invented and sprayed DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and is responsible for 99% of the world’s contamination with PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) (6) to safely produce food for the masses? The potential effects of GMOs will likely not show up until subsequent generations. Even then, they will be impossible to track.

By the way, here’s a fun fact: If Dow Chemical has their way, a new form of GMO corn will be hitting the U.S. market that is resistant to an Agent-Orange-based pesticide. (8) I’m not making this stuff up.

What is my suggestion? Avoid them whenever possible, but don’t fret if you accidentally consume a little. The anxiety may do more harm than the GMO.

Potential Solution: Many European nations (7) have mandatory labeling laws on GMOs, because they are much more concerned about the potential dangers. If GMOs seem like a reasonable thing you would like to reduce or eliminate, look for products with the Non-GMO project label or the USDA Organic sticker.

Relative Risk: Unknown, Likely moderately high risk.

Lack of Sleep / Erratic Sleep Patterns

SleepThis is a very difficult subject to discuss with anyone. Obviously sleep is a good thing, but research about lack of sleep is increasingly troubling. The latest studies are revealing that our tendency towards constant sleep debt is alarmingly detrimental to our health. As Dr. Mercola pointed out in a recent article (7), sleep has been linked to brain atrophy, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Even more troubling is that we cannot simply “make up” our sleep debt over the weekend. It doesn’t work like that. Our body operates on rhythmic patterns. If we disturb this pattern on a regular basis, our balance of wellbeing is offset. This is referred to as homeostasis.

In addition to the potential serious neurological deficits of sleep deprivation, some of the simple things in life become increasingly difficult: We process information slower. We are more apt to make mistakes. Our immune systems tend to be far less effective with sleep debt.

Sleep debt has national and international consequences, too. Medical errors increase. Quality control may suffer as well in many other positions. So, even though people claim they are not a “morning person,” but in reality, it is just a result of modern society and a poorly adjusted sleep schedule. Unless you are working a night shift, you too can be a morning person!

Potential Solution: 

Our body must establish and maintain a circadian rhythm. In other words, we require consistency in our sleep-wake cycle. Here are some top recommendations for quality sleep. I’ve pulled these from a variety of sources over the years including: Mercola, LifeHacker, and more. I’d love to hear any input you may have as well, below. What helps you sleep?

MAXIMIZING SLEEP QUALITY TIPS:

  1. Slowly work towards a consistent bed time. Ideally, we should adjust our schedule to mimic the rise and setting of the sun. This is obviously impossible for almost everyone due to other commitments, but it gives us a general guideline to tune our internal clocks with the outdoor world. Light has a profound impact on our melatonin cycle, which dictates the quality and duration of sleep.
  2. Ask yourself if you suffer from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)? (I sound like a pharmaceutical commercial….) Are you burning the midnight oil… mindlessly surfing Facebook or playing countless games on the I-pad? Decide whether this habit of late-night browsing is contributing to your wellbeing. Are you feeling drained in the morning? If so, maybe it is worth reconsidering the duration or choice of your evening activities.
  3. Start a ritual: Creating a routine immediately prior to sleeping is a way to program the subconscious. It tells the brain to prepare for sleep. Even something as simple as placing your clothes out on a chair for the morning.
  4. Minimize screen time (computers, TV, cell phones, iPads, etc.) whenever possible several hours before bed. Take your TV out of the bedroom. Screen time before sleeping has been linked to poor sleep patterns and increased sleep debt.  (9)(10)
  5. Grounding technology may assist you in reducing the effects of electromagnetic field (EMF) sleep disruption. Although not proven, many individuals report improved sleep when turning off all electronic devices (especially Wi-Fi) and purchasing some type of grounding pad.
  6. Exercise at a moderate intensity 2-3 hours prior to sleep for a duration of 20-30 mins. If exercise is initiated too close to bed time, it will impair sleep quality.
  7. You be the judge of when to cut off caffeine.
  8. Get the room as dark and cool (62-70 degrees Fahrenheit) as possible. This is an ideal sleeping environment. If this is not possible, consider purchasing a eye cover to reduce light exposure to the eyes.

Relative Risk: 6/10 (Especially in the long term)

Consuming Organic Vs. Conventional Crops

OrganicVeggiesEvery year, pesticide use increases by 10’s of millions of pounds. In fact, in the U.S., a study (7) found that GMO crops are a large driver behind the increase of these numbers. Contrary to popular advertising that GMO crops reduce the use of pesticides/herbicides, nothing could be further from the truth. The use of chemicals such as Roundup (the most popular herbicide sold worldwide) is nearly impossible to avoid in conventional food.

Fortunately, the effects of these chemicals are not going unnoticed. Certain nations are even proposing bans of Roundup due to toxicity and deaths of farmers in poor agricultural regions.

Monsanto’s Roundup is by far the most pervasive herbicide in our environment today. It is present in our air, water, and food. It has been demonstrated in the literature that Roundup (Glyphosate) is a significant endocrine disruptor and may lead to DNA damage (12).

Know that certain conventional crops contain higher pesticide content after harvest than others. That is why it is important to be familiar with the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen. This is a list of veggies / fruits that contain the least and most pesticide residues.

Potential Solution: Go organic (and local) whenever possible. Buy from farmers who use organic farming practices. If finances are a barrier to organic food, consider the Clean 15 / Dirty Dozen when choosing which produce to buy conventionally. This will expose you to significantly less pesticides in your lifetime.

Relative Risk: 7.5/10

Eating a Primarily Meat-Based Diet

As stated before, pesticides and toxins become increasingly concentrated up the food chain. Toxins are stored in animal fat tissue at high concentrations. The more conventional meat consumed, the more pesticides that person will intake. Most of this meat bought in supermarkets will originate from Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). CAFOs are notorious for administering constant, low-doses of antibiotics, genetically-modified feed, and atrocious living conditions.

There is an overwhelming consensus in the literature that a primarily-plant based diet reduces inflammatory markers across the board, decreases the risk of nearly all diseases, and spares a significant amount of environmental devastation. America’s greed for meat is disturbing, and it costs dearly.

Potential Solution: Adopt a primarily plant-based diet, with as much organic fruits and veggies as possible. This will significantly reduce your risk of the top killers, such as heart disease and cancer. When (or if) you eat meat, opt for Organic / Grass-fed whenever possible. Meat and dairy are by far the most important foods to fork out the extra money for organic.

Relative Risk: 8.5/10

Living on the Standard American Diet / Fast Food

Caveman-LordJimThe Standard American Diet (SAD)  is spreading across the globe. As other nations adopt the Western style of eating, they witness the unfortunate side effects of the SAD. This lifestyle is associated with morbidity and mortality at extreme levels. It is responsible for a significant portion of chronic diseases, vitamin deficiencies, and cardiac deaths. (14)

It doesn’t have to take endless time to eat healthier. Find quick and easy whole-food based meals online. Search for “whole food recipes.” If you are adopting a plant-based diet, try this website for great recipes. Use electronic meal planners and recipe programs.

Potential Solution: Start slow. Begin to plan a few more meals at home per week. Begin meal planning at the end of the week. Organize meals for the following week. This is much easier than taking it “day-by-day.” It also makes shopping trips more efficient.

Relative Risk: 9/10

Consuming Seafood

I don’t know if you heard, but as of this writing, the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is STILL leaking radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean by the tons. If you look at tuna migration patterns, you will see that they swim between the west coast of the U.S. and the east coast of Japan. That should certainly be a red flag. Greater than 40% of fish caught within the surrounding regions of Japan contain high levels of radiation.

I honestly believe that the literature supports a Mediterranean diet for health benefits when consumed in its purest form. However, our seafood has become so adulterated by Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and inorganic mercury, that the benefits of fish are questionable compared to the new risks.

Farmed fish present their own issues. Most are fed a diet of GMO grains and hormones. Not to mention that GMO salmon will likely soon be a reality. With these things being said, I personally believe seafood is no longer worth it. The Omega-3 benefits of seafood can be easily found in plant or supplement sources.

Potential Solution: If you feel the need to consume seafood, be wise in the choice of origin and potential risks. Find seafood that are frequently low in contaminants at this website.

Relative risk: 5/10

Living In A State That Lacks Self-Awareness

Meditation-MoyanBrennThe moment we stop learning is when we decide to remain stagnant. This is a sad remainder of an existence. Knowledge is freedom. This is especially true when knowledge is used to initiated action. Unfortunately, an overwhelming majority of people decide to do just this. They decide to accept conditions exactly as they are. They give up.

There is an alternative. Instead of accepting our limitations, we can overcome them through mindfulness. Mindfulness requires that we are entirely present in the current moment. This is done without judgment. By doing this, we set aside fears and “what-ifs.” This practice decreases desire for distractors in our daily lives that derail us from a true purpose in life. If we are not entirely present in our existence, we cannot reach our full potential.

Potential Solution: Being present in moment-to-moment self-awareness enables us to reach our fullest potential. It eliminates fear and empowers the individual. This can be achieved through daily practice of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness can be done in any environment, at any time.

Relative risk: 4.5/10

Texting And Driving

Your multi-tasking skills probably aren’t as good as you think they are. It can wait. In 2001-2007, greater than 16,000 fatalities occurred in the U.S. (11) This might not seem like much, but the trend is continuing to rise. This is why several states are banning texting while driving or cell-phone use all together (except with a headset). As a Physical Therapist, I’ve seen the devastation of traumatic motor vehicle accidents. We have enough risks in our lives, so ask yourself: Is there any reason this text cannot wait?

Relative Risk: 9.5/10 (I rate this so highly because of the extreme potential risk to others.)

UK TEXTING AND DRIVING PSA AD: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED

Obviously the list goes on and on. There are endless possibilities. These are just a few examples to assist the reader in identifying relative risk of common lifestyle choices.

What sorts of activities or lifestyle choices do you focus on, and why?

Sources:

(1) Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) Chemical Program. EPA.gov.

(2) The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease. Nature Reviews Immunology.

(3) Physical Activity and Health. CDC.gov.

(4) Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting Reduces Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses

(5) Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

(6) “PCBs: Production, Import/Export, Use, and Disposal”

(7) http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24

(8) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/01/06/agent-orange-gmo-after-usda-backs-24-d-seeds-michael-pollan-marion-nestle-lead-activist-hype-of-discredited-link/

(9) Television Viewing, Computer Game Playing, and Internet Use and Self-Reported Time to Bed and Time out of Bed in Secondary-School Children

(10) Electronic media use and sleep in school-aged children and adolescents: A review

 (11) Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008.

(12) Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines.

(13) Japanese nuclear power plant still leaking radioactive water through ground into Pacific

 (14) Association between dietary patterns and plasma biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk

Photos by: Mike Baird, Paul Inkles, Donna Cleveland, Umberto Salvagnin, USDA. Moyan Brenn

14 Apr

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Why Does Organic Food Matter? Intreview With Moiz Habib

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Loya4

 DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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Check back every Monday, Wednesday for more empowering health articles!

By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


I live in Michigan, where organic food is harder to come by than other places. I’m comparing this to the western United States, of course. I struggle to dine out at times because I cannot find restaurants that source (or care about) wholesome ingredients. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, the majority of restaurants are either don’t recognize (or care about) the importance of using fresh, local ingredients and/or non-GMO oils. I like to feel GOOD after I eat, not inflamed and worn down. In my opinion, food should nourish the body. It should enable us to thrive as individuals and communities.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to search of for individuals and restaurants that are committed to wholesome ingredients and principles. Loya1An expanding list of these restaurants can be found on our website, here. If you are looking for places that put ingredients first, I recommend checking out that list. If you have any restaurants you would like to add, please submit the name and information of the restaurant here.

Recently, I sat down with Moiz Habib, the owner of Loya Organic Middle Eastern Grill in Bloomfield Hills, MI. Moiz has a fascinating past based around financial trading and Wall Street, which I think has enabled him to be successful thus far in his 100% organic restaurant. He is committed to high quality foods and sourcing from local farmers. He believes that food should be a preventative means of keeping the body healthy.

Check out the video above to learn more about:

  • What is organic food?
  • Can organic food be affordable when dining out?
  • How will organic food benefit me?
  • What does it take to run an organic restaurant?
  • Does organic food taste better?
  • How can we build communities through farm-to-table restaurants?
  • How does organic food differ from conventional food?
  • What are the challenges of operating an organic restaurant (especially in Michigan)?

 

You can find out more about Loya Organic Middle Eastern Grill at their website.

 All these beautiful images are compliments of: Wiam. Check out more images here.

24 Feb

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Dr. Gabriel Cousens: Holistic Veganism and Reversing Diabetes

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Cousens

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


I started exploring healing chronic disorders several years ago while suffering from Major Depressive Disorder. As I began my search for information on healing my body, I recognized the value of holistic healing. A reductionist viewpoint was not going to solve my whole-body problem. This is exactly what Dr. Gabriel Cousens is promoting at the Tree of Life Center.

Dr. Cousens is the director of the Tree of Life Center in Patagonia, Arizona. He is a holistic physician who strongly advocates a live foods diet. I am not exclusively promoting a 100% raw vegan diet. However, a primarily plant-based diet is highly supported in the literature for its health and ecological benefits. I believe that for those suffering from medically “incurable” diagnoses, drastic measures or reformations in lifestyles must be implemented to reach a state of wellness.

So this drew me to Dr. Cousens’ approach. He is a holistic healing physician who has multiple documented cases of reversing Type II Diabetes Mellitus (DM). He even has a few case studies of significant improvement or reversal of type I DM. This would seem impossible to the western medical profession, as the pancreas is considered entirely incapable of function.

In my opinion, Dr. Cousens has been more successful in halting the progression or reversing chronic diseases than Dean Ornish or Dr. Esselstyn. See more data in the lecture below:

This lecture was recorded in Chicago, IL. It includes some of the following subject matter:

  • What is the history of the Veganism movement?
  • What are the benefits of a live, plant-based diet?cousens
  • Is it possible to reverse Type I or II Diabetes?
  • Can such a lifestyle can significantly change body function and a state of chronic disease?
  • What are the effects of de-mineralization of our food supply: can we survive (and thrive?) on the nutrients found in today’s foods?
  • What does the research say about cholesterol and heart health?
  • Is saturated fat detrimental to our heart health, especially from animal sources?
  • Is the Fruitarian diet dangerous?
  • How does Dr. Cousens’ research compare to Dr. Esselstyn / Dr. Ornish regarding heart health?
  • What is the Tree of Life Center?
  • What is the impact of the accumulating radiation in our food supply due to sources such as Fukushima, etc.?
  • What are the spiritual implications of a plant-based diet?
  • What are the generational consequences of a uniformly poor diet?

 

19 Feb

3 Comments

FAQs About Probiotics: Get The Most For Your Dollar

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Fermented Carrot Juice

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


Probiotics are a hot topic (and market) right now, and rightfully so. Healthcare practitioners are finally starting to realize the endless potential of restoring gut flora balance and proper ecology of the digestive system. I’ve written extensively on the subject of gut health and its effects on immunity and auto-immune disorders. So lets assume we’ve both arrived at the conclusion that probiotics are a beneficial addition to our lifestyle…. So you might ask yourself:

What is the best probiotic?

I  wholeheartedly believe that the best probiotic is one you make yourself. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, but anaerobic lacto-fermentation is by far the most potent, cost-effective method available. Please see my previous post or video on how to make your own homemade probiotics.

If I had to choose a brand, I would recommend GutPro. It is by far the cleanest. It features bio-compatible strains without any fillers, the dosage goes a long ways, and it is supported by the GAPS diet and other healing protocols.

Why should I make my own probiotic?

There are a variety of reasons to produce your own probiotics. The most obvious answer is cost. There is an enormous mark-up in price for quality probiotic supplements. In addition, homemade probiotics also include nutrients extracted from the fermented-plant. These components are known as phyto-nutrients, and are still poorly understood. However, it has been highly suggested in the literature that carrot juices (especially fermented), along with sauerkraut, contain a variety of health-promoting characteristics. In addition, there are enzymes contained within the probiotic juice used to break down the plant in the fermentation process. This will aid in the digestion of your probiotic.

What characteristics should I look for when choosing a probiotic?

The most important characteristic of probiotics is the number and variety of live strains. The strains should contain a variety of bio-compatible organisms, particularly of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. Some common examples include:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Lactobacillus salivarius
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium lactis

Depending on your own personal needs, the dosage and number of live organisms will matter. Also consider whether or not the probiotic requires refrigeration. I know that several brands will claim their products are shelf-stable, but I have yet to see a un-refrigerated product that holds up to high-quality medical needs of a healing lifestyle.

Another question to investigate is whether or not the product contains any “filler” ingredients, such as maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, etc. Depending on how compromised your gut is, these ingredients may be contradictory to a healing lifestyle. They often also suggest an inferior product produced for the masses.

How many organisms per serving should my probiotic contain?

The field of gut ecology is still in its infancy stages, so an optimal dosage for various health conditions has yet to be established. I’ve yet to find a source that lays out proper dosages. My recommendation is to start slow, and go low. Work with your healthcare practitioner. In my personal experience, I personally require a minimum of 100 billion colony forming units (CFUs) / day. This is MUCH more than most probiotics on the market, which is why I make my own. If examined under a microscope, a small drop of properly made lacto-fermented vegetable probiotic may contain hundreds of billions of micro-organisms.

What is the best dosage for probiotics?Sauerkraut

This will entirely depend on your personal goals and current status of health. I highly recommend following the instructions of the manufacturer. If you are consuming fermented carrot juice as per my video, I suggest 2 oz daily for adults. I’m not sure on a kid dosage, and I wouldn’t recommend it to infants.

What is the best temperature to make your own probiotics using lacto-fermentation?

64-72 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature to promote the growth of anaerobic lactobacillus species. Higher or lower will stunt the growth of lacto-bacillus bacteria or promote unwanted species growth, respectively.

How long should I ferment my probiotics for?

I recommend a period of at LEAST 3-4 weeks. 4 weeks is the optimal minimal time to ferment your own probiotics. This allows the bacteria to complete their entire life cycle, yielding the highest bacteria density per volume. Probiotics can ferment indefinitely without consequence in most cases.

Can I use mason jars to make my own probiotics?

I do not recommend using mason jars to fermentation because it does not provide a complete seal. For the best proboitics, a complete anaerobic environment should be used. This can be obtained from fido jars, Pickl-it jars, or less desirably, a Harsch Crock. My reasons for a fido / Pickl-it jar over a crock are outlined in the video at the top of the page

Where can I find resources on how much salt to use when making probiotics.

Information on how to make the most appropriate salt brine for each individual vegetable / fruit can be found here.

Where can I obtain anaerobic, air-tight vessels to make the best probiotics possible?

Fido jars can be found here. Pickl-it jars can be found here.

Can I use tap water to make my own probiotics?

I do not recommend using tap water for fermentation purposes unless fluoride / chlorine is removed via distillation or reverse osmosis first. High-quality well or spring water is the best choice.

For more information about probiotics, please subscribe to our e-mail list or You-Tube channel. Additional questions are answered in the video above.

10 Feb

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Back Buddy Review: Get Rid Of All Those Stubborn Tight Spots In Your Neck And Back

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BackBuddy

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


BackBuddyThe average American adult spends 50-70% of their time sitting (1). Prolonged sitting has been linked to increased chance of death from all causes (2),(3). Some of the effects of prolonged sitting are postural changes and a loss of elasticity in the muscles or connective tissues. The more we sit, the less we move! The less we move, the harder it becomes to move. It is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break once started. Stretching alone won’t always overcome some of the nasty postural alterations that occur with excessive sitting. Sometimes direct, hands-on care by a Physical Therapist or Massage Therapist may be necessary to break up some of the “adhesions” formed by our fascia. Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that provides structural integrity to our muscles, organs, etc. It is valuable for several functions, but sometimes fascia becomes increasingly restricted or even rigid with prolonged sitting. To understand fascia better on a basic level, I recommend checking out Gil Hedley’s “Fuzz video.”

How can we prevent some of the detrimental effects of sitting? Movement of course! However, sometimes we need a little extra help, especially after injuries. Two techniques known as trigger point therapy and myofascial release are effective tools to reduce fascial adhesions in our bodies from sitting or decreased movement (4). We may not always have access to  a Massage Therapist or Physical Therapist, so a self-myofascial release tool like the Back Buddy is often invaluable.  See the video below for my full review:

What I like about the Back Buddy:

  • Sturdy construction. Rigid design.
  • Multiple different points of contact for tough-to-reach areas.
  • The contour of the product enables the user to create a strong line of pull with less effort.
  • Excellent for the muscles in the back of the neck, lower back, and scapular region.

Potential negatives of the product:

  • None come to mind. So far I have thoroughly enjoyed this product, and it does exactly what is advertised.

Sources:

(1) Get Up. Get Out. Don’t Sit. NYTimes.

(2) Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

(3) Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222 497 Australian adults.

(4) Immediate effects of various physical therapeutic modalities on cervical myofascial pain and trigger-point sensitivity.

 

26 Aug

0 Comments

Feeling Lonely? Here Are Some Fresh Ideas!

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lonely-sad-face

DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for professional medical, fitness, or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before undertaking or modifying any healthcare intervention. Please read our disclaimer.

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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN


I was inspired to write this post by a college friend who I’ve always held dear to my heart. Life circumstances got in the way of keeping in touch. Of course, that isn’t an excuse on my end. When I recently spoke with them, I quickly realized they were going through a tough emotional time. Their situation made it quite difficult to seek out new friends, and as a result, they felt lonely.

There is a bitter irony in this world. Every day, we are surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of people in close proximity. Yet, somehow, many of us continue to feel utterly alone. I attribute a lot of this to the ever-changing mode of communication, i.e., overuse of Facebook and other similar platforms. Many people are “collecting” more digital friends than those in the real world. Life circumstances, such as illnesses, birth of a new child, or other events may contribute to a sense of loneliness as well.

There’s nothing wrong with spending time on your own for moments of self-reflection or decompression from stressful situations. But when deep feelings of discontent and sadness overcome you, it might be time to evaluate your situation and take action.

 SadDogWHAT IS LONELINESS?

Loneliness is a subjective experience that is different for each person. It is a state of discontent, profound sadness, and sometimes a sense of decreased self-worth. Most attribute the perception of loneliness as a result of a lack of connections with others. Because humans are naturally social creatures, we long for these connections . The level or depth of relationships varies per person. Some individuals may need 1 or 2 connections to feel content, while others may feel a strong desire to be surrounded by large groups.

Are you feeling lonely?

HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS

  • As per the video above, disconnect to reconnect. Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices and be mindful of the world and those around you. I know I sound like a flight attendant badgering you about your mobile device, but if we become too absorbed in things such as these, we miss out on beautiful moments and opportunities in life. 
  • Accept the current moment exactly as it is. Acknowledge that you feel lonely, but attach no judgments to it. Recognize and observe your feeling without making statements such as, “I’m such a loser, no one likes to be with me.” This sets the stage to make changes and go out to find connections.
  • Stop trying to fit in to a model of the world. The more you work on accepting yourself exactly as you are, the sooner you will be able to make connections that really matter to you. Show your true colors. You will naturally attract others that are interested in the same activities and thought patterns.
  • Reach out to social groups in the community. Find an activity that you enjoy and actively seek out others who do the same thing. This may be through a church, an online website such as Craigslist (be careful), or fliers around town. If such a group does not exist, CREATE one! It is likely that others out there feel the same way about things you love to do.
  • Re-connect with old friends and keep in contact with current ones. It is never to late to pick up the phone and check in on an old relationship. Life has its way of separating people over time unless a conscious effort is made to keep a friendship alive. Keep in touch!
  • Try a new hobby or learn a new skill. A beginner’s level course, class, or sport is an excellent way to connect with others on your level looking for new activities in life.
  • Learn to enjoy your time alone. Cherish the moments of silence and pay attention to your breath. Learn more about mindfulness and unconditionally accepting yourself as you are. We have no guarantee of any future. Worrying about tomorrow or the next day serves little benefit from a functional standpoint.
  • Get out in nature! Even a walk around the neighborhood usually feels less isolating than sitting at home by yourself.
  • Be certain to rule out the possibility of depression that may commonly be confused with feeling lonely. If you notice a sense of worthlessness, suicidal ideations, or loss of interest in activities, immediately seek proper care from your healthcare provider.

While these suggestions may not fully resolve a sense of loneliness, they are examples of some action steps that can lead you down the right path. I hope you find these ideas beneficial. Feel free to leave YOUR own suggestions in the comments section below.

Photos by: rawlands and the Italian voice.

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