Natural Preventions for Cold and Flu Season

By Nyssa Langlois, Writer & Copy Editor for Farm Table Foundation

Winter in the Midwest is renowned for its intense cold; many stay cooped up indoors simply to avoid the icy wind whipping across their faces. Unfortunately, perpetually staying inside, coupled with the many social gatherings taking place around the holidays, tends to lend itself to the spread of nasty colds and the flu. While many respond to these heinous illnesses by venturing to the nearest drugstore to cure their sickness, home remedies can be just as, if not more so, effective in combating colds and the flu. Nancy Graden, owner and operator of Red Clover Herbal Apothecary Farm in Amery, Wisconsin, has been practicing the art of sustainable, plant-based home remedies for several years, and has multiple recommendations for encouraging wellness this season.

First and foremost, hydration is crucial. With this in mind, you can add many natural ingredients to your beverages that will assist in preventing you from becoming sick. Graden’s best recommendation for preventing the flu would be to add elderberries, or elderberry syrup, into your diet. Elderberries have incredibly effective antiviral properties, and Graden uses elderberry concoctions as her natural alternative to a flu shot. Another preventative method, geared more toward colds, would be to drink a mix of hot water and echinacea (commonly known as coneflower) leaves; echinacea contains several elements that help more effectively stimulate the immune system, therefore enhancing your defenses against contracting a cold or flu.

While adding different plants to your drinks is an effective way to prevent the spread of sickness, it is also a good idea to add natural defenses to your food. Nancy highly recommends increasing your garlic consumption; garlic is incredibly helpful when fighting off a cold or a cough due its possession of allicin–a powerful antioxidant. This bulb can easily be added to a variety of dishes and can be used to infuse different oils for more versatility when cooking. Graden recommends adding fresh garlic to meals, as the bulb will lose some of its antioxidant properties once cooked.

Ginger root also combats the common cold and typically helps reduce nausea, which frequently accompanies the flu. Like garlic, ginger can be added to many different recipes and infuse oils, but it can also be used to infuse honey, and it easily spices up different tea blends. Graden recommends a simple blend of honey, lemon, and ginger in hot water during the chilly months to prevent and remedy colds.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes our defensive preparation cannot thwart illness entirely. When illness hits, specifically colds, Graden recommends using eucalyptus essential oils in hot water to stimulate the clearing of sinus infections and to open airways. An additional healing method, particularly for sore throats, Graden recommends gargling with a combination of cayenne and salt water every hour, as the cayenne helps stimulate blood flow to clear infection faster.

For additional preventative and healing techniques through the use of natural products, Nancy Graden can be reached on her website: www.redcloverapothecary.com.

Nyssa Langlois studied at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and worked as a program advisor for World Endeavors. Her current positions are copy editor, writer & server extraordinaire for Farm Table Foundation in Amery, Wisconsin.

Tips to Keep a Weight Loss Resolution on Track

by Victoria Vande Zande, MD, Prevea Health Internal Medicine

The start of a new year can be a great time to make positive changes in your life. According to Proactive Change 2016, more than 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The key is to be one of the 8 percent who achieve their resolution. Striving for healthier habits and weight loss are among the most common New Year’s resolutions. Here are some tips to help you stay on track with your healthier lifestyle resolution.

Set realistic goals and write them down: If you truly want to do something, write it down. Mark your goals on a calendar or on a to-do list. Meet mini goals such as: week one, eat one more serving of vegetables per day; week two, drink eight glasses of water per day; week three, remove sugared drinks from diet; week four, walk three days per week, etc. Do these and you are well on your way to a healthier lifestyle. It may also be helpful to set definite dates for long-term goals. Remember, it took more than a couple of weeks to gain weight, so it will take some time to lose it as well. It really is a lifestyle change.

Journal: Keep a detailed record of your weight loss, daily activity, dietary intake, and how you are feeling. You will be able to see what you are actually eating, and this may help you to figure out what your problem areas are. You may be surprised at how many calories you are consuming in a day. You should also be able to correlate how you are feeling with your diet and activity.

Remove temptations: Leave the temptations at the grocery store. It is much easier to give in if these foods are readily available. Allow yourself to give into cravings only when you are outside of your home and only in one serving portions.

Support system: Find a buddy that has some of the same goals as you do. You can share your ideas, plans, successes, and failures on a regular basis. It is also important to involve your family and friends so they can support you.
Photograph yourself: Pictures don’t lie. Take a photo of yourself every week and monitor your progress. The scale may not show that you have lost weight because of change in body composition, but you should be able to watch your progress through the pictures. You could also do body measurements or monitor your body composition over time.

Give yourself a break: Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work. Figure out what you could do differently to get better results next time. The same things don’t work for everyone. If you have a bad meal or a bad week, make sure to stay positive and get back on track as soon as possible.
Keep your eyes on the prize with the ultimate prize being a better life and being healthier. Healthy people have more energy, more fun, and ultimately, more time.

A Weight Loss Program That Works
For some, a more structured diet is necessary. For these people, Prevea Health offers Ideal Weigh. Ideal Weigh is a medically supervised weight loss program that uses Ideal Protein foods along with vegetables, protein, and supplements to achieve weight loss. With Ideal Weigh, carbohydrates are limited to push your body into ketosis. During ketosis your body burns fat first. Since you are eating more protein, your body doesn’t burn muscle. In fact, patients on Ideal Weigh have improved body composition (decreased fat and increased muscle) and lose inches. Additional benefits? Patients with diabetes and high blood pressure are often able to decrease the medications they are on, or discontinue them altogether. Patients who have difficulty with fertility due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can have improved fertility. Patients with muscle and joint pain will often have improvement due to decreased inflammation when they decrease their simple carbohydrate intake. To learn more visit prevea.com/weightloss.

Dr. Vande Zande is an internal medicine physician with Prevea Health in Eau Claire, Cornell, and Chippewa Falls. She provides routine care for adults including preventative medicine and diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, heart disease, and depression. She is also the medical director for Prevea’s medically supervised weight loss program, Ideal Weigh. Visit prevea.com to learn more.

Heart Disease and Vitamin K

by Heidi Toy, NTP

The war against heart disease has largely dictated expert dietary advice over the last 50 years. Based on the principle that our diet – saturated fat in particular – predisposes us to heart disease, well-meaning diet dictocrats took to modifying our meals in specific ways to prevent heart disease. It wasn’t particularly successful. We looked to cultures that have low rates of heart disease – French, Italian, Greek – and found them eating lots of saturated fat. We declared that a “paradox” and inferred that some secret ingredient, olive oil or red wine, is protecting them from the butter and egg yolks that must be killing us.

The French/Italian/Greek “paradox” isn’t a paradox at all. Turns out that many of those rich, fatty “sin” foods are abundant in vitamin K2, the only vitamin known to prevent and reverse atherosclerosis.

The popularity of vitamin D supplements might be compounding the heart disease problem. Vitamin D increases arterial calcification when we are deficient in vitamin K2. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium from the intestines, which is a good thing for bone health. But then vitamin K2 is critical to the next step, escorting calcium where it belongs – away from arteries into bones.

Vitamin K2 works by activating many proteins that move calcium around the body. Specifically, osteocalcin attracts calcium into bones and teeth. Another protein, MGP, sweeps calcium out of soft tissues like arteries and veins where the mineral is harmful. When vitamin K2 is lacking, the proteins that depend on it remain inactive. The “Calcium Paradox” then gradually rears its ugly head with an insidious decline in bone mineral density and hardening of the arteries. When K2 is plentiful, bones remain strong and arteries remain clear.

It is possible to lessen plaque burden by stimulating more MGP to actively sweep calcium away. Whether your cholesterol is high or low, what really matters is whether calcium-fueled plaque is building up in your arteries, leading to a potentially fatal blockage.

Vitamin K2 comes in two forms:
menaquinone-4 (often expressed as MK-4)
menaquinone-7 (often expressed as MK-7)

The studies showing effects on calcium deposits in the arteries were done with 45 mcg of MK-7. Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults.

Always take the vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

Vitamin K1 is most abundant in leafy greens, while vitamin K2 is most abundant in animal fats and fermented foods. The richest sources of vitamin K2 in modern diets are egg yolks and cheese, especially hard cheeses.

Two distinct forms of vitamin K – K1 and K2 – were discovered in the early 1930s as the factors responsible for helping the blood to coagulate – when you cut your finger, you want the blood at the site to coagulate or you would bleed to death. The letter K came from the German spelling of koagulation. But it wasn’t until 1997 that researchers reported that vitamin K2 was recognized as being less important for coagulation, and much more important for healthy calcium deposition in bones and prevention of calcification of arteries. In 2007, the final piece of the puzzle dropped into place: vitamin K2 deficiency is very widespread, and this is having a major impact on human health.

Vitamin K2 appears to be much more effective at preventing pathological calcification than vitamin K1, and humans have a limited ability to convert K1 to K2.

Heidi Toy is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and the owner of Heidi Toy Functional Medicine/Educated Nutrition, located in Eau Claire, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on autoimmune, digestive, weight, female hormone, and depression issues.

Cranenburg EC, Schurgers LJ, Vermeer C. Vitamin K: the coagulation vitamin that became omnipotent. Thomb Haemost 2007, 98(1):120-25

What’s Your Pet’s Fitness Paw-proportionality?

By Margaret Meier Jones, DVM, CVSMT, Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley

Each year I make a few New Year’s resolutions, and perhaps like many of you, the one that usually tops the list is to get outside and get moving more. I resolve to grab Quinn’s leash and hit the pavement “running,” and as an eighteen-month-old border collie, he’s eager and able to join me on my task. In a study published in June 2017 in the journal BMC Public Health, dog owners on average walked 22 minutes more per day compared to people who didn’t own a dog. That’s great news for us humans, but is it equally good news for our four-legged best friends?

In general, whether we are two or four legged, we have to “move it or lose it,” and exercise is one of the best ways to keep our muscles, joints, and even brains healthy. However, with our canine companions, we have to take several things into consideration to ensure we are helping them put their best paw forward. Breed, age, weight, haircoat, past injury, and overall body conditioning has to be taken into account when we consider how much to exercise with our pets. Other considerations, such as the elements, also play a roll. For example, what’s the temperature outside? January in Wisconsin typically means sub-zero temperatures and wind-chills, so even if your dog is bred for Nordic climates, a coat and protective footwear is a must when going outside for any considerable period of time. Animals are susceptible to frostbite and other injury from the elements, so if you need an extra layer to be comfortable, so do they.

Maybe I’m a math geek, but have you ever considered the proportional difference between your stride length and that of your dog’s? If you take the average human’s in-seam of 30 inches and compare that to a dog who’s inside leg measurement may only be 10 inches, that’s a three-fold difference in strides! Add a few extra holiday pounds that resulted from Santa Paw’s stocking stuffer treat binge, and Fido may have to work much harder than you realize just to keep up with you on that walk. It’s best for us, and our dogs, if we gradually work into a more vigorous exercise regime, adding distance and speed as our cardiovascular conditioning improves. As you walk with your dog, paying attention to the effort and rate of their breathing can be a great indicator as to how hard their bodies are actually working on that walk.
Have you been noticing that your dog is lagging behind, breathing harder than before, or even demanding a rest by lying down on your walks? Are you hearing them shuffle across the floor, and you’re just attributing it to getting older? Happily, I can assure you that may not be the case! You’re beloved walking companion may be experiencing the slowdown of his nervous system that occurs when vertebral subluxation complexes (VSCs) accumulate, and regular chiropractic care may get you both back out fulfilling that exercise resolution!

wastEDwisconsin

By Amy Huo, executive chef, The Informalist    /   Photo by Kyle Lehman

According to a July 2016 article in The Guardian, Americans discard roughly half of all produce because of a “cult of perfection.” That is, because an apple has some spots or lettuce leaves have fallen prey to a wayward cabbage worm, those products are unsellable and promptly discarded. It must be noted that this produce is unharmed in all other ways, usually perfectly ripe but unfortunately looks imperfect. While I would like to say that my parents and grandparents—the generation oppressed by the Great Depression—would be horrified to see food wasted in such a manner, the truth is quite the opposite. Years of marketing by Big Agriculture in the food industry has changed perception of how our produce must appear in order to be edible. That is, imperfection in appearance signifies imperfections more serious than surface-deep.

 

Where did this begin? All signs point to the discovery, processing, and development of sugar in Europe—some even argue that sugar was a means of supporting American independence (British forces were apparently too busy defending their sugar plantations in the Caribbean to adequately defend against American colonial independence). Furthermore, heavily processed wheat and white bread products were seen historically as more pure than brown bread made with wheat that includes the germ and bran. Essentially, many eighteenth-century Europeans believed eating white foods made one more pure.

 

While I cannot connect via concrete evidence that any of the historical significance of eighteenth-century European tastes led to our demand for culture of perfection in food of the modern age, it does seem that there is a persisting connection between perfect appearance and taste. We live in an age of hothouse flavorless tomatoes and the “Red Delicious” apple (really not delicious at all, in fact, mostly mealy and devoid of flavor altogether).

 

It’s no secret, at this point, that my experience in New York with Chef Dan Barber has impacted my life and my approach to food in the restaurant. Chef Barber started the wastED campaign in New York by serving a dinner completely made of food waste. Most recently, he and the team from Stone Barns served dinner on the rooftop of the Selfridges department store in London to draw attention to the egregious amount of food wasted around the world in developed countries on the daily. His dishes were inventive and flavorful, served on broken plateware and other usually discarded items.

 

Because my background in the culinary industry is heavily influenced by this kind of throw-nothing-away philosophy, I’ve begun to focus on the food waste issue here at The Informalist. wastEDwi is my campaign to draw attention to the many ways we utilize usually wasted ingredients in our kitchen to create dishes that are inventive, beautiful, and delicious. Preserving ingredients to use year-round demands innovation but begets unforeseen experiences for our guests. For example, this year, to preserve the flavor of sugary spring parsnips, we used the meaty parsnips for our various dishes requiring root vegetables but then dehydrated the peels and ground them into dust. The perfumed quality of the fresh parsnips and the pure sugary sweetness are both preserved in the dust and give us an extra layer of flavor to play with in our dishes. In some recipes, I’ve gone as far as replacing the sugar content with this parsnip sugar or dehydrated sweet corn in the same manner. Beets juiced for sauces leave behind pulp that can also be dehydrated, ground, and used to color pasta. Carrot and fennel tops usually discarded can be used the same way or mixed with salt or sugar to garnish a dish.

 

Kitchens have long had to use normally wasted items to improve their food cost, but this approach is more important than just saving money. It’s about respecting the time and effort farmers and producers spend to create the ingredients we serve in our kitchen. Using every part of a product—essentially nose-to-tail for vegetables—means that spiritually speaking, nothing is disrespected. I believe, on a personal note, a guest can feel this kind of approach on a plate. If we can understand that every single element on a dish belies a deeper significance about preparation, care, and environment, then the dish can speak for itself about the philosophy of a culture. In the cult-of-perfection world we live in, imperfection requires innovation. Here at The Informalist, we seek out those experiences so that we may bring the guest a unique, surprising, and exceptionally innovative plate every single day.

 

Sources:
www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/13/us-food-waste-ugly-fruit-vegetables-perfect

www.livescience.com/4949-sugar-changed-world.html

www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/03/04/147819980/american-history-baked-into-the-loaves-of-white-bread

www.sucrose.com/lhist.html

www.selfridges.com/GB/en/content/article/wasted-london