I wanted to share my thought process and observations with my own recent experience with alpha-gal.
Alpha-gal, short for Alpha-galactose, refers to a complex sugar molecule found in the tissues of non-primate mammals, including cows, pigs, and other animals. It is also present in certain insects like ticks. Alpha-gal is known to trigger an immune response in some individuals, leading to an allergy called Alpha-gal syndrome. People with this condition may experience delayed allergic reactions after consuming red meat or products derived from mammals. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include hives, gastrointestinal discomfort, or even anaphylaxis. Alpha-gal has gained attention in recent years due to its association with tick bites and its impact on dietary choices and lifestyle adjustments for affected individuals.
Almost 5 years ago when I was doing my initial training with Dr. Soliman, about 1/3 of the class-tested weak to alpha-gal who didn’t think they had it—including myself. That explained why sometimes after I had bacon and eggs my stomach was off—I was beginning to think I had pepper sensitivity but we checked pepper too and only alpha-gal was weak. We did each other's needles as part of learning the process and 3 weeks later after I took out my needles, I had no issues with bacon and eggs. During that 3 weeks, I didn’t eat mammal meat or drink milk but otherwise, I didn’t kill myself avoiding mammal while the needles were in because I didn’t realize I even had an issue. Since then, I haven’t had any issues with mammal.
In an interesting twist of fate, my last tick experience resulted in a tick that tested negative for carrying any pathogens (thanks to the University of Kentucky tick tracking program, that testing was free for me) but I found myself experiencing what I thought was food poisoning about 6 weeks after the bite. I rarely get a stomach bug, but it didn’t feel quite like food poisoning. During that time, there was a stomach bug going around, so I stayed home to not share any bugs with my patients. I felt rough all day, but better by dinner which included mac & cheese with pork sausage…and I started feeling off again. I realized both dinners had pork. I took a Pepcid and within an hour I started feeling better—never progressed to vomiting. By the next morning, I felt great but was reasonably certain I had alpha-gal. It felt a lot like my patients' stories (I see a lot of alpha-gal patients!). It was going to be a couple of weeks to get into my doctor to get the blood test, but I see this every day.
The next morning at the office to get a clear test, I pull the basic alpha-gal filters: I check (alpha-gal, beef, pork, lamb, gluten, and MCAS) and to not bias my testing (because I know I might be weak to all of them), I add in some I’m pretty sure are safe: chicken, eggs, oats, rice, and avocado. My office manager has a good sense of feel and with a little coaching, I have good confidence in her ability to provide even pressure with each filter. She randomly puts them in the tray and tests me without looking at the labels with me looking away from the tray so I can’t see them—some test weak, some test strong…no surprise.
What was a surprise was the results—not the alpha-gal testing weak (I was pretty sure on that one), but the individual meats don’t test weak, nor does the gluten. It’s surprising as is the rice and the oats, but it also explains why I felt so bad the day before. I had a large bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and again for lunch to settle my stomach and felt bad all day. I conducted further testing using my specially formulated spays (currently in development, stay tuned!) with promising results. Now the question is how much mammal do I need to avoid to feel good? The meats and large amounts of dairy are out, but perhaps I can keep the cream in my coffee...
I do a 24-hour strict no-mammal or dairy diet and I feel great. Then I had my usual cream in my coffee—no symptoms initially, but around midday, I realize I have no motivation—I don’t want to be outside, I don’t feel like riding my horse, I can’t focus on anything I’m doing! Sure these aren’t allergy symptoms in the traditional sense, but they are not “my normal” by a long shot. I then eliminate regular cream for the next few weeks. I used coconut cream in my coffee and my brain wasn’t falling apart the afternoon! I take my specially formulated sprays and prep mammal-free meals for the week; including a dairy-free dark chocolate espresso bread with 9g of protein, no refined sugar, and no saturated fats. It’s not gluten-free; I adapted it from a gluten-free paleo recipe and swapped the coconut flour for organic white flour, so it easily could be.
In the end, it turns out allergies aren’t monolithic—it’s not always the same reaction to different things. I hear patients all the time tell me they tolerate dairy just fine and their allergist said they could have it because it didn’t show on the blood test—but just because you aren’t having hives, throwing up, or experiencing the “typical” allergies it doesn’t mean you are tolerating it. I’m not saying some people don’t tolerate dairy just fine with alpha-gal, I see patients who do. But it’s worth cutting things out for a few days to see what improves.
It’s not easy to do—I get it! My husband is not thrilled with this turn of events because he does a lot of our cooking and now he’s having to adapt for me. I thought a cake we made turned out pretty well, but he didn’t like it. Once I figure out why, I can hopefully tweak the recipe to work for both of us (I suspect he tastes too much coconut from the coconut oil or it wasn’t sweet enough for his taste). Apple sauce, banana, or shredded zucchini would have worked to tweak the taste too. I’ll try it again and see what happens. Cooking is an alchemy of transforming a pile of things into something else, and there’s more than one way to get there!
I’m pretty aware of what my body is feeling these days, I’ve learned the hard way to listen to it. My hope is you don’t have to suffer from not listening to your body—to be curious and notice not just the physical sensations you experience but mentally and emotionally how you feel as well and take that into account when making your food choices.
Yours in health,
May is a month loaded with great awareness campaigns—most of which we see routinely in our clinic: Lyme, Mental Health, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Celiac Disease. Two of those are largely genetic—Celiac Disease and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome—and while we can’t change your genes, acupuncture, herbs, and appropriate nutritional support can greatly improve the quality of life for patients with these conditions.
Our favorite supplements for Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome are available below; but please note these options are not all vegan or gluten-free so please contact our office for help choosing replacement products for this protocol if you need to avoid mammal or gluten:
Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance—What’s the Difference?
As far as Celiac Disease, there is a wide range of experiences: from those with an allergy to gluten creating the sensitivity, to those with true Celiac disease who simply won’t be able to effectively process gluten, to those who aren’t allergic—but react to the lectins in gluten and have an inflammatory response to these grains. While conventional thinking says allergies can only be managed and not treated, we are seeing people’s allergies actually go away (even as measured with IgE in the bloodwork) as a result of a highly specialized technique called “Soliman’s Auricular Allergy Treatment” pioneered by Dr. Nader Soliman, MD, LAc. While this technique is most widely known for helping people with alpha-gal allergies (an allergy to a carbohydrate found in mammal products triggered by tick bites) it actually is effective for most allergies.
We have helped people with nut allergies, dairy allergies, animal allergies, and even severe environmental allergies—not just pollen, dust, and molds, but more rare allergies such as sunlight and water! Gluten allergies also respond very well to this treatment; which brings me back to my earlier point about allergies vs. genetic limits vs. inflammatory response to other elements of gluten. For someone coming in with just a gluten allergy, this treatment will normally allow them to eat gluten without a reaction if they had a measurable IgE response to gluten in the past, and in many cases, this will disappear. Those with a genetic intolerance (what we refer to as “true Celiac”) still can’t eat gluten routinely after SAAT, but if they are accidentally exposed to gluten, they report that the reactions are greatly reduced. A similar effect is reported among those with lectin intolerance; they can’t always eat as much as they want, but small amounts and cross-contamination don’t cause the severe reactions they used to have.
For those with true Celiac—the reduced reactivity is a welcome relief; allowing them more options to enjoy meals with friends and family who may not realize what “gluten-free” really means even with the best intentions. For example, many people know that wheat has gluten, but they don’t realize most beers contain gluten. Foods like soy sauce and many spice blends contain small amounts of gluten as well, and for people with Celiac disease, even small amounts can create distressing reactions. Worse yet, labeling requirements are very bad in the US and many products contain unlabeled sources of gluten! In more severe cases, even topical exposure to gluten through lotions, soaps, or hair care products can create a reaction (though so far those reactions seem to be greatly reduced even in the most severe cases after SAAT).
Have someone in your life who needs to be gluten-free?
We created this handy guide of safe foods and hidden sources of gluten for reference!
The Hidden Cost of Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease may be one of the most pervasive and least frequently diagnosed conditions in the US. The current standard test, the ELISA test is estimated to be 70% accurate, but some independent testing has shown the current standard of combining an ELISA test with a Western Blot Test (which is reported to be 99% accurate) may be off more than 50% of the time, especially in cases of neurological Lyme. Worse yet, most doctors haven’t read the research about how a history of concussion or whiplash can make someone up to 80% more likely to develop chronic neurological Lyme because of damage to the blood-brain barrier. If there are other underlying chronic pathogens such as Epstein Barr Virus or Covid, those numbers very quickly get much worse. Diagnoses of Lyme Disease from Columbia University Medical Center
So in a month of Mental Health Awareness—why am I writing about misdiagnosed Lyme?
“People with psychiatric disorders related to Lyme disease may experience symptoms like fatigue, depression, anxiety, brain fog, rage, sleep disturbances, Bipolar disorder, and more. The longer that Lyme disease goes untreated, the more likely a patient is to develop these symptoms and disorders.”
Chronic Lyme can also cause autonomic neuropathy. In these cases, the range of symptoms that can emerge is extremely broad and often leaves providers perplexed because the usual tests for those conditions will all be “normal”. Autonomic Neuropathy, Medscape
Arguably this subject can fill a book (one that I am working on) but suffice to say, many of the treatment strategies that are key to recovering from Lyme are beneficial for mental health, even in the absence of Lyme. Without going too far down into the weeds, it’s important to feed the body real food, minimize sugars (even hidden sugars like grains and breads), focus on nutrient-dense veggies for about 70% of your diet, and then find a balance of grains, fruits, and meats for the remaining 30% that keeps you feeling good. The same goes for mental health—better nutrition supports better mental health. In addition, nutrition to support the mitochondria in the cells can make a huge difference. Some of our favorites can be found here:
Feeling overwhelmed with how to eat healthy? Check out our free Facebook group, Raja Wellness Ways to Health for recipes, tips, inspiration, and to share those techniques that work for you!
Yours in Health,
Early in my training as an acupuncturist, one of the hardest concepts to internalize was that in classical East Asia, the brain really had no role in the physiology of the body. Instead, many of the functions we now attribute to the brain were under the domain of other organs. Sometimes those functions were consistent with modern biomedical understanding, and other times they had more relation with the classical ideas of the Greeks. But as a whole, when applied as a system of treatment—the model worked and still works—surprisingly well. As time passes, modern research continues to validate these “arcane” ideas.
Despite the brain's lack of a defined role, a number of acupuncture points on the head have functions that are clearly neurological functions: controlling vision, improving mental clarity, balance and coordination, regulating digestion, speech, and so on. Early research in monkeys attempted to match the points on the head to the underlying active regions of the brain—and when only about 40% of those regions actually correlated, the assumption was the ancients may have deduced more about the brain than we gave them credit for in a few places, and in other areas, their locations were wildly different. Fast forward another 20 years and the same studies were repeated on humans. It turns out that humans and monkeys have different active areas for certain functions—and when they compared the points to actual human brain activity, more than 85% of the points now correlated to the active brain regions underneath them! Clearly, they knew more than we thought they did.
Today acupuncture is widely recognized for its role in improved neurological functioning—from post-stroke and concussion recovery to reducing the symptoms and rate of progression of diseases like MS, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and more recently as a way to regulate and correct dysautonomia regardless of cause. Modern iterations of acupuncture have evolved with specific systems of scalp acupuncture for neurological disorders and others focused on improving brain function. Auricular, or ear acupuncture evolved from some of these research efforts, recognizing the rich concentration of nerves in the ear and surrounding areas that have direct neurological pathways to the innermost reaches of the brain through the cranial nerves.
Besides acupuncture—what else can you do to protect what the Chinese once called “a curious organ” or “The Sea of Marrow”, your magnificent and adaptable brain? First and foremost— food matters! I highly recommend Dr. Gundry’s book “The Longevity Paradox” to learn more about what to eat, and as importantly, when to eat to promote optimal brain health.
In addition, there are a few supplements I recommend for nerve health and additional ones to be taken as soon as possible after any head trauma to help mitigate damage. Remember, if you take any prescription medications, please talk to your pharmacist or me before adding any supplements to your regimen. You can order through our website here:
Don’t get me wrong, I love my morning coffee; yet if I ever had to choose either just coffee or just tea for the rest of my life, tea wins hands down! The health benefits and variety of flavors are just too great to give up! Tea is one of the most heart friendly beverage choices, high in antioxidants and heart healthy polyphenols. No, not that sweet tea at the old greasy spoon, but real tea! Yet many people I talk to either don’t like tea or have never even tried it. This is tragic! I promise you, there is a tea out there waiting for you!
So let’s talk tea!
If you want to get picky, tea is actually a very narrow definition—like coffee—meaning a beverage brewed from the leaves of tea bushes that are harvested at varying stages of growth and prepared in various ways, resulting in everything from white teas to green, black to pu-erh (a fermented and aged form of tea leaf). Most of us also group herbal teas into this category, though technically these are referred to as “tisanes”.
Why bother with all these shrubs and “weeds”? (many of the best herbal teas are considered weeds in some circles!)
Now let’s talk functions!
Want to improve your oral health? White tea to the rescue—its minerals and antioxidants protect the tooth enamel and neutralize acids.
Allergies got you down? Rooibos-based teas can reduce inflammation and mitigate allergy symptoms. (If you have ragweed allergies—avoid chamomile tea and opt for chrysanthemum instead).
Looking for something to help your skin and hair? Yup, rooibos again; as well as horsetail, nettle, and oatstraw.
Menstrual cramps or muscle spasms? Chamomile, nettle, and oatstraw can help soothe those cranky muscles.
Is liver health a concern? Hibiscus and dandelion are excellent liver tonics that also can reduce blood triglycerides and reduce sugar cravings! Chrysanthemum is also great for liver health!
Digestive upset? Peppermint and ginger are powerhouses here!
Arthritis pain? Ginger again—and if you like a more savory tea, blends with turmeric and ginger can be a great option.
Stressed out? Trouble focusing? Oolong tea is high in L-theanine which helps calm the brain and has a moderate amount of caffeine helping to maintain focus and concentration. Oolong is the same plant that green, white and black teas come from, but the special fermentation process gives it this special quality.
Just plain stressed? Chrysanthemum and goji berries are some of my favorites to ease a stressful day.
Another reason I love hot tea is it gives me a chance to slow down and immerse myself in the process of making it. Adding the hot water, savoring the aromas released, watching the colors bloom in the water, and then choosing just the right cup or pot to enjoy my brew from. Tea can be an experience to enjoy!
Different teas also benefit from different steeping times—from less than a minute or two for white and green teas, a couple of minutes for darker teas, or even overnight for nettle and oatstraw; so make sure to check the package instructions.
Last but not least—don’t ruin those health benefits with tons of sugar. If you need a little added sweetness, a dash of fresh honey or stevia for those darker teas often does the trick. Need to sweeten up an herbal blend? Try a couple of goji berries for natural sweetness and an added boost of antioxidants.
We are thrilled to carry Buddha Chakra Teas! "Chakra" is the ancient Sanskrit word for the seven central points of energy that reside within, helping to balance our physical, emotional and spiritual state. Buddha Teas are expertly crafted from herbs that resonate with each chakra, offering stimulating and flavorful teas empowered by the essence of crystals. Whether you're looking for a morning pick-me-up, a relaxing evening brew, or a tea to promote wellness, we have something for everyone!
We carry unique varieties such as:
Root Chakra Tea: When your root chakra is in balance, you feel safe in the world, and free to trust in ways that allow you to take healthy risks, knowing that all will be well. Contains Organic Raspberry Leaf, Organic Ashwagandha Root, Organic Cloves, Organic Dandelion Root, Organic Hibiscus Flower.
Sacral Chakra Tea: The Sacral chakra focuses on creativity, sensuality, and our connection with others. This expertly crafted herbal blend is designed to assist you as you flow your way to sacral chakra health. Contains Organic Calendula Flowers, Organic Burdock Root, Organic Fennel Seed, Organic Dong Quai Root, Organic Damiana Leaf, Organic Ginger Root.
Solar Plexus Tea: This invigorating, solar plexus blend, enlivened with the essence of citrine, provides a truly unique tea experience that facilitates those wishing to connect with their power center. Contains Organic Rosemary Leaf, Organic Lemongrass, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Marshmallow Leaf.
4th Chakra Tea: The 4th Chakra is a vital chakra to work with, and centers on all aspects of love. This tea is carefully crafted with herbs attuned to the 4th Chakra, and includes the essence of rose quartz. Contains Organic Hawthorn Berry, Organic Hawthorn Leaf, Organic Lavender Flowers, Organic Hyssop.
5th Chakra Tea: Powerful throat-centered herbs, and the essence of aquamarine fortify our 5th Chakra Blend to assist those seeking to heal and balance issues dealing with communication, creativity, and self-expression. Contains Organic Licorice Root, Organic Slippery Elm Bark, Organic Marshmallow Leaf, Organic Wild Cherry Bark, Organic Cinnamon Bark, Organic Fennel Seed, Organic Orange Peel.
Third Eye Chakra Tea: This chakra, located between the eyebrows, highlights insight, knowledge, and wisdom. Third Eye Chakra Tea is crafted from herbs intended to open the third eye energy center. Contains Organic Eyebright Herb, Organic Spearmint Leaf, Organic Star Anise, Organic Passion Flower.
Crown Chakra Tea: This 7th chakra can be described as the crown of spiritual understanding. Located at the top of the chakra ladder, the ingredients within our Crown Chakra Tea have been carefully chosen for their resonance with the crown energy center. Contains Organic Gotu Kola Leaf, Organic Lavender Flowers, Organic Nutmeg Seed, Organic Rose Petal.
Each blend is carefully selected for its unique health benefits and delicious taste. Try Buddha Chakra Teas and experience the difference that quality ingredients make!
You've survived another holiday season, one of the coldest storms on record for early winter, and probably even spent a little time thinking about the year to come. Millions of people have finished up their year making resolutions to do better in some way—sleep more, eat better, lose weight, save more money, or whatever they feel they are missing. Millions more have celebrated a year come and gone with only a resolution to make no resolutions. No matter which camp you fall into, resolutions often fail. Not because they aren’t worthy, or because their crafter is weak-willed, but because resolutions by themselves are not enough to create changes in habits. And little changes can add up.
We've recently started carrying a new weight loss supplement—I’m very excited about it, especially for those who get stuck in “leptin resistance” and can’t lose weight. But by itself, it's not a magic pill. It takes sustainable change to reduce weight and improve your health. As an experiment, I just added the supplement and made no other changes. I have 20 lbs I’d like to lose. It’s not horrible, but I made a choice last year to focus on other things and not worry about the weight. This year I decided it comes off. So I’ve been taking the supplement for 6 weeks with no other changes and I’ve lost about 3 lbs and 7 inches in total body measurements (waist, neck, chest, hips, arms, thighs, and calves) with the bulk coming off the waist and hips so far. I notice I’m less hungry and I’m craving more veggies with it.
I’ve also been reviewing the research of what’s out there as far as nutrition, inflammation, and weight loss. The data on fasting periodically and its ability to help your body renew itself is remarkable. I’ve looked at the research cited by the China Study, Dr. Gundry (who’s all about eliminating lectins from the diet), and Dr. Anderson (who’s all about how to regulate mental health with diet and exercise whenever possible). The trends are clear and consistent with what I already knew with some new twists. Even moderate calorie restriction for a few days a month can mimic the benefits of traditional fasting. Sugar is bad, fake sugar (with a few exceptions) is worse. Fruits are ok in moderation and when in season. Grains and starches are often just sugars in disguise! And a little quality meat can be beneficial but too much is not good either—many keto diets are far too meat heavy to be healthy in the long run.
I learned some other new things—not eating for at least 4 hours before sleep and waiting for a solid 18 hours to eat again a day or two a week can dramatically improve the housekeeping processes of the brain, leading to reduced inflammation. While I don’t know that I subscribe to the idea that lectins are disastrous for everyone, I have to admit there are enough case studies and examples that suggest if you haven't tried eating lectin-free for 30 days and you struggle with chronic inflammation of any kind, you should give it a shot. In many cases, if you give the gut adequate time to heal, you can add some of those lectin-containing foods back in moderation.
I firmly believe most people in the US are dangerously deficient in vegetables, both in quantity and variety. Many things you “don’t like” are reflections of which bacteria dominate your gut microbiome and as you change your food, you change your flora and your tastes will reflect those changes.
So, for the next 90 days, I’m going to follow the Longevity Paradox meal plan from Dr. Gundry along with my weight loss supplement. I do plan to have occasional sourdough bread in small amounts because I've tried being completely gluten-free in the past and my body feels worse with none. But there’s a huge difference between an occasional small slice of sourdough from organic non-GMO grains and the typical loaf of bread or biscuit available in stores. But other than that small variation, I plan to follow his plan closely. And I'll see what the scale says then.
If you would like to try that weight loss supplement—it’s available for order here
*Note there is both a straight retail option and a membership option for a discount—either way, it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee!
So back to those resolutions...and why so many fail.
Goals that are not measured typically are not achieved—take for example:
“I want to exercise more in 2023”. This alone is a resolution doomed to failure!
What kind of exercise? When? How often? For how long? Let’s say you decide you want to complete a 10k run by the end of the year. That’s slightly better but still highly likely to fail unless you are already consistently running close to that distance regularly. But let’s assume like many well-intentioned resolutions, you aren't sure you can run around the block...how do you successfully turn that resolution into a completed goal?
1. Pick an actual goal date—Find a race or set a date to run that distance on your own and work backward and make sure it’s far enough out for you to have adequate time to reach your goal.
2. Break it down—If, for example, you want to run a 10k by November, you probably should be able to run a 5k by June...there are a bunch of “Couch to 5k” running guides out there—find one to help you plan.
3. Break it down again—If you want to run 5k by June, you probably should be close to 2.5k by March. That’s a reasonable time length to build a plan around.
4. Make your 90-day plan—Work back from 5k to 2.5k to 0k—and write it out. Then pick one thing you can do today to get you started. Perhaps it’s seeking advice on where to run, reaching out to a local running club, or getting outside to do a test run of how far you can go without straining right now.
5. This is most important—every day when you complete that “mini goal”—celebrate! Give yourself a high five, bask in your awesomeness; give your brain a little “dopamine rush” and help it see the benefit of completing these goals.
That's just one example—maybe your exercise goal is to maintain your current good habits. Then you might say “I will continue to lift weights for 45 min 3 days per week and get over 10K steps a day at least 5 days a week”. Or maybe your goal is to get up out of a chair without struggling— break down how to make that goal work for you!
Sometimes we know all these tricks and we still somehow “get in our own way” and as a result, don’t achieve our goals. When that happens, coaching can be immensely valuable in addressing the hidden things that are holding us back from the life we want. Depending on your needs, I may recommend working with one of the coaches I know; or in some cases working with myself and my equine partners in an equine gestalt session over at Rowdy Cowgirl Coaching.
New Year's resolutions are a great way to set goals and work towards self-improvement. While it can be challenging to stick to resolutions, it is important to remember that progress, not perfection, is the key to success. Don't be too hard on yourself if you struggle to meet your goals, and remember to celebrate your victories along the way. With determination and the right strategies, you can make lasting positive changes in your life in the new year and beyond!
A frequent question we get in the clinic is “Can you get me off my diabetes medicine?" The simple answer is “no”. Acupuncture and herbs alone are potent allies in healing, but especially with diabetes, the choices you make each day have far more impact than anything anyone can give you. The more complete answer is “it depends”:
It is also important to know that we cannot make changes to prescription medications, so it’s important to work with your doctor as well as your acupuncturist when you decide that you are ready to make the changes you need for better health.
So why try acupuncture and TCM for diabetes?
Acupuncture and herbal medicine are not a “one-size fits all” treatment approach—each patient is unique and we chose our specific formulas and acupuncture points for each patient based on the presentation of the entire patient; not just a set cookie-cutter treatment. As a result, not only do we see the diabetes symptoms improve, the patient experiences better health overall. By choosing the right approach for each patient we avoid the spiral of “take this medication for this, and this medication for that, and this medication for the side effects of the first medication and yet another medication for the side effects of the second medication….” that so many patients experience.
Now as to the pesky diet and exercise thing:
If you continue to overload your body with too much of the wrong foods and not enough of the right exercise—even the best treatments and formulas, plus the medications your doctor prescribes—won’t be enough to keep the disease from progressing!
I highly recommend anyone who has diabetes or even a risk factor for diabetes (which is pretty much everyone) read “Why We Get Sick” by B. Bikman. It’s a great book based on solid research that helps you understand what happens with diabetes and more importantly, what you can do to change it. If you need help getting off the sugar, we have amazing and compassionate coaching and nutrition partners who can help you!
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1 Wang KX, Liang FX, Chen S, Luo ZH, Chen B, Chen ZQ, Zhang YL, Chen J, Gu XL, Zhou T, Yan P, Xu XY. Effect of electroacupuncture of "Biao-Ben" acupoints on renal function and hemorheology and eNOS level in patients with early diabetic nephropathy. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2022 Jan 25;47(1):46-52. Chinese. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.20210036. PMID: 35128870.
2 Wang H, Chen X, Chen C, Pan T, Li M, Yao L, Li X, Lu Q, Wang H, Wang Z. Electroacupuncture at Lower He-Sea and Front-Mu Acupoints Ameliorates Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Regulating the Intestinal Flora and Gut Barrier. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2022 Jul 30;15:2265-2276. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S374843. PMID: 35936053; PMCID: PMC9348137.
3 Dimitrova A, Murchison C, Oken B. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Mar;23(3):164-179. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0155. Epub 2017 Jan 23. PMID: 28112552; PMCID: PMC5359694.
Sure, maybe a little spontaneity is in order to spice things up a bit—but building your spice cabinet can add a little spunk to your immunity, kick up your body’s anti-inflammatory response, and perk up your metabolism, along with adding a lovely punch of flavor to any dish! If you're looking to add a little zest to your life—start with your plate. Dried herbs and spices are chock-full of healthy compounds that bring excitement to your palate and can be utilized for better health, too. Basically, if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you have a well-stocked arsenal for better health.
Spices may consist of the bark, root, stem, seed, or flower of a plant, which are typically dried, and carry strong flavors and aromas. They can be added to a dish throughout the cooking process to further develop their flavors into whatever you are cooking. Many spices are high in vitamin and mineral content, are great sources of antioxidants and phytonutrients, boast antimicrobial properties, help to reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and even improve digestion. Using spices is a great way to supercharge your diet, add more complex flavors, and reduce the need for extra salt and sugar. Here are just a few of our favorite spices to have on hand along with some of their health benefits:
Chili Peppers: Fresh, dried, or powdered, chilies are guaranteed to add a little kick to any meal. With anti-inflammatory properties and immune-boosting properties as well, chili peppers offer the component capsaicin, which has been shown to reduce and inhibit “Chemical P,” the compound responsible for transmitting pain messages to the brain. This has been found helpful for joint pain, migraines, and neuropathy. The vibrant red color of chile peppers means it is rich in beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A), which also helps lower the risk of age-related diseases such as stroke, macular degeneration, and coronary artery disease. Along with Vitamin C, your immune system gains a boost to fight off illness.
*A little secret - I keep a small container of red chili flakes in my purse so I can add some spicy pizazz to whatever I eat, even if I’m on the go.*
Turmeric: A true “super spice” with a rich, earthy, and bitter profile, the golden-hued turmeric is commonly added to many meals such as curries, stews, and even smoothies! Its most active compound, curcumin, is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin can also increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, stimulating the activity of other antioxidants while fighting off free radicals. This can be highly beneficial for both brain and heart health. Curcumin only makes up about 3% of turmeric by weight and isn’t highly bioavailable, but you can increase its bioavailability by around 2000% by consuming it along with black pepper.
Black Pepper: More than likely, you have some black pepper on hand. Piperine, the component in black pepper that makes curcumin more bioavailable, enhances the bioavailability of other important nutrients as well. It can also aid in digestion by boosting the activity of digestive enzymes.
Ginger: As most of us know, ginger is a go-to for an upset stomach and nausea. Spicy, peppery, yet sweet, ginger goes great with soups, marinades, dressings, desserts, and teas. Ginger has a calming effect on the lining of the digestive system. It also boasts anti-microbial properties which can help ward off infections. Loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds, ginger offers powerful benefits to the body and brain by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Cardamom: Often found in pumpkin spice mixes, cardamom is a sweet, pungent spice that can fight inflammation, ease an upset stomach, and is high in magnesium and zinc.
Some other healthy spices you may consider using are cumin, mustard powder, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, curry, and last but not least, garlic (just to name a few!). Think of what flavor combinations would elevate your dish—experimentation is key!
Spices don’t just contribute to the flavor of food, they contribute nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants as well. With properties that fight inflammation, free radical damage, and oxidative stress—you and your taste buds will be doing a proverbial happy dance!
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Last night, I found myself thoroughly enjoying “building my box” of subscription groceries and realized how few people feel that way when grocery shopping. I consider myself a foodie; constantly conjuring recipes in my head and thinking of what I’d like to whip together for my next meal. However, trips to the grocery store are personally a little burdensome for me. It’s not just the large crowds that I prefer to avoid (it feels like the grocery store has become the # 1 attraction of any town since the pandemic hit), but also the limited supply, lack of variety for healthy snacks the whole family will like—you get the gist.
Although I began using Instacart religiously for grocery delivery before the shutdown of 2020, I found that there just tended to be too many items kicked out of my cart due to limited supply. Oftentimes, I’d end up with less than half of my order and had no real way to gauge that other than just crossing my fingers and hoping the items I selected would be in stock. I still order this way from time to time, but it’s frustrating knowing that whatever I need the most may not be included—sometimes sending my carefully planned weekly menu into chaos!
Enter Imperfect Foods. I came across their ad on Instagram and signed up for my first box in the spring of 2021. With Imperfect, you can select a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly box and skip anytime you choose. I chose the weekly option and waited reluctantly for the shopping window to open so that I could see what items they had to choose from. When it was time to shop, I was so pleasantly surprised! Right at my fingertips, I had options from organic to gluten-free, from vegan offerings to grass-fed beef and Chilean sea bass! I had an assortment of vegetables and fruits to choose from that I can rarely find at the store. They have healthier options for chips, candies, and cookies using organic ingredients and no additives. They also have juices without additional sugars, a variety of kombucha and seltzer flavors, cold brew coffee, dairy-free milk alternatives, and organic ginger beer. Everything is delivered to your door in a box—and refrigerated or frozen items are neatly packed in insulated silver liners with a gel freezer pack to keep them nice and cool. Exactly how “imperfect” can you expect your foods to be? Well, they may have cosmetic quirks (that you probably wouldn’t even notice in a store), irregular sizes, or be surplus items. Their structure reduces both food and packaging waste while keeping prices reasonable—it’s a win-win!
Now having been happily on the Imperfect Foods bandwagon for about a year, I added another subscription service last week, and am thrilled with it as well. My teenage daughter has been complaining about school lunches lately. She’s never really been one to eat school lunch in the first place—she’s almost always taken a lunchbox; but now that she works and gets home much later in the day, that extra little bit of sleep she may be able to squeeze in in the morning has become oh-so-important and lunch becomes an afterthought first thing in the morning. She expressed interest in taking a filling protein shake to school, but she gets tired of those pretty quickly and doesn’t want to deal with the extra bulk of carrying a lunch box around all day when her backpack already weighs a ton.
Yes, Imperfect Foods does have excellent lunch options, but for extra ease and convenience, I also checked out Revive Superfoods. Revive Superfoods offers prepared breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options. Superfood ingredients are flash-frozen at peak nutrition and are either ready to eat or ready to eat in a matter of minutes, eliminating prep time and headache. I chose the 12 item box to start, and have loaded up on superfood smoothies and super meals for both my daughter and myself. I opted to do this subscription once monthly for the time being but just may increase my frequency now that I’ve tried a couple of items and loved them. Both of our energy levels have been rather sustainable throughout the day. We stay fuller longer, and with options like the Morning Mocha smoothie, I’ve kept my latest commitment of going caffeine-free without feeling like I’m missing out on my cup of morning Joe.
There are quite a few other similar subscription services out there, I suggest you explore to find the best fit for you. For me, Imperfect Foods and Revive Superfoods have not disappointed and have created more excitement for me when it comes to planning meals and ordering groceries for the family. Dietary and nutritional needs are easily met, the whole family now has healthy snacks and meals with zero complaints, I get to avoid long lines and bare shelves, and my food budget goes further. All of my in-store grocery shopping grievances have been solved!
Our staff loves Imperfect Foods so much that I have 3 different referral links to share with you if you’d like to try it out as well (and save some cash while you’re at it!):
For our Egg Shakshuka recipe using Imperfect Foods items, click here.
If you’d like to try out Revive Superfoods, use this link https://revivesuperfoods.com/ref/306250/ for 50% off your first order.
I hope you’ll love these subscription services as much as we do. If you’ve been looking for an easy way to fill your fridge and pantry with healthier options for everyone in the household, check out these subscription services—you’ll be glad you did!
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There are so many aspects of our health that can spiral out of control when we have an unhealthy gut. Over the past couple of decades, studies have linked the gut microbiome to nearly every biological function carried out in the human body. An unhealthy gut can affect our mood, quality of sleep, mental health, immune system, skin, hormone levels, and absorption of nutrients.
Although there are many fad diets and designer supplements geared towards improving gut health, as well as conflicting advice abound on the internet, there are quite a few ways to naturally improve your gut microbiome that can easily be incorporated into your every day routine:
Sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives can contribute to unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
Making sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day benefits the mucosal lining of the intestines and also helps to promote the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
Visit the farmer’s market and take a hard pass on gut damaging pesticides (or better yet, get your own garden growing!). Beneficial microbes from the soil they are grown in is an added bonus. For those of you who are local, check out Hardin County Farmers Market - Farmers Market, Vegetables. Opening day this year is Apr 2, 2022.
Often the best way to get to the root of a problem is to be backed with information. Vibrant Wellness, for instance, provides a thorough and highly accurate analysis of your gut microbiome and includes dietary and supplement recommendations based on your own specific needs. For more information, visit Gut Zoomer – Vibrant Wellness (vibrant-wellness.com). These tests are available through Raja Wellness.
Bone broth has a wide array of health benefits for the body, especially the gut. It contains minerals and nutrients in a highly available form that is easily absorbed by the body which are building blocks for the cells of the gut lining, and also helps to reduce inflammation of the gut. Check out our Spring Chicken Bone Broth recipe here!
Fermented foods provide probiotics that are beneficial to digestive health and add to the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve sleep quality which also affects gut health in their own capacities. Exercise has also been shown to positively impact gut microbial composition. If you need a little assistance and are looking for a low-impact and friendly routine, consider joining one of our yoga classes with Nikki at Raja Wellness!
Acupuncture releases endorphins that trigger the body’s unique healing capabilities. Not only can acupuncture help reduce inflammation, stimulate the central nervous system, and reduce pain and stress—it also has a positive effect on the functioning of your organs and can help to restore balance to the gut.
Aside from gut health affecting how you feel overall, it affects how your body functions as well. Upgrade your microbiome by incorporating these tips into your daily routine and notice a positive difference in your overall well-being. For more assistance, book an appointment at Raja Wellness by exploring www.rajawellness.com, emailing us at email@example.com, or call our office at 270-506-3853.