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Lyme Disease in the Age of COVID-19

As much of the world has been focusing on the COVID pandemic, many of us are sitting at home for many more hours than we are used to.  We’ve been given this unique opportunity to go outside and visit nature regularly. It’s a good way to combat cabin fever, remain physically active and care for our emotional needs during these times of worry and uncertainty.  

Every day I witness the streets around my home being filled with neighbors I rarely see, families on walks together, kids on skateboards and scooters.  It’s a busy scene for a usually quiet town, and as I try and look for the positive things during these times, this is a beautiful one to witness: that we are all walking more, being with our families and breathing in fresh air.  

Given all the fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, as an Integrative Physician with a focus on Lyme Disease in my medical practice, I felt compelled to share critical information so that you don’t get Lyme.  This information is useful, even if you’ve had Lyme before, or have it now, you don’t want to get it again! (And if you are struggling with chronic Lyme, I have some ideas for you, too)

Deer ticks are transmitters of various diseases in our area including Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella, Anaplasmosis, Relapsing Fever and Powassan virus.  This is not just a cause for concern in the spring and summer as conventional thinking goes. Their activity is dependent on the weather. With climate change afoot I see cases all year round.  Most people think ticks are killed off by freezing temperature but in fact, they just go through a stasis period. When the right conditions come about, they reanimate and come to life again.  

Here are some simple things to keep in mind as we approach high season for tick-borne illnesses:

  1. Temperatures: Deer ticks can be active in temperatures above 32-35 degrees when the ground is thawed and not covered in snow.  This is now. Don’t let your guard down just because you still need a down coat.
  2. Location: It’s common knowledge that ticks are found in the woods or specifically in shrubs, leaf litter, rock walls.  However I’ve had many patients get lyme disease from just being on sunny lawn. We are ground zero for Lyme disease, expect the rules to bend and that it’s easier to transmit traditionally thought.
  3. Family Pets: I’ve had patients who have been outside only on concrete and had Lyme disease.  We forget that our animals can bring ticks into the home. They should be checked regularly.  I believe that pets that get treated with medications like Frontline may tend to protect the animal but they make it more likely for a tick not to attach to them but to someone at home. 

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself Against Ticks 

  1. Tick Checks: If you are out in nature make sure you make it a routine to check yourself over.  Oftentimes we are good at checking our children but we forgo ourselves in the interests of time.  I’ve been guilty of that, too.
  2. Deer Fencing: This is incredibly helpful if you are able to have one on your property but it’s not foolproof as smaller animals can bring in ticks. The transmission rates can be reduced by 83-97%.
  3. Clothing: I avoid the use of more toxic insect repellants like permethrin BUT I do like the manufacturers that have bound the permethrin into the clothing fiber.  I do not believe this is absorbed into the body and it can last up to 70 washings and still remain effective. Socks are some of the easiest ways to bring protection into your daily life but other garments such as a hat (since ticks are hard to find on the scalp) are great ideas as well.  Of course you can dress yourself head to toe in clothing and tuck your pants into your socks but who wants to do this when it’s hot. I need my tank top and some vitamin D! 

You’ve Been Bitten by a Tick – What Should You Do? 

While knowledge and prevention can go a long way, ticks are tiny and omnipresent.  Here’s what to do if you find you’ve been bitten by a tick.  

  1. Having the right tools at home or travel when you need them is imperative.  There are many companies that make a tiny portable collection kit complete with tweezers, magnifying glass, picture identification guides and a specimen container. 
    If you are concerned about transmission you should keep the tick and bring it to your doctor for testing.  Most doctors, however, test only for Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme) but they don’t look for the other tick-borne infections.  I advise patients to use a company in Pennsylvania called Tick Checks where you send it in directly and have your tick checked for a multitude of pathogens with results in less than 48 hours.
  2. While there are no clinical studies that support the use of topical essential oils after a tick bite, I would still recommend the topical application of clove, cinnamon bark or oregano oil based on in-vitro studies of their activity against Borrelia infections.  It certainly can’t hurt.
  3. Once you get bitten there is no great test to detect early Lyme disease.  Traditional methods become accurate 4-6 weeks after the bite. There are controversial tests that can be done but it’s a gray area where you have to make decisions on treatment based on the clinical scenario. 
  4. After a delay of 3-30 days, be on the lookout for Erythema migrans (EM) rash (Bullseye rash) which can begin at the site of a tick bite, although many people do not have a rash at all. Over the next 4-6 weeks look for symptoms of fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash. See your doctor should you experience any of these symptoms. 

You Have Chronic Lyme – Concerns about COVID

Dr Yee has been treating chronic Lyme for two decades using an Integrative approach that is especially critical during the COVID pandemic as people with Lyme often have a compromised immune system.  Each person with Lyme needs a personalized approach that includes:

  1. Supporting the immune system 
  2. Assessing the best antibiotic regimen
  3. Integrating or replacing antibiotics with herbal protocols
  4. Protecting the gut during antibiotic treatment
  5. Other options for testing and treatment that your conventional lyme doc might not  know about.
  6. Checking aggressively for other tick infections that might have been missed.

If you have Lyme Disease and would like to see Dr Yee, she is now accepting new patients via Telemedicine.  CLICK HERE to set up a call and learn more about how Dr. Yee can help.  

Pamela Yee, MD is an Integrative Physician at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY where she creates highly personalized treatment plans for each of her patients. Dr. Yee has a special interest in integrative cancer care, immune disorders, and lyme disease. She lives in Nyack NY where she and her husband manage their own organic micro-farm.

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Surviving and Thriving on a “Quarantine Diet”

Our lives have all been powerfully disrupted in the past few weeks. All signs indicate that they will remain so for at least the near future, and the adaptations can be exhausting!  Access to food and household needs, both in person and online, can be a lesson in frustration. For those of us who rely on a healthy, whole foods diet for optimal health, or may have dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy, the search can be both harder and longer. As a Functional Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, I can really relate.  If we choose not to stock up on pasta, rice and dry cereal, what are the options?

Here’s what I recommend: 

YOUR FREEZER IS YOUR FRIEND

  •   Stock your freezer as full as you can with unprocessed foods, including animal protein, vegetables and fruits- minimize processed boxed items which take up extra room. 
  •   Prep the items before you freeze them- for example, cook multiple chickens and cut the meat off the bone, and cut up fresh veggies, removing any parts you will not use before freezing to maximize space. 
  •   Freeze eggs! Drop individual eggs in sections of an ice cube tray. Once frozen you can store in a safe freezer bag such as https://www.green-n-pack.com/. If separating whites and yolks, add some salt to the yolk before freezing

PACK THE PANTRY

We want to maximize the nutrient density of the items we are storing. Although I haven’t officially calculated the protein or zinc per square inch ratio, these suggestions should keep your cabinets rich in foods that keep you healthy and satisfied. 

  •   While others are clearing the grocery aisles of white flour, don’t forget that nuts and seeds, their butters and ground meal are powerhouses of nutrition in small packages. Go heavy on these items. 
  •   Canned or dehydrated vegetables can last a long time. In addition to the usual carrots and peas, add some seaweed, jackfruit (it has a meat-like texture), artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and pumpkin puree. Forager is one of many companies that make a variety of veggie chips. Boxed or homemade vegetable soups like tomato, carrot or squash can round out the assortment. 
  •   Dried fruits are another space-saving option to pack in the nutrients. Buy organic versions without added sugar. You can make your own trial mix or purchase a ready to eat option as well. 
  •   If canned tuna is in low supply, select canned salmon. It is better to rotate tuna and salmon anyway. Choose wild or pole caught options when buying fish. 
  •   Don’t forget legumes! Beans are rich in protein, fiber, and a variety of important nutrients. The dried versions are more cost and space friendly than cans, but either will work. Lentil chips, Brami snacking beans and Biena roasted chickpeas add textural variety to your choices. 
  •   Think like a cowboy and stock up on jerkies and meat sticks (like CHOMPS and PRIMAL ) which have a long shelf life. 
  •   Energy bars like EPIC, RX  and Lara are made with only real foods, and only a few of them. 
  •   Forget wheat pasta- bean pasta is readily available online and in many stores- try fiber and protein rich Explore Asian Mung Bean pasta, Banza chickpea pasta or Tolerant varieties which are organic and free of all major allergens. 
  •   Who needs rice when you can grab up some quinoa and buckwheat? Richer in protein and fiber, gluten free and not sold out! 
  •   Keep spirulina and nutritional yeast nearby.  Just a spoonful of spirulina  adds protein, iron and potassium, while nutritional yeast contains B vitamins and has a great cheesy taste. 
  •   Make sure you have herbs and spices on hand. Stressful times tax our immune systems and we can use these ingredients to add more than flavor.  Cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, oregano and rosemary contain compounds that boost our immunity, reduce inflammation and help kill germs. 
  •   My go-to ready-to-drink shake is from Orgain. Organic, tasty and comes in a dairy and vegan option.

SCHEDULE DELIVERY

Many grocery chains are scheduling deliveries two weeks out, and stock varies widely.

  •   Neighborhood shops may be able to meet your needs more quickly, and allow you to help the local economy. Call your local merchant and see what they offer.
  •   Sign up for a subscription service and you will know you have a steady supply of nourishing options coming straight to your door. Some of my favorites include:

o   Misfits Market supplies healthy, high quality produce at lower cost. It also reduces food waste!  (Use code COOKME-BB6IJG)

o   Walden Local Foods ships in the Northeast and supplies a wide variety grass-fed or cage free proteins (use the link to get some free eggs and bacon)

o   Butcher Box  delivers a variety of grass-fed, organic free range proteins directly to your door. 

o   Imperfect Foods https://www.imperfectfoods.com/ offers conventional and organic plans, which can be customized to your liking

In troubled times, nutrition becomes even more essential to support our immune system, modulate stress and keep us physically and emotionally resilient. Quarantine does not have to mean compromising on our well-being.

 

 

Vicki Kobliner is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with over 20 years of expertise applying a Functional Nutrition approach to the care of children and adults. She utilized her wealth of experience with both traditional and integrative modalities, incorporating the power of food, herbs and targeted nutrition support for both prevention of and healing from both acute and chronic illnesses.    Vicki sees pediatric patients and their families at Blum Center for Health, and has extensive experience in addressing a wide variety of childhood illnesses.

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10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Out of nowhere we’ve been blindsided. Two months ago we never could have imagined the Coronavirus pandemic that is literally bringing the world to a halt. 

We want you to be safe. We want your loved ones to be safe.  And when you stay safe, you help the greater community stay safe, too.

And besides everything you can do physically to ensure safety — washing your hands repeatedly and staying at home as much as humanly possible (yes, isolating) — you must also give your stress response a break. Seriously. Your immune system depends on it.

One of the common threads of Dr. Susan Blum’s books, The Immune System Recovery Plan and Healing Arthritis, and in all our clinical work at Blum Center for Health is this: Stress damages the immune system.

In order to keep your immune system strong, you must employ strategies to minimize the effects of stress.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Create News Blackout Periods — Constantly scrolling, listening to the radio or watching television puts your body on unrelenting periods of high alert. Put in place a news plan. When will you consume your news? I recommend once in the morning and once in the evening for no more than 60 minutes. During the rest of the day, shut off the notifications on your phone, turn off the television and stream podcasts and music that makes you feel good. 

Use Social Media Wisely — Your feed is inundated with COVID19 related news — some of it accurate, some of it false, much of it alarmist, and you likely have friends and family that are in pure panic mode. Perhaps you need to mute a few people, but more than likely you need to step away. Just as I’ve suggested News Blackout Periods, do the same with social media. No, you don’t need it to stay connected to people.  You know who your friends and family are — reach out to them the old fashioned way — call them!

Reframe Your Worries — Here’s an example: My mom is 87 and lives with me. I’m doing everything I can to minimize her exposure. And, my father-in-law is in assisted living — while the building has been closed to visitors for a week, we received notification that someone who visited a resident has since tested positive. I’m a worrier. But, every time I start to feel myself getting worked up, imagining worst case scenarios, feeling that too-familiar constriction in my chest, tingling arms,  combined with swallow breathing, or most likely, holding my breath, I ask myself: “Does my worry change anything in this moment? Is there anything that I can change that would alleviate the worry?” If the answer is yes, I do it. If the answer is no, then I shift my thinking to: “What are my blessings in this moment?” My mom is fine, I’m doing everything I can to keep her safe. My father-in-law is okay. There are no reported cases at his home, and they’ve been closed to visitors for a week. I’m grateful for the sunny day. I’m grateful for the food in my fridge. I’m grateful for an internet connection so that I can stay in touch with my family and friends.

Get Out in Nature — Take a walk. Research shows that walking in nature has a calming effect on your immune system. Take one long walk, or you can take several mini walks throughout the day. 

Breathe — If you’re already meditating, awesome! Now is a great time to deepen your practice. If you’ve been “too busy” to start meditating, well … opportunity knocks! This is the perfect time to get started.  Use an app like Headspace or Calm, and start with 10 minutes a day. There is clear evidence that a mindfulness practice reduces stress, promotes healthier bodies, including taking care of your immune system, and over time, teaches you how to respond to stressors rather than react to them. That comes in pretty darn handy in times like this!

Choose Movies and TV Shows Wisely — Watching disaster movies, action movies and Debbie Downer dramas and documentaries are probably not the way to go right now. Your brain and your body absorb all the negativity, elevating your stress response — not only in the moment, but it fuels your worries and plays a role in disrupted sleep. Choose uplifting, fun, funny shows to watch. I bet you have a list!

Use the Time to Nest — When was the last time you were told to stay home? I mean, were you ever told to stay home? Yes, it’s a very worrying time, but you can also look at the bright side. What projects do you have that have been on the back burner for when you have  more time? Clean out closets, organize your home office, spring clean, get out the clothes that need mending, make your space feel homey and light. You might even try some aromatherapy — use your diffuser, if you have one, or light candles (preferably soy-based, rather than paraffin).

Have Fun with Homesteading — What do I mean? Bake from scratch, include your kids in cooking meals, try some new kitchen skills, like sprouting beans or preserving lemons. Or maybe there’s an InstaPot recipe you’ve been wanting to try. Now’s the time!

Connect with Friends and Family via Video (or Telephone) — Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from your friends and family. In fact, with nearly everybody at home, it couldn’t be easier to connect with those you love. Use video to make lunch dates or connect in the evening rather than watching television. Do you have older people in your life that aren’t comfortable with technology? A good ole phone call will make their day (and likely yours too.)

Eat Real Food — During times of stress many people lean on packaged foods, and sugary, empty calorie foods — these deplete your immune system! Focus on antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits — at least half your plate at every meal — healthy fats, like avocado, wild caught salmon, nuts and seeds; and whole grains, like gluten-free oats, wild rice and quinoa. Legumes are a great source of plant-based protein.

What are some of the ways you reduce stress during trying times? Share them. We’d love to hear.

Wondering what else you can do?

Read Dr. Blum’s blog post: Tips for Boosting Your Immunity 

Check out Dr. Yee’s Fire Cider Brew to help boost your immune system. 

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

 

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I Had My Brain Mapped: Here’s What Happened

For years I’ve struggled with migraines. Diagnosed at 4-years old, I can’t really remember ever being completely headache-free. You might be thinking, “Of course you feel fatigued. Who wouldn’t?”

But, it’s a little more complicated than that. I also had a few concussions as a martial artist, and in sports, like flag football. Perhaps most notably, I had a traumatic brain injury in my 20s when I was hit by a car on my bicycle — yes, a life-changing event. I’ve also had viral meningitis and Lyme disease twice — two more migraine triggers.

In the last year, I started wondering, “Is all of this affecting the way my brain works? Is it just one thing, or is it some combination of these potential brain-affecting ailments? How can I tease all of this apart?”

In comes Field, a wellness team currently located at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY, that offers brain optimization, or in their own words, “Much like computer software, you can think of brainwaves as code that we can train, tweak and reprogram.” 

They claim that by mapping the brain, actually seeing how the brain responds to stimuli (or lack of stimuli), they can help people rewire the brain to respond or fire differently. The treatment particularly helps people with ADD/ADHD, depression, concussions, stress/anxiety, PTSD/trauma, even insomnia.

Could this be the answer to my headaches? It certainly peaked my interest. 

I decided to give it a try.

Prior to my initial assessment appointment I filled out a questionnaire — basically, a brain health history. I elaborated on my reasons for the appointment, and although I was a bit nervous to have electrodes — electrocephalography (EEG) — attached to my head (this is my brain after all!), I felt reassured that they knew what they were doing.

On the day of my appointment I sat in a beautiful slightly reclined chair — I figured it was a way to get me to relax a bit. Co-founder Devon White sat behind a bank of computer screens, and Kitty Boyle, the technician, placed a space-age cap on my head and attached the electrodes to capture my brain’s activity. They explained everything that would happen. So far, so good.

Kitty instructed me to close my eyes and relax. I could hear the white noise of the computer working, a few whispers between Devon and Kitty and then, “Melissa, try not to blink.” Did you know that you can blink with your eyes closed? Evidently I blink a lot!

This first assessment probably only lasted a couple of minutes, but it seemed longer. Trying not to blink took a lot of concentration.

The second assessment was the same as the first — only this time, eyes open. And again, no blinking. 

The third assessment was math-related — counting down from 1,000 by 7s to see how my brain was firing when given a task.

And lastly, Devon and Kitty did a Traumatic Brain Injury Assessment to determine the impact of the injury.

Once all the data was in, all my brain images flashed up on the wall in front of me. Sitting in the comfy chair, it kind of felt like a movie screening — only it was all about me. I was so eager, and even though the assessment was in real time, the anticipation was palpable. What’s going on in there?

Devon and Kitty walked me through all the data. We looked at all the brain waves — gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta. They took the time to explain what these meant in relation to my assessment. We looked at the Mental Math EEG and the Traumatic Brain Injury Discriminant Analysis.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I have a beautiful, fast-firing, high functioning brain. Phew!
  • One thing that popped out is that I have lots of activity at F7 — the front left of my brain — in fact, it never seems to turn off unless I’m keeping it busy with an activity. It makes me hyper alert — and it can make me exhausted if I can’t turn it off. This is so true! Now that it has been brought into my awareness, I’m noticing it all the time. During meditation, when I’m trying to fall asleep, when I just rest with my eyes closed. My brain NEVER gets quiet!
  • There is a pronounced lack of activity in the T4 region — the right temple. This could be the area of my Traumatic Brain Injury.
  • Lastly, there was a TBI, but the great news is: it’s effect is minimal. Hooray!

Devon and Kitty recommended neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that focuses on the brain and its firing patterns. It utilizes real-time displays (EEG) of brain activity — in order to teach self-regulation of brain function. 

Here is what they recommended:

  • We would increase alpha waves while my eyes are closed in order to help facilitate daydreaming and quiet down my brain that never stops firing.
  • Give theta to T4 in order to take down headaches.
  • Use neurofeedback to find plasticity in the part of my brain that isn’t firing and discover if this is indeed residue from my TBI.

So, I’m going to give it a try! I’m hopeful and optimistic. And, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Interested in learning more about brain-mapping? Contact my friend Devon, at Field. 

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

 

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Menopause Made Easy

Ok, let’s face it…every woman will transition through menopause, whether they like it or not. For some of us, it happens without any fanfare. One day your period is gone, and you’re done! (Yes, ladies, this does happen for some women). For others, it is a nightmare with hot flashes and sweats during the day and night, often ruining what used to be a good nights’ sleep. Other symptoms may include difficulty with memory, sometimes called ‘mental-pause’, low sex drive and painful intercourse when you do decide to make it happen.

So what is going on? One theory is that estrogen receptors in the brain become starved of estrogen, and this affects temperature regulation and memory. While this makes a lot of sense, there has to be more to it than that because all women have a loss of estrogen during menopause, but only some women suffer symptoms. To understand this, let’s look at the other influences on your hormones that could be the culprits.

First, you must look at your entire endocrine orchestra and make sure all of your hormones are working optimally. These include your thyroid hormones, your adrenal hormone cortisol, and also your blood sugar hormone insulin. If any of these are out of balance, your sex hormones will be too, and you are more prone to having menopause symptoms.

Second, you must look at your detox system and make sure your liver is doing a good job of processing both every day toxins and metabolizing your hormones properly. Even after menopause you should have some healthy estrogens in your body, and these need to be processed. Faulty estrogen metabolism can result in more symptoms.

What can you do? Here are 5 tips to help make menopause a non-event.

  1. Eat for hormone balance. This means eating protein (vegetarian or animal) and plants rich in fiber with all meals and cut out the processed sugar. This will keep your insulin in balance. 
  2. Have your thyroid checked, including the hormone T3. If you are already hypothyroid, make sure you aren’t taking too much or too little medication. 
  3. Do an adrenal saliva test to make sure your adrenals are healthy. An integrative practitioner can help you do this.  Live in our neighborhood? You can have a consultation with one of our practitioners at Blum Center for Health for testing.  
  4. Improve your estrogen metabolism by eating cruciferous vegetables, rosemary. Consider trying the supplements DIM (Di-indole methane), methylfolate and methylcobalamin. 
  5. Beware of alcohol and caffeine. They can make your temperature system go haywire during this time of transition. 
  6. Consider a safe and medically sound liver Detox program.  Renew your body by eliminating your toxic load and resetting your hormones. Try our 14-Day Whole Life Detox. 

Try one or more of these steps and evaluate how you feel.  Let me know how you are doing! 

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Is Your Cell Phone Sabotaging your Health?

Chances are you check your cell phone for messages, alerts, or calls even when your device isn’t ringing or vibrating. You probably sleep with your phone next to your bed to be sure you don’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night. And you likely feel lost without your cell phone, reports a Pew Internet & American Life survey.

In fact, the average cell phone user checks their phone 110 times a day, with the highest users hitting the 900 mark, says Locket, an Android app that has collected data on over 150,000 users.

Yes, we are addicted to cell phones.

And the cost of this addiction to our personal well-being is substantial. The tethering to our cell phones interferes with our mental health, physical health and even our relationships.

  • The constant barrage of notifications increases our stress level, likely contributing to high blood pressure, headaches, eye strain, and anxiety.
  • The anticipation of messages keeps us constantly checking our phones and creates anxiety.
  • Cell phone use interferes with human relationships. Studies show that in face-to-face interactions a phone present made the other person think negatively about the cell phone holder. 
  • The incessant connection to one’s phone makes us less inclined to participate in conversation with those around us. We become less aware.
  • Our dependence on our phones as entertainment is a constant source of distraction, making it difficult to be with oneself in a quiet, still, disconnected space.
  • When we don’t have our phones we become bored, antsy and depressed.

Clients often tell me they want to feel less controlled by their phones. They want to take back their peace and quiet. 

The key? Baby steps and commitment.

8 Ways To Kick Your Cell Phone Addiction

Make No Cell-Phone Zones — Make a pact with other members of your household no cell phones at the table. Ever. Live alone? Put down the electronics, set the table, light a candle and enjoy your meal. You will taste your food, remember what you ate, and be more aware of how much you’re eating.

Bring On The Zen — Introduce meditation, yoga, tai chi or one of the other meditative practices into your daily routine — even if it’s for only 10 minutes it will slow you down, bring your awareness back to your body and reap a myriad of health benefits, including better concentration, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, better mood and better sleep.

Home From Work? Just Say “No” — Implement limits and boundaries in relation to work-related email and messages. Just because someone sends you an email at 10pm in the evening does not mean you have to answer it. When you answer emails you set the precedent that you are available. When does your work day end? You decide: “I will not answer any work-related emails after 7pm in the evening or on the weekends.” And then stick to it. If the mere thought of that makes you anxious create an auto-responder letting people know you will answer their email first thing in the morning.

Blackout Periods — Schedule “No Cell-Phone” Periods during your day. Start small — even 10 minutes. Put it on your calendar (or set an alarm) and disconnect for that time. After a week increase the time, or add another Black Out period to your day. Week by week increase the time until you are able to disconnect for several hours a day.

No Fly Zone — When you travel for holiday set your phone to “no data roaming” so that you only receive messages when you are connected with Wifi.  This will limit the amount of new communication that is coming your way and provide a more peaceful journey.

Your Boots Are Made For Walking — Take a walk and leave your phone at home. Look up, look down, pay attention to your surroundings. Taking a walk is a great way to boost your mood, find solutions to challenges, and increase productivity.

Engage With The World — Make a decision to not use your phone in the presence of others. Pay attention to your conversations, make eye contact and give 100% to the other person/s you are with.

Sleep It Off — Do not use your cell phone as an alarm clock. Leave it outside your room. You might consider implementing a sleep routine to help you wean — reading, or listening to music.

Put down your cell phone? The answer is clear. Just say “yes.”

Do you find that you start a new habit but get derailed? Consider private coaching! I help people attain their goals by unraveling those self-sabotaging behaviors that get in the way. Let’s play! I’ll help you create new habits that lead to long-term change. Get what you want. Finally. Check out CoachMe

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

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It’s Summer! Which cocktail is best for me?

Here’s a common question: It’s summer and I really want a cocktail, will having one ruin all my hard work?

Ahh, summertime … cocktail parties, bbq’s, dinner alfresco, family gatherings, rooftop parties … add a little heat, add the celebratory nature of being outside and you’ve got the perfect recipe for cocktail time.

Whether you’ve got a hankering for gin, vodka or tequila, there are a few things you should know.

The good news: If you’re in good health, and at low risk for cancer, then alcohol in moderation is likely okay. What is moderation? A few social drinks a week. There’s no need to drink every day, afterall, plan for them — wait for the rooftop get-together or the weekend summertime bash.

What you need to know about summer cocktails: 

Any amount of alcohol consumption of any kind, increases your risk for cancer. If you are concerned about cancer because you have a strong family history, or you have had cancer yourself, you should not drink. Period. Does this mean that an occasional glass of wine or cocktail will hurt you? Probably not. But chronic daily consumption, or drinking several days every week, is not a good idea.

Alcohol stresses your liver. Alcohol is viewed as a toxin by the body and needs to be processed in the liver just like mercury, pesticides, plastics and everything else you are exposed to in the environment. If you have known issues with your liver, other toxin exposure like mold or heavy metals or pesticides that are causing issues with your health, you shouldn’t drink, or only consume alcohol on occasion. If you have multiple chemical sensitivities, such as you can’t tolerate smells like perfume or cigarette smoke, this can be a sign that your liver is stressed with too many toxins.

TIP: Pad the lining of your stomach before drinking alcohol with healthy fats like nuts and seeds, avocado, or something made with olive oil or coconut oil.  This will slow the emptying time of the stomach so that alcohol will be absorbed slowly into the body, allowing you to excrete it more easily and then resulting in less accumulation of toxins.

Alcoholic beverages are high in sugar. If you have diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or are trying to lose weight, keep In mind that when you drink a glass of wine or a cocktail mixed with juice, you are consuming a glass of sugar. This can trigger cravings for bread and dessert and other high starch foods, and cause you to make poor food choices that undermine your healthy eating goals. 

TIP: Be sure to skip the mixers and choose low sugar options, such as a cocktail with club soda or fresh lime juice.

All alcoholic drinks are dehydrating. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you might notice you’re running to the bathroom more often. Alcohol suppresses the hormone that regulates how much urine we produce. And, all the added trips to the bathroom strip water and electrolytes from the body. Even a small amount of alcohol can make you feel like you have a hangover.

TIP: Drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink you consume. Be sure to hydrate during the day as well. 

Better yet, give our delicious Blueberry Lime Margarita Mocktail a try. Put it in a beautiful glass with a spring of mint, and you won’t even miss the alcohol! Get the Recipe

 

Feeling like you’ve been having a little too much fun this summer — feeling bloated, heavy or out of control and need a quick, effective reset? Check out our HealMyGut Summer Reboot. Relief is on the way! Get Our Special Summer Reboot

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

 

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Think You Can Create a New Habit in 21 Days? Bust the Myth!

Have you come across all the hype promising that habits can be created in 21 days? Who wouldn’t want to believe that we can experience a cosmic shift in only 21 days? It’s short enough to be inspiring and long enough to be believable.

Unfortunately it’s not true.

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.

In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researchers examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person focused one new habit and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.

Some people chose simple things like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch” while others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers determined the length of time it took each person to go from implementing a new behavior to automatically doing it.

The researchers found that it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days for people to form a new habit, depending on the habit they are creating, the person, and the circumstances.

This is great news! Why? Because how many times have you tried to start something new and after three weeks thought, “I’m such a failure” and fell right back into your old way of doing things?

The key to creating new habits is in the Why and the How. So let’s get to it!

How To Create Habits That Stick

Choose Only One New Habit At A Time! — It’s hard enough to create one new habit. Trying to take on several at a time is doomed to fail.

Be Specific About What You Want To Create — Saying “I want to take better care of my teeth” is too vague. But, saying “I want to floss my teeth daily” is specific.

Get Clear On Your “Why” — “Because I ‘should’” is not a compelling reason. But saying, “I want to floss my teeth to stave off bone loss and it is proven to be heart healthy” is a compelling “why.”

Create A “How” — This is important and is very personal. Make it easier to succeed by creating a plan that suits your lifestyle. For instance, saying, “I am going to floss every day” is forgettable. But saying, “I am going to floss every evening when I brush my teeth before bed” gives it framework.

Implement Strategies To Keep You On Track — Another critical, and personal, component to successful habit formation is creating strategies that will work specifically for you. Some of my clients use post-it notes or set alarms on their phones, for example.

Do It Daily — It takes consistency and diligence. The good news is a mess-up here and there is fine. Stay diligent and don’t let your old way override your new habit!

So … what new habit do you want to create?

 

Do you find that you start a new habit but get derailed? Consider private coaching! I help people attain their goals by unraveling those self-sabotaging behaviors that get in the way. Let’s play! I’ll help you create new habits that lead to long-term change. Get what you want. Finally. Check out CoachMe

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

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What Are The Benefits of Acupuncture ?

Acupuncture is a part of a system of medicine called Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that has been in use for at least two thousand years in China and all over Asia. It is based on the theory that we have energy or Qi that flows through pathways called meridians which run throughout the body. There are over 2000 acupuncture points located on the meridians which are each associated with an organ system.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

According to TCM, when these meridians become blocked we have disruptions in the flow of Qi that puts the body out of balance. These blockages can be caused by injury, poor diet, emotions, stress, lack of sleep, as well as external factors such as the weather, environment and pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. By restoring the smooth flow of Qi the body can be brought back into balance and harmony.

During an acupuncture session, endorphins are released, which are the body’s natural opioid hormones that relieve pain, induce sleep, and create a state of wellbeing.

Acupuncture has been shown to turn off pro-inflammatory cells known as M1 macrophages and it activates anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages at the same time. These create an immune response which in turn reduce pain and swelling.

It also works by stimulating the pituitary and hypothalamus glands which control many functions in the body and affects the neurotransmitters and neurohormones, thereby changing the chemistry of the brain.

A Sept 2017 article in The Guardian reported on a study done at Massachusetts General Hospital in conjunction with Harvard Medical school where brain scans were used during clinical trials with acupuncture and fake treatments. The patients receiving true acupuncture showed more opioid receptors activated in the brain and had lasting results three months later.

Acupuncture has been approved by the National Institute of Health for treating a wide variety of ailments including pain (joint, back, sciatic, tennis elbow, dental, neck), injuries, arthritis, asthma, digestive issues, smoking cessation, headaches,  infertility, hormonal issues, depression, anxiety, labor pains, stroke, nausea, and opioid addiction to name a few.

Acupuncture’s benefits include many other health conditions including mental health issues such as anxiety and depression in as little as 8 weeks.

How Many Treatments of Acupuncture Are Needed?

Depending on whether a condition is acute or chronic the length of treatment varies. Often if a patient comes for an acute back spasm only 3 to 6 treatments are required. For long term issues due to stress or more constitutional imbalances such as digestive or menstrual issues treatments are needed for a few weeks or even months in order to bring the body back to balance and keep it there. If the underlying stressor or cause is not removed then maintenance treatments are needed to keep things in balance.

There are no side effects of acupuncture thereby making it an excellent choice for many health issues and as part of a preventive maintenance program.  

 

About Donna Bunte: Donna Bunte has practiced Chinese medicine, acupuncture and nutrition for over twenty years. She’s held private practices in NYC and Greenwich, CT, and has joined Blum Center for Health as our in-house acupuncturist. To book an appointment with Donna contact 914-652-7800.  

 

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The 5-Day Fasting Cycling Diet

How to adopt strategies from the new science of fasting so that you can decrease your risk of disease and optimize your weight.

Studies have shown that by following a very low-calorie food plan with very specific nutritional rules — a 5-Day Fasting Cycle — repeated every month for 3 months in a row, can help you achieve lasting weight loss, a boosted metabolism and improved blood markers of disease and aging.

Fasting is defined as an absence of food for a specific period of time that stimulates a regenerative state of health in one’s body without intentionally inflicting harm.  Our program tricks your body into responding as if it were fasting, providing all the great health benefits without actually starving yourself!

Research has shown substantial  benefits to following the principles of the Fasting Mimicking Diet:

  • Extended Lifespan and reduced cellular aging
  • Loss of abdominal fat without loss to muscle mass
  • Reduced desire to overeat or eat sugar
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Drop in loss of bone mineral density
  • Improvement in cognitive state
  • Reduced risk of developing disease
  • Improved gut health
  • Enhances the body’s innate ability to function optimally to regenerate at the cellular level, detoxify environmental toxins, and metabolize nutrients.

It is well known that calorie restriction or changes in dietary composition can enhance healthy aging. The trick was for researchers to figure out HOW to help people implement calorie restriction in a way that is sustainable.  

Here are a few key studies demonstrating how and why these programs work.  They are all published by Valter Longo, PhD, the researcher who has led the way and created a fasting program that produces these medical benefits.  

  • “Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease”.  Published in 2017, this research triggered a huge buzz in the functional medicine and nutrition community because it was the first to show the results of a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD)—low in calories, sugars, and protein but high in unsaturated fats—on markers/risk factors associated with aging and age-related diseases. They compared subjects who followed 3 months of an unrestricted diet to subjects who consumed the FMD for 5 consecutive days per month for 3 months. They found that three FMD cycles reduced body weight, trunk, and total body fat; lowered blood pressure; and decreased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).  (Wei et al., Sci. Transl. Med. 9, 8700 (2017))
  • “Dietary Restrictions and Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease”.  In this article, Dr Longo discusses how intermittent and periodic fasting interventions can help prevent and treat CVD. (Circ Res. 2019;124:952-965.
  • Fasting-Mimicking Diet Modulates Microbiota and Promotes Intestinal Regeneration to Reduce Inflammatory Bowel Disease Pathology. This study showed that cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) reduced intestinal inflammation, increased intestinal regeneration, and stimulated the growth of protective gut microbial populations in a mouse model displaying symptoms and pathology associated with IBD. They also show that a similar FMD is safe, feasible, and effective in reducing systemic inflammation and the consequent high levels of immune cells in humans. (Rangan et al., 2019, Cell Reports 26, 2704–2719).
  • Cancer:  FMDs can reduce cancer incidence and aging-associated immunosuppression/ immunosenescence, a process aided by hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration (Brandhorst et al., 2015; Cheng et al., 2014)
  • Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes:  FMD cycles ameliorate or reverse disease progression in mouse models of multiple sclerosis (MS), and type I, and type II diabetes (Choi et al., 2016; Cheng et al., 2017).

PUTTING THE FASTING CYCLING DIET INTO PRACTICE

Whether you want to lose weight or need to treat a health issue, it is clear that this strategy helps everyone.  The definition of health isn’t simply the absence of disease; it is optimal functioning throughout your lifespan.  Using intermittent fasting as a strategy is a proven strategy and a practice that can be built into every day lifestyle goals.  

To do this, with the help of Keri Lynn MacElhinney (our Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health), we built our NEW, signature weight loss program around this central core concept and created the Blum Alternate Fasting Diet (AFD).

For our Blum AFD, we combine the principles of anti-inflammatory plant-forward eating with intermittent fasting and low calorie 5-Day Fasting Cycles, creating  a whole-foods, sustainable program that promotes healthy weight loss, and improves  metabolism and markers for disease — all while eating delicious food that supports the gut microbiome and the removal of environmental toxins that store in your fat cells preventing weight loss.

Our Blum Alternate Fasting Diet, features a 3-month guided weight loss program that includes one 5-Day Fasting Cycle per month.  

We provide all the information you need to follow this yourself, but to make it easy and convenient, we have teamed up with Organic Pharmer to create a fixed 5-day menu that follows the nutritional guidelines and provides a delicious and satisfying whole foods, ready-to-go option for the 5-Day Fasting Cycle part of the program. (LINK)   

There is also a supplement company that created packaged foods for you to eat during the 5-Day Fasting Cycle and you can read about them HERE.  

DO IT WITH US!

We will be offering our Blum Alternate Fasting Diet as a group program for the first time at Blum Center for Health, starting June 3.  I will be teaching the first class and would love to have you join us! LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM HERE