You Can’t Beat Beets!

As we slog through these winter months, the choices of fresh local vegetables become fewer. But just when you thought all was almost lost, root vegetables come to the rescue, and beets are the star players of the root vegetable team. Whether you kept yours in the garden under special mulch or safely stored in your root cellar, or if you purchase yours at a local winter farmers market or from an organic produce section in your grocery store, you can count on beets to be a great part of a late-winter meal.

Beets have been around for a long time, and I don’t mean the ones you still have from LAST winter! “Beets are an ancient, prehistoric food that grew naturally along coastlines in North Africa, Asia, and Europe. Originally, it was the beet roots that were consumed; the sweet red beet root that most people think of as a ‘beet’ today wasn’t cultivated until the era of ancient Rome.”1

Beets have many health benefits, including that they:

  • Are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying
  • Fight cancer
  • Help lower blood pressure
  • Boost stamina
  • Are chocked full of vitamins and fiber2

Tip: For a vegetable, beets are high in sugar and carbohydrates, so eat in moderation

For a thorough breakdown of nutritional data on beets, go to http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2348/2.
A Chef’s Take on Beets
Joey Meicher, chef at The Local Lounge in Eau Claire, offers his insight and inspirations regarding beets.

“Beets are an incredible ingredient available almost the entire year. A fall planting, followed by proper storage in the root cellar (or the bottom drawer of your fridge,) results in one of the few ‘fresh’ vegetables that is still available toward the end of winter. Not only are they almost always available, but they are an incredibly versatile ingredient. Beets can be roasted, boiled, pickled, fermented, juiced, canned, sautéed, or even served raw. I love how they are used in so many different ways across a broad spectrum of cuisines.

“The beet + cheese + nuts combination seems to be a staple at almost every restaurant these days (and for good reason), but there are so many other directions to go with this vegetable. Pickled beets are a fantastic accompaniment to Nordic dishes and flavors (salmon, dill, dense rye breads, and cultured dairy products). Borscht is a name that can be applied to any sour Eastern European soup, but most are made with fermented beets. My favorite beet dish is a chilled soup in which fermented beets are pureed with a light broth and topped with raw cucumber, salted cabbage, sour cream, cilantro, mint, and dill. It is incredibly complex while still remaining vibrant and refreshing.

“One must not forget about the greens either! If you have ever grown beets, you know that the greens often need to be thinned out before the beetroot is mature. This is because beet seeds are actually pods that contain about six separate seeds all trying their best to grow into a big, beautiful beet. The easiest way to handle the excess beet greens is to warm a little onion, garlic, and chili in a lot of olive oil, add the washed (but not dried) greens and a splash of vinegar, than let them cook for a few minutes before piling on toast and topping with a fried egg, grated cheese, and maybe a few pickled beets from last year.”

Sources:
1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/25/beets-health-benefits.aspx.
2. Ibid.

Spring Is a Good Time for Mindfulness

by Ann Brand

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is present-moment awareness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the researcher responsible for bringing mindfulness practice into Western medicine, defines mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness practice is now part of many disciplines including health care, education, mental health, and business.

Mindfulness practice is a mental training. Using the power of our brain’s plasticity, we can shape our brains in positive ways. The more frequently we practice, the stronger the attention muscles in our brain become. The more we practice paying attention in this particular way, both through formal practice and mindfulness in everyday life, the better able we are to be present.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness practice has many benefits. Because of advances in neuroscience, scientists are able to see how mindfulness practices work to change our brain and lead to benefits in physical health, stress reduction, attention, learning and memory, positive emotions, empathy, emotion regulation, and interpersonal relationships. Mindfulness practice can help us manage our stress and bring calm, clarity, and peace into our daily lives.

Why is the changing of seasons a good time to focus on mindfulness?
Any time of year is a wonderful time to cultivate our capacity to be mindful. That said, spring offers us the waking up of nature from the quiet sleep of winter. Nature is always in the present moment, and we can use the warm air on our skin, the singing of the birds, and the budding of the trees as anchors to the present moment. This supports us in the practice of being present and showing up to our life as it unfolds instead of the story in our head we are telling about our life.

Nature can be a helpful support to our mindfulness practice in the spring. Here are five things we can use to help us rest in the present moment:

  1. Feel the warm spring sun on your skin.
  2. Savor the taste of spring harvest from the garden.
  3. Breathe in the smells of spring—snow melting, damp earth, spring flowers.
  4. Listen to the sounds of spring-migrating birds, water flowing, kids playing outside.
  5. Open up our awareness as we walk outside, noticing when we get caught up in our thoughts and bringing our attention back to the sensations in our body as we walk.

Mindfulness practice helps us see that no matter how many times we are distracted from the present moment, we can begin again, just like nature starts over each spring in Wisconsin.

 

Ann Brand, PhD, is a mindfulness meditation teacher and lecturer at UW–Stout in the School of Education. She teaches mindfulness classes in Eau Claire at The Center and can be reached at annbrand365@gmail.com.

Natural Sinus Help

by Debbie Koteras, Owner, Mother Nature’s Food, Inc

“My nose is all stuffy so I cannot get a good night’s sleep and I feel awful!” At some point this has probably happened to you. This happens when the mucous membrane lining of the nasal cavity becomes swollen or inflamed due to cold or allergies. The channels can become blocked, making it difficult for the sinuses to drain correctly. This can lead to infection and inflammation of the mucous membrane. Below are some natural alternatives to try when you find yourself in this situation.

Essential oils have been around for many years and continue to be recognized more and more for their medicinal properties. Oils like eucalyptus, helichrysum, peppermint, melaleuca, and rosemary, to name a few, are all oils that may be helpful in opening up those sinus cavities. Knowing the quality of your essential oils is very important when deciding how to use them. Diffusing them into the air or inhaling directly from the bottle are both ways to enjoy these oils. With many oils, in order to apply them topically, they may need to be diluted in a carrier oil first so that it will not be too irritating to your skin.

Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol in a convenient vertical spray is another option to help clear out those passages. For thousands of years, silver has played an essential role in safeguarding human health. With the development of technologically advanced refinements in the production of silver colloids, the particle size is so small that it allows for easy absorption and excretion from the body.  I know people who get yearly sinus infections that have used this product and have been able to prevent a sinus infection from happening.

Xlear–you may be thinking I spelled something wrong, but I did not. This is a product that combines purified water, xylitol, and grapefruit seed extract in a nasal spray. Now some of you may use xylitol for your oral health, and you would be right to do so. But xylitol also helps ensure that beyond just cleansing the nasal cavity, it also moisturizes and protects the delicate tissues. Xlear Nasal Spray is gentle enough for infants but effective in adults as well.

Have you ever been swimming in the ocean and gotten salt water in your nose? If you think back to it, if you had a stuffy nose before that you probably felt better afterward. A neti pot is something that you can use in the privacy of your own home to give you the same effect. I recommend trying it the first time when in the shower because most people do not love the thought of putting salt water into their nose, but in the shower it does not seem as odd. By doing this it is obviously helping to flush those irritants out of your nasal passage.

Without getting into homeopathy and how it all works, I have to say that Sinus Relief by NatraBio was actually my first experience with sinus pressure and using a homeopathic blend to relieve that pressure. I have talked to my share of sceptics where homeopathy is concerned, but I have a handful of homeopathic products that I always keep in my home and would not be without because they have worked so well for me.

There are many more options out there, and I guess my hope is that after reading this, you will do your research, and if you find yourself or a loved one having sinus issues, that you will think about a natural alternative to relieve the symptoms and help rid yourselves of the irritant that is causing the problem. Getting to the root cause instead of just covering up the symptoms will ultimately leave a healthier you!

 

For more information, call 715-834-2341, or stop in at 2434 London Road, Eau Claire.

Moms on the Run: Health, Confidence, and Encouragement through Running

You may have seen the logo around town on a purple sweatshirt or across the chest of a pink tank top of an Eau Claire Marathon participant: MOTR aka Moms on the Run. It easily could be the name of a sitcom or explanation for the harried driver you see in the lane beside you. And that double meaning explains a lot about the organization of women encouraging their fellow runners to keep a healthy outlook through all the facets of life they are juggling.

The Chippewa Valley chapter of Moms on the Run has officially been up and literally running for over five years with hundreds of women embracing their running journey.  MOTR offers year-round programming with three official seasons: Spring/Summer, Fall, and Winter Polar Running. Their signature eighteen-week spring/summer session starts again this coming April and culminates at the end of August with the group’s own 5k run and celebration.

The eighteen-week spring-summer session offers the most structure and support. MOTR classes include coaching, optional nutritional challenges, and running-specific strength training. They offer interval classes, endurance classes, and trail running groups. Interval classes include taking beginning runners (the Learn to Run group) from mostly walking to running a 5k at the end of the summer and offers intermediate runners a chance to work on speed, cardiovascular strength, breathing, form, and more.  Shelly Peters, one of the two EC Franchise Owners, notes, “Our groups have experienced coaches that help motivate and push each individual to the extent that they want/need. We believe that if you want to be a runner, you can be. We want every woman to feel empowered to take the steps to a healthy lifestyle, and we feel that exercise, accountability, and encouragement play a huge role in that.”

MOTR tries to help connect women in a way that helps them have fitness, fun, and friendship all in one. It also forces them, so to speak, to put class on their calendar and not just

“hope to fit it in.” Coaches follow up with women to make sure that their needs are being met and they are feeling connected to the group.  Peters elaborates, “One thing we take pride in at MOTR is that everyone is welcome and it is an encouraging, positive, no-judgment kind of group. We know that each woman has enough stress and battles in other areas, so we want MOTR to be a safe place where they can come just to be on the journey together.”

Women need to prioritize themselves and a healthy lifestyle. It can fortify you as a parent, being able to care for yourself first so you can then care for others. Tapping into your known strengths, or those you didn’t even know you had, can leave you feeling rejuvenated and joyful about the other responsibilities that make up your family’s fabric. After being involved in MOTR for several summers one participant wrote:

“I am continually in awe of the impact of MOTR because it is powerful, it is positive, and it really is changing women’s lives in more than just physical ways. When I think of the ripple effect through a family when a mom is healthy, confident, supported, and fierce in the belief in herself, it’s hard to comprehend the power of her positive influence on those around her. When I show up to class or to a race and stand in this sea of strong women, I can’t help but feel proud to be a part of it.”

Peters sums up the MOTR mission: “Our goal is to be women that are healthy, confident, and feel encouraged so that we can in turn encourage others along the journey that often feels like it is an uphill battle. Running connects us to ourselves, our neighbor, our city, and the outdoors at large.”

Check out this website to register for a program or for more information on the local and national group: www.momsonetherun.com.

The Need for the Proper Form of Folate in Chronically Ill People

by Heidi Toy, NTP

In my practice, I meet with some clients with who are chronically unresponsive to medical treatments who have been very sick for a very long time. Some medical professionals around the area see me as clients and they also refer their patients to me. One of the primary items I see in chronically ill people that doctors often miss is the person’s need for the proper form of Vitamin B9 or folate. Let’s explore why this nutrient is so important and how we can avoid missing it.

First, the term folic acid refers to the synthetic form used in some supplements and in food fortification. Folic acid is in an oxidized form and must be converted by the body to the reduced form called folate. When we take a synthetic form of folic acid either as a stand-alone or in a multivitamin, we are not doing ourselves any favors. Be very cautious of buying drug store vitamins or anything fortified with folic acid rather than folate, simply because the body doesn’t know what to do with this synthetic form, and you could be blocking your cell’s receptor sites for the natural form 5-MTHF.

In the body, folate is converted to dihydrofolate then into tetrahydrofolate then into methylene tetrahydrofolate and finally into the 5-methyltetrahydrofolate or 5-MTHF. Or very simply, Folate  →  5- MTHF.

It may seem a little technical, but having a practitioner who understands this conversion and if the person can properly make the conversion is crucial. The inability to make the conversion in some folks is because they have what is called a mutation on their genetic personality or more technically known as a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP, which is pronounced “snip.”

In the very simplest genetics explanation, we know that every living person has their own genetic code and that they got this DNA from their parents. One half of our DNA came from our mom and one half came from our dad. Along the DNA strand are alleles, which means “one member of a pair.” Alleles will be either negative (-) or positive (+), and if we received two positive alleles (+/+) one from each of our parents on the SNP known as C677T, then we have the most severe mutation and a decreased ability to convert folate to 5-MTHF.

About 40 percent of the population, myself included, has a mutation on this SNP (C677T). And while a person could have zero symptoms at all, they could also have increased homocysteine, pro inflammatory immune reaction resulting in hundreds of disorders including heart disease, progressive neurological disorders, or cancer. Moreover, folate is essential for vitamin B12 metabolism as well as in the functioning of the central nervous system and the immune system. It also means that the body has impaired ability to detox.

We have had these mutations on our SNPs since the beginning of man; however, we live in a very toxic world and our bodies’ ability to rid themselves of the toxins we encounter daily is crucial for health and wellbeing. Consider the facts of toxins in our immediate world for one minute.

Nearly 80,000 new synthetic chemicals have been released into the environment. Over 350 different pesticides are used on the food we eat. Roughly 300 known harmful substances can be found in most blood samples. Newborn babies typically contain 50 to 70 dangerous toxins at birth. The average home contains 3 to 10 gallons of hazardous materials. In the United States alone, over 4 billion pounds of pesticides are used every year. There are at least 5,000 chemical ingredients in cosmetics. Prescription medications are now showing up in our water supply. And to add insult to injury, certain medications referred to as “drug muggers” actually steal vitamin B9/folate from the body.

These staggering toxicity exposure statistics coupled with the fact that over one third of the world’s population lacks the ability to adequately convert folate to 5-MTHF has set us up for what I refer to as the perfect storm. No wonder we are chronically ill as are our children.

Finding out if you have a SNP mutation is easy. It also arms you with the knowledge of what you need to do to get, and stay, healthy in our ever-increasing world of toxicity. I offer a free fifteen-minute discovery consult call to new clients where you can find out the right course of action for you to take charge of your health today.

Heidi Toy is a functional medicine nutritional therapist, and the owner of Educated Nutrition, located in Altoona, Wisconsin. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue.