Eco-Toilet Center

March will honor the first day of spring and I will integrate responsible “spring clean”. Please see this re-press in keeping theme;

Eco-toilets are more environmentally sound than conventional flush toilets. In addition to conserving drinking water, eco-toilets also divert and recover the majority of nutrients in human waste. T…

Source: Eco-Toilet Center

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Wellness Wednesday: Autoimmune Disease Awareness

March serves as an awareness month for Autoimmune Disease and Related Conditions.  Although this serves as a wellness blog, advocacy and awareness for conditions, particularly those that may be under-served in traditional medical models, are still areas I feel are important to incorporate.  Due to personal and professional impact, I’m including this into my blog this month.

See the bottom of the post for another way in which you can provide support. 

I credit the New Yorker for publishing a few personal accounts over the last few years highlighting path or circumstances from those living with autoimmune related conditions.  The 2013 article “What’s Wrong With Me?” by Meghan O’Rourke provides an insightful look into a journey with autoimmune dysfunction.  Those with any number of these conditions will certainly find clear areas of relation to her story.

An interesting caveat presented in “What’s Wrong With Me?” is the fact that people may not understand how best to support research and advocacy for these conditions.  Within our system of care and related infrastructure, there is often a misguided focus on specialties or specific disease classifications.  In this case, those would be examples such as lupus, celiac, Crohn’s disease, MS (multiple sclerosis), rheumatoid arthritis, and those affecting thyroid regulation such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease.

However, there are upwards of 100 conditions that can be the result of a harmful autoimmunity state in the body.  (The Autoimmune Related Diseases Association maintains an A to Z list).  Many of which have overlap and/or common root causes.  Also, manifestation of an autoimmune condition can vary from one person to the next and is thought to be considerate of “bio-indviduality.”

Unfortunately, variability in manifestation can contribute to difficulty with regards to timely diagnosis.  Diagnosis is typically handled through testing and measurement of autoantibodies, which are used as clinical markers to classify or predict a disease (Eggert, Zettl, & Neeck, 2010).  Symptoms typically present as vague and could include fatigue, chronic low-grade fevers, muscle and joint aches, or rashes (Campbell, 2014).

Leading up to a diagnosis, is a multi-factorial “soup”, so to speak, of circumstances.  A genetic disposition may be present, but it is thought that lifetime exposures play a role in impacting whether or not a condition manifests or not. “Exposures” encompasses a range from environmental, physical or mental stress, and infectious agents.  In addition, onset of a condition could be indicative of underlying conditions such as intestinal permeability or excessive chronic inflammation (Campbell, 2014).

This further leads us to “chicken vs egg” discussions in science and it also presents a paradigm shift in how we are addressing the category of disease.  In this case “autoimmunity” versus a specific diagnosis resulting from autoimmune dysfunction.  However, in actuality, underlying inflammation or cellular dysfunction versus a specific diagnosis of any kind.

For the would be autoimmune related diseases and conditions supporter, this could present some confusion.  Three simple suggestions are as follows;

Understand care models within systems and those of independent health practitioners.  If your knowledge isn’t great, take a pause on donating money.  By all means I’m not promoting a withdrawal of financial support, but do some homework and don’t get distracted by fancy color schemes, ribbons, and other advocacy tactics.

Talk to those living with these conditions or reliable practitioners that treat them.  I suggest this mainly to understand the layers to the conditions.  To further illustrate this, consider the example of Tom O’Bryan.  His team recently broadcasted an impactful series Betrayal, which detailed many stories of those with autoimmune related conditions.  Purchases of the program went to support for children living with Celiac who may be experiencing mental/emotional stress due to social isolation.  Clearly this is a top of mind problem for the children or the loved ones that support them, but how many people external to the spectrum would have thought of this?  …and, are the research and advocacy agencies addressing these issues with fair weight?

Support those with conditions in other ways, particularly in the mental/emotional area and lifestyle behavior spectrum.  Response to a diagnosis may require significant behavior change and due diligence will be needed.  This may present avenues of going against the norm, for example, going to a super bowl party and replacing crock pot nacho cheese with some sort of super food just so there is something on the table.  Human behavior change is a tough cookie and social support matters!  Be sure to not make a big deal about it putting the person on the spot, but find ways to be inclusive of the person.

The list can easily continue.  Feel free to share interesting projects for which you are aware in the comments.  As a final note, I will be making a relevant donation at the conclusion of the month.  I’m leveraging income from my Juice Plus and Tower Garden business to make this happen.  Please visit my websites for further information or set up a call with me to learn more.  I’ll include a follow up post about this in April.

REFERENCES:

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (2014-2016). Autoimmune Info, List of Diseases. Retrieved 2016, from AARDA – American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association: http://www.aarda.org/disease-list/.

Campbell, A.W. (2014). Autoimmunity and the Gut. Autoimmune Diseases, 2014, 12. Retrieved 2016, from http://doi.org/10.1155/2014/152428.

Eggert, M. Z., Zettle, U.K., & Neeck, G. (2010, May). Autoantibodies in autoimmune diseases. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 16(14), 1634-1643.

O’Rourke, M.  (2013, Aug 26).  What’s Wrong With Me?  The New Yorker.  Retrieved 2017, from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/08/26/whats-wrong-with-me.

 

 

Wellness Wednesday: Tropical Smoothie

The upper Midwest had a fluke winter warm up this past weekend for a bit of spring/summer tease.

However, typically this is the time of year where we are starving for a little “paradise”.  Therefore, it could be the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen.

Frozen fruit can be a great way to leverage powerful phytonutrients into the diet, particularly across times of the year where seasonable options are not available fresh.  A key to healthful smoothies is balance.

I have found that tropical fruit combos, although sweet, can be used in moderation to balance greens such as spinach or super green based blends.

Including options such as chia or hemp seeds and a spoonful of coconut butter, avocado, or nut butter will add compounds such as omega 3 and healthful fats.

A combination that I find most appealing is as follows:

  • 1 bag of organic tropical frozen fruit blend, 16 oz (typically this includes pineapple, banana, strawberries, and mango)
  • 2 handfuls of raw spinach (often available through hoop house suppliers in winter)
  • 1 spoonful raw greens powder
  • Approx. 1-2 tbsp coconut butter
  • Approx. 1 tsp chia seeds
  • Approx. 2 tsp cinnamon
  • If desired, a splash of well-sourced nut milk (liquid from the fruit may be sufficient or water can be used)

Blend to desired consistency.

***NOTE:  The above recipe may not be suitable for all dietary plans particularly those considerate of food combining.

A Few Lovely Deals to Cash In On Before V-day!

Personally, I have always had a sweet spot for Valentine’s Day themed merchandise and, in the past, have found creative ways to incorporate heart themed decor into multiple faucets.  Admittedly, I had a subtly themed “XOXO”, hearts, and lips themed bathroom in my early 20’s.  Obviously, I grew out of it!

These days, I pay more care to purchasing decisions with focus on eco-friendly, holistic, and practical choices.  Still, a little of the fun of red, pink, and white can catch my eye.  A few deals going on before the holiday include a Free 3-piece lip set with $75 purchase from 100% Pure cosmetics.

I’ve mentioned artisan made puravida bracelets in past posts.  Don’t miss out on their Limited Edition Valentine’s Day Gem or any of their Pura Vida’s Charity Collection.  Be sure to take advantage of $20 off a purchase of $75 OR $10 of $50 through February 28th AND always Free Shipping on orders $25 or more!

Finally, for a more subtle reflection of “love” consider supporting Thistle Farms which helps to employ 1,500+ women healing from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction.  Their  $25 Lavender Bouquet Gift Box could be the perfect (not to mention relaxing) alternative to cut flowers.

Organic and All Natural Beauty Prodicts

Affiliate links included within this post may generate small amount of monetary compensation.

Wellness Wednesday: Sweetheart Quinoa Breakfast

A few years ago I had a friendly waitress let me in on a little secret; cook quinoa directly in the coconut milk for “breakfast quinoa”.  Add some seasoning such as cinnamon and, voila, a simple breakfast substitute.

Well sourced quinoa (often from fair trade channels in countries such as Bolivia) is good for a.m. protein, at 8 grams per cup.  It is also a “complete protein” which refers to the whole form and that fact that it consists of an adequate proportion of essential amino acids.  Appropriate protein and healthful fat sources incorporated into the a.m. meal is thought to help support appropriate hormonal regulation through out the day.

To make your sweetheart (and you yourself are also a sweetheart!) a special Valentine’s day themed breakfast, consider making this and adding antioxidant rich dark cherries, raspberries, or strawberries.  Although not in season for all this time of year, organic berries can typically be found in the frozen food section or freeze dried fruits have seemed to pick up in popularity.

I would also suggest cacao nips and coconut flakes!

*Note:  Freeze dried fruits are great for travel and not candied in the way dried fruit options are.

Motivational Monday: Love, Life, Balance

“I learned again and again in my life, until you get your own act together, you’re not ready for Big Love.  What you are ready for is one of those codependent relationships where you desperately need a partner.”  ~ Bruce H. Lipton

It’s not officially February, but it will be this week.  Seeing it’s a short month, I thought we could get started.  I will be focused on Love, Life, Balance for a monthly wellness theme.

Bruce H. Lipton, PhD, possibly most known for authoring The Biology of Belief:  Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles, is actually a biologist by trade, but has proved to be both scientific and inspirational in reminding us to place emphasis on the role beliefs and perceptions have with respect to our overall physiological health.

One of his subtle reminders (or perhaps not that subtle…) seemed like a great place to start to intertwine the role of “love” into our daily lives, perspective, balance of our many priorities, and our overall health.  Keep following this month for further wellness motivation, insight, and sometimes a little fun centered around this theme.

live-love-laugh-metal-wall-art_gimages

Wellness Wednesday: Lessons from the Blue Zones

This month, I have been focusing on community ties with respect to social well-being.  There are numerous studies assessing associations between social connectivity and circumstances with respect to health outcomes.

In fact, social determinants for health, is a hot button topic within current health policy.  On a broad perspective, these determinants fall under three primary categories; 1) social institutions, 2) surroundings, and 3) social relationships (Anderson, et al, 2003).

One of the most compelling projects that has further illustrated this construct is the Blue Zone Project.  Originating out of the work from a National Geographic investigative journalist and researcher, Dan Buettner,  the project as a whole has taken an anthropological approach paired with methodology from epidemiology.

The project inspired a movement and has been referred to by many leaders in the field of lifestyle health.  Various activities to build out some form of a Blue Zone like attributes to communities have been initiated across the U.S. through workplace wellness service providers, government grants, and other community-based initiatives.

Although the majority of us do not live in a “true” Blue Zone, the project does present certain qualitative factors for all of us to consider.  In layman’s terms, it helps us consider actionable areas in our lives by revealing the characteristics of those living within an official Blue Zone.

In application, the project presents us with 9 key themes for living a life most suited for good health and longevity; regular natural movement, purpose, stress reduction (“down shift” methods), 80% rule in terms of eating to only 4/5th fullness, heavy intake of plant based foods, low-moderate consumption of quality wine, sense of belonging, prioritizing loved ones first, and associating with the “tribe”, ie social circles (Buettner, 2016).

It is the last three areas that align well to my monthly theme.  They are both inspirational and scientific.  To elaborate further;

Belong – essentially, find your faith and the respective group to help support you in it.  This may not be a traditional religion, but there should be principles that mimic various world religions including unity, moral conduct, and regular, consistent social congregation.

Loved Ones First – nurture yourself AND familial relations.  In some cases, this may also include the “family you create for yourself”, meaning certain close friends.  Consider a plan to take care of aging parents and loved ones while relishing in the many wisdom-based lessons they can provide you.  In some form or capacity, find at least one life partner.

Right Tribe – ever hear of the New York Times article, “Are your friends making you fat?”, which focuses on socialization with relation to health behaviors (Thompson, 2009)?  Although I don’t love the actual title of this due to potential stigmatization, the concept within presents some truth.  Align yourself to those who are willing to practice healthy behaviors and, in return, inspire those around you through your commitment to do the same.

I might also add that intertwining “purpose” into the three concepts above can have a dynamic effect.  Your sense of purpose can help lead you in the behaviors associated to social constructs AND your exploration of social relationships can also further support your definition of purpose.

In lifestyle practice, this could translate to identifying your daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly intentions.  There are a whole host of mind-body tactics to help you do this as well as effectively planning methodology.  For those that might need a little help with this, please check out my professional website.

REFERENCES:

Anderson, L.M., Scrimshaw, S.C., Fullilove, M.T, and Fielding, J.E. (2003). The Community Guide’s Model for Linking the Social Environment to Health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24(3S), 12-20.

Buettner, D. (2016, Nov 10). Power 9, Reverse Engineering Longevity. Retrieved from Blue Zones: https://www.bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/.

Thompson, C. (2009, Sep 10). Are Your Friends Making You Fat? New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/magazine/13contagion-t.html.

“Live, Teach, Relish”

Naturally the start of a new year brings about thoughts about the future and perhaps a little planning.  This year my planning brought about three core themes;

Live – perhaps my version of “walk the walk”.  For me this is the continued practice of living healthful and conscientious while remaining most considerate of others.

Teach – part of my personal and professional goals are to always remain scientific and rely on this principle to develop tools that help others implement simple, action-oriented lifestyle solutions centered on their health and well-being.

Relish – in consideration of positive psychology, this concept may best be described as an intention.  It is a great synthesizing term for taking in all the aspects daily life provides while finding the places to experience joy and gratefulness.

This year I had a little help to visualize my goals and objectives.  Last year I had the fortune to meet the amazing team behind ALV Coaching.  Representing a mission driven for-profit business, the talent behind ALV is certainly visionary embracing the meaning of Ama La Vida; “love life”.  Be sure to check them out this year.  Below is my Manifesto, a tool they implemented for 2017.

my-2017-manifesto_ashleya