The Joy of Giving Back Can Lead to Better Health.

This time of year we are often bombarded with mail asking for help for various charities. I know everyone has his or her own favorites. If you are looking for a different way to get your kids involved and to teach them the importance of generosity, there are some organizations devoted to health and well-being. Not only does giving to others make us feel good, it actually increases activity in the brain’s reward region.

Here are a few you might consider:

A TEN DOLLAR donation to the Pan Foundation will provide a day of medicine to someone in need. The organization also helps those with chronic, rare, and life-threatening conditions get treatment.  http://www.panfoundation.org

Your donation of TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS will teach one kid to cook for life. COMMON THREADS teaches families about nutrition and how to choose healthier food and cook delicious meals.  http://www.commonthreads.org

For FIFTY DOLLARS you can supply 20 US families with clean water.  WORLD VISION will deliver bottled water and filtration systems to US families who lack it. http://www.worldvision.org

May good health and prosperity be yours in 2020.

Outdoors Just May Be The Best Medicine.

I recently read an article in the newspaper (You know…that word-covered thing that gets delivered to your doorstep) about NATURE becoming a form of medicine.

Under a new initiative, doctors in western Michigan are prescribing visits to local parks along with traditional medicine to boost the health of their patients. The non-profit organization, PARK RX AMERICA, is hoping to spread the practice throughout the nation. Nature as a healer has become a hot topic for many folks looking for ways to stay healthy and reduce dependency on drugs for chronic conditions such as stress, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

A study, led by the Michigan doctors found that at least 20- 30 minutes of physical activity OUTSIDE OR INTERACTING WITH NATURE can reduce these health issues and make patients feel better, be happier.

Anyone can visit the Park Rx website and view over 8,000 parks in 34 states. Physicians can register through the website to prescribe parks for their patients.

waterfall

http://www.parkrxamerica.org

Easy Recipe to Boost Immunity This Holiday Season.

I imagine most of us are even busier than usual during the month of December getting ready for holidays, or visits from friends and family. When days offer little free time, we often neglect taking care of ourselves and end up feeling tired, out of sorts, or even sick. And, the temptation to grab something quick to eat doesn’t help in the long run. Instead, why not choose food that boosts your immunity, reduces inflammation, and helps to ward off colds, fatigue, and even dry skin.

Numerous studies have proven that foods rich in anti-oxidants, Vitamin C and Zinc go a long way toward boosting our body’s immune system, especially during stressful periods like the holidays. These foods include leafy greens, broccoli and brussel sprouts, citrus fruits, berries, pomegranates, nuts and seeds.

Here is a simple recipe for a CITRUS SALAD I like to eat for breakfast with a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal.

citrus salad

This one has grapefruit, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds and coconut flakes. You can add sunflower seeds, chia seeds, or a handful of your favorite chopped nuts.

Also try adding nuts and berries to yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal. Make a green salad with MIXED GREENS, and sprinkle in sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, mandarin oranges, or grapefruit. salmon salad

This salad of mixed greens, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, strawberries, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds also has chunk salmon from a packet to make it a main dish for lunch or dinner. Just add your favorite dressing.

The prep time for these is minutes, so there is no excuse not to eat healthy during this busy season. What are some of your favorite Vitamin boosting recipes for this time of year?

 

Three Worthy Causes to Sponsor on Veteran’s Day and Beyond.

Even though the holiday season is fast approaching, and thoughts of outdoor activities turn indoors, you can still show your support to two worthwhile causes throughout the year.

1. How can you honor Veteran’s on this Veteran’s Day?  Pick up a box of Band-Aids Our Veteran Heroes design bandages. With each purchase, the company makes a donation to TEAM RED, WHITE & BLUE, an organization that helps and supports veterans.  You can find them at Drugstores nationwide.

2.  Saturday, November 15 is AMERICA RECYCLES DAY.  Sort your cans, bottles,  and paper and help keep America beautiful.  visit: http://www.americarecyclesday.org

3. Feed the hungry one grain of rice at a time while also building your vocabulary. for every word you correctly define, grains of rice will be set aside and donated to those in need. Visit  http://www.freerice.org

More Ways to Be Green.

Last month I shared ten simple ways to reduce our footprint on Mother Earth.  Today I will share ten more.

  • Collect rainwater and use it for landscaping. If you’re worried about mosquitoes, put a cover on it after it rains.
  • Bring your own mug or refillable cup to your favorite coffee spot.
  • Buy Fair Trade products.
  • Carpool as much as possible. And, combine errands so you drive more efficiently.
  • Choose reusable rather than disposable products. (razors, pens, cups, cloth napkins, diapers, etc)
  • Buy in bulk to avoid excess packaging.
  • Donate old cell phones and help save the African gorilla. http://www.eco-cell.org
  • Don’t charge your cell phone overnight.
  • Reuse Ziploc bags when you can.
  • Purify indoor spaces with plants instead of artificial room fresheners.

Here’s one of my favorite ways to re-purpose something:

car planter

Got any more good ideas? We can all make a difference in many small ways.

 

Fit Kids=Smart Kids.

A recent study of 70 kids aged 9-11, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that strong muscles in children correlates to better memory.  Other studies found that aerobically fit children have better thinking ability, attention, memory, and academic performance.

Bottom line: Getting kids moving with strength-building and aerobic activities during their school years will lead to an overall better school experience. Kids don’t have to join a gym.  Just make sure your child’s school has a playground with lots of equipment and that recess and gym classes are a regular part of the schedule.  Set an example by doing active things together as a family.  Taking after dinner walks, dancing to favorite songs, jumping rope, using a hula hoop, skipping and swimming.  Try crab walks, wheelbarrow races, pillow case races, and soup can arm curls to build muscles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Activity can be fun when parents set the tone and participate as well.  The rewards are better health and a smarter brain!

It’s That Time Again: Farmer’s Market Season is Here!

Today I received one of my favorite e-mail messages: Local Organic Strawberries are here.  If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting these treasures right off the vines, you are missing one of nature’s most perfect culinary creations. Yes, you can buy organic strawberries in the grocery store. They’re fine…in a pinch.  But, if you can find local organic berries, walk, run, drive, fly to get them.  The season is short, so don’t wait.

 

2014-05-26 22.10.12

Now that even most urban areas have community gardens, the opportunities to “eat local” are better than ever. There are approximately 8,700 farmer’s markets nationwide. To find a market in your area visit: http://www.localharvest.org

If you’d like to try planting your own organic strawberries from starter seeds or kits:

Strawberries

 

Celebrate National Pistachio Day.

Today is NATIONAL PISTACHIO DAY. Why not snack on a handful while you learn a bit about this amazing nut.   The following information was provided by:  http://www.foodreference.com/html/a-pistachios-208a.html

A Brief History of Pistachios

Pistachio Nuts are native to the Middle East. Archeological evidence in Turkey suggests that humans were enjoying them as early as 7,000 B.C. Pistachios spread from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, quickly becoming a treasured delicacy among royalty, travelers and common folk alike.

pistachios

The pistachio has been used as a dyeing agent and a folk remedy for ailments ranging from toothaches to sclerosis of the liver. The pistachio’s high nutritional value and long storage life made it perfect for travel among early explorers and traders. Along with almonds, pistachios were frequently carried by travelers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the West.

Pistachios in the U.S.

Originally imported in the 1880s for Americans of Middle Eastern descent, pistachios were first introduced to the rest of America as a snack food some 50 years later. Sold in vending machines across the United States, these imported nuts were usually dyed red to mask imperfections and to draw attention from passersby.

Pistachio trees were planted experimentally in California beginning in the early 1930s.  By the 1960s, commercial cultivation of pistachios had expanded across California’s arid Central Valley. Today, California is the second largest producer of pistachios worldwide, boasting more than 100,000 acres of pistachio orchards and producing in excess of 300 million pounds of pistachios a year, with California accounting for about 98 percent of domestic production.

pistachio trees

One ounce – a handful – of pistachios provide lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and 12% of the daily fiber needed by healthy adults. There are lots of ways to enjoy them: as a snack right out of the bag, sprinkled onto a salad for extra crunch, in ice cream, in pudding, in muffins and cakes.  PISTACHIOS are one of Nature’s perfect foods in a nifty package.

Here are some popular books for children that feature this amazing nut:

The Pistachio Prescription  by Paula Danziger   

The Pistachio Prescription

The Adventure of Pistachio Mustachio Paperback – Large Print, July 19, 2016

What’s your favorite way to eat PISTACHIOS?

For additional information visit – pistachiohealth.com

Boost Your Brain 2.

On January 20th I mentioned several ways yo can improve your brain function.  Here are several more.

  1. Get a good night’s SLEEP: Good sleep is the best thing you can do for your brain long term says Henry Emmons, MD author of STAYING SHARP (Touchstone).  Be sure your children get enough rest as well.  The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for ages 18-64 and 7-8 hours for ages 65 and up.  Children need at least 7-9 hours of sleep as well.
  2. Surf…the Internet: Searching for information on the web improves neural circuitry.
  3. Hang out with Friends and Family.  Social connections improve brain health.
  4. Get lots of B Vitamins: B vitamins lower homocysteine – an amino acid linked to dementia.  You can find B vitamins in whole grain breads, pasta, cereals and rice.  It’s also found in poultry, leafy greens, papayas, beans, oranges and cantaloupe.  MAKE A SALAD WITH MIXED GREENS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS, CHICK PEAS OR OTHER BEANS, ORANGE SLICES AND DICED CHICKEN for a vitamin B packed meal.
  5. Be OPTIMISTIC: Positive thinking activates your brains ability to adapt and change.

Boost Your Brain – Part 1

Want you and your family to have healthier, sharper, and better-functioning brains?  It is easier than you might think.  There is a lot you can do to improve brain health by following some science-based tips.  I am posting several today and will have more at the end of the month.

  1. Learning a foreign language helps your brain process information better and focus more sharply.  Try Apple’s  iPhone app Duolingo to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish or several other languages.
  2. If you want to remember items from a list or details from notes, write them in RED.  Studies have shown that the color red “fixes” itself on our memory better than other colors.
  3. To improve attention and concentration, TRY PING PONG.
  4. To help recall details of an event, CLOSE YOUR EYES.  When visual distractions are removed, your brain focuses more efficiently.
  5. Eat fish and avocados. Both improve brain function by reducing inflammation.  A handful of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts also help improve cognition.
  6. Try new things and see new sights.  New experiences give the brain exercise like a new muscle.
  7. Coloring eases stress and puts your brain in meditation mode.  Any activity that calms the body, restores the brain.  There are numerous coloring books for kids and adults of all ages.
  8. GET UP AND MOVE! Aerobic exercise actually increases the size of your hippocampus – the part of the brain involved in learning and remembering.  Put on a record and dance, take a Zumba class, go jogging, or jump on a trampoline.  It’s all good for the brain.
  9. Do something with your non-dominate hand. Brushing teeth, writing your name, unscrewing the lid of a jar.  By using your “other” hand, you challenge the brain to perform the activity and fire new synapses while doing it.