Consider a Therapeutic Massage for You This Holiday Season

When I sit and think about the holidays, it brings me back to my childhood. The crisp, cold air, the exuberating scents steaming from the kitchen, and the delightful gathering of family, friends, thankfulness, faith, and good health.

Have you taken the time to reminisce this holiday season?

It is certainly no secret that the holidays can be overwhelming and stressful: shopping for a perfect gift, getting prepared for family, cooking and cleaning, decorating, and all that goes along with the holiday hustle and bustle. At times I think we often get overwhelmed and stressed fulfilling others’ holiday wishes and forgetting to take time out for ourselves to regain focus and balance for our well-being.

Have you ever considered a therapeutic massage to contest that “overwhelmed” holiday feeling?  The benefits of a therapeutic massage are astounding, especially in helping relieve stress. Many studies have proven the negative effects of prolonged stress, causing chronic muscle pain, forgetfulness, hypertension, lowered immune function, and fatigue, not to mention the other deleterious effects.

Many of us are unaware that when becoming stressed and overwhelmed with planning, shopping, cleaning, and being selfless, our bodies are secretly battling a chemical called cortisol.  The chemical cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, is a naturally produced hormone with a primary function of increasing blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, suppressing the immune system, and aiding the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. When our bodies are under stress for prolonged periods of time the over-production of cortisol can cause significant adverse physiological effects.

So, this holiday season keep in mind the effects of stress and the advantages of a therapeutic massage. A monthly therapeutic massage allows your body to cleanse toxins and function optimally. The physical manipulation of muscles and tissues increases blood and lymphatic circulation, allowing your circulatory system to cleanse itself naturally and leave you feeling rejuvenated and refueled.

Season’s greetings and happy holidays from Isabell & Eve Therapeutic Massage

Wine: Pairing It Up!

by Donna Sachs, Winemaker, River Bend Winery, Chippewa Falls

Holiday parties present a great opportunity to share good food and wine with friends and family. But stress can creep in as we try to decide what wines are best served with what foods. At River Bend Winery in Chippewa Falls, we always say there is only one rule when it comes to pairing food and wine, and that is to drink what you like. That being said, it can be great fun to come up with just the right combination of wine and food for a party. Here are a few simple tips that can be helpful when planning a dinner where wine will be served.

1. Don’t overpower the wine with the food, or vice versa. A light meal is best accompanied by a light wine. If appetizers or tapas are the feature, opt for a light white wine or a nice bubbly. If you want to serve dry, think Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.  If you want to serve sweet, think Moscato or River Bend Moonlight.

2. In general, white wines pair well with white meat and seafood, and red wines pair well with red meat and steak. If chicken or white fish are on the menu, almost any white wine will pair nicely. Pork tenderloin begs to be paired with Pinot Noir or River Bend Marquette.  A steak or rich pasta calls for bold wine…think Cabernet or a red blend.

3. Always defer to the only rule that matters: drink what you like, and therefore serve what you like. Most people are not wine connoisseurs, and they will happily drink whatever you have to offer.

As a winemaker, I am often asked what the best wine I’ve ever had is, and my honest answer is this: the one I shared with family and friends.

Cheers! • 715-720-9463

The Pros and Cons of Gummy Multi-vitamins for Children

by Melissa Panchyshyn, MS, UW-Stout dietetic intern at the Eau Claire City County Health Department

There are a wide range of daily multi-vitamins on store shelves to choose from, including many different brands, forms, and flavors. Gummy vitamins have become quite popular for children who take a daily multi-vitamin. When choosing a vitamin supplement for your child, carefully choose a vitamin that will be safe and effective for your child’s unique needs. Also, check that it has the recommended daily allowances of the vitamins and minerals that children might need, including vitamins A, C, D, K, the B vitamins, iron, and calcium. There are several pros and cons to providing your child with a daily gummy multi-vitamin, which should be taken into consideration during your search for the vitamin that best fits your child’s needs.

• Children can be very picky eaters. Although it is best for children to get their nutrients from the food they consume, all parents and guardians know that this can be difficult at times. Gummy vitamins can be used to help make sure your child is consuming the proper amount of nutrients each day.

• Gummy vitamins can be easier for children to take. Most young children are unable to swallow pills, while the hard, chewable ones may be a difficult texture for them to chew or swallow. The gummy vitamins are softer and easier for young children to handle.

• Gummy vitamins have a comparable sweet taste and chewy texture that make them seem similar to eating candy. This often makes children excited to take them each day.

• There are a wide variety of brands, flavors, and shapes to choose from that allows you to find the best kind of gummy multi-vitamin that your child prefers, and that fits their specific needs.

Several cons to providing your children with daily multi-vitamins include the following:

• The similarity that gummy vitamins have to candy can make them tempting to a child looking for something sweet, like candy. It is important to store the gummy vitamins the same way that medicine is stored to ensure that children cannot get into them freely. Taking more than the recommended dose may give your child an overdose of vitamins.

• The gummy, sticky texture of the vitamins can be harmful to your child’s teeth, such as contributing to the formation of cavities. To avoid harm to your child’s teeth, have your child brush their teeth after consuming the gummy vitamins, rather than before. This will help remove some of the sticky residue left behind on the teeth, preventing the formation of cavities or other dental problems from occurring.

• In comparing gummy vitamins to the non-gummy forms, there are usually lower percentages of some nutrients in the gummy varieties. Reading the labels to compare the gummy vitamins to other forms will provide you with an educated decision about which form you prefer for your child.

• Vitamins should be taken along with a meal to help them be absorbed slowly and properly. If vitamins are absorbed too quickly, they may be excreted by the body and could cause an upset stomach or nausea.

• The cost of gummy vitamins is often more expensive than a pill form. It may be worth the cost if it is a way to get your children to take their vitamins daily.

Scientific reviews can be assessed about many of the popular vitamin brands. Looking at these reviews may be helpful in selecting a vitamin that you can be most comfortable with providing to your child. When looking at the scientific reviews about the various vitamin brands, focus on factors such as the ingredients, quality level, and safety of their vitamins. If you have any concerns about the nutritional well-being of your child, be sure to contact your doctor.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Fall Off Their Diets During the Holidays

“C’mon. One bite’s not going to hurt you. It’s the holidays. Live a little.”

There’s one in every crowd: holiday diet saboteurs. Whether it’s among co-workers, family, or friends, they’re out there. And although their intentions might seem harmless enough, they can derail months of concerted effort in losing weight and improving one’s health.

Diane Dressel, a registered dietitian and coordinator of Weight Management Services at Mayo Clinic Health System, offers advice on how people can stay on track with their weight loss goals amid saboteurs during the holiday feasting season.

“Successful weight loss is about successful behavior modification,” Dressel says. “And because we’re social people, when we change our own behavior, it affects others in some shape or form. So it’s not surprising that people do encounter some ‘push back’ from others when trying to lose weight.”

When caught in a situation where someone is applying food pressure, Dressel advises having a couple stock responses, such as:

• “No thanks. I’m already really full.”

• “It looks great. Maybe you could wrap some up for me to take home for later?”

If people know someone who’s trying to lose weight, Dressel offers the following advice on how to become a food friend instead of a foe:

• Offer to take a walk instead of going out to eat for lunch

• Become a “get healthy” buddy by offering encouragement instead of peer pressure

• When bringing treats to the office or hosting a party, offer low-calorie alternatives

• Ask what you can do to be supportive

“A lot of successful weight loss programs offer education groups because we can learn from each other, and that mutual support can go a long way,” Dressel says.

For information about Mayo Clinic Health System weight management programs and education groups, or to sign up for a free orientation in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie or Rice Lake, call 715-838-6731.Diane Dressel, R.D., Weight Management Services, Mayo Clinic Health System

Heartburn: Got It?

by Heidi Toy, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

The National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Digestive Diseases reports that 60 million people experience heartburn at least once a month and 25 million experience symptoms daily. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), one the most common digestive disorders, is also one of the most mismanaged diseases by the medical establishment.

The anti-acid industry is worth over $15 billion annually, and as the usage of these drugs increase, our health declines.

Acid reflux is believed by many to be too much stomach acid, hence an acid blocker. The problem with this theory is that the incidence of heartburn and GERD increases with age while stomach acid levels have been shown to decline with age. The truth is, heartburn is not caused by too much stomach acid. It is caused by too little, and the way to heal it is not by taking acid blockers but by taking stomach acid until the body is able to make its own normally.

So why do antacid drugs provide relief of symptoms? Read on.

Stomach acid has the acidity of 0.8, battery acid is 0. The pH scale ranges from an acidity of 0 to an alkalinity of 14 and is a base 10 scale, which means when you go up or down the scale, the next number is multiplied by 10. So for example, you move up or down the scale by two, the acidity or alkaline of a substance is changing by 100, by 3 – 1,000,  by 4 – 10,000 and so on.

When food enters the stomach it mixes with what is called hydrochloric acid (HCL) and it becomes chyme (rhymes with time). I call this “the burn and churn.” This mechanical mixing of our food with acid is when the enzyme pepsin, required for protein digestion, gets triggered.

Now here’s the catch: in order for food to move into the small intestine, it must reach an acidity level of 1.5–3.0 to pass through the tight muscle separating the stomach from the small intestine called the pyloric sphincter. The small intestine is where the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and fats occurs. If it is not acidic enough, the pyloric sphincter will not open and chyme will sit in the stomach. As it sits there fermenting (carbohydrates), putrefying (protein), and turning rancid (fat), it’s becoming a toxic mess, and the body wants to get rid of it.

What happens when you shake a bottle of fermented liquid like beer? It explodes! That same thing is occurring in our stomach, and it has nowhere to go but up into your esophagus. What is crucial to understand is that any amount of acid in the esophagus will burn it because the lining here is not protected against acid like the stomach is. Chyme with the acidity of 4–5 is too alkaline by 10 to 100x to pass through the pyloric sphincter into the small intestine and too acidic by that same 10 to 100x to be in the esophagus.

When an acid blocker is taken, it does decrease the acid and reduce the symptoms of heartburn and GERD, but in no way does it heal the problem In fact it makes the problem worse. The longer someone is medicating with acid blockers, the more severe the condition becomes, making this become a lifelong medication for those who are taking them.

People who take acid blockers for an extended period of time have been shown to have increased bacterial overgrowth, impaired nutrient absorption, decreased resistance to infection and parasites, and an increased risk of cancer and other diseases.

Without adequate stomach acid we are not able to properly digest and absorb the nutrients from our foods. Low stomach acid has been linked to a plethora of nutritional deficiencies.

B12 is needed for nerve activity, brain function, and by the liver as part of detoxification. B12 enters the body bound to animal proteins and cannot be separated from its carrier protein unless there is adequate stomach acid.

Iron is required for the oxygenation of body tissue. People who are anemic are iron deficient, and their tissue is being starved of oxygen. Studies have proven that people with chronic anemia also have below normal stomach acid secretion.

Folate is crucial to red blood cell production—it helps prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures—and to prevent dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease. Low stomach acid interferes with the absorption of folate by raising the pH of the small intestines. It has also been shown in studies that both the drugs Tagamet and Zantac reduce folate absorption.

Around 99 percent of the calcium in the body is used to keep our bones and teeth strong, thereby supporting skeletal structure and function. The rest of the calcium in our body plays key roles in cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve function.

Zinc plays a crucial role in over 300 enzymes in the body. It is vital for growth and cell division and fertility. Among all vitamins and minerals, zinc shows the strongest effect on our immune system. Low zinc levels reduce and weaken T cells, which are required to recognize and fight off certain infections.

Another role of HCL is to bathe and disinfect our foods, making our stomachs one of our first lines of defense against foreign invaders such as harmful bacteria. It also keeps our beneficial bacteria in our intestine where it belongs, as having bacteria in the stomach and esophagus creates problems.

People with low stomach acid or on acid blockers are more susceptible to pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, cholera, listeria, giardia, and C.Difficile. Their immune system is also decreased in its ability to fight infections.

Heartburn and GERD are caused by too little versus too much stomach acid. However, it is possible to heal the body and rid one of the dependency on acid-reflux drugs. It should be done with a practitioner who understands the protocol, as it is very bio-individual and takes time and know-how. In my clinical practice, it has been my pleasure to help many people heal from this and other health issues.

Heidi Toy is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on autoimmune disorders.