Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

By now we are all a-twitter with the excitement of Thanksgiving in a few days. So, there is not much to say, except that I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may your Turkey behave!
The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven
by: Jack Prelutsky

The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.

Poem retrieved from: http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~homespun/tpoems2.html

Monday, November 24, 2014



I was at a community get together last Thursday and we were talking about passion. We were going around and telling everyone about our passion in life. People had lots of really great passions from horse-back riding to helping the elderly with activities of daily living.  My passion is insecurity.
What does it mean to be insecure?
Insecure, according to Oxford dictionary (n.d.) means, if talking about a ‘thing’: “not firm or set; unsafe.” If talking about a person it means “not confident or assured; uncertain and anxious.”
Are you insecure?
I am not talking about those general feelings of being uncertain if you look okay; if you said the right thing at the meeting or if someone doesn’t like you.  I am talking about being food insecure.
Do you know what it is to be food insecure?
The USDA (2014) categorizes food insecurity into two different domains. Someone is said to have low food security if they have “reports of reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet with little or no indication of reduced food intake”. At the more severe level, very low food security is when there are “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake” (USDA, 2014).
What does this all mean? How does it translate into real life?
Food insecurity is not the same thing as hunger – although it can result in hunger.  Food insecurity is more about what happens when there is uncertainty,  anxiety and worry that comes as a result of not knowing where your next meal is coming from.  According to the USDA (2014), over 80% of US household adults who were classified as food insecure could not afford a balanced meal and were worried their food would run out. Over 60% of US household adults were hungry but did not eat and when they did, they ate less than they felt they should. And perhaps the cruelest irony is that food insecurity results in a greater risk of obesity than food security (Food Research and Action Center, 2010).
Of course there are nutrition and health lessons to be learned here, but I want to encourage you to take the first step. Not as a health professional, but as a caring human being. Pay attention to the food and nutrition needs of your community. Support your local foods banks. When they say they need food, they really do. Finally, if you find yourself fitting into the category of being food insecure, seek out your local resources to see who can help you get a little more stability in your diet.
So, let’s all take time this week to be thankful for what we have and share whatever we can with whomever we can!

Insecure. (n.d.) In Oxford English Dictionary Online, Retrieved November 24, 2014, from http://www.oed.com/search?searchType=dictionary&q=insecure&_searchBtn=Search.
United States Department of Agriculture. (September 3, 2014). Definitions of Food Security. Retrieved from http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security.aspx.
Food Research and Action Center. (2010). Why Low-income and Food Insecure People are Vulnerable to Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/why-are-low-income-and-food-insecure-people-vulnerable-to-obesity/.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fasting, Cancer and Immunity

Is this what it is like living with a toddler during cold and flu season? If so... I beg you, help me, please! J  My first and only child is almost 2 – the age at which I can no longer easily control what he touches. In other words this is the age at which germs take over my house! Last month I was sick for 4 weeks straight and I am not someone who gets sick easily. But my son kept picking up germs from friends, the dogs (HOW do they time it so they stick their tongue in his mouth right when he is yawning?!! I mean really) the grocery cart, and who knows what else! By about week 3, I was pretty tired of being sick and tired so I started doing some research on the immune system. Not sure why, perhaps it was just in case I came across some breakthrough procedure to rid me of the colds that didn’t involve pouring water up my nose (see: Neti Pot). Secretly though I was hoping I would see an article that said CHOCOLATE cures all ills… but alas.J
Anyways, if you don’t know anything about the immune system, let me just tell you that it is an AMAZING system. The things it is capable of doing on a daily basis is just mind blowing. But, this blog post is not about the ins and outs of the immune system. It is about what I found during my research.  But first, a little background. As a dietitian and a PhD in nutrition – I am not one for fad diets. At all. So when I hear things about juicing, removing toxins from our system, a grapefruit diet or about any kind of fad diet I generally just ignore it. Knowing that, you can imagine my interest when I came across an article about fasting, cancer and immunity. I was skeptical to say the least. But, let me tell you, this is not only a very interesting article, but a very interesting concept/idea/theory.
The research comes out of the University of Southern California and focuses on the idea that aging and disease comes about through abnormalities in the immune system (Cheng, 2014). The researchers have conducted two phases of the study so far. The first phase involved mice and the second involved humans. In these studies the researchers found that intermittent fasting (2 days at a time), improved immune status (specifically it lowered white blood cell counts) in mice with cancer and in humans with cancer, receiving chemotherapy (Wu, 2014). What was even more interesting was that when a patient fasted while undergoing chemotherapy, they perceived fewer negative side effects than those that did not fast (Wu, 2014).  This research coincided with earlier studies done by the same author who showed that in animals, chemotherapy worked better when combined with fasting. Specifically the study showed, “fasting plus chemotherapy slowed the growth and spread of tumors” (Marziali, 2012).
Here, one of the authors discusses his theory for why fasting is effective in these situations (Wu, 2014):
“During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells … It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” explained Longo, noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. “And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”
As a dietitian, I worked with cancer patients and traditional knowledge was that we had to get them to eat. We would do anything for them to eat. Sing a song, dance a jig, tell a corny joke – I have done it all in the name of eating! J I did it because weight loss; specifically cachexia is a very real and serious concern in these patients. So the idea that perhaps intermittent periods of fasting are beneficial is extremely thought provoking. Of course there needs to be lengthy clinical trials done to determine the efficacy and effectiveness of fasting long term. But, this is definitely something to keep your eye on! And please, whatever you do, don’t start fasting! The research above is a very new idea, for a very specific patient population!  Also, Thanksgiving is next week and fasting during Thanksgiving would just be wrong! J
Emily Boldrin
Cheng, W. et al. (2014). Prolonged fasting reduces IGF/PKA to promote hematopoietic-stem-cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression [Abstract]. Cell Stem Cell, 14(6), 810-823.
Marziali, C. (February 8, 2012). Fasting weakens cancer in mice. Retrieved from https://news.usc.edu/29428/fasting-weakens-cancer-in-mice/
Wu, S.(June 5, 2014). Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system. Retrieved from https://news.usc.edu/63669/fasting-triggers-stem-cell-regeneration-of-damaged-old-immune-system/.

Fall Repiratory Health--Part 3

Still have that hacking cough, sore throat, and stuffed up sinuses?  Well in addition to all the herbal medicines and foods that can help relieve these fall respiratory conditions, consider some simple yoga postures to help relive symptoms.  While yoga tends to be categorized as an exercise, it's also a very therapeutic tool to use for acute and chronic conditions as well.  You will want to focus on gentle twists and chest openers. Here's a few great poses and breathing techniques to open the lungs, and clear the sinuses.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This yogic breathing technique can help equalize the pressure in your head and maintain a clear nasal passage.  YogaOutlet.com has some great tips for practicing this breathing technique.
  1. Begin in a comfortable, cross-legged position. You may choose to sit on a folded blanket to elevate your hips and reduce knee pressure. Sit up straight, but relax your body. Soften your jaw and breathe naturally.
  2. With your right hand, bend your index and middle fingers, keeping your ring finger, pinkie finger, and thumb extended. This hand position, or mudra, is called Mrigi Mudra.
  3. Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
  4. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.
  5. At the top of your inhalation, close your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand as you release the right nostril.
  6. Exhale through your right nostril.
  7. Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale deeply through your right nostril.
  8. Seal your right nostril again with your thumb, then release your left nostril.
  9. Exhale out of your left nostril. You should now be in the original position, with your thumb sealing your right nostril. This is one cycle.
  10. Balance your inhalations and exhalations so they are the same length through both nostrils.
  11. Repeat up to 10 full cycles, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as you gain experience.
Reclined Twist
  1. Start by lying down on your back.  Slowly take an inhale and extend both arms over your head.  
  2. As you exhale, curl into both knees, hugging them into you.  
  3. Let your head and shoulders rest on the ground, arms out wide out to the sides, palms facing up. Take a nice deep breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower your bent knees over to the right, to or towards the ground.  
  4. Now turn your head slowly to the left, peeking out at the extended hand.  This brings the twist all the way from the lower back and belly into the lungs, helping to loosen some congestion.
  5. Hold for 2-3 breaths, and repeat on the other side. Do this 3-5 times.

Bridge Pose
  1.  Bend your knees and place your feet about hip distance apart, fingertips just grazing your heels.  You can also squeeze a yoga block between the legs to ensure that your hips stay in alignment. 
  2. As you exhale, push down and away through your feet to lift your hips off the ground.  
  3. Clasp your hands underneath you, or press the arms into the floor, to create a stable foundation on the tops of your shoulders. 
  4. Breathe here for 3-5 breaths, drawing the breath up into the upper lobes of the lungs to increase breathing capacity and clear the lungs.
  5. Slowly lower your hips back to the ground.

Practice these postures to clear the head, pump up the lymphatic system, and open the breathing muscles.  Next time your respiratory system gets bogged down by fall viruses, you'll have the tools you need to stay open and stay healthy.

Be Well,
Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT
Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fall Respiratory Health--Part 2

In addition to using herbal allies like Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup to start to clear a cough and congestion, there are other simple ways to break up phlegm, open the lungs,  and clear sinuses. Many people use a humidifier this time of year, and you can easily add essential oils to these in order to inhale the volatile oils (be sure to check the manufacturer recommendations).   Similarly, you can create an herbal steam for a more targeted approach.

Here's how:
  • Pour boiling water into a bowl   
  • Add 3-7 drops of essential oil and let evaporate for 15 seconds (please note that more is not better!)
  • Be sure to close your eyes!
  •  Stoop over bowl with towel placed over your head and breathe deeply
  • You can also pour boiling water over the herbs and breathe in
 My favorite respiratory herbs are peppermint and thyme.  Both are bronchodilators, and have a soothing and opening effect on airways.  Peppermint, with it's cooler nature is best used for phlegm that is sticky and yellow.  Thyme is warmer, and great for phlegm that expectorates as clear or whitish.

But you don't have to stop at using just the essential oils.  Incorporating thyme and peppermint into your diet this time of year is a great preventative as well.  Other delicious foods that can help keep your respiratory system healthy are garlic, ginger, and onions. Even cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg have warming properties that can not only assist digestion, but keep blood circulating  to warm the lungs and keep the tissue healthy.  It's no wonder that we crave these flavors this time of year! 

If we start tuning into these seasonal cravings more, vs. just grabbing the easiest pre-packaged item on the shelf, we can dramatically change our health and wellness.  So tune in, and enjoy the flavors of the season.

Be Well,
Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT 

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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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