Tag Archives: Health

Crush Your Candy Cravings Part 2

Continued from Part 1 here.

In last month’s article, I spoke about how sugar affects our digestive system and how it plays a huge part on addiction and cravings. This month we dive deeper into what sugar can do to the liver and what Juli’s new pills can do. Interestingly enough sugar isn’t the only culprit that can cause digestive problems. Along with unhealthy comfort food, stress and transitioning periods such as the seasons’ weather, or for women, that special time of the month, can cause a chain of effects where the liver becomes compromised and discomfort arises in the intestines creating these bloating and digestive issues.

The human body is so intricately connected; one disharmony can affect the whole body. The liver is the organ of emotions in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The liver’s main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs and sugar. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.

The liver is responsible for the free and smooth flow of Qi (life force), which has a deep relationship with a person’s emotional state. Anger and other related emotions such as resentment, unfulfilled desires, frustration, etc. are attributed to the liver. Conversely, anger, repressed emotions, etc. affect the llver organ itself, and disrupt the smooth flow of Qi in the body which is how stress comes into play.

When the blood in the liver does not freely flow, stagnation of blood occurs, and affects the emotional state as described before. Over a long period of time, stagnation impairs circulation of the blood. When stagnation occurs tightness in specific areas of the body such as the chest, breasts in women, hypochondriac region, epigastric region, or throat will be more prominant. Along with the tightness other symptoms like frequent sighing, pain and swelling of the breasts, tension in the stomach, the sensation of a lump in the throat may also occur.

The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it, less than 9 grams of sugar is the livers full capacity.
When sugar is metabolized in the liver, it breaks down into fructose and one of the end products is triglyceridea a form of fat.

Triglycerides can build up in liver cells and damage liver function. Triglycerides released into the bloodstream can contribute to the growth of fat-filled plaque inside artery walls. This is one of the main causes of obesity.
Now this clotting travels into the intestines and causes a blockage. This can cause symptoms of constipation, bloati

ng, gas, and all sorts of unwanted things. Juli’s new formulation of pills is made to target these specifically and much more.

With these new pills, currently called the #1 and #2, each has its one special power.

#1: These pills are designed to aid in the fluctuation of water weight for women experiencing their menstrual cycle. It aids in the bloating, and helps you pull through your cravings by stopping that negative feed back response to your brain making you want more sugar. It also helps clean your liver and helps promote a better menstrual cycle. The #1 is made for someone who has more of a
sensitivity.

#2: Unlike the #1 the #2 pills are made for more serious conditions. These pills can be for anyone, including men, that has had a consistant weight problem and the #2 pills are much more stronger than the #1. The weight gain could be due to intestinal blockage, too much stagnent blood in the liver, consuming too much sugar and salt, and not being able to properly clean out the body. Like the #1 these pills will help to detoxify and clean out the liver while also stopping the addicting cravings from sugar and alcohol, while decreasing the bloating.

When we get that nagging sweet tooth, it is easier said than done to avoid these addicting sweets (I would know). Sometimes we just need a little support to get things up and going again, and to remind ourselves of the consequences sugar can cause for our bodies.

Sweets in moderation! Treating yourself is healthy too but not when your body is constantly having to metabolize sugar. If you do plan on having a sweet, make sure it is during a time where you can burn it off like during the day. Natural sugars (found in fruit) is a better alternative anyway. Make your liver happier and ask juli about our new pills!

Wishing you wellness
~Shaila

Surviving The Summer Heat To Keep Your Skin Young

Older generations pass on to us the wisdom they have learned throughout the years of their life. Since summer has started, I wanted to share some advice my grandma shared with me when I was young. How to keep youth and beauty:

Avoid The Sun

A suntan does not prevent skin damage— it is skin damage.

One of the most important tips that many Chinese women follow is avoiding the sun. This helps keep our skin from developing wrinkles and staying pale. Carrying around umbrellas, hats and wearing very thin jackets to make sure we aren’t exposed to the sun’s rays as much as possible. It’s well known that the sun’s rays (UVA and UVB) damage the skin and can cause wrinkles.

Keep It Natural With Herbal Medicines & Teas

Herbal medicine is a huge part of our lifestyle to stay healthy and increase immunity; likewise, tea is also a major aspect of our routines. In Hong Kong there are Herbal Medicine Tea shops, the teas are prepared in fountain dispensaries but since living in the states grandma would prepare the teas. Prunella Herbal tea has been well known as the heal all tea, it clears the liver heat, clears the acne. Even when summer is hot, teas are also served including the beneficial green tea which has antioxidant properties and stimulates one’s metabolism.

Eat More Fruits & Vegetables (& Less Meat)

Diet consisting of mostly fresh fruits and vegetables is a huge part of a Chinese woman’s life. The preparation of fresh vegetables are cooked with little to no oil or fats, and fruits that are in season as desserts. Grandma preferred to serve minimal amounts of spicy foods, as she says that the heat can cause pimples, and sugary foods to avoid gaining weight. Heat foods are chips and dried crackers, roasted nuts and seeds, once you start eating them, it is hard to stop.
The choice to eat less meat is more complex than simply keeping a figure. Meat is expensive in China, so many view it as a luxury than an everyday food.

Exercise Is Gentle, But Important

This may be an obvious healthy beauty tip, but for Chinese women, it is very important to keep active. Walking after meals to help digestion and stay fit or get massages.

Enjoy Spas and Massages

Everyone seems to get massages in China. People go together with friends, or even alone. Getting massages is not seen as a luxury, but as a way to stay healthy and young. Chinese believe that routine massages will ensure proper blood flow and keep them sturdy and fit. Every week I have a deep tissue massage and cupping session, it helps me flush out toxins from my body, so that my skin is clean and hydrated. Enjoying a massage, spa, or having your spouse (exchange program) can also lower one’s stress level, which can be a reason people may have bad health or troubled skin.

Start Young

Many of the techniques my grandma taught me to avoid the sun was also being taught to my children. Chinese begin to protect their children while they are young. This ensures that they will grow with healthy, undamaged skin instead of trying to fix it when they are older. It never hurts to think about how a child might benefit from these teachings.

Although my grandma is no longer with me, I still treasure all the great memories with all the care and love she has given me. The love is so deep that it makes me strong, and the need to pass on all that she has taught me to you.

Love, Juli

Crush Your Candy Cravings Part 1

Hi my name is Shaila, and I have a serious addiction….for sugar. It is a hard struggle to face but every time I walk past the bakery isle in the store I can’t help but hear little voices say , “Eat me Shaila, you know you want to”. In some distressing cases, I day dream about my next pastry fix. I dream about a delicious, delectable, creamy, tiramisu cake. Mmmm how tasty. Here’s when I knew I needed help. I have found myself sitting on the couch watching a movie with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked cookie dough ice cream one minute, and the next, I have no idea where all that ice cream went! And who doesn’t enjoy a deep fried Twinkie every once in a while?…okay thats too far.

Now working with an herbalist who is a serious health nut with having this addiction is like putting hot fudge and ice cream together! It can only lead to sweet success. The craving for sweets can mean so many things, and can indicate a red flag when it comes to your health especially for women. To give one example, a craving for chocolate can indicate a magnesium deficiency.


In America, it is almost impossible to find a product that does not contain sugar or low amounts of sugar for that matter, and if you do find an item that doesn’t contain sugar, you’re probably holding a vegetable. With this over consumption of sugar its hard for many to quit. Think about it this way, sugar doesn’t just empty and quickly digest into calories but it actually pulls minerals from the body during digestion. It creates a hormone cascade when consumed, that starts a positive feedback loop which means it creates an addictive sugar response in the brain and in the body to encourage more consumption otherwise known as cravings or eating too much comfort food.


In a time when food was scarce and needed to be contained in large amounts during summer, to stock up to survive the winter, this was a good thing. In today’s world of constant access to processed foods, this natural biological purpose highlights one of the negative effects of sugar. Plus, for many that live a sedentary life style, you aren’t moving around enough to burn the energy sugar gives you. The human body can’t tolerate this large amount of refined carbohydrates, thus causing diseases like obesity.


Refined sugar, by some, is called a drug, because in the refining process everything of food value has been removed except the carbohydrates-pure calories, without vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, enzymes or any of the other elements that make up food.

Many nutrition experts say that white sugar is extremely harmful, possibly as harmful as a drug, especially in the quantities consumed by the present-day American.


Now what if I told you there was a way to crush cravings in its tracks? What if there was something that could make you feel like a winner instead of feeling like you ate most of your weight in sugar…? which is what I feel like all the time.


Recently, Juli has been brewing up a new formulated pill that does wonders for a bloated stomach, and gives an extra boost of confidence for those who are stuck in this vicious cycle and are seeking a new start to a healthier way of life.


As a test subject, things are looking pretty positive for these pills, and the results are astounding! Tune in next month for “Crush Your Candy Cravings Part 2” for more results on these new exciting pills, and for more sweet and savory sugar facts! Until then, keep it fresh!



Best of Luck, Shaila

Part 2 is here!

No Reset Button For Carpal Tunnel

Since it’s creation in the early 60’s, video games have been seen as a common hobby for both kids and adults alike. Often branded as a hobby for “nerds” or nonathletic individuals, video games have grown into something more than a standard at home activity.

Competitive gaming (Esports) once seen as an underground community, has grown to a now multi million dollar industry and even has articles in ESPN branding video games as a now, legitimate sport. Sponsors such as Redbull, Gatorade, and even the phone company HTC now offer contracts to competitive gamers making this once childhood fantasy, a reality. As a competitive gamer myself I’m happy that Esports has grown to such heights. Even I know however, these companies won’t just sponsor anyone.

I follow and play a game know as Super Smash Brothers Melee. Since it’s existence in 2001, this game’s competitive community is now bigger than ever. With it’s fast paced movement and style, people always ask the question. “How can a player move that quickly?” When tested, top professionals such as Adam “Armada” Lindgren and Aziz “Hax$” Al-Yami can average up to 900 inputs per minute. What may look like common “button mashing” to the average viewer are actually precisely timed inputs to make the players character move so quickly and efficiently. Inputs are the amount of times a player taps a button to cause an action in the game. With each match lasting around three to four minutes and played in sets of 3 and 5, one can imagine the toll it can take on ones hands by moving so quickly. I mentioned earlier how the game has been played for over 15 years with new and old players still going strong. As for the older players however, the toll of using such quick reflexes for years, is finally catching up to them.

Hax$ first got onto the world’s radar in 2008 by placing 9th at his first major tournament. At just 14 years old, he proved to be a rising star placing within the top 8 at almost every tournament (Participants ranging from 300-1,000+). In January 2015 seven years after making his debut he was forced to take his first hiatus from the game due to a nagging hand injury. An injury that would later develop into Carpal Tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness, tingling, and other problems in your hands due to pressure within the nerves of your wrists. The name strives from the area that your tendons run through and connect to your wrists. There are many causes for it as it has links to arthritis, diabetes, and even pregnancy. Unfortunately for Hax$ he developed carpal tunnel due to the excessive and repetitive inputs from his fingers causing his carpal tunnel to swell up and make the tunnel tighter. Seeing it as just a nagging hand pain, Hax$ took a hiatus from the game to ice and rest his hands. Three months later he returned to the scene for no more than a handful of tournaments before he found the pain coming back. Concerned about the constant pain, Hax was then diagnosed with Carpal tunnel syndrome and spent over half a year icing his wrists, not touching the game at all, and even wearing a splint to help heal his tendons before they got worse and his nerves would develop long term damage. Finally after months of treatment Hax$ returned in April and got 3rd at his first National since his diagnosis proving he could still hang with the best. This also however may mark the end of the road for Hax$ as he announced that his hands were in so much pain during the tournament he has no choice but to get surgery. It was a success but we all question when and if he may return to full time competition again.

Hax$ isn’t the only one concerned with retirement from their profession. Players all around the Esports community have expressed concern about their own hand pains and there are even talks of having on sight doctors at tournaments. Much like the NFL’s concerns with concussion/brain damage from excessive head trauma, Esports competitors although just playing a game, are at more health risk than one might think. I fear the day I develop such injuries, but when and if I do, I’ll remember the story of Aziz “Hax$” Al-Yami and the precautions I shall take.

It’s always good whether you’re a gamer or not, to ice, stretch, and flex your tendons throughout the day. A simple exercise you can do to strengthen your hand is to wrap a rubber band around your finger tips and stretch each finger 5-10 times. Take breaks often, and take time to flex and extend your wrists. Make sure your hands stay in a neutral position when typing on a computer, also keep your hands fresh and loose and this will definitely be better for you in the long run. So remember, video games are fun for everyone, just remember to give your hands a break, they deserve it more than you know.

~Bryan

Intuition: Where Did It Go?

We live in an age where technology such as the internet, television, and phone apps can provide so much information. News, commercials, medical enhancements, celebrities, etc, the list goes on and on. But with all this information, how can we tell if something is true or not?

This is highly prominent in the medical industry, where someone says, “This thing is good for you! Go on this special thing diet today and lose 100 pounds”. This statement sounds silly and unrealistic but it is a true formula that many people fall for. This doctor (or if you’re watching a commercial, a guy in a white lab coat and a stethoscope around his neck) says this is good for you so I should trust him right? Well, did you ever stop to think “what the side effects may be if I start taking this” (or listen to the side effects toward the end of the commercial…real scary stuff).

Medication is prescribed left and right for everything from a runny nose to cancer. The issue here is where did that little voice in our heads go? You know the one that says, “Maybe I should dig deeper into this and see if this is the best option” or “Maybe this isn’t a good idea”. This is called intuition.

I want to share a rather personal story of mine that has had such a huge impact on my life today, and if I could, I would have changed it completely. About 5 years ago (I was 16 years old), I was put on birth control for a multitude of reasons, the doctor I was seeing told me that it was completely safe and I would have no complications of any kind. They even told me I could take birth control limitlessly, meaning I could take it until the day I died. Naively falling for their advice, I took birth control for 5 years straight. I’d have really horrible UTI’s (urinary tract infections), yeast infections, anemia, and eventually my menstrual cycle was thrown way out of balance. I would get two periods a month…women can you imagine that?

Working with Juli, she noticed that I would get lethargic and sometimes even nauseous. She examined my body and it turned out that my liver is completely inflamed and also a serious case of anemia due to the fact I was losing too much blood with my periods every month, and so many potential chronic health problems. I have been off birth control for more than two months, and have already noticed a significant change in myself. I am still recovering nonetheless, but I can’t even imagine what my body would have gone through if I had taken it for the rest of my life.

The moral of my story is that although medication can potentially be good for one thing, it can cause a chain of reactions for others. And sometimes it can put you in a worse state than before. After going through my experience I am always going to dig deeper into what I put into my body and listen to my intuition. Intuition has become more silent as the production of pills grow faster. People are so anxious to find a quick solution for everything instead of taking a second to listen to the body.

In my case, I did some research on the Pros and Cons of Birth Control and from what I found, it wasn’t surprising. There have been cases that link Birth Control to liver damage, uterine cancer, and potential breast cancer. One piece of information that struck me was that women aren’t even allowed to take Birth Control for more than 6 years! But at the same time Birth Control can help prevent women from unwanted pregnancies. All medication has its pros and cons, but for me I wish I would have taken the time to think of all possibilities before jumping into something I had no knowledge about. And now I am paying the consequences.

Most doctors are trained to look at someone’s concerns, prescribe medication, and kick them out the door, so they can bring in the next patient. In one instance I had a doctor look at me, prescribed me medication, the whole 2 hours of sitting in the waiting room, led up to a 15 minute examination and that was it. She didn’t even take time to dig deeper as to what my concern was or the probable cause of it. It made me so upset that I felt like there was no solution to the concerns I was feeling. My intuition was telling me that there was more to the problem. But I felt helpless and lost because there was no one who could give me the straight answers that I was looking for.

Intuition is something that you have a gut feeling about. When people feel sick it is hard to sift through all the possible causes and root problems because all you are focused on is trying to get better. That is when you need to look into yourself the most and seek the best possible solution for you. Natural medicine is one of those practices that allows you to explore those root problems not just to cure your symptoms but to change your life style to help you feel better altogether. Natural medicine may not provide a quick solution but it is far better to relieve as many problems as you can than to take a pill and cure one symptom.

All in all it is important to listen to what your body is telling you, it’s your intuition. When you feel a small body ache don’t run to grab an aspirin, try stretching. If your stomach is constantly upset, change your diet or eat in smaller portions. About 80% of diseases can be prevented by making better choices, 20% is out of our control. Look at all possible solutions and concerns before making a drastic decision in life. It will save you in the long run.

~Humbly, Shaila

The Way To Find More Time

Have you ever asked
for more time? Wishing that
the day was longer, and thinking
if I just had more time
than I will finish all the days
work? My father says that
work is always longer than
life. Even if you were not here,
work continues, it never finishes.

Back in the 1980’s as I was studying with my
father, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV, listen to radio or
newspaper or talk on the phone as I was working, it was
a distraction. It helped me a lot to enjoy quiet time and
to focus on my studies. Take a weekend and disconnect
yourself by enjoying quiet time by reading a book or
taking an afternoon nap. All those worries and stress
will fall off your shoulders. I was only 12-years-old
when I developed that good habit. You can build this
good habit any chapter of your life as well.
I really believe that we have to reconnect to
ourselves and overcome a lot of our stress rather than
driving on adrenalin. Stress is a silent killer, it is very
dangerous. Stress has no boundaries and we shouldn’t
feed on it, it’s poison. That is one thing my Taifu Plus
Pills can’t cleanse out, the stress related build up in the
gut. Over these couple of weeks, I had to take the Heart
Tonic due to emotional stress. I do have to say it helped
a lot. I am workable but when it comes to emotional
stress that is something else. You should have it on hand,
I am glad I did.

My father was my idol. He gave me a strong
foundation with great life practices. You must have a
dream, willing to work hard and if you fall, pick yourself
up. There are many challenges but that only makes you
stronger and better.

I love my practice and it is the art of healing.
My patients are strong, beautiful, healthy and full of
life. It’s great to stand with a group of people to inspire
and learn more than to stand alone. Knowledge helps
us make great choices and teaches us to learn from our
mistakes.

I have no good words on stress, only great wisdom
that was given to me. Herbs are there to heal, my
patients are the strong ones, they will drink the bitter
herbs to get well

Love Juli

The Milky, Cheesy, Creamy Truth

For some people milk can be digestible, for others it isn’t, and for most, they believe that they can do the impossible. Let me start off by asking this question. How many mammals in the world consciously drink another mammal’s milk? The answer is 1. Humans are the only mammals in the world that are willing to drink another mammal’s milk. And not only that but we love milk so much that we are blind to the fact that we aren’t even suppose to be drinking it. Now you may argue that milk has calcium, protein, and other beneficial nutrients, even the FDA exclaims that we are suppose to be drinking 3 cups of this creamy goodness a day. Well one doctor went as far as to expose the true mask of the food pyramid and shed some light on the hidden mystery behind milk.

Milk comes in many different forms, butter milk, 1%, 2%, whole, and skim milk just to name a few. But do you know that milk can do you more harm than good? In fact, Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D (the second-most-cited scientist in all of clinical medicine and the head of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health) has a very strong view on how the food pyramid presents its information. Willett has done a vast amount of research on this topic, and found that the USDA’s pyramid recommendation of drinking 3 glasses of milk a day is wrong. So why is this bad? Well, for one thing, it’s not a recommendation that’s based on scienctific proof. Some of the “experts” ho helped create the pyramid actually work for the dairy industry, which makes the US Department of agriculture’s recommendations reflect industry interests,not science or our best interests. The fact that the USDA is looking out for the industries instead of our health is quite the red flag.

Looking deeper into this milk curdling truth, Willett further explains on the harmful effects milk can have on us. To begin with, milk doesn’t even reduce fractures! Despite what the popular belief is, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50%! And interestingly enough, the less intake of dairy, can result in better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

We’ve all heard it from someone or somewhere, milk comercials, doctors, nutritionists, your mother. “Drink your milk, you need calcium to get stronger bones!” they’d say. Well shockingly calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures. Not only that but calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase.
Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin, like growth factor-1 (LGF-1) which is a known cancer promoter.

Ever get a nagging stomach cramp or embarrassing gas after enjoying sweet, delectible ice cream, or from milk and cereal? Well not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products, a problem called lactose intolerance. In some countries such as India, China, and some countries in Africa, milk is culturally unconventional.

If all that isn’t enough to swear you off milk, there are a few other scientific findings worth mentioning. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently asked the UDSA to look into the scientific basis of the claims made in the “milk mustache” ads. Their panel of scientists stated the truth clearly. For one thing, milk doesn’t benefit sports performance. Secondly there’s no evidence that dairy is good for your bones or prevents osteoporosis. In fact, the animal protein it contains may help cause bone loss! Thirdly, it’s full of saturated fat and is linked to heart diseas. And lastley dairy definitely aggravates irritable bowel syndrome. If those symptoms don’t apply to you than maybe you’ll find that dairy may contribute to these more typical health problems, like: Allergies, Sinus problems, Ear infections, Type 1 diabetes,Chronic constipation, and Anemia children).

Digging further into an evolutionary point of view, milk is a athentic odyssey for humans. Until 10,000 years ago we didn’t domesticate animals and weren’t able to drink milk!If that doesn’t convince you then get this fact. The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugarin milk) sometime between the ages of two and five (when they stop breast feeding). Interestingly enough, for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned. That means that by the time a human child becomes a todler they are no longer able to fully digest milk! So for most children they grow up with a unusual knack for milk and carry that on for the rest of their lives.

So now that I’ve scared you enough about the dangers of dairy, lets take a look at the alternatives. I have recently been studying the effects of milk on myself and boy let me tell you, it’s not easy getting rid of dairy since I have been consuming it for so long! I love my ice cream so much that it became an every day deal. A bowl of ice cream a day, will not keep the doctors away. Plus cheese is one of those things that I can’t get rid of. It’s like a second boyfriend to me. So what do you do?

I tried to push my boundaries for a week by cutting out ice cream, and milk completely from my diet, limiting my cheese intake, and trying out almond milk. Almond milk is a great alternative, its not heavy, very light on the stomach and has a great taste. But keep in mind, that since its an alternative, there will be more things added to it to make it more edible and to make it last longer on the shelf. So read the labels carefully.

Then there is soy milk. Soy milk is a stable emulsion (mixture) of oil, water and protein. The benefits soy milk offers is that it contains little digestible calcium because calcium is bound to the bean’s pulp, which is indigestible by humans. To counter this, manufacturers enrich their products with calcium carbonate. Unlike cow’s milk, soy milk has little saturated fat and no cholesterol.

Our bodies just weren’t made to digest milk on a regular basis. Lucky for us, nature up right provides us with the necessary nutrients we need through other means. Most scientists agree that it’s better for us to get calcium, potassium, protein, and fats from other food sources, like whole plant foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seaweed anyway! So there you have it.

When you look at the grand scheme of things everything can be bad for you. But when you take the best out of ther worst it can leave you feeling a lot better about what you’re putting into your body. It’s better to be mindful and healthy so you can feel better rather than feeling worse. Although milk has become a staple product in many house holds, it can have a negative effect on your dietary system and other body functions. No matter how much it is advertized, dairy isn’t crucial for good health and can be indigestable. Test it out for yourself and go dairy-free for a couple days and see what it does for you. Still got milk?

Cheers,

Shaila

The Art of Loving Yourself

What do most Americans talk about in February? It’s Valentine’s month by the looks of the grocery stores with all of the red, pink and chocolate covered goodies!

We all enjoy a good love story, but did you ever stop to think that your first love is the most important? No, I’m not talking about your first kiss or boyfriend or girlfriend. The first person you get to fall in love with is yourself.

Most of us take a long time to learn that we need to love ourselves before we can fully love others. I’m not talking about being self-centered. What I’m talking about is the kind of self love that helps you keep yourself healthy and strong so that you can better love others. Most people get so busy with life that they neglect themselves and don’t realize how much that has as chain reaction on those who love them the most.

As they say on the airplane, you must first put your oxygen mask, then you can help your children or others. If you suffered a heart attack related to not being healthy, then you suffer that pain, but you also cause a ripple effect on everyone who loves you. So, the best way to really love others is to love yourself first. Love yourself enough to eat well, exercise often and take care when you need extra rest or medicine.

Instead of thinking about Chocolates this February, let it be a time to re-inspire your new year’s resolutions. And, if you didn’t make any, now is a perfect time to start. What can you do better to care for yourself every day?

Here are three ideas:

1. Eat more vegetables. I once met a man who explained that his new years resolution was to eat one whole vegetable and one whole fruit a day, because he now had a son who he wanted to teach to eat better than himself. That meant that he was now eating one whole carrot or one whole apple. By some standards, that is not much, but for him, it was a big step toward improvement.

2. Exercise every day. A friend of mine who works very longs days in an office building decided that the best way to get more walking into her day was to take the stairs instead of the elevator. That one change in her daily routine meant that she got 20 minutes of climbing stairs twice a day!

3. Quiet Time. We have so much competing for our attention every day, and even more so with cell phones and tablets at our finger-tips. It’s hard to get some quiet time for the mind and body. Some people love meditation for this, while others enjoy running by themselves. A great way to work this into your day is to simply get up 5 minutes earlier before anyone else in the house. You can sit and drink a glass of water or cup of tea and let your body relax.

Remember, life is like flying on a giant airplane. Put your oxygen mask on first so that you can love others!

Warmly, Holli

With Deceiving Product Labels, Comes Hidden Surprises!

Due to the winter season, you are bound to get a cold at least once. Well that’s exactly what happened to me this month. But thanks to Gum Wall tea, drinking plenty of fluids, and staying well dressed for the weather, I was able to have a speedy recovery. And to top it all off, the best food to have when you are sick is a big bowl of soup. Mmm, I personally love tomato soup. So I thought, I’ll go to the nearest Trader Joe’s and get my self some comforting soup. After I ate this delicious meal I began to talk to Juli about my cold. She exclaims,” you know what it is, its those pre-made soups you’ve been eating”. In the back of my head I was thinking “Psh what? How could that be? It says Tomato Soup on the label and it came from Trader Joes! It’s bound to be healthy.”

Next thing I knew, Juli and I were looking at the back label. She started reading the bad ingredients: Cream, Chicken Stock Concentrate, Butter, Modified Corn Starch, Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour, Flavoring, Chicken Flavoring, Yeast Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein (secret labeling for MSG) and worst of all Chicken Fat!!!  I was literally eating a bowl full of chicken fat and preservatives! But why? Why would you put these ingredients in Tomato Soup? Well in commercial grocery stores there are many things they do not tell you.
After looking up Trader Joe’s policies on labeling food, they secretly label certain ingredients to make it sound healthy when in actuality its still preservatives! For example Soy Protein is an added MSG preservative. You’d think calling it Soy Protein sounds healthy but its just disguised to persuade you to buy it. I found more information on Trader Joe’s which was really alarming considering that they’re whole campaign is promoting nutritional and healthy foods. I found a snippet of an article that stated this woman’s experience with trying to find out what was really in their food and how they label their products. Here she states “During my research, I found out there is no regular independent third party certifier verifying their products are non-GMO or non-MSG on a regular basis at Trader Joe’s. It is completely up to Trader Joe’s product supply team to regulate GMOs and MSGs from suppliers – not the Non-GMO Project or the USDA (for organics) that requires a high level of MSGs and GMOs. If there are complaints about a product, Trader Joe’s will conduct verification with a secret third party that they won’t disclose, but it’s completely up to the consumer to alert Trader Joe’s with a complaint. In fact, Trader Joe’s stated that their products “don’t allow for auditing using the Non-GMO Project because there is an additional cost associated with that.” A representative from Trader Joe’s went on to say, “We tend to not label our products a whole lot, and won’t until there is a government regulation to understand what non-GMO even means, we aren’t going to label products that don’t have specific FDA guidelines.” So this begs the question – what does non-GMO mean to Trader Joe’s? Are they making up their own definition because they claim they don’t have direction from a governmental official?” This is just one example of how grocery stores can mislead you into buying their pre-made or packaged products. And Trader Joe’s isn’t the only culprit!

When I was younger I use to work for a grocery store, and I noticed that many grocery store chains cut corners on not just how they label their products but as well as how they present their products and don’t follow the mandatory health regulations. Some examples of this includes how the meat department presents their food, and how some in store deli’s prepare their food. So how do these unseemly con artists do this?

For some meat departments, presentation and preservation is more important than good quality. One instance is some meat departments dye their meat with red dye to make them look “fresh”. Another instance is some grocer’s use red light bulbs to make the meat look more appealing. Many grocery stores buy their meat in bulk and upon receiving their meat from their distributor they freeze it and keep it in the freezer for months before using it. So, that delicious steak could possibly be 7 months old…ew. An interesting factor to also keep in mind is the processing equipment such as slicers, grinders, and other machines. Some health inspectors aren’t trained well enough to know the cleaning process for a machine and might not even know how to detect if its even clean or not. From an article I was reading one health inspector goes as far to explain, “They beat into our heads how to inspect restaurants. But there was very little training focused on grocery stores. They took us through a grocery store in one day and then turned us loose, even though the stores have all this processing equipment that’s tough to clean. And I have to admit, I’d look at some of these machines on my inspections and say, “Yep, looks good.” But I didn’t really know what I was looking for.” So even in some cases the equipment might not even be clean!

Taking a look at the Deli, you see a variety of different pasta’s, salads, sandwiches, etc…An interesting question to raise is how do they prepare all that food, and where do they get it? Since the incident with my tomato soup, it has peaked my curiosity, and I am more determined to ask questions about the food I want to purchase. I went to the store and walked up to the deli and was interested in a sun-dried tomato pasta. I asked the deli clerk what was in the pasta. She shrugged and answered,”I don’t know, we get it from out of state.”Shocked I asked which state they were getting this from and still she was uncertain of where it came from. So continuing my investigation I asked another deli clerk the same questions and he didn’t know either. Not even the manager knew. No one knew what was in the food or where it came from and here people are buying it? That disturbed me a little. Even though this was just one store, some deli’s recycle expired food from the produce section or shelved products that are about to expire and use that to make their food. Well with my experience it was obvious that they weren’t making the food from scratch so it was probably filled with preservatives. Not even the deli’s contain fresh food.
So how can we avoid being attacked left and right from fake, processed, and highly preserved food? There are a couple different solutions. One being to cook at home. I’ll be the first to admit, cooking isn’t my favorite thing in the world. You come home exhausted from your day and the last thing you want to do is make a meal and then the worst part is clean up. But the reward that comes from cooking is amazing! You know what’s being put into your food. You get to pick what goes in it and there aren’t any mysterious chemicals saturating your food! Not only that but if you plan ahead in the week of what you want to make for you meals, you can be prepared and won’t have to struggle last minute to find something to cook.

Another solution to staying away from bad foods, is well, simple. READ THE LABEL! Read what is on the package. Granted that maybe the label isn’t 100% true but still take a look at what is in the food, for example if it has any form of sugar ending in “ose” (Sucrose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup) then its probably bad for you. Also keep an eye out for words like Natural Flavor (if its natural why can’t they tell us what it is?), Dextrin, Fruit juice concentrate, Artificial Flavoring, Soy Protein, and Extract. The saying goes, “if you can’t read or pronounce anything on the label, don’t buy it.”
All in all stores are going to sell what they want to sell. It is our job to make sure we understand what’s going into our body. Start this New Year off right with your eyes wide open! Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the food you want, read the labels carefully, and it’s so much better to cook meals at home. Be happy, eat well, and most of all be healthy!

With Love,

Shaila Suleman

How To Survive The Holiday Sweets Season

Every November, I love the reminder to be more mindful of giving thanks and appreciating friends and family. It’s this time of the year when everyone starts to host dinner parties and share home made goods from handmade crafts to sweets. While this is wonderful, it can also be stressful.

If you’re on the road to heal your health, or to maintain your health, the sudden rise in all of the cookies and pies can be hard to ignore, and suddenly you’re eating food you promised yourself you wouldn’t all because you don’t want to be ungrateful or rude!

I’ll never forget the one year we had to survive the holiday season with an almost 3-year-old suffering from severe constipation. We had only been seeing Juli and using Hen Sen digestive Herbs for a month and a half before the holidays started. It was stressful to keep her on a high vegetable diet full of plain grains without any sauce or gravy or cheese! But it was worth the awkwardness as relatives and friends wanted to feed her cookies and candy. Thankfully, a few already knew we were working hard to help our daughter and took no offense to our apologies as we said no to more sweets than we knew she could handle – even if she begged for more sweets! So, how did we survive?

We knew that digestive health was dependent on a good diet. We also knew that our daughter needed to eat real, unprocessed foods to avoid constipation, pain, and the suffering that comes along with that. We tried many recipes and methods for getting kids to eat vegetables, and eventually learned that we have to put more vegetables in front of kids. They like to snack all day, so replace the chips or crackers with carrots. It wasn’t that simple, but the wonderful thing about making small changes like this for her was that all of us found ourselves feeling better health as a result. This is how we accidentally learned we can survive the holidays without cookies and pies…

What to eat is the first question that comes when you attend a dinner or party. Most meals involve 3 food groups: meat, grains, vegetables and/or dairy. If there’s enough of all groups, focus on filling up on the vegetables first. Then, you can enjoy a slice of Turkey or cheese mashed potatoes. If it’s a pot-luck type event, then bring some vegetables so that you’ll know there’s plenty of the real good stuff to start your meal. This worked well for our daughter loved carrots and cucumbers. I brought a home made veggie platter for a year to every party just so I could count on serving her something I knew she would eat and that we could share.

What about those sweets is the second question. Just like with vegetables, you can pick your treat and then treat it with moderation. Try to pick one type of sweet and have one serving. For example, our daughter loved cookies, but not pie at 3-years-old. Knowing that holiday cookies typically have extra sugar with icing and candy decorations, I made simple shortbread cookies from scratch that have little sugar in them but are filling from butter. One pretty shortbread cookie at an event was what she could have. For the rest of us, it might be apple pie or Gingerbread cookies, but the basic idea is the same: what do you love most? Have a serving and enjoy just one.

It didn’t take years for our daughter to find her digestive health back in order, but it was a good challenge during the holidays to learn how to feed ourselves better during a stressful, busy time of the year. To this day, I’m still the guest who offers to bring a salad!

Now, besides the food that makes the holidays special, there is the stress that comes from so much activity and a change of season. The other keys to good health are hard to remember: stay hydrated, get exercise, and plenty of sleep!

It’s cold in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, so it’s hard to stay hydrated, because you may not feel as thirsty as during the hot summer days. One suggestion is to drink hot water, or warm water with a little squeeze of lemon juice or mint leaves.

For more ideas on recipes and food you can make from scratch, did you know we have a blog: HenSenLifestyle.com – and a collection of recipes to share from home made pizza to vegetable dip to scones – all wonderful to share with friends and family.  Simply go to the Categories section and select from the drop down menu, “Recipes” for inspiration.

And, last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy the company of friends and family even if they want to give you more cookies than you can eat! For some people, giving cookies is how they show their love, and you can love them right back with words of encouragement and a thank you card. I love the quote, “You have the power to make someone smile,” and like to remind myself of it during the holiday season.

May you enjoy Thanksgiving and fill yourself up with warm memories!

p.s. Here’s a list of our recipes that are made from scratch and easy to share at Pot-lucks!