WELLNESS--By now everyone has heard of probiotics. Pro means good and biotic means bacteria, so probiotics are good bacteria that help maintain a friendly gut flora. Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that feed probiotics and are mostly carbohydrates in the form of fiber. Think of prebiotics as fertilizer for probiotics. They are found primarily in vegetables. The more prebiotics that we consume, the greater the colonization of probiotics in our gut.
By eating enough prebiotics, we ensure that the friendly bacteria in our gut maintain a healthy population. This is important for many reasons including keeping inflammation levels at a minimum and helping to keep our immunity strong. When the healthy bacteria levels drop, inflammation levels go up. When the friendly bacteria levels drop, it is more likely that inflammation will rise and we run the risk of getting leaky gut syndrome.
The health of the large intestine and gut is more important than we ever expected. Links with poor probiotic levels and the gut have now been linked to many ailments including mental health issues, autoimmune problems like colitis and chrones disease, and elevated levels of inflammation that can negatively effect every system in the body.
One of the most obvious ways to check the health of the gut is simply by looking at your digestive health. After eating is there gas and bloating? Are the stools formed and normal or do you tend to go in the direction of loose stool or diarrhea? Also, once the food is broken down it is to be used as fuel, so your energy level should tell you a lot about how efficiently your body is breaking down food. There are also blood tests to check your levels of inflammation in the blood that you can ask your primary care provider to run.
The most effective way to get all of your prebiotic needs met is by eating plenty of leafy green vegetables. If your lifestyle is set up in a way making it difficult to get the vegetables you need, there are prebiotic supplements. There has been chatter about how prebiotics and probiotics should not both be taken, but they are ungrounded. Taking both a prebiotic and probiotic will not be a problem. Ideally, take them both at the same time each day and ideally with food.
Keep your gut healthy in order to maintain optimum health mentally and physically.
WELLNESS--We all know the usual sources of protein, which include chicken, fish, beef and pork along with tofu, eggs, dairy products, and nuts and seeds.
With more people aiming to consume less animal products for both health and ethical reasons, there are plenty of ways to get your protein in the most unexpected of places. As a wellness coach, I am not convinced that everybody does well on a vegetarian or vegan diet, but regardless, it is a great idea to reduce overall animal protein, and to bring in more plant-based protein sources to reduce inflammation and to give our digestion a break and our organs a break.
As a general rule, most active people require approximately 0.5 - 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. So a 180 lb. man for example, should consume approximately 90 - 144 grams of protein per day. We normally require less protein than we think so pay close attention to your body and experiment a little bit to find the level that works best for you.
On your next supermarket visit, why not try something new? Here is a list of some unique vegetarian proteins that are easily digestible and great for even the most athletic consumer:
Spinach - 5 grams per cup: Who knew that this healthy vegetable actually had protein too? Steam it up, serve it raw in a salad, or throw it in your smoothie and not only get loads of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, but a great deal of protein too.
Peas - 8 grams per cup: Peas are now one of the most popular vegetables used in protein powders and are known to keep people satiated longer then other vegetarian options. Look for a vanilla or chocolate pea protein powder or steam fresh, organic peas and top them with your favorite dairy or vegan butter.
Brown Rice - 5 grams per one cup: Brown rice is another very popular protein that is used in powder form. It can also be eaten in a healthy rice pudding, as a morning cereal with nuts, or as a side dish.
Beans - 10 grams per half cup: Beans have always been a favorite for vegetarians and vegans because they contain some of the highest quality protein available and they are very filling. Depending on the type from white, adzuki, pinto, kidney, black, navy, garbanzo and lima beans, white beans contain the most protein.
Quinoa - 4 grams per half cup: Quinoa has become one of the most popular grains because of its high protein content and delicious, nutty flavor. It is also found in unique and healthy pasta options along with protein bars and snacks.
Soy - Up to 40 grams per cup: Soybeans including edaname have always been a very high source of protein. Soymilk, ice cream, and other products are great for vegans and vegetarians although may convert into estrogen so it is advised that most people consider other sources of plant-based protein along with soy products.
Teff - 14 grams per half cup: This is a grain that you hear very little about. Teff is a wonderful alternative to oatmeal in the morning topped with cinnamon, honey, and a milk product of your choice. Teff contains a surprisingly high amount of quality protein and it is rich in Vitamin C, amino acids, and calcium.
Lentils - 18 grams per cup: Lentils are a delicious option for those who want more vegetarian protein in their diet. They can be served warm or chilled in a salad mixed with feta cheese, fresh vegetables, and homemade vinaigrette.
Chia - 2.5 grams per tablespoon: Who would have known that our Chia pets from the 1970’s would become one of the healthiest seeds in the world. Chia can be used in baking, smoothies, and by letting it sit overnight in almond, hemp, or coconut milk along with cinnamon, vanilla, and honey, you’ll create the most delicious pudding imaginable.
Hemp - 3.3 grams per tablespoon: Hemp is another great source of plant-based protein. Add hemp to your cookies, smoothies, cereal, or sprinkle hemp hearts over your favorite salad.
Make sure to experiment this week. Try something new and shake things up. Focus on consuming less animal products and more plant-based protein. You may be surprised at how easy it is to make the substitutions and your body will definitely thank you.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--I had a bad week. After an amazing birthday celebration, I sank low and found myself feeling sad and melancholy with a heavy heart. The feelings have lasted for days during which time I began to beat myself up for wasting time. I started to feel victimized by my mood and frustrated that I didn’t have the energy to get out there and “make things happen.”
This pattern started when I was very young. I was a sick kid and I often felt depressed. I desperately wanted to feel better! I became curious at a young age about how the Body, Mind and Spirit came together to create our overall experience. You name it I’ve tried it, read it, or done it with my continual focus on getting well.
Fast-forward decades later, and while I feel so much better, I still struggle. I get down more times then I’d like to admit and although my physical body has been healthy, I still get tired at times. This has led to a repetitive pattern of thoughts like “what am I doing wrong?” “After all this effort, why do I still feel bad?”
Perhaps you can relate. It seems like so many people are out there talking about their successes, their breakthroughs and their wins and very few are open enough to share what really goes on just below the surface; those feelings of fragility, insecurity, and fear.
How many of you have an underlying problem that never goes away? How many feel that you are broken in some way and need to be fixed? Perhaps it’s a physical ailment that returns under stressful conditions or a constant struggle to provide a good income doing what you love, or a generalized anxiety and depression? Whatever the so-called problem, maybe it is time to embrace it rather than chase it away. Perhaps we can make it our friend rather than something we resist with all our force.
There are important lessons to learn through our pain and struggle. It may often seem that life offers us unexpected and sometimes undesirable experiences. No matter how positive we are, how many warrior weekends we’ve attended or the number of spiritual books we’ve read, sometimes shit happens. And guess what? It doesn’t mean that there we are faulty or that we’ve made bad choices.
Begin paying special attention to those things that aren’t working for you, those seemingly negative thoughts and patterns that you want so badly to disappear. Talk to them. Befriend them. Listen. Forgive. Offer them unconditional love. Treat them as if you would a desperate friend in need. They are parts of you just as much as the awesome award you recently won, the marathon you completed, or the dream home that you live in.
Wellness, health, and life are all about balance. With the good will come some bad. With the ups comes downs. When we work so hard to resist, avoid, and block the negative, we end up beating ourselves up and draining our very life source. We swim upstream rather than going with the flow. We go outward rather than inward where the true acceptance lies.
Today, love and accept yourself unconditionally no matter where you are. Embrace the pain and begin checking in to see what it’s trying to tell you. Be gentle with yourself and know that there is nowhere you need to be other than right here, right now. Be okay drudging through the mud. Begin making self-love, self-acceptance, and life-acceptance a regular part of your day, week, month and ultimately, your life.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles - http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--We all have reasons for doing things. We wash our car because it’s dirty, we get married to take our relationship to the next level, or we work extra hours so that we can earn bonus money. For day-to-day activities we don’t really need a burning desire to do something. We just do it because it makes logical sense, brings us joy, or it just needs to get done.
But when it comes to something that many of us may resist such as exercise or making better dietary choices, unless we have a burning WHY, most likely we won’t stick with it. Figuring out the motivation behind our actions is often the best way to predict our long-term success.
If we take fitness for example, there are numerous reasons WHY you may do it. For me, I’ll gladly admit that vanity keeps me in the game. I want to keep my 6-pack and look terrific for my age. I have an inner competition with myself to see if I can look better at 50 than I did in my 30’s. Of course the beneficial health effects also push me but that’s an added bonus.
If looking good doesn’t fuel your fire, then you’ll need to discover your own driving force. If you have kids for example, being here to watch them grow up can be a huge motivator and if you’re unhealthy now, the odds aren’t as good that you will. Perhaps you’re in a career in the health field and people look up to you. Your motivation then comes from walking the walk and doing all the things you talk about in order to set a positive example. Perhaps inspiring others through your actions excites you. Whatever it is, finding your WHY is essential to getting unstuck and keeping your motivation for the long haul.
While short-term goals such as weight loss for an upcoming wedding or school reunion can be a great kick-start, it’s not a good long-term WHY because as soon as the event, goal or achievement is reached, the fire often goes out.
Dig deep! Find out what makes you tick and get to the core of WHY you’re unmotivated and then begin doing things to change it. Rediscover your passion for living. If you’ve tried and failed before, then welcome to the club. Everybody has had disappointments in life and we have all experienced failure of some type. Don’t let past events keep you from the life of your dreams! If you persist and work to uncover what is honestly and truly driving you, you may never feel unmotivated or complacent again. Often finding your WHY comes down to determining what your core values are and learning to live in alignment with them.
If you are really struggling to figure out your WHY, then shift your focus away from you. Then begin looking for all of the reasons why doing a certain thing such as taking care of your health can help others. When we bring it back to how we can serve and inspire, we move away from too much self-emphasis and we get back to the real reason we’re here; to help make this world a better place one person at a time.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--An over the counter painkiller is often classified as Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID). These include but are not limited to aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Celebrex, and Feldene. More than 30 million people use NSAIDs every day and they account for 60% of the over the counter analgesic drugs sold. Like most drugs, there can be side effects including cardiovascular events, blood pressure increases, congestive heart failure and gastro-intestinal issues.
According to a study put out by the national institute of health, specific gastro-intestinal issues include ulcer, perforation and bleeding. About 2% of NSAID users equaling roughly 600,000 people experience these serious complications during use, and according to the study risk of ulcer increases up to five-fold for NSAID users compared to non-users.
With this ulcer risk comes the risk of bleeding, and in some cases perforation and even death. The FDA puts the number of annual deaths by NSAIDs at 4,626 while other estimates put it closer to 16,500. Regardless of the correct number, too many people are unaware of the dangers of these seemingly harmless drugs. The pathomechanism for the damage caused consists of the drug being absorbed across the gastric mucosa and get trapped in those cells. The gastric ulcers follow and over time perforation, bleeding and death can occur.
Keep in mind that this is usually with chronic ongoing use of NSAIDs and does not usually occur with the infrequent user. Because these drugs are sold over the counter and taken so liberally, most people are not aware of they can be dangerous and even fatal.
When it comes to NSAIDs, if one feels they need to take them I tell my patients to try to take them early on for an injury or sprain along with lots of ice on the injury. If one can get the inflammation down within the first few days of injury, one will be less likely to have to deal with chronic pain and therefore chronic use of NSAID’s. These over the counter medications, like so many others are not meant for long term use but rather short periods of time to get over the initial pain and inflammation of a new injury or short illness like aches and pains.
For longer-term relief from chronic pain there are diets that can be incorporated and other less damaging supplements and even drugs. People with chronic inflammation for example have many other options besides NSAIDs for relief and will be well served to learn about anti-inflammatory diets and drugs like CBD and THC to help with pain and inflammation over the longer term.
Everyone wants to get in shape, but what if you’re one of those people that is totally out of shape and hasn’t worked out in months or even years? There is hope. We all get off track, and quite frankly, some people are just not as physically inclined as others. Even since childhood there are those of us that never felt especially excited about gym class in school or any other physical activity. No matter how many times certain people try to get excited about working out, they simply can’t.
Many people have heard rumblings about colloidal silver, but it is still unclear for some just what it is and how it works. Colloidal silver kills fungus, bacterium, and viruses by disabling their ability to metabolize oxygen allowing the body to then flush out the toxins once they are killed.
There are many different brands out there and it is a good idea to do some research on the best ones. Like other supplements, they are not all created equally. Regarding dosage, it is a good idea to speak to your health provider and find out what the best dose is for you. If you have recently been catching a lot of colds or had the flu or needed to take antibiotics for any reason, colloidal silver may be just what you need. It is best to take this with the guidance of a health care provider.
There is evidence that silver can help boost the strength of antibiotics when taken with them. Diseases like MRSA and other antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria tend to react better when silver is combined with the antibiotics under the supervision of a health care provider. Colloidal silver can also be used for myriad reasons. Among them, common cold, rash, anti-bacterial, wound care, sinus issues, pink eye, and pneumonia.
One thing to keep in mind if one decides to use silver is that there is a possibility of experiencing what is called the Herxheimer reaction. This is when for a short time the symptoms may seem to worsen and can include headache, rash, and even fever. As the pathogen dies off these symptoms present and can last from a couple of hours up to 10 days. While this period can be very uncomfortable and sometimes feel like a bad flu, it is also indicative that the silver is doing what it is supposed it. If it’s tolerable and your health care provider is one board, it may be a good idea to ride it out and stay on the silver until those symptoms are gone.
If you think Silver is something that can benefit you, read up on it as much as possible. Find out from your health providers what they think, and as usual, be your own primary care provider. Everyone has an opinion and can give guidance, but at the end of the day you are responsible for your own health and wellness. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
*Please note that there have been reports of people experiencing side effects from colloidal silver and it is best to talk to your primary care health provider before starting on a course of silver.
WELLNESS—There’s no turning back. The Holidays are here. Stress less, is my advice for this harried … and hurried … season. Here’s how:
- Don’t force yourself to buy the perfect gift. For starters if you’re not sure if someone is going to buy you a gift or not, and you feel that if they do you want to return the favor, just ask! Call or text your friends and family and be direct. Ask if they were hoping to exchange gifts and suggest that if they are you just get each other something small. Avoiding big crowds and busy malls during this time of year is a great way to lower your stress and save time. The best gift you can give yourself right now is more down time.
- Continue to work out. It’s rather easy during this time of year to skip the workouts. One of the keys to managing stress and staying healthy during the winter is to continue to exercise. We don’t need those long intense workouts like we do in the summer when there is more light and warmth. A shorter work out where we simply get our heart rates up for 20 to 30 minutes and lift some light weights should do the trick to keep you slim and produce the healthy chemicals needed to manage stress.
- Don’t isolate. While it is always tempting for those of us that are single to say no to social events and parties, try to attend a healthy amount of events. This is obviously a subjective thing, but you know when you are isolating and staying home too much. The social anxiety of all the parties can seem overwhelming, and while knowing when to say no is crucial, spending time with people we love will help us stay happy during the holidays.
- Flip the script on the diet. Every year around the holidays the junk food and sugar is flowing. It’s a great time of year to practice your will and keep the junk food intake to a minimum or try to eliminate it all together. If we start working on saying no during the holidays, it will make us that much stronger and more likely to reach our health and wellness goals in 2017. I find that firming up my commitments to myself in the winter helps ensure that I am in great shape come spring and summer.
- Use common sense while driving. Regardless of the known dangers of driving under the influence, every year around the holidays more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents and arrested for DUI’s than any other time of year. Be sure to take a car service or have a dedicated driver when you attend parties and plan ahead so you don’t get stuck in a situation that you will regret later.
However you celebrate this season, I wish you happiness and GOOD HEALTH. My holiday gift to you is this advice: Adhere to my five tips. Stress less and enjoy this special time of the year.
WELLNESS--It’s wintertime and the cold outside air affects our bodies. Adding cold raw foods on top of the already cold winter weather can be tough on the system. Our bodies are more drawn to warming foods instead of cooling during the cold months. When people here warming they often think of the actual temperature of food, but what we are talking about here is the constitutional temperature of the food. Let me explain.
Take for example spicy food. Even if you eat the food cold, spicy food is still internally warming to your organs and entire system. The other most obvious warming foods are onions, garlic, ginger and alcohol.
The most cooling foods are leafy greens, cucumbers, watermelon, sushi, fruits and vegetables. Certain drinks are cooling as well like Kombucha and certain teas. Here’s a complete list of warming and cooling foods.
Patients often ask me about how to eat in the winter months, and the best way is to cook your foods and steam your vegetables. If you do insist on raw veggies, be sure to add a little bit of ginger or some pepper to help to warm them up and balance out the cooling effects.
There is no magic diet for any of us. Our bodies are the labs and we are the experimenters. I can’t tell you to avoid all salads and raw veggies all winter long. What I can tell you is to listen to your body and notice what it is telling you. When you drink that green juice in the winter, does your digestion still work efficiently, or are you getting gas and bloating and possibly loose stool? I hear all the time how difficult it is for people to know how and what to eat, but the truth is, our bodies have infinite wisdom and if we pay attention and listen to them we will see that we already know exactly what we need.
Questions to ask yourself in regards to your diet are; am I getting a lot of gas after I eat? Are my bowel movements formed and normal, or do they tend more towards loose? Do I deal with constipation instead of loose stool, and if so, do I need more oils and water in my diet? Do I have enough energy to get through my workday and my daily workout?
Keep in mind that the raw food movement touts that we are destroying the enzymes and cooking out the good when we steam and cook food. The reality is if we are not able to digest that raw food, there is no point in eating it in the first place. Steaming and cooking it, while it may reduce the enzyme and vitamin levels, allows our bodies to break down that food and use it as energy.
WELLNESS--We all have access to our breath but it’s so easy to forget to use it. How many of you notice that you are simply forgetting to breathe throughout the day, or not breathing deeply and completely? The benefits of breathing put it at the very top of the list of self-care activities needed to stay healthy, and it’s free!
The breathing we are talking about here is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing by inhaling completely through the nose to fill the lungs and diaphragm and exhaling out the mouth. Ten minutes or more of this type of breathing will give you the most bang for your buck.
Breathing makes us calmer. Stopping during the day to breath deeply for at least 10 minutes slows down the heart rate and calms our mind so that we can focus on the issues at hand. Also, short shallow breathing can prevent the body from getting the oxygen it needs while deep breathing detoxifies our systems. The increase in oxygen that we take in during deep breathing helps to oxygenate and detoxify the lungs and blood.
There is also some evidence that deep breathing can help with pain. It’s not clear if the relief is due to a drop in anxiety, which in turn helps the patient focus less on the pain, or if there is an actual decrease in the pain response. Either way, having health care providers teach their patients about deep breathing and how to do it can have benefits extending beyond the pain response.
Breathing makes you happy. When we take some time during the day to focus on our breathing we instantly feel more present, less stressed, and more happy! There are studies indicating that deep breathing techniques can be a great adjunct to a treatment protocol for depression.
Setting an alarm on our phones is a great way to remind us to breath throughout the day. Once we start paying attention to our breath, it is surprising how often we are doing shallow lung breathing only or actually forgetting to breathe all together for short periods of time.
Many people find it easiest to have a set time during the day that they sit and breathe. A morning and evening session is often the most effective way, but if you are in a high stress job, taking time throughout the day to breath can also benefit. By sitting in a quiet space in your home or office and breathing you are also meditating.
That’s really all there is to it, so make time for yourself and set aside 10 minutes a day to begin, and start your deep breathing exercises.
WELLNESS--What if I told you that it’s possible to workout shorter and get a greater benefit? Would you think it was some type of fad workout or scam to get you to buy something? Truth be told, most of us are wasting time with long drawn out workouts that give back little benefit. It’s time to get off the ineffectual gym hamster wheel and start doing the HIIT (high intensity internal training) workout.
Please note that if you are new to interval training be sure to check with your doctor and get a physical first before training with HIIT as it is a more intense way of training your body and heart.
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. Study after study has proven that exercising this way helps to stimulate the release of human growth hormone and other chemicals that help to slow aging while strengthening the body and heart.
In order to properly train with HIIT one needs to first figure out their heart rate maximum. You simply take 220 minus your age to get your maximum heart rate. From there you multiply it by 90 or 95 percent. We can use mine as an example. 220 – 46 = 174. 174 X .95 = 165. As high as I would ever want my heart to be beating during my training would be 165, and that would NOT be for a long period of time.
They call it interval training because we only want to bring our heart rates up to our max for short intervals of 30 seconds or less unless you are a highly trained athlete.
For beginners, it is suggested to train below your heart rate max at around 70 percent and only bring your heart rate up to 90 or 95 percent of your max once or twice for the first few times you try this and for less than 30 seconds each time.
Each week, you can add one more interval of intensity until you reach 8 high intensity intervals of 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can work out for only 25 minutes and reach 8 without too much trouble as long as you already warmed up.
Studies show that people who train with HIIT are more likely to get stronger hearts that pump more efficiently as opposed to their slow plodding cardio friends. In addition to the positive heart effects, the release of healthy age slowing hormones is another huge benefit.
People are paying upwards of $1000 dollars a month in human growth hormone supplements, and the HIIT workout will cause your body to produce it naturally and free of charge. This hormone helps to heal the body; brain and skin making us feel more healthy younger looking.
Try the HIIT workout this week and let me know how it goes!
WELLNESS--With Chinese Medicine we are taught that as the elements change and the cooler weather moves into our environment, it also moves into our bodies. Fall is in full swing, so we need to be mindful by taking certain steps that will help keep us healthy and well as we enter the cooling months.
For starters, sleep more. Many people are noticing that they feel sleepier as we move into October and November. This is because as the days get shorter, there is more darkness and the brain picks up on the lesser amount of light. With less light during the shorter days, the pineal gland as apt to create more melatonin making us want to sleep more that normal. The best solution to this is to allow yourself more rest when possible. If you have kids, get them into bed a little earlier than usual so you can also get yourself to bed. If your single, pick an earlier and reasonable time to turn off the screens so your brain can start preparing for sleep. Your body and brain will thank you for the increase in sleep time.
Regarding foods, eat more soups and stews. As the cold weather moves in, we don’t want it to move into our bodies. Warming foods like onions, garlic, and ginger become even more important to cook with in the winter months especially considering the antiviral qualities of those foods. Try to avoid too many cool drinks and cooling foods. Fall and winter is a great time to steam your veggies instead of eating them raw, and to drink hot tea and room temperature water instead of ice cold drinks.
In Chinese medical theory, the spleen is like the gas burner on your stove and the stomach is the pot with the food cooking in it. The less cool and cold foods we add to the pot the less work the spleen has to do to heat it, so eat foods that are already cooked during these months. It will make it easier on your body to digest them and use them as energy.
As the days get shorter and the darkness moves in, the chemicals in our brain also shift causing us to feel more sleepy and less energized if we are not taking proper care of ourselves. Because of this, the temptation for caffeine in the form of that afternoon cup of coffee or sugar in that candy or muffin grows stronger during the winter months. Add holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, and we usually have an abundance of sugar and processed foods at our fingertips.
One great way to fight the urge is to find someone you work with that is also concerned about putting their health and wellness first, and create an accountability buddy partnership. Set some realist healthy goals with this person and be sure to include realistic goals without trying to be perfect.
A great example of this is “every Sunday we can eat whatever I want, but during the week and at work we will not eat sugars or refined foods.” It helps tremendously to have someone you are accountable to, and actually makes the process fun. I love to use the fall and winter as a time of increased self care and wellness. That way, when the spring arrives, I feel like I already have a jump on my summer health goals!
Omega fats are a crucial part of any diet, but what’s the deal with these elusive compounds? For starters Omega 3’s and 6’s are considered “essential” because it is essential that we get them from our diet since we can’t make them ourselves. You may remember the word “essential” from when we talked about amino acids. It is used for the same reason. Both omega 3’s and 6’s are considered polyunsaturated fats.
Some of you are confused and have been given misinformation stating that omega 6’s are good and 3’s are bad. This is not the case. The exact ratio of 6’s to 3’s is still a bit unclear, but most professionals agree that at least a 1:1 ratio of omega 3’s to 6’s is required. As usual, every body is different so our needs vary, but it is widely accepted that a diet dominant in 6’s and deficient in 3’s is not healthy for our hearts, brains, and nervous systems. Studies show that people who get more 6’s than 3’s tend to carry more inflammation in the body and have a greater risk of heart disease.
A big part of why we get more omega 6’s is because they are cheaper to obtain and they are often found in refined foods. Besides being found in nuts and seeds and some of the oil extracted from them, omega 6’s are also found in refined oils like soy and vegetable oil, which is used to make processed foods. In the United States, 90% of all oil produced is Soybean oil at 108 million metric tons. This oil has some Omega 6 fat, but it’s often hydrogenated meaning they add hydrogen atoms making the oil stay fluid even in cooler temperatures. That hydrogenation process makes the oil easier to cook with and much easier to store, but it’s very difficult for the body to break it down. Hydrogenated oils should be avoided at all times regardless of the type of oil that is being hydrogenated. It is extremely unhealthy. Omega 6 oils are also found in meat and chicken, but the Omega 3 content in these foods is much lower.
Omega 3 oils come primarily from fish. Most of you have heard of the Mediterranean diet. This diet is comprised of lots of fish and vegetables and a low intake of meats. The 3’s can also be added and obtained from healthy fish supplements and krill oils. Try to get at least a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if you are able to look at the ingredients of your food and count the Omega 6 content, try to at least match the Omega 3 intake. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times a week. It is not always easy to prepare and eat fish, so for those of you that simply don’t eat a lot of fish or don’t like fish, taking a fish oil supplement rich in omega 3 is crucial for heart and brain health. The exact amount of fish oil each of us needs is varied and it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare providers to find out the right amount of oil supplementation for you. A good rule of thumb is to try to at least match the amount of 3 to 6 that you are consuming.
In closing, omega fats are crucial for you brain, heart, and nervous system functioning. Be aware of your omega intake ratio, and for most of us, adding 3’s is necessary. Avoid vegetable and soybean oil and definitely cut any hydrogenated oils from your diet. If the food seems unhealthy but doesn’t have hydrogenated on the label, do some digging on line. More than once, I have found that the hydrogenated oil is hidden and not on the label at all. One example is Girl Scout cookies. Pay attention to labels, but also dig deeper to get all the information around the foods you are putting in your body. I am here for any unanswered questions you may have regarding supplementation and omega intake.
It can be downright confusing trying to navigate through the world of supplements. There is literally a pill, potion, or powder for everything! Each herb, vitamin, mineral, and superfood is sold as a way to increase your vitality and improve your health. But which ones are effective and are they necessary?
There are certainly contradictory studies out there, some in support of supplements while others negate them. From my perspective, they are necessary and vital.
In today’s world we don’t eat a varied enough diet and our soils are depleted and so while eating a balanced diet is the best way to boost your health, it’s not always possible to get everything that we need in food alone. This is why I believe in supplementation.
When buying supplements research ones that are from organic, non-GMO sources. Also look for vitamins that are derived from whole foods whenever possible. While some drugstore brands are okay, often it pays to invest in a quality product that has a good reputation from a company with a strong track record.
While each person’s health profile is unique and so too are their vitamin requirements, there are certain supplements that I recommend to almost everyone in my wellness coaching practice.
Here is a list of some of the vitamins, minerals, herbs, and superfoods that I suggest to people who are seeking to turn back the clock, increase their vitality, and for those interested in improving the odds of living a longer life:
Multivitamin with Minerals - I liken a multivitamin to an insurance policy. We take it just in case. It’s difficult to know where we are lacking in terms of vitamins and minerals and it is rare that blood tests will give us a full breakdown. Therefore taking a potent multivitamin with minerals from whole food sources is a great option. Ensure that your multivitamin has adequate Vitamin D3 levels, approximately 5,000 IU per day and a significant level of antioxidants.
Probiotic - Our gut is our second brain. Everything that occurs in our body including our brain function, digestion, and immunity begins in our stomach. Therefore, taking a probiotic supplement daily is a great way to build up the vital stomach flora, which acts to strengthen our overall system. Look for one with numerous strains of probiotic and at least 30 billion live cultures.
Krill Oil/Omega Oils - Many of us receive an abundance of Omega 6 oils from food but less Omega 3 fatty acids. We require a balance of both in order to support proper brain and heart health and to reduce overall inflammation in the body. Krill oil in particular contains a high level of Omega 3 oils and Astaxanthin, which works to reduce sunspots and provides an extra layer of sun protection. Krill oil is found to be the most potent and absorbable version of these healthy Omega 3 oils. For vegetarians or vegans, consume flax, hemp, or walnut oil daily.
Turmeric/Curcumin - One of the most researched herbs for anti-aging is Turmeric. There is a long list of benefits from daily consumption of it’s active ingredient Curcumin including a possible lowering of Alzheimer’s risk, a reduction in joint inflammation, and increased immunity. This potent spice can be taken in powder or supplement form and for the most protection 3-4 grams per day is recommended.
Oil of Oregano - This powerful herb works to boost immunity especially during cold and flu season. People with asthma, allergies, sinusitis, and bronchitis have noticed impressive results using oil of Oregano. 3-5 drops under your tongue followed by some water provides maximum antioxidant and antifungal protection.
Raw Greens Superfood - It’s a challenge to eat enough fruits and vegetables throughout our day which is why a raw, greens superfood powder is an amazing alternate. One scoop normally provides anywhere from 15-40 servings of fresh fruit and vegetable extracts along with numerous other immune-supporting vitamins, minerals, herbs, phytonutrients, prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber.
Green Tea - Green Tea is known for it’s powerful anti-cancer benefits. The potent Polyphenols and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) in Green Tea make it an ideal antioxidant, which fights free radicals in our body. Green Tea is also a thermogenic meaning that it can help to speed up the metabolism leading to increased fat burning effects.
Mushroom Medley - Mushrooms contain powerful compounds known to boost immunity. For those interested in extra cell protection, consider taking a powder or supplement containing Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Reishi, Maitake and other medicinal mushrooms.
Ashwaganda - Ashwaganda is part of the adaptogen herb family. It works to boost overall energy and vitality, increase libido, lower the overall stress responses within the body, and helps many people to get a deeper and more restful sleep.
*Always consult with your physician before starting any supplement regimen as some may interfere with current medications or pre-existing health conditions.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS-Living a healthy and balanced life can feel overwhelming at times. Where do we begin? What aspects are the most important? With so many issues in our environment can really we make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us?
What we do on a day-to-day basis does in fact make an impact on a grand scale. When we care for our family, and ourselves and we make incremental and consistent positive changes towards living a healthier life, we in turn affect the entire world.
Beginning at home is the most important place to start. Here are some immediate yet simple changes that you can make in order to protect your family from harmful toxins and chemicals along with creating a healthier body and home:
Water - Our skin is our largest organ and everything that we put onto our skin absorbs deep into our system including our bath and shower water. Find a water filtration system that will block toxic chemicals and one that provides clean, purified water for your shower. Remember that we breathe steam from our shower too, which can be equally harmful. Along with your bath, purchase a home purifying system or portable water filter for your drinking water and use a non-BPA plastic or stainless steel bottle for your water storage.
Personal Care Products - Learn to read labels and research companies that are creating chemical free, non-GMO, and organic skin and hair care. Dispose of products that contain Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate, Formaldehyde, synthetic fragrance, and other potentially harmful ingredients. For a full list of what to avoid, see my book LIVE LOOK FEEL.
Organic - Our fruit and vegetable supply is being highly affected by decreased soil nutrients, pesticides, and other environmental chemicals. Buying organic is your best option to protect your family from consuming an overload of toxins. To learn which fruits and vegetables are worse than others, see my WEBSITE under the Wellness section for a full list of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen.
Cleaning Products - One of the best ways to clear your home of toxins is to replace all chemical cleaners with natural, environmentally safe ones. There are plenty of quality and effective products on the market. You can also learn quick and easy recipes online to create your own. By doing this you are reducing the amount of chemical waste that goes directly back into our environment and your body.
Air - The air we breathe in our homes often contains irritants, allergens, and chemicals. We normally don’t notice the particles that we’re breathing in but over time, they can negatively affect our health. Research a quality HEPA air filter that will help to clean your home’s air, creating a healthier environment for you and your family.
Re-Use/Recycle - Become more conscious of tossing away plastic containers. If using plastic, re-use them or better yet, switch to environmentally safe food storage containers made of glass. Avoid plastic and foil wrap whenever possible. Make sure to keep a recycling bin under your sink and teach your kids the importance of reducing waste made of materials that NEVER biodegrade and will only pile up in our garbage sites, oceans, and lakes.
Biodegradable - Today more than ever companies are striving towards creating biodegradable packaging. Learn more about the recycle symbols online and look for products that are packaged in biodegradable boxes and containers. Many are created from natural sources that will eventually dissolve into the earth leaving absolutely no toxic residue.
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!) –cw
WELLNESS - It’s that time of year again when cold and flu germs seem to run rampant. There are theories as to why the cold and flu virus is worse during the winter months and the main one is because the virus prefers cold, dry temperatures. Also, we tend to get less Vitamin D during this time, which may lower our immune defense even further. We also spend excessive time indoors with windows closed and that may just feed the virus even more.
There are certainly many debates as to whether or not the flu shot is a good option, and I personally have not had a flu shot in over 25 years. But wherever you stand, there are numerous natural remedies which work well to help you remain healthy and to give that potential cold and flu the boot!
Here are some tried and true remedies:
Oil of Oregano - This is one herb that you don’t hear enough about but in my opinion is probably the most potent antibiotic in nature. This stuff works! Oregano has powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which have been shown to boost the immune system and fight bacteria, parasites, and fungus. Oregano oil contains over 50 active compounds with immune-boosting and germ-fighting properties, along with antioxidants such as Vitamin A and C, and minerals. During cold and flu season, use 3-5 drops of oil of oregano under the tongue once or twice per day followed by water to reduce your chance of getting an infection. It can also be used throughout the year whenever you feel a scratchy throat, cough, or other signs of an illness. It works especially well for those who have asthma, bronchitis, or other chronic chest infections.
Echinacea - This is probably the most popular of all cold-fighting herbs yet less effective than oregano in my opinion. Research shows that it increases the number of white blood cells, which in turn, fights infection. Although studies don’t show dramatic healing results, it certainly won’t hurt to add this to your cold and flu-fighting arsenal. Using Echinacea drops in room temperature water or juice is best and purchasing an organic version is always suggested. If you have allergies to daisies, ragweed, or marigolds, you may also be allergic to the Echinacea flower so proceed carefully.
Astragalus - Numerous Chinese studies have shown that astragalus has potent immune and chi-boosting effects and works well during cold season to reduce the number of colds caught and to lessen their duration. Like Echinacea, astragalus can increase the white blood count and help to ward off infection. It is even more potent when used with a Ginseng product. It may also help to increase your energy during the winter months by supporting the adrenal glands. You can boil dried astragalus root to make a soup or tea, or take a capsule, powder, or tincture.
Mushrooms - I have written about the powerful immune-boosting effects of mushrooms before and this is the perfect time to reference them again. Look for a powder or supplement containing a blend of ancient, healing mushrooms. Maitake, turkey tail, and cordyceps are just a few that contain awesome disease-fighting properties and will work during cold and flu season to give you that extra boost you’ll need to get you through free of illness.
Zinc - The mineral zinc also increases your production of white blood cells and assists them in fighting infection more effectively. Zinc helps your immune system to release antibodies that may protect you during cold and flu season. Look for a chelated zinc supplement, which may be ideal to take all year but definitely during the fall and winter months. Zinc lozenges may also boost your immunity and help to alleviate sore throats.
Garlic - While I am not a fan of eating raw garlic and it may not agree with everybody, some version of garlic is a good idea if you want to boost your immunity during cold and flu season. For those who don’t like the taste of garlic, consider taking a kyolic garlic supplement, which is aged garlic that is free of the pungent garlic odor. The immune-boosting effects of allicin, which is a component of garlic, can work wonders on strengthening your system and many people have sworn by its powerful support during the winter months.
Along with these plants and herbs, make sure to get plenty of rest and exercise, and take time to de-stress with meditation and yoga. Also be sure to carve out creative time for yourself. Drink plenty of fluids, and work on releasing negative thoughts, fears, and emotions on your own or with a therapist or coach. Lastly, make sure to supplement with extra Vitamin C and D to further boost your system and to give those cold and flu germs the boot!
* Always consult with your physician before taking any of the products listed above as some herbs, plants, and supplements may interfere with your current medications.
WELLNESS--If you’re like the majority of Americans, you most likely gain weight during the holidays. Not everybody packs on the pounds during this time but it certainly isn’t uncommon for your weight to increase or for your favorite pair of jeans to feel just a bit tighter. Many people also notice less energy and vitality during this time mainly due to overindulging.
Too much celebrating and not enough discipline can definitely take its toll. While I am ALL for having a good time, especially during the holidays, there are some things to be more conscious of in order to lessen the negative effects of the season and to feel “merry and bright.”
- Refrain - I am certainly not here to lecture and trust me, I allow myself plenty of indulgences during the holidays. But this year why not pay closer attention to how much you’re eating and more importantly, why? Often we gorge ourselves without much thought because that is just what we do this time of year. We are bombarded with awesome desserts and goodies that we don’t normally see and so we feel somehow obliged to get our fill before they’re no longer around. Prior to taking that next bite of Nanaimo bar, buttery shortbread or Christmas cake, take a breath. Ask yourself do I really want this? Am I truly craving more? If the answer is yes then by all means, ENJOY! If you answer no, put it down. It’s really simple. Most of us tend to eat out of habit and not with our intuitive senses. By becoming more conscious, you’ll find yourself eating less and in turn, feeling better.
- Re-Hydrate - Most of us will drink more alcohol during the holidays but one of the best ways to slow things down is to make a decision to sip a soda or water between alcoholic beverages. This simple rule will give your system a break, fight dehydration, and will work on cleansing some of the alcohol from your system. You will probably also become aware that you don’t desire as much alcohol as you may have in the past. Also, try drinking more slowly and take time to thoroughly enjoy each sip.
- Routine - A lot of people tend to neglect their exercise routine during the holidays. This is actually the worst time of year to do that. Our bodies desperately need physical activity to offset holiday stress and to assist our bodies in detoxing from the extra sugar and alcohol. It’s okay to workout less and socialize more but don’t skip it completely or it will be that much harder to get back into it in the New Year.
- Rest - Because most of us are consuming more sugar and alcohol it’s vital that we get more rest. The holidays are meant for you to relax and take a break from routine. So although you’ll still be doing regular workouts, make sure to allow extra naptime as well, and give yourself permission to fully rest. The stress of the holidays can cause our cortisol to rise and in turn, may cause weight gain. Naps are similar to meditation in a way that they allow our body and mind to shut off leaving us feeling more centered.
- Re-Ignite - The end of the year offers you a wonderful opportunity to go inward and contemplate your next steps. A new year always represents fresh new dreams, ideas, and goals that we would like to accomplish in the next 12 months. When we overdo our eating, drinking, and stress levels, we diminish this amazing time to look deeper and to re-ignite our spirits. After a year of running around and busyness, you owe it to yourself to use the holidays for greater good and to ensure that the year ahead is your BEST YEAR EVER!
(Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Coach living in Los Angeles. http://www.jaybradleylifestyle.com. He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!)
WELLNESS--Everyone wants to get in shape, but what if you’re one of those people that is totally out of shape and hasn’t worked out in months or even years? There is hope. We all get off track, and quite frankly, some people are just not as physically inclined as others. Even since childhood there are those of us that never felt especially excited about gym class in school or any other physical activity. No matter how many times certain people try to get excited about working out, they simply can’t.
The good news is you don’t have to love to work out in order to get into better shape. While exercise in some form does need to be a part of your life, it doesn’t need to take center stage. With all the new apps and gizmos available to us these days, strategizing exercise and diet in a well planned thought out way can help to bring up our fitness and wellness levels without cutting into our quality of life. It’s time to make technology your ally.
Activity trackers like FitBit, Under Armor, Apple watch, are just a few of the many activity trackers available to help us track our calories and the amount of exercise we get. While most doctors and fitness experts still suggest a consistent 15 minutes or more of brisk cardio, sometimes we need to start with less. Simply having this tracker tell you how many steps you take each day can be plenty of motivation to up that number even by a small margin each day until you reach the desired amount of 10,000 steps.
Using apps like MyFitnessPal, Loseit! or a number of other calorie counting apps, we are able to count the amount of calories we consume on a daily basis as well. While it may sound tedious, these apps make it simple. In the beginning there is some data entry required, but most of us don’t stray that much day to day from what we eat, so within a few days the majority of the entries are repeats and therefore already in the system. For packaged foods, the apps generally access a barcode scanner so one simply has to scan the package and then enter how many servings were consumed.
I find that with my patients, simply getting them to track their caloric intake each day will usually shift what and how much they are eating. Approaching it as simply an experiment can be helpful. You can go into it telling yourself you will only enter what you eat in order to see how many calories and what you are eating each day. It is OK not to have any plans to make changes to your diet; simply enter what you eat so that you can get a clear picture of your daily intake and needs. More often than not, these people end up eating less and making healthier choices simply by becoming aware of the calorie intake.
If you’re not a fitness person and if you don’t enjoy sweating, there is hope! Start by adding an activity tracker and an app to count calories. Simply track your steps and your calories. Think of it as a fun experiment and see what happens from there!
WELLNESS--Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans each year which is more than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined. Very often that pain is low back pain.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that weakness and tightness go hand in hand. Common sense would have us think that along with weakness comes loose flexible muscles, but the opposite is true. The muscles get weak from lack of movement and exercise leading to tight muscles that end up pulling the vertebrae’s out of alignment and causing low back pain. There are other reasons the low back can be painful, and imaging is the best way to know what is causing the pain. There are three steps one can take in order to help alleviate and potentially heal low back pain.
Assess how serious the problem is and see a doctor and get some imaging done. In some cases a simple x-ray may be enough, but know that soft tissue problems don’t show up with x-ray alone. An MRI may be needed. I am a big fan of imaging because no matter how good health care providers may be, no one can see inside the body without the proper diagnostic tools.
If you see a surgeon for your testing he/she want to perform surgery on your back. While part of staying healthy requires combining western and eastern medicine, look at surgery as a last ditch attempt to get better after all other options have been exhausted. If the doctor wants to do surgery on you it is in your best interest to get a second and maybe even a third opinion before proceeding.
In addition to more opinions, it would also behoove you to do your research into other people that have had the same surgery performed and read about actual cases and actual outcomes. Be your own primary care provider by researching exhaustively before agreeing to go under the knife.
Assemble your team. For chronic pain you may need more than one healer to help you. Acupuncture and chiropractic are excellent adjuncts to your western medical visits. Many peoples insurance now covers both, but if not, there are student clinics for acupuncture schools that will help to bring the cost of treatment down. If you’re not sure about your coverage call the number on the back of your insurance card to see what kind of coverage you may have.
Regarding movement it’s important to learn how and what to do to specifically strengthen and add flexibility to the right areas of the body to support the low back while taking the pressure off. If cost for trainers or physical therapists is a limiting factor, finding a good group fitness class or yoga class and talk to an experienced teacher before you start class to get specific guidance on exercises or yoga poses specifically targeted to help alleviate your back pain. I’m not a fan of group classes for people actively in pain unless they talk to the teacher first to let them know your situation. It is possible to make yourself worse with improper movement.
Take action. Many of you have heard that sitting is the new smoking and while I’m not sure sitting is quite that dangerous, there is not doubt that stagnation and lack of movement contribute to low back pain and all other types of pain. Once you know the proper exercises that you need to do and which movements help you, it’s time to start to exercise. Finding a work out buddy that you can walk with or do your exercises with can be helpful for those of you that are less physically inclined. Movement and exercise is a crucial element to any pain reducing regimen and finding that balance of just enough movement without exacerbating the problem can be key.
Low back pain cuts deep into ones quality of life. With the right plan and the right team in place, there is no reason that low back pain or any other pain needs to dominate your life. Start taking steps today to alleviate your pain so you can get back to life!
WELLNESS--Too many times I hear older people or people that have always been out of shape say that it’s too late to get in shape. Some report that they have never been physically active and at this stage it’s too late to start. I’m here to tell you that is not the case. It’s never too late to start taking care of yourself by working out and eating healthy.
Among the reasons that exercise is so important are the reduction in stroke, heart attacks, and diabetes; but why else must we exercise? Newer research points to a region in the brain that is affected by cardio. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning. Cardio that gets the heart pumping and the body sweating is what is required to stimulate hippocampal growth.
Besides the brain boost, research indicates that people who work out regularly and do at least 2 hours total of cardio a week actually extend their lives by 3 to 7 years. The heart benefits and anti-cancer effects of cancer also speak for themselves. People who get their hearts pumping and the sweat flowing have a significant reduction in developing colon, and breast cancer.
Now that we have reviewed the known benefits of working out, let’s talk about why people resist doing cardio. For starters, everyones’ body is different. Some bodies take to physical activity more naturally than others. There are those people that have always worked out since a young age and it just comes naturally to them. Then we have the athletes of the world that are so passionate about a particular sport that they can’t imagine not doing it. These previously mentioned people are lucky that fitness comes with little effort.
You may be one of the groups of people that simply never had a regular exercise routine in your life, or you may be the type that used to do sports and without that group participation, fitness has fallen to the wayside. Many people can look back and remember a time when they participated in a group activity and therefore were in great shape. If this is you, then it may be necessary to join some type of fitness group. If socializing is more important than fitness, I suggest you blend the two together by doing group hikes, or fitness classes. Taking a dance class or purchasing a monthly pass to a yoga studio might do the trick. Some people simply do not want to work out alone.
The gym culture can be intimidating and it’s quite possible to get in shape without joining a gym. If you live somewhere warm all year round you can get on MeetUp.com and look for a group of people that are also getting in shape together. Could be a class taught in the park each week or simply a walking or hiking group. If those options are not around you can join other types of studios besides a gym. Most places offer yoga studios or Pilates or dance studios and these can be far less intimidating than a gym, and sometimes more social. Of course a walking buddy that you can find at work and do a brisk 30 minute walk each day during lunch is also a fun and free way to get the heart pumping!
Whatever you decide to do, the trick is to make it a habit. You want to break that 2 hours a week minimum with your cardio and ideally you will do that every week. Once it’s a habit your brain will love it and you will start to as well. Look at it as a time that you set aside that is for you. Self-care can be fun and rewarding and once you start to look and feel better, keeping it going will get even easier.
In Chinese Medicine we learn that the environment has a direct impact on our health and often can be the culprit in making us sick. If it is cold and damp and windy outside, it is very important to dress properly and especially to cover up the neck with a scarf. The neck is where many of the "wind points" in acupuncture are located, and because of this, the neck is an especially sensitive area of the body that can be attacked by the elements making us vulnerable to colds and flu.
In the winter we need to be sure to take advantage of the early sunsets and get extra rest. Curl up with a blanket and movie more often and keep warm. Enjoy the longer nights and the chance to spend more time indoors with loved ones. It's nice to follow the lead of mother nature and slow down. Stay warm and stay well this winter season!