Transforming Our Relationship To Health

Most of us believe that being in good health means eating right and exercising. However, this is only part of the picture. The more important part of the equation is our relationship with our mind, which plays a crucial role in our health and has a profound effect on our well-being, metabolism, and cellular immunity.

The thoughts we feed our minds can either nurture and support health or lead to a downward spiral of illness. Ever wonder how some people who have been given a terminal diagnosis or told that they have an irreversible disease seem to miraculously heal themselves? They shift their state of mind to see illness as an opportunity for growth and radical lifestyle change.

Many people only start looking at their health when something goes awry. Our health is something which many of us take for granted; through health, we have freedom, and through awareness, we can transform our former selves into anything that we make our minds up to be.

We all want to feel good & live vibrantly. Our bodies need natural, real food, not pharmaceuticals, processed foods or inorganic chemicals. To keep us thriving, our minds need positive, nurturing, and supportive thoughts instead of negative, dark, fearful ones. Connecting to a higher state of consciousness helps us make clear decisions that support a healthy lifestyle, paving the way for long-term health.

Be mindful that perfect health does not happen overnight, but with conscious choices and accountable actions, transformation progresses. Begin looking at health from a whole-hearted, holistic perspective. Remember that everything we are thinking, doing, and feeling play a role in not only our current state of health but also our long-term vitality. Integrate all of the wellness practices that feel right for you, your schedule, and your routine. Embrace the fact that you’re human. We are all imperfect, feel emotions, and make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up about food choices or exercise, or the occasional overindulgences. Be gentle and let your heart be your guide.

Enjoy what you’re doing – no matter what it is.
Enjoy your food.
Enjoy the exercise that you choose to do for yourself.
Enjoy & embrace your journey & know that whatever you want for yourself in this life, however you want to transform your health, with clear intentions and awareness, anything is possible for you. 🙂

Natural Cramp Remedies

Oh, cramps. They are one of the more common side effects of menstruation. For some, cramps are just a little bit annoying. But for many women, cramps can be so severe, so debilitating, that they interfere with life’s everyday activities and can get in the way of relationships, work, and school.

My personal experience with cramps has been varied: when I was a teenager, I rarely experienced them but when I did the pain was intense. I was still able to go to school, but I experienced discomfort and mild diarrhea (TMI).  In my early teens to early 20’s, the cramps slowly diminished. I think this was because when I was 19, I was transitioning to a more plant-based diet.

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The first thing I noticed after switching from meat-eater to plant-based was my otherwise heinous PMS cramping had dwindled. I still experience subtle pain from time to time, and my bowel movements are still plentiful, but I’m no longer cowering in a fetal position for seven days straight.

And that water-retention baby I’d be carrying before, throughout, and post-period? It shrunk! Usually, I’d blow up like a balloon on my period, all thanks to the water weight as well as the salty-sweet cravings I give in to. Because I’m eating predominantly natural sugars, leafy greens, and less animal product, the swelling has gone down.

And today, 99.9% of the time;  I have lighter periods, less PMS symptoms including, mood swings, cramps, and even bloating.

I lost my cycle twice in my life: once from in high school and then again in my 20’s due to imbalanced living (stress, exercise, diet, etc.). Working hard to get my stress, and lifestyle in check, I’ve had a steady period since January 2017.

Though I feel thankful each time, I get my period (given that it was nonexistent for so many years) the cramps are not always something to be so grateful for.

Given that I’m all about those natural remedies, I’ve developed a system of tricks that help me remedy my cramps and put them all together in a single blog post. First, some background on cramps.

WHY DO WE EVEN GET CRAMPS?

During your menstrual cycle, the uterus contracts to help expel the lining. Alisa Vitti shared with me that elevated levels of Prostaglandin E2 cause menstrual cramps. Prostaglandins are a group of fatty acid compounds with varying hormone-like effects. The most notable impact of these is period cramps.

HOW DO WE AVOID CRAMPS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Personally, I find that when I’m really on top of my lifestyle: managing my stress, exercising according to my cycle, eating a balanced, blood sugar stabilizing diet (healthy fats, quality proteins, tons of leafy greens and the right complex carbohydrates), staying away from processed foods/coffee/alcohol/gluten (and including all animal products), my cramps aren’t so bad. I learned a majority of this way of living through reading Womancode and through self-experimentation.

Throughout the month, there are things I’ve noticed about my cycle. The strength of the cramps kind of depends on how I treated myself that month. If I am:

  • managing stress (self-care, journaling, nature, meditation, technology breaks, exercise)
  • exercising according to my cycle
  • eating a blood sugar stabilizing diet filled with tons of leafy greens, complex carbohydrates, quality proteins, rich in omega fats like avocado, nuts + seeds
  • abstaining from alcohol, excessive caffeine (all coffee), and sugar, gluten/animal products

then my cramps will be significantly less than if I hadn’t. Now, this is just a personal observation and may not be true for all. I also know that when I travel, eat outside my normal diet, being excessively stressed, then I also experience other painful period symptoms like greater mood swings, acne, breast tenderness, etc. Keeping track of your lifestyle and then paying attention to your PMS/menstruation symptoms are a great way to get better in touch with your body so you can actually see the results for yourself.

TOP NATURAL CRAMP REMEDIES

DIET

In western medicine, many practitioners overlook this simple yet very effective way of combating most ailments: the food we eat. My favorite way of reducing cramps is by focusing on my diet and make sure I’m including plenty of the right healing foods during my cycle. Why? Because I have to eat anyway, so why not include foods that can possibly help lessen my cramps too? Win-win situation in my book. I learned a lot about which foods are good for menstruation from reading Womencode, as well as from my acupuncturist (Dr. Kara from Aculand) who studied Ayurveda. On top of including foods high in essential fatty acids, I try to eat more soups, stews, and warming foods during this time. Lots of roasted vegetables, pureed soups, curries, and more.

Because cramps are caused by elevated levels of PGE2 as mentioned above, Alisa Vitti recommends eating the right fats throughout the month and during your cycle to get more PGE 1 and PGE 3. You can help elevate PGE 1+3 by adding more essential fatty acids into your diet during menstruation. Full list below!

FOODS HIGH IN ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS:

  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • flax seeds
  • chia seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • beans – soy, lentil, mung beans, tempeh etc
  • dark leafy greens
  • cabbages
  • winter squash

OTHER FOODS AND HERBS TO INCLUDE DURING MENSTRUATION:

  • seaweed (wakame, dulse. Eden Foods sells high-quality seaweeds)
  • kelp (found in most refrigerated areas of health food stores near vegan items)
  • mushrooms (all types)
  • seafood
  • He shou wu (Sunpotion makes a great one)
  • Reishi mushroom (I have a fabulous Reishi mushroom latte ALMOST every day, but it very perfect for before-bedtime. It also helps reduce my night sweats that come along with periods)

it’s especially important to eat these foods around the year, but try including them during your next period to see if they help with your cramps.

FOODS TO AVOID DURING MENSTRUATION:

Womencode recommends staying away from the following foods which will increase inflammation in your body, contribute to the manufacture of more PGE2 and cause you to have more pain during your bleed.

  • dairy
  • excessive caffeine
  • saturated fats
  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • too many raw, bulky vegetables

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We already know excessive cups of coffee and pounding beers on the daily aren’t ideal for a healthy lifestyle, but doing these things around your cycle can cause additional stress and fatigue on your body during this delicate time of the month. Eating sugar around this time of the month, though sometimes tempting, can actually worsen your symptoms, so I do not recommend turning to sweets during this time. No-sugar-added dark chocolate is a wonderful way to satisfy your sweet tooth. I love Eating Evolved Midnight flavor. Try to stick to only 1 cup of caffeine a day, and if so, make it a matcha latte (my favorite).

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are one of the first things I turn to during menstruation. From putting in baths to applying to the body, they can become a considerable part of menstrual wellness. I take them with me wherever I go during my cycle.

Clary Sage has been studied and known to help women lessen the pain of contractions, so it has the same healing effect on our bodies during their cycles. A few drops along with a carrier oil like coconut oil massaged onto the pelvis can help reduce some of the pain. Mountain Rose Herbs carries safe Clary Sage.

Saje Wellness’ Moon Cycle roller is a straightforward application oil blend that uplifts and calms the body and brain. It has lavender, geranium, and rosewood oils and already has a carrier oil inside so you can just roll-on and go. I usually add this to my pelvis and gently massage in circular motions or wherever else I feel cramps. I also love adding this oil to my bath along with some epsom salt to help disperse the oils.

You can also apply both of these oils on your lower back and inner thighs.

HEAT

Applying heat directly to the cramps is always super helpful for me. I picked up a $10 heating pad at my local pharmacy not too long ago, but before that, I was just putting white rice into an old sock and microwaving it. You can also use a water bottle and fill it with warm water. I love taking long baths during my period. Contrary to popular belief, baths are 100% safe to take during menstruation. Do whatever feels best to you.

HYDRATION

It sounds cliche, but water heals all, especially during our periods. Drinking water during your menstruation cycle helps replenish some of the liquids you are losing through your uterine lining. Dehydration worsens menstruation symptoms. Drinking plenty of water can also help reduce headaches, bloat, fatigue and other symptoms of menstruation. It’s a simple, quick, and effective way to find immediate relief.

YOGA

Though I don’t recommend heading to a vinyasa class during the first few days of menstruation, there are some yoga poses one can do to help relieve cramps. Child’s pose, happy baby, and camel pose have all been said to help ease some of the pelvic discomforts. Youtube has a bunch of wonderful, free resources for cramp reducing yoga postures.

REST

Lastly, the biggest yet oftentimes most difficult thing is to take it easy. In a fast-paced world, it can be hard to give ourselves permission to cancel plans, push back deadlines or. And sometimes, that’s not possible. But if you know you get cramps, it can be helpful to plan your schedule ahead of time.
Finish deadlines the week before your menstruation cycle. Take a few days off from the gym or your training program. Try not to plan any social activities the first few days of your period. If there is ONE time of the month to take it easy, it’s this time. Schedule in some reading time, bath time, journal time, nap time or Netflix time. Give yourself the gift of slowing down. Our bodies are going through a very intense process during menstruation, and honoring that is a form of beautiful simple self-care.

Do you get cramps? If so, how do you handle them?

Five Tips For A Healthier You

It’s the new season and I think a lot of us have long forgotten about those New Years intentions we said a while back or you are thinking about your future New Years intentions for next year. Read More

When You Feel The Cold Coming

I NEVER get sick (I say that now).  It’s become the most phenomenal thing.  And through a series of not eating my fermented vegetables regularly, a couple of drinks, and getting little sleep the past week, my body finally decided to tell me to slow down after three years of a clean bill of health.  I woke up Monday morning with slight congestion, a foggy head, and fatigue. Though mild, I finally caught a cold that has been waiting to catch up with me for some time.

If you are suffering from a cold, try some of these remedies out. They are easy to do, more affordable than buying medicine and have no negative side effects. A cold is really your body’s way of saying, “Yo! SLOW DOWN! I need a break!” So, slow down, take the day off and rest. You’ll body will thank you by recovering and rejuvenating itself and you’ll be back to your busy schedule in no time!

p.s. – For all you springtime allergy sufferers, these tips would work great for you too!

Feel better soon!

REST | Hear me when I say that slowing down and resting is the most important aspect of recovery.  Shutting down and letting your immune system do what it does best trumps all other remedies against sickness, and works delightfully in conjunction with other remedies.  However, if you eat well, take all the herbs you can, and simply do not rest/slow down, it will take much longer to recover.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR | Make an ACV tea to sip/or gargle. I like to put it in my morning water with some lemon to help dilute the taste. It’s potent but the stronger it is, the faster it will work (of course you can change the amounts of everything to your liking). Use it 3-4 times a day (less is ok too but the more you do it, the better the results).

IMMUNE SUPPORT | Whole Foods has a few varieties (like Wellness Herbal Resistance Liquid from Source Naturals). Some oils I recommend using any of these oils: Peppermint,  Lemon, Oregano, Holy basil, or Astragalus oil. Take 1-2 drops of medical/food organic grade, once a day. Most of the oils are also available as extracts to use in a diffuser, that wouldn’t be a bad idea to do either.  Zinc lozenges can make the cold and sore throat shorter and less severe. Take any of these at the first sign of a cold.

GINGER | Ginger helps bring down inflammation, clear congestion and support the immune system. Drink 2-3 cups of fresh ginger tea daily. Freshly grated ginger root (about 2 teaspoons) in a cup of hot water is best but Yogi Teas also makes a ginger tea. It’s great to soothe sore throats too!

TURMERIC | The curcumin in turmeric eases headaches, acts as a decongestant, helps reduce allergy symptoms and wards off colds. I make a turmeric tea and add lemon and cinnamon (totally optional). If you don’t wanna work hard, I recommend making Turmeric Golden Milk by Gaia and make with warm water.

VITAMIN C & D | Vitamin C has long been known to support the immune system and fight off colds. As with any supplement, check with your doctor first but about 500-2000 milligrams every 2 hours is recommended. Fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C are oranges, kiwis, bell peppers, guavas, strawberries, dark leafy greens, papaya, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Additionally, having enough Vitamin D reduces your risk of catching a cold in the first place. Sunlight and fish are great sources of D.

SAY NO TO ADDED SUGAR | Sugar weakens your immune system! It may be tempting when you have a sore throat to have hard candies, sugar in your tea, pudding/jello, Halloween candies, and ice cream but if it’s high in sugar … STAY AWAY! This will only make you sicker and prolong your cold. Opt for sugar-free items or better yet, just stick to tea sans the sweetener and soups. P.s. adding honey to teas is fine, just don’t allow young children to have it, but also be wise about how much honey you do add.

DRY BRUSHING | The primary benefit is better blood circulation. With improved lymph movement and blood circulation, metabolic waste and other toxins are eliminated from the body leaving you healthier and feeling fresh. Dry brushing stimulates your liver, gut, kidneys, lungs, lymphatic system and nervous system resulting in improved functioning of the body.

COLD BATHS | Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a long tradition in promoting health by taking cold baths. The cold temperature is supposed to stimulate nerve endings in the skin to withdraw blood to the body’s core. After exiting the cold bath, blood is pumped vigorously back around the body which invigorates and builds up the immune system. The vasomotor responses can positively stimulate the neural and respiratory systems and aid cardiovascular functioning. In TCM understanding, this makes the body surface firmer, and thus enhances the resistance against external pathogens. Long-term benefits of cold baths help a range of ailments including a headache, insomnia or nervousness; it also good for prevention of cardiovascular diseases, flu, and airway diseases, stimulating the digestive process and promoting skin health.

STEAM & SAUNA | Another thing to try to combat your cold is a sauna or steam room. The super-hot steam in a sauna is a good way to combat the cold virus, which can’t survive in high temperatures. You are increasing your body temperature, just like in a hot tub, to induce a fever that fights the cold virus. It can also improve nasal drainage. The great thing about using a hot tub or sauna to relieve your cold symptoms is that these are all-natural cures.

KRAUT & BROTH | As soon as I’m ill, I get broth going.  Bone broth or vegetable broths both do the trick, homemade broths are best and very easy to make. I’ll usually enjoy a bowl in the evenings to relax my whole body for sleep, reduce inflammation, and enjoy its immense immunity strengthening properties.  I also eat my kraut throughout the day to help the detoxification process more and provide immune-boosting probiotics. Here is my favorite broth to make by Medical Medium. I can instantly feel a change after using this broth.

CILANTRO CELERY JUICE | I truly crave raw foods and juices that give my digestion a break and allow for my immune system to simply focus on healing.  This is one of my favorite daily juices during this time.  To detox as well as strengthen immunity through ginger and lemon.

EAT NUTRITION DENSE FOODS | The more energy your body uses to digest food, the less it has for the immune system. So eat healthy and light like soups, teas, fresh fruits and veggies (no sugar, no dairy, no gluten). I recommend eating onion, garlic, berries, cruciferous vegetables, and mushrooms every day. Here is a page to read why I recommend reading why I suggest these specific foods.

Eating Intuitively

Intuition is the roadmap of life. And tapping into one’s intuition offers the capability of tapping into our mindfulness. And mindfulness leads to our consciousness.  Read More

Calling out two facts for your attention

Hope you all have enjoyed this pleasant summer so far!

I would like to share one recent report by Madeline Drexler, the Editor of Harvard Public Health School. This report may be long, but it is totally worthwhile to read (link to the full report at the bottom). Read More

“Diets”

It’s not bad to follow a “diet“, but you’re doing it wrong. Health and fulfillment aren’t things you can achieve by counting carbs or following a 30-day plan. We need to shift our culture away from looking for unattainable silver bullets and instead focus on long term, sustainable lifestyles. Read More

Food Is Medicine

Can you believe we are already in September and the school has begun? Well, accordingly to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, we are actually already in Fall.  Do you feel that way? The morning breeze reminds me soon it is time for campfires and camping in the cool nights. Read More

Nutsopedia

My favorite nuts from a nutritional standpoint are almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Read More

Smart Eating At Restaurants

Eating out can be tough when you are trying to make the right choices. It is infinitely harder when you have no say in the location – however not impossible. Read More