Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sustainability Is the New Holism

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Sustainability Is the New Holism
By Earon S. Davis, J.D., M.P.H., NCBTMB
Adjunct Professor, School of Health Sciences, Kaplan University

How is it that we have two different concepts that apply to systems thinking about humans and about our world.  We work towards “holistic health and wellness" and “environmental sustainability” as if these two systems are separate and distinct.  Yet, the separation of humans and nature is precisely a source serious deficiency in both our view of human health and the health of our planet.

Once western civilization separated the human mind from the human body, reductionism became law of the land.  We no longer needed to contend with the moral and ethical consequences of our actions, but could follow “science” wherever it led us, deftly carving up our reality between rational and religion.  With our rational brains, we exploited other people for power and wealth.  Then, with our irrational brains we bowed to the divine and were forgiven for what we’d just done with our rational brains.  Reductionism and compartmentalization seem to work swell but there are always those pesky exceptions, the vast bulk of humanity and the vast expanses of nature here on earth.

In the larger systems approaches, we recognize that humans and nature are not separate entities, just like mind and body are not separate.  Scientifically, we have proven these both beyond a doubt, and yet our cultures are not behaving as if holism is actually reality.  Perhaps it is a goal that we’re working on in the long-term.  Perhaps we can wait to integrate the various aspects of our world, of our human reality.  But perhaps we can’t.

Looking at humans outside our social and natural contexts is not working.  We find deep flaws and failures in human systems that do not recognize the environment as an essential component of human health and wellness.  Just as health is not the mere absence of disease, a healthy environment is not the mere absence of environmental devastation.  The internal ecology of humans interacts with the external ecology of nature and even with the human psyche, with our quest for meaning and reality.  These ecologies merge in our breath, in our drink of water, in our mouthful of food, in our physical exercise, our times of quiet and meditation and in our relationships with other sentient human and non-human beings.

When we breathe deeply in the night air, we sometimes notice that something is missing.  We remember the stars but don’t even bother looking for them in the city sky.  We usually don’t even look at the stream, the brook or lake nearby.  We don’t take the time to walk through our food markets, to visit  shops and markets we don’t frequent, just to remember nature’s bounty, that part of the natural world that is destined to interact with our internal ecology.

Many of us actively seek meaning in our lives, in one way or another.  Yet, we ignore all but a few of the conditions necessary for a healthful planet and healthful people.  We are scattered and overstressed, separated from our life support system, divided and conquered.  Yet, together, healthy people and healthy ecosystems go hand in glove, part of the same system.  When one suffers, the other suffers.  This amazing world is our birthright.  Let’s not allow ourselves to get tricked into thinking that we can do without it.

Earon Davis has degrees in sociology, law and public health.  He has been teaching at Kaplan for almost three years.  Earon currently teaches HW210 – Complementary and Alternative Medicine and HW220 – Contemporary Nutrition and Diet in Kaplan University’s School of Health Science.  He is working on a book on sustainability with the working title of “Divine Primates:  Hope for Our Stressed-Out Species.” 
Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Cleanse

In my experience, the spring thaw always brings out two things in abundance; daffodils and clients requesting detoxification therapies.  Perhaps shaking out rugs and scrubbing floors makes us take a look at how we can clear the cobwebs out of our bodies too.   

The period of seasonal change is a great time to detoxify or cleanse your body.  While I also incorporate nutritional and exercise recommendations for clients, I find that herbs are my favorite place to focus.  There are so many useful herbs for blood cleansing and tissue strengthening!  Here are a few of my favorites:

    Along with a myriad of other therapeutic uses, garlic is a fantastic blood cleanser.  
Not only does it increase circulation, but it’s an anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and 
has been shown to decrease free radicals.  Adding it to your meals is a delicious
and especially effective way to use it.  Yum!

Dandelion Root
A lot of people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them just how effective dandelion root can be for detox.   Yes, the little yellow weeds!  Drinking a tea from the root, or taking it in tincture form is especially effective for liver cleansing.  It is also a gentle laxative and great for toxin removal.  It can be a bit bitter so you may want to mix in some tasty herbs like peppermint or chamomile if making a tea.

     This is another great detoxifying herb that is easily obtained and prepared.  
     Traditionally used for everything from coughs to the plague, more recent research
     has shown that parsley is effective on the urinary tract and kidneys.  Perhaps this 
     is due to its diuretic properties and ability to flush the kidneys. Simply add it to
     meals or steep in hot water for a tea.

With any detoxification therapy, you also want to drink lots of water!  Be sure to research any contraindications that might be present, and explore what other techniques (dietary changes, fasting, etc.) appeal to you.  Getting rid of those toxins can leave you feeling invigorate and strengthen the immune system, so start cleaning!

Happy Spring!

Kristin Henningsen M.S., R.Y.T.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Staying Grounded

Recently I returned from a trip of a lifetime.  Really.  Twenty-five days rafting 282 miles down the Colorado River through the entire length of the Grand Canyon.  Nothing I could write here would even begin to capture the experience.  Completely amazing.  Let’s just say returning to reality was a bit harsh. 

Since being back I’ve been finding it a struggle to stay grounded, or focused.  My mind keeps wandering back to those good times.  And while it’s great to reflect and remember, it is also important to be present in the moment so I can fully enjoy all the amazing moments around me in real life.

Staying focused and dealing with the daily stress that life throws at you can be a challenge no matter what your vacation status.  There are lots of techniques.  I’ve been keeping it pretty simple, however. 

First, as always, I focus on my breath.   When the kids start bickering and I long for the quiet song of the Canyon Wren, I take a breath.  Inhaling to a count of 4.  Pausing at the top.  Then, exhaling to a count of 6.  Seriously, nothing decreases stress and brings you to that quiet place like focusing on your breath.

My yoga practice has consisted of a lot of grounding poses as well.  Life is complicated up here and the days get busy, but I do make time for my practice in the morning.  I find that if I can practice inverted poses such as shoulder stand or peacock, even standing postures that particularly focus on the rooting down through the feet I am able to focus better throughout the day.  Nothing strengthens the nervous system like flipping it upside down!  Check out for contraindications and further instruction.

The afternoons have also had me craving green tea with ginseng.  It just leaves me feeling good!  It’s no wonder really, Skidmore-Roth (2010) reports that ginseng has been found to increase physical endurance, improve the ability to cope with stress, and improve concentration.  Perhaps it’s why the dogs have gotten some extra walks!

Sometimes we need a helping hand to stay grounded, or to be present in the moment.  But it’s worth it.  Because those moments, whether they be as big as the canyon or as small as my 3 year-old’s pinkie toe, that are so completely amazing.

~Kristin Henningsen M.S., R.Y.T.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why 108?

 This past weekend the Vernal Equinox passed (March 20th at 11:21pm for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Basically this refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator and the day and night are nearly equal in length.  In this part of the world this planetary alignment also means the first day of spring.  Hooray!  Let the daffodils and tulips begin!  This change in season can be celebrated in many ways.  In yogic circles, however, it is often celebrated with the practice of 108 sun salutations.  This moving meditation is a great way to welcome the new and bid farewell to the old. 

The number 108 has long been associated with yogic traditions.  Many yogis utilize this number (or some derivative of) for everyday practice or special observances. Whether it be 108 minutes of meditation, 108 rounds of mantra, or 108 sun salutations; this number holds a special significance.

The number 108’s actual meaning is open to interpretation. However, traditionally it has been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. There are also 108 Upanishads (sacred texts of Hindu religion) and 108 sacred places of the body.  Additionally, this number is used when creating malas. Malas are strings of 108 prayer beads.  These can then be used for counting as you repeat a mantra.
Yoga Journal contributor and yogini extraordinaire, Shiva Rhea, also notes that renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. This phenomena has given rise to many examples of ritual significance.

Although there are many interpretations of the meaning of 108, there is one factor that remains consistent.  This number unites yogis around the world as we celebrate the beauty of a powerful practice.


Kristin Henningsen, M.S., R.Y.T.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Cleaning

By: Mary Oleksowicz, MSTOM, L.Ac
At this point of the year the term spring is a word that many of us yearn for. The term “Spring Cleaning” however is a phrase that tends to instill fear into the hearts of many, especially my children. However, the process can be one of invigoration rather than exhaustion as long as the right approach is taken .
1.       Plan your day. Set aside a day and time frame that is amicable to the majority within the family . For older children remind them that they are “strongly“  invited to participate. Tell family members that cell phones, texting etc are prohibited during this time.

2.       Decide the intensity of cleaning that is going to occur. Are you going to scrub and purge every room?  Or are you going to tidy places that are often overlooked in the weekly cleaning? Divide the chores among participants so that you are free to accomplish your goals rather than nag and regulate through the day.

3.       Gather your tools. Nothing can ruin the moment of cleaning like a run to the store for cleaning supplies. Fill your supply list several days before the event to allow time for “last minute” items.

4.       Provide motivation. Allow everyone to contribute a list of five or six fast-paced songs. Alternate and integrate them into a playlist or cd to keep everyone “vibing”. I have found that some songs have become associated only with this cleaning ritual.

5.       Predetermine breaks. In order to prevent mutiny, let everyone know the scheduled break times and lengths. I also stock up on favorite treats or taboo goodies to keep the crowd motivated.

6.       Give back. I love the opportunity to use spring cleaning as a way to donate to the local Salvation Army .Part of our spring cleaning ritual involves a purge and inventory of the closets. We predetermine a number of items that as a family we wish to “purge”.  We determine our family number by adding up the digits of our house phone number. If you have a large amount of clutter, include your area code. We then divide that number by the number of family members, so that everyone has a minimum goal.

7.       Make the cleanup a contest. In my home, we see who can exceed the assigned number from step 6. Choosing the “victory” movie rental at the end of the day is reserved for the family member who donates the most items to charity.

8.       Don’t forget to integrate other forms of cleansing . This time period can also be a wonderful incentive for a purge of unhealthy foods from your cabinets, unused files from the home computer or disposing of old product manuals and warranties.

      I hope you have found these ideas helpful. Historical reasons for a traditional spring cleaning are no longer a factor in the vast majority of today's homes. In years past, homes were heated during the winter with wood, coal or coal oil furnaces, resulting in an accumulation soot and ash on walls, furniture and fabrics. Spring cleaning marked the end of the heating season, and the entire house was aired and scrubbed of the film. Regardless of how much you accomplish, I wish you a joyous cleanse . Let the sun shine in !!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Darling Dandelions - The Ultimate Spring Food !!

By Mary Oleksowicz, MSTOM, L.Ac

The word dandelions tends to bring fear into the hearts of gardeners and homeowners alike. However, besides providing mini-bursts of sunshine on a lawn, dandelion greens are nutritional wonders. Like other leafy greens, dandelion greens are an excellent source of vitamins A and K. From blossom to root, dandelions are antioxidant powerhouses. In fact, traditional Chinese herbology views these plants as helpful to maintain breast health, not only for cancer prevention but for PMS related syndromes. In other cultures, dandelions are known for their liver cleansing properties, a wonderful spring ritual. My perspective is that if these plants are strong enough to survive most assignation attempts, imagine the energy they could impart to you!

Known for their distinct bitter quality the leaves of dandelions are best harvested from pesticide –free errors in the early spring. The grocery variety (an Italian chicory) is milder than the more mineral-rich garden weed. Either way, look for young, tender leaves.
Dandelion greens can be cooked similarly to kale  cooked with chopped onion, minced garlic, optional chili pepper, then topped with Parmesan cheese To tame the greens’ natural bitterness, cook them with dried fruit, toasted nuts, and olive or nut oil.
Here is  a 15-minute recipe:
Dandelion Greens with Currants and Pine Nuts
Serves 6
·         About 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
·         1 garlic clove, finely chopped
·         1 lb. dandelion greens, ends trimmed, roughly chopped (about 2½ qts.)
·         1/8 tsp. each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         3 tbsp. each dried currants and toasted pine nuts
·         Lemon wedges (optional)

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds.
2. Add dandelion greens in batches, turning frequently with tongs. Increase heat to medium-high, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, turning with tongs, until greens are wilted and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.
3. Add currants and pine nuts and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with about 1 tbsp. more oil. Serve with a squeeze of lemon if you like.
Other serving options could include mixing the dandelion greens into a salad with apples and walnuts or integrating them into vegetarian lasagna.
Later in the season, dandelion flowers can be added to salads for a burst of color and Vitamin A as well as a great topic for conversation. Bon app├ętit!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Celebrate Spring with Saint Patrick’s Day.

By Mary Oleksowicz, MSTOM, L.Ac

Being of  Irish heritage, the celebration of St Patrick’s Day was an awaited experience. The day began with warm Irish soda bread from the oven and ended with a gathered family enjoying a well-prepared “Dinner”. In addition to the wonderful homemade delicacies, St Patrick’s Day provided an excuse to FINALLY spend an extended amount of time outside. The prospect of the parade allowed “Ma“ to be more lenient with undue exposure to the cold. Showing off our green sweaters was a ready excuse to leave behind our winter weight coats. Once at the parade, we were allowed to jump about and cheer for the local policemen or shout jovially at the neighbor’s poodle dyed green.  The parade served as a brief reminder of the carefree days of spring and summer that lie just around the corner. 

As an adult , my perspective of St . Patrick’s Day has developed. The popularity of St. Patrick’s Day across cultures has increased. In NYC, a common adage is, “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day“. Being of proud Irish heritage, I rather believe that this is due to the inherent signaling of spring that the holiday provides. St Patrick’s Day arrives days before Spring . At this point, few of us can wait for the flowers to begin to sprout or for the robins to return. The wearing of green by thousands at a parade strongly mimics the appearance of green grass. To me, St. Patrick’s Day is a shout to the earth, “Look at me , look at me ! I am sooo ready for Spring!”

So this year, I encourage you to celebrate the “green “of St. Patrick’s Day.  Buy a new plant for your garden or home to keep the hope of the coming spring alive. While my bias would suggest a small container of shamrocks, anything that is green and vibrant would be a wonderful idea.  If wearing green is not an option, try wearing a more colorful shirt than usual. After the amount of snow and rain many of us have experienced this winter, a gentle nudge to Mother Earth to send the warmer days of spring sooner would be appreciated! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chi-chi-chi chia seeds!

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty School of Health Sciences

When you think of chia a visual of the novelty planters may come to mind. But instead of just growing the seeds you may want to think about adding them to your diet because they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Chia seeds are an edible seed similar to flax seed, but they come from a desert plant called Salivia hispanica which is a member of the mint family. You might have guessed from the scientific name that the plant grows abundantly in Mexico but historically they were one of the “super foods” that were included in the diet of the Aztec and Mayan’s.  Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength.

I’ve noticed that chia seeds are gaining in popularity and are becoming more readily available in health food stores. They are more expensive than flax seeds but they also offer a few advantages over flax:

·         2 tablespoons of chia seeds contains 5000+ mg omega-3 fatty acids versus the 2700 mg in 2 tablespoons of flax.

·         Chia seeds are softer than flax seeds so they don’t have to be ground up before using. You may have learned from experience that if you eat whole flax seeds they make a great laxative and come out looking the same way they did when they went in! Okay I know, TMI. 

·         Chia seeds also have higher levels of antioxidants than flax seeds and because of this they can be stored for longer periods of time without becoming rancid.

·         Chia seeds are also an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. Flax is a good source of magnesium.

·         Both are great sources of fiber but chia has 6.9 grams in 2 tablespoons and flax has 4 grams.

·         Both have a nutty flavor and are very versatile- sprinkle on salads, in smoothies, in oatmeal, in yogurt or cottage cheese.

All in all chia seeds offer a slight edge nutritionally over flax seeds but including either one in your diet is a great way to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by making the blood less likely to clot, lowering bad cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. Both can be purchased as oil, meal, flour, and seed. You many even find chia seeds turning up in a new wave of sports drinks. One study found that a beverage containing 50% chia seeds and 50% Gatorade was as effective as the 100% Gatorade in delaying fatigue
What is the advantage? Less refined sugar and more nutrition by way of the omega-3 and vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content.

If you give chia a try let me know what you think.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Help Your Kids Eat Right With Color!

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty, School of Health Sciences
In my earlier post I focused on ways to put this year’s National Nutrition Month® theme “Eat Right with Color” into practice and in this post I want to share some tips that parents can use to make sure their children are eating healthy meals.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reported that kids (and adults) are deficient in dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium and potassium. I also just read a report that most Americans aren’t even clear on which foods contain fiber. It showed that many people think that foods like meat and milk which have no fiber are good sources and 10% even thought water provided fiber ( This really surprised me and reminded me that most people just don’t know what makes a healthy diet. So if we want healthy kids then there is a lot of work that needs to be done to educate parents on good nutrition so that they can make sure that their children are getting the nutrients that they need. 

To this end I wanted to share a great new resource that The American Dietetic Association and its foundation just launched. It is a website called Kids Eat Right that has a wealth of information for parents written by registered dietitians. The website includes articles, videos, practical tips, and recipes all designed to help families learn how to shop effectively and prepare healthy and wholesome meals. One video that stood out to me was cauliflower popcorn

What a fun idea for kids! Check out the resources and see what you think. If you try a recipe or idea let me know how it worked.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March is National Nutrition Month!

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty, School of Health Sciences

March is National Nutrition Month® and today is actually Registered Dietitian Day! Wahoo! I say that because I am a Registered Dietitian, and while I didn’t get the day off from work or anything I am still going to celebrate my profession in this post. National Nutrition Week started in 1973 in response to a growing interest in nutrition by the general public and by 1980 it turned into a month-long observance. Registered Dietitian Day was started just 4 years ago as a way to highlight the important work that nutrition professionals do.

So what is the theme this year? “Eat Right with Color”! For all of you visual learners out there this slogan should bring to mind bowls of red cherries, salads brimming with various shades of green from lettuces, broccoli, arugula, avocado, bell peppers; red from tomatoes, white from button mushrooms, orange from carrots, and maybe even some tans and darker colors contributed by sunflower seeds, black beans, and olives. While many of you are in locations where you have been seeing nothing but the white of snow and the brown of barren trees, your plate is one place that you can make festive by including a rainbow of foods that includes a palette of nutrients. I often tell my students to “eat from the rainbow” because it is a way to ensure that you get a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, all of which are important for health and longevity.

Using the colors of MyPyramid is one way to incorporate recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and create a healthful eating plan. The bars each represent a different food group: orange is for grains, green for vegetables, red for fruits, blue for dairy, yellow for oils, and purple for meats and beans.

Here are some suggestions to brighten up your plate by using this color guide:
Green: Fruits: Kiwi, honeydew, lime, grapes
Vegetables: Broccoli, asparagus, peas, artichoke, leafy greens, edamame

Orange and deep yellow: Fruits: Cantaloupe, citrus, mango, pineapple, papaya
Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, carrots, yellow corn

Red: Fruits: Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, pomegranate, watermelon
Vegetables: Beets, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb

Blue and purple: Fruits: Blueberries, blackberries, plums, raisins
Vegetables: Purple potatoes, eggplant, red cabbage

Tan, brown and white: Fruits: Banana, brown pear, white peaches, dates
Vegetables: Cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, white corn, white potatoes

Focusing on simple and practical ways to make positive changes to your diets is as easy as “Eating Right with Color”. By including a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy every day you will be getting a variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals that can protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.  So let the artist in you shine and use your palette to create a colorful plate!

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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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