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Staying Healthy During the Holidays
A Case for Chocolate
Staying Healthy During the Holidays
Prevention is Key!
The holiday season is upon us. This is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends, family and coworkers, so take care not to miss all the fun by being ill. This time of year we all increase our workload, errands, events and interactions, while we decrease our amount of sleep, self-care practices and exercise. Many of us also tend to increase the consumption of alcohol and low nutrient foods. Regardless of whether the threat is a simple cold or the flu, there are several simple things you can do to protect yourself from unnecessary downtime.
This gets top billing, because of its true effectiveness in preventing illness. Holiday gatherings bring an abundance of hand shaking, and let’s be honest not everyone covers their mouth when they sneeze, nor do they wash their hands properly. The most important aspects of hand washing are the length of time (at least 30 seconds) and the amount of friction you use, not the water temperature. In fact, warm water is better than hot, as hot water dries the skin, leaving more microscopic openings on its surface. In cases where hand washing is not practical, keep hand sanitizer available. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also contribute to drying of skin, so we use On Guard essential oil blend to sanitize followed by a quality moisturizer. Teach your children to maintain clean hands. To make it fun: Wash hands using warm water and On Guard foaming hand wash, while singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or their ABC’s (takes appx 30 seconds), rinse hands well and dry hands using a clean towel each time (try paper towels, instead of cloth towels). Using a nail brush, also reduces the amount of germs that can build up under the nails.
Eight Hours of Sleep
Research continues to prove how vital this is to every part of your well-being. It affects our ability to resist illness, mental dexterity, will power and even weight management. One study found, driving while sleep deprived is as dangerous as drinking & driving. If you have trouble falling asleep, try these suggestions: meditation, melatonin or applying a blend of essential oils called “Serenity” (lavender, cedarwood, ylang-ylang, chamomile & sandalwood) to your feet at night, also use in a diffuser to breathe in while you sleep. If the reason you aren’t able to sleep at night is someone snoring right next to you, apply this essential oil blend to the bottom of their feet and enjoy the silence.
Get Proper Rest
Be sure to schedule time to rest. Rest is different from sleep. The holidays fall during winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. Learn from nature and get plenty of rest. Not a fan of meditation. Try putting your feet up with a neck warmer and comfy blanket - read a book, knit a scarf, color in your adult coloring book or write notes to the important people in your life. Try to unplug from your technology for at least an hour. A 20-minute nap is restorative, without leaving you groggy and it increases productivity. Incorporate this habit into your time with your children. It teaches them good self-care habits and gives them the quality time they are always wanting with you.
Our bodies are composed of approximately 60 percent water, and all of our bodily functions are sustained by water. Dehydration is one of the most common detriments to our health, and one of the easiest problems to fix. Create a new habit: It is recommended that we drink half our body weight in ounces of water daily. Start each day off right - drink a tall, room-temperature glass of water with lemon squeezed into it, before you start taking in tea, coffee or food. Why? During the night, your body repairs and rejuvenates itself, this process uses much of your water weight causing you to begin your day dehydrated.
Not a big fan of water? Try adding mint, cucumber or orange essential oils for a special treat - adding citrus essential oils to water is known to curb your sweet tooth. Too busy to fit water into your schedule? Drink a tall glass of water just before each meal, then do not drink anything while eating. This both has you feel full, so you eat less and aids in digestion by not diluting the enzymes that break down your food, allowing maximum nutrient intake. Drinking water at a restaurant reduces your cost by approximately $2.50. Given all the extra money spent during the holidays, every little bit helps.
One interesting fact: During the winter, the skin inside your nose can become dry and cracked. Germs in the air are inhaled and able to enter your blood stream through these cracks causing illness. To prevent or reduce the chances of this occurring, use a Netti-Pot regularly (nasal lavage of salt water) and apply an antibacterial ointment inside nose. We also use humidifiers in every room to avoid drying out the air. This also supports the health of your house plants and prevents drying out your furniture.
Experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of disease is stress-related. Massage and bodywork are available to combat that frightening number by helping us remember what it means to relax. Bodywork releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, and is proving very beneficial in patients with chronic illness, injury and post-op pain. Studies suggest the stress-alleviating effect (decreased cortisol) and the activating effects (increased serotonin and dopamine) of massage therapy on a variety of medical conditions and stressful experiences.
Support Health with Essential Oils
EO’s are simple to use and can be integrated, easily into your everyday habits. You can diffuse, use topically, and most oils can supplement nutrient deficiencies in our diet, by being ingested in water or in food. You want to choose therapeutic grade essential oils, which are the pure and highly potent essence of the plant, root or fruit of which they are extracted. The brand we use is DoTerra, which is guaranteed and thoroughly tested for purity and potency. An example of potency: 1 drop of DoTerra Peppermint oil is the equivalent of 24 cups of peppermint tea. My favorite blend of oils for fighting germs is “OnGuard.” This EO blend (clove, cinnamon, wild orange, eucalyptus & rosemary) is known to support healthy immune function (put on bottom of feet), to protect against environmental threats (wash hands, gargling, ingesting in water, OJ and in throat lozenges) and for use on countertops, as a non-toxic cleaner or to purify the air through diffusion. This blend produces a wonderful scent, which improves mood and makes your house smell wonderful.
The Benefits of Regular Bodywork
As a bodyworker, I strongly recommend increasing the regularity of your massage sessions during the holidays. Benefits of Massage: Eases anxiety – Reduces the flow of stress hormones – Improves sleep – Boosts immune system – Builds energy levels – Reduces fatigue – Improves concentration – Increases circulation – Increases endorphins. These benefits greatly assist the body in maintaining optimum health during the rigorous pace of the holiday season.
When choosing a massage therapist, shop on skills, not price. Our massage cooperative contains some of the best massage therapists in the Triad, all highly skilled, professional and effective. They have been practicing massage anywhere from 4 – 14 years. Don’t believe us, ask our clients - our client retention rate is 70% and 80% of our new clients come from referrals. If you think about it, massage is an excellent value. The price of massage has remained stable in recent years, as the cost of movies, dining out and sporting events has risen. Which of these has the power to improve your health and your outlook on life? Below see several offers to encourage and support you in increasing your massage sessions this year.
A Case for Chocolate
New Studies Show Health Benefits
It’s not like we need a specific reason to eat chocolate, but it doesn’t hurt that studies are finding increasing health benefits associated with the popular indulgence. While chocolate is high in sugar and saturated fat, it does contain chemical compounds with proven benefits, so enjoy – in moderation – and expect to reap some of these rewards.
Improved Heart Health
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women over 70 who ate chocolate at least once a week were 35 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease during the survey period. Researchers suspect that the flavonoids found in chocolate, which are known to reduce blood pressure, likely improve overall cardiovascular health.
Reduced Liver Strain
These same flavonoids in dark chocolate that help decrease blood pressure can also reduce post-meal abdominal blood pressure spikes that strain the liver by widening and relaxing blood cells. A Spanish study of patients with end-stage liver disease showed that dark chocolate helped reduce some of the risks associated with conditions like cirrhosis.
Dark chocolate has been shown to help pregnant women avoid preeclampsia – a significant complication where blood pressure spikes to dangerous levels – by nearly 40 percent when consumed five times a week. Dark chocolate is especially rich in theobromine, which relaxes muscles and dilates blood vessels. As an additional benefit, it also seems to improve circulation in the placenta.
Research out of the University of California, San Diego, demonstrated that mice given epicatechin, a flavonoid found in dark chocolate, could run for 50 percent longer than those who only drank water. The mice also grew new capillaries and mitochondria in their muscles, changes that explain their enhanced endurance capacity. Unfortunately, perhaps, for chocolate lovers, is that researchers say just one-sixth of 1 ounce of chocolate each day is the ideal serving size to receive this benefit.