sharing the health

I spent the past weekend eating and hanging out with family and friends in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Seeing my people is always good for my soul; it nourishes me in more ways than one. Although I don’t always eat the healthiest on my trips home (idk what it is, those wheels touch down in Detroit and my junk food light immediately turns on!), I love the frequent discussions I tend to have with my mom and my sister about our health routines. My mom is a holistic nutritionist and my sister and I both try to eat a really clean diet; we are all constantly reading up on things and incorporating or eliminating foods and supplements from our regime to try and achieve optimal wellness.

As soon as we landed back in the city on Sunday my husband and I headed straight to Whole Foods to get our shopping done for the week. This particular trip to the market had a bit more focus; I was starting a 2 week cleanse on Monday and I had to eliminate quite a few items I’d normally throw in the cart without question. As I wandered through the aisles daydreaming about how awful 2 weeks without steak was going to be, I got to thinking about how the different directions I have taken in my quest for good health have really been guided by my mom and my sister. I then chuckled to myself realizing that this past weekend alone all three of us were back and forth, sharing tips and recipes; we are so united in the desire to look, feel, and be our very best.

We each brought a little tidbit to the table this weekend; small things that have made a HUGE difference in us living healthier, happier lives. I left realizing the richness in sharing our experience and understanding of self-care. Then I thought, why not share the wealth by offering a few tips here? While these suggestions may not be new, I share them here with a fresh perspective and recent results. So, without further ado, here is what’s rocking my health world right now:

SPROUTED ALMONDS
Most people I know love almonds and other nuts as a snack; packed with protein, they are a great holdover when you are starving and trying to hang on till lunch. I myself was never able to enjoy the benefits of nuts. Sure they made me full- but in a sit on your gut, sluggish sort of way. When I’d eat them, my stomach would become visibly bloated and I’d (and whomever was around me!) became plagued by a few–ahem–digestive “disturbances”. Anyone who is a bit gassy and eats a lot of nuts–try cutting them out for a few days. I bet you a dollar the gas goes away!

I and many others have this reaction due to phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors present in the nuts. An enzyme inhibitor is just what it sounds like- it blocks the enzymes that aid in our digestion and allow us the ability to break down foods and absorb their nutrition. I felt sluggish eating a handful of almonds because my body wasn’t actually getting the powerful benefits of the protein and B and E vitamins the nuts are packed with. Enter Sprouted nuts. Sprouting nuts and seeds actually removes these enzyme inhibitors and allows for maximum absorption of all the nutrients we are seeking when we reach for a healthy snack. I think the first time my husband and I tried sprouted almonds was on a road trip (which could have been risky!). We were amazed; after a few handfuls each we could still both give each other a thumbs up–no gas! We felt satisfied but not at all bloated. Our snack gave us energy we could use immediately; it was invigorating!

I buy our nuts at Whole Foods and other health food stores but you can also easily sprout them yourself at home. I won’t go into the details of the process–you can read about that here.

CURCUMIN + FISH OIL
For the past several months, I have suffered painful tendonitis in both of my knees. An avid runner, there is a list about a mile long detailing all the possible causes and contributing factors; pounding your joints into the pavement miles at a time, day after day, for years and years is a surefire recipe for problems. All things considered, I’ve been pretty lucky. Still, I’ve also been frustrated to no end. I did research and tried everything I could–rest, ice, heat, hip strengthening exercises, foam rolling, castor oil packs; there was not much I wasn’t willing to try as long as it was a natural solution that aimed at treating the problem–not just alleviating the symptoms. These things helped a bit, but I still was not able to run over a mile or really even walk down stairs without considerable discomfort in my knees.

Then my mom suggested curcumin- the active constituent of turmeric that’s packed with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. She sent me a bottle which combined the curcumin with wild salmon oil; the fat allows for better absorption. Although I wasn’t straight back to running, I immediately felt a difference. We were on holiday in Europe soon after and I’d get so angry with myself on days I forgot to take the supplement; my knees would be aching after a few hours of walking around. Conversely, on days I did remember to pop the caplets I was virtually pain free.

Back home and determined to run again, I switched to the treadmill to at least absorb some of the shock on my knees and other parts of my body. I also continued my curcumin regimen with some small changes: a higher dose taken twice a day with one fish oil capsule.

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After months of frustration, finally, relief. I am still taking it easy–sticking to 3-4 miles a few times a week on the treadmill; I won’t be hitting the pavement any time soon. I am also continuing to work on my hip strength (which lack of often causes misalignment in the knees), and continuing with the foam roller. I am so grateful to have found something that is truly treating the cause and not just numbing the pain; curcumin has naturally reduced the inflammation and allowed me access again to the sport I love–even if it is on a more limited basis. The use of this supplement is literally ancient. I’m pretty ecstatic to be taking it every day as the history of it’s benefits go on and on. You can read more about the massive healing potential of curcumin here.

BONE BROTH
Both my sister and my mom turned me on to this one. If you are confused about the difference between a bone broth and a stock (don’t worry, I certainly was!) or if you’re curious about recipes, you can look here. The nutritional benefits to this liquid are plentiful; those bones are chocked full of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus and your body eagerly soaks them up in the liquid form. We’re talking positive effects on your gut, your joints, even you skin, hair, and nails! I have yet to make my own which I blame on the crock-pot debacle of 2014. However I’ve been assured by many how easy the process is and how amazing they feel after a few weeks of consistent consumption.

My mom first suggested I pick up a few single serve bottles of Pacific bone broth when I returned home after our trip. She knew I was eager to wean myself off of the sugar and gluten I had been consuming with pleasure for three long weeks. After using it herself with great success–and for the same reason, she recommended I down a bottle of the protein-packed liquid whenever I felt a sugar craving coming on. The results were literally immediate. I no longer felt like I had to scrounge for a piece of chocolate or even fruit; the broth left me with such a calm, satiated, relaxed feeling. With the sugar habit kicked in just a couple of days, I started rotating the broth in as a snack. While at home in Ann Arbor, I was meeting a friend for lunch. She was running late which left my empty stomach in a bit of a panic; when you are not in your own environment you don’t always have reinforcements in place. Luckily, I had picked up a few bottles of bone broth. I cracked one open and downed it; the 9 grams of protein went straight to my system and calmed my belly immediately.

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Now I realize chugging room temperature broth is probably not for everyone–or most. Rest assured you can heat these bad boys up and add a bit of salt and they are really quite nice. Again, making your own broth will taste even better and offer you loads more health benefits (gelatin is magical stuff!). I’ve subjected myself to so many shakes and juices and cleanse related products over the years that there isn’t much I can’t stomach if I know it’s good for me.

Speaking of cleanses, I am now on Day 2 of one, and so far so good. While on the market for a good clean protein shake, my sister mentioned how happy she was with the sustain shakes, by Dr. Frank Lipman. After reading up on the cleanse the company offered and having my mom give it a good once-over, I was all ready to give it a shot. I have done tons of juice cleanses in the past but this is really something different; I can’t wait to let you know how it goes.

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There was a time in my twenties when I thought I was invincible; there wasn’t any ailment or bad food choice that several ibuprofen or excessive exercise couldn’t solve. Now in my thirties, I feel acutely aware of how my choices affect my years to come. I’m no longer satisfied to just get by, survive, or settle on temporary fixes. I want to thrive and greet each day with more energy than the last. I feel so lucky to have these two women to give me a boost when I need it; helping each other is as healthful as it gets.

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