The opportunity to indulge in a satisfying and nutritious breakfast is usually reserved for the weekends, yet breakfast is easily the most important meal of the day. A balanced breakfast of whole foods gives your body the energy it needs to match the physical and mental demands of the day. It can also normalize blood sugar, which, when chronically imbalanced, can lead to a host of other problems.
Now that the weather is cooler, warm foods are important to heat your body from the inside. This twist on the traditional Chinese breakfast congee is a fertility friendly porridge made with gluten free steel cut oats. While traditional congee is made with rice, it can be high in arsenic – high enough to advise pregnant women and infants to utilize alternative grains (if you choose rice, stick with California-grown basmati). Steel cut oats will keep you fuller longer than the traditional rolled oats and are lower on the glycemic index.
Winter is a time to cozy up, stay warm and indulge in the stillness of quieter nights. Days are shorter and nature follows this rhythmic cycle by storing energy and slowing down. Winter can be a time of reflection and much needed rest after the abundance of summer in order to prepare for the growth of spring. Winter is also an opportunity for us to take care of our kidneys, the organ system which closely relates to our reproductive organs and the aging process. When we pay attention and nurture our kidney function, there is greater potential that come springtime, new life can grow.
Today inflammation has become a buzz word in our sedentary, stressed out lives thanks to its relationship to heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and autoimmune conditions. However, there is another, lesser-known process called methylation that is linked to the body’s ability to deal with inflammation. Problems with methylation, either over or under, are implicated in various kinds of illnesses. Without getting too technical, methylation is a complex biochemical process that involves many of our body’s functions including: detoxification, antioxidant recycling, immune regulation, and our stress response.
My father is Italian, born and raised on a beautiful farm in the south of Italy. As a child we would travel there annually to visit with my extended family. As an American girl I was uncomfortable with the lifestyle in Italy and can recall it feeling dirty. I was especially afraid to eat some of the food. It was so different than what we ate in America. Our food looked perfect and came in sterile packages. In Italy it had bug bites and all parts of the animals were served as food or utilized in some aspect of life such as the fat of pigs being used as soap. As I grew older, I realized that it was the American lifestyle as I knew it that was dirty and the Italian agricultural lifestyle was pure. Eastern medicine shares many of the values that my Italian family practiced. Unfortunately, many of those values are being lost globally today and humanity is experiencing the affects. Below I have outlined some reasonable measures we can take to integrate practices and values that promote community, health, spirituality, a sense of peace, and, above all love.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Clarita Tano Zinatbakhsh grew up in the country, living on farms and eating food from the earth. She learned early on the importance of what goes inside your body and where it comes from. This sentiment has traveled with her throughout her life. Today, she lives in Los Angeles, California and works at a local farmers market, selling locally grown products that use no pesticides or chemicals.
Experience has taught Clarita the connection between eating healthy and the benefits of seeking relief of illnesses through eastern medicine. Prior to discovering acupuncture, Clarita was one of many people who sought out western remedies for illnesses and ailments. Working at a beauty shop in Bagiou City when she was young, Clarita found her immune system compromised from exposure to chemicals used in the shop. She suffered from chronic coughs and colds, which were treated with antibiotics following an impersonal visit with the doctor. As her conditions continued to worsen, so did the prescribing of antibiotics, only at higher doses. This vicious and expensive cycle continued leading to her feeling even worse with new symptoms, which included stomach pains similar to symptoms of an ulcer.
As a clinician and a woman I often hear female clients and friends casually talking about symptoms leading up to “that time of the month.” We’ve come to accept Pre-Menstrual Syndrome- PMS for short – as a normal part of our cycle, but what isn’t commonly known is that many PMS symptoms may be a sign of imbalance which could lead to something greater. Swollen breasts, irritability, sadness, cramps, low back pain, fatigue, and cravings are so common that we are surprised when hear of a woman who doesn’t experience these symptoms leading up to their period.
This season was a tough one for many kids, (and adults alike!), sensitive to environmental allergens. The abundance of wind and pollen can trigger the production of antibodies and cause the release histamine and other molecules that lead to inflammation of the nasal passages and eyes. The resulting symptoms are itching, swelling, mucus production and often, a tired and irritable child.