Monday, April 4, 2011


The birds are molting.  If only man could molt also - his mind once a year its errors, his heart once a year its useless passions.  ~James Allen

A little green bird sat on a limb outside my breakfast window.  Without a word, he convinced me it was time for a change.

My blog is changing and moving. Thank you for following :)

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Take Time for Tea...

We've all read an article or seen a news clip on the the health benefits of tea. You think to yourself "tea seems simple" and head out to buy some. Then you get to the store and suddenly tea is not so simple. Somewhere between the chamomile white tea blend and the jasmine phoenix green you've forgotten why you were going to buy tea in the first place. So here is your quick field guide to buying tea and a quick reminder of the benefits. And in the words of a past co-worker speaking to an impatient customer, "Relax; Its tea".
Loose Leaf or Bags
Loose leaf teas offer greater benefits than bags filled with chopped up bits. Loose leaf teas that are prepared at the proper temperature offer a full array of flavors. Exposure to air decreases the beneficial aspects of bagged teas and they are often over heated in production to make a bolder tasting product. They are marketed as convenient. But boiling water takes the same amount of time either way. Brewing times are the same and rinsing your cup afterwards is also the same. Many would argue that teas bags are cheaper but ounce for ounce this is simply not true. Bottom line: Choose Loose Leaf.
White, Green, Black or Red
If you have ever strained your brain over which color of tea to buy you will be relieved to know that white, green and black teas are all from the leaves of the same plant. There are many differences between them but none too great. Red teas do come from a different plant but have many of the same properties. Overall, you can't go wrong.
White Tea
Flavor: Delicate and smooth.
Caffeine: Almost none. Will not disrupt sleep.
Greatest Benefit: Purification and an antioxidant level that seems to make your cells hum with joy.
Green & Oolong Teas
Flavor: Ranges greatly from delicate florals to bold bitters. Visit a tea bar or house to find the one that's you.
Caffeine: Varies depending on the drying process but generally much lower than a cup of coffee. I wouldn't drink them right before bed but they are great just after dinner or lunch.
Greatest Benefits : Most research done on teas has been on green teas. The health food and medical industries agree that green tea helps in prevention of age related diseases such as prostate cancer and Alzheimer's. And nothing beats an Oolong to aid digestion and cleanse the palate after a meal.
Black Teas
Flavor: Bold 
Caffeine: Generally close to that in a cup of coffee. These are your typical breakfast teas.
Greatest Benefits: Short term energy boost and weight loss.
Red Teas
Flavor: Smooth and rich
Caffeine: Absolutely None!
Greatest Benefits: Red teas are high in antioxidants and are rumored to clear skin and provide allergy relief.
My Love Hate Relationship with Tea
I grew up drinking bottled or powdered teas. You know, the kind you mix like kool-aid. I really didn't care for the bitter sticky after taste that almost always made me car sick at some point later in the day. We moved to the south when I was eight and I still remember the first few times I ordered tea at a restaurant. Why anyone feels the need to add a cup of sugar to any beverage is beyond me! Even as a kid I had a preference for salty over sweet. Fast forward to my first year in a health food store. Every time I even got uncomfortable someone was forcing some kind of tea* down my throat to prevent illness. I did not like tea! I ended up working a short stint at Teavana somehow? And that is where I learned to like tea. There are as many different flavors of tea as there are people. Don't tell me you don't like tea. I will make you try them all. My skin never looked better than when I worked at Teavana. I love white tea for starting a detox program. I have even gone so far as making a white tea poultice to cure viral pink eye. And yes, it worked! But the real reason I love tea is that taking five quiet minutes to do something simple and precise helps me put my thoughts together before I move on in my day.

A Disclaimer of Sorts...
*There are many many flavors and types of tea available. Many of which are not actually tea. These herbs which are sold as "teas" are nature's medicine. They are intended to be used as such. I encourage you to explore the world of tea further but use herbs only for specific ailments. And always consult your pharmacist if you have any concerns about contraindications with your drug regimen.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If I could give the world just one pill...

The first request I received for a specific blog topic was for a stream lined supplement regimen and I understand this reader's frustration. A few trips to a health food store and you can end up with a cabinet full of half used bottles and an empty wallet. We all know there is no one magic pill. And I don't believe there is one regimen that will work for everyone. So what are you supposed to do?

Be selective about where you're shopping. 
A big box store generally doesn't sell quality supplements. Their buyers have an MA in business administration not holistic nutrition. Shop at a local co-op or privately owned store. Reputation for quality products and customer service are everything to a smaller store. Make sure the store is fairly clean; Cleanliness is important to health. Do the employees seem to be in generally good health? Everyone gets a bug from time to time or could stand to lose a couple pounds. But if most of the employees do not resemble a level a of health you would be happy to achieve, you might be in the wrong store. Most importantly, ask about the store's general philosophy. Do they even have one? Shop for a store you are happy with.
Know your sales clerk. 
When you go into a store with a specific issue or question, the sales clerk should ask you questions about your health and lifestyle to be sure you're getting a product matched to your needs. If they just hand you a multi off the shelf without an explanation or asking you a few questions, ask to speak with another employee. If the store isn't super busy take a minute to ask about the backgrounds of the employees you're working with. Find one you're comfortable with and try to work with them each time you go to that store. What is that employees general philosophy on health and nutrition? Did they listen to your needs and ask questions? Did you leave the store with a product you are happy with? Every state does not offer a specific degree or certificate for this industry so you'll need to be a little open minded about the employees background and experience but they should have some.
The Products.
It will cost more but select a whole food supplement when possible. Make sure it is 100% whole food. If the label says whole food BASED, it's not. Generally a true whole food supplement will cost a bit more but it is worth it in quality. And you can get USDA certified organic supplements now. Look for them. Why would you want to take a detoxifying herb or fiber that has been sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers? If you really cannot afford the products, tell the clerk. Let them know what your price range is. A good clerk can usually help you select a less expensive product and sacrifice the least amount of quality.
A typical recommended vitamin regimen looks something like this:
Fish Oil or Flax
Digestive Enzymes 
Pro-biotics &
If I could give the world just one pill.
So you've found a store and an employee you like. You're on a regimen but you just don't want to take it all anymore or you still just cannot afford it. What do you have to take? Spend your money on a high quality pro-biotic. Why? Well, a pro-biotic will increase digestive functions in the intestines and help detoxify the body. The bacteria embed themselves in your intestinal wall and multiply, keeping other harmful organisms from crossing through the wall into the bloodstream. Pro-biotics create and release enzymes into the body helping with upper digestive functions and taming inflammation. Now that your digestive system is cleaner and you are breaking down your food properly into smaller more absorb-able particles , you are getting more vitamins and minerals into your bloodstream when you eat.
Look for the following in your pro-biotic:
1. A high quality pro-biotic is measured in billions of organisms not milligrams. Unless you're sick, the count doesn't really matter. If you're consistent, they will breed in your intestines. But generally more is good.
2.The more types of bacteria the better! There should be an ingredient list box on the bottle with the names of each type of bacteria. Buy as many strains as your wallet will allow. Each bacteria has a similar but different function and only some will work with your body chemistry. If there are less than six types, I wouldn't buy it.
3. Look for enteric coated or time release capsules. Remember, your stomach acid is designed to kill bacteria so the pill has to make it past your stomach to be most effective.
Even if you eat organic and don't take anti-biotics, I would recommend a pro-biotic. Our water contains antibacterial chemicals, even most bottled waters. We shower in antibacterial chlorinated water and we're exposed to antibacterial cleaners and hand lotions everywhere we go. Our bodies are supposed to be teaming with beneficial bacterias. Pro-biotics are by no means a cure all but they are essential in the overall function of the body. If I could recommend just one pill, it would be a pro-biotic.