The Mind-Body SHIFT

Nourishing the Body, Feeding the Mind, Nurturing the Soul

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The Great American Smokeout Urges Smokers to Take Steps to Quit the Tobacco Habit

Quit Smoking on November 20, 2014


Each third Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society (ACS) presents the Great American Smokeout to encourage the 42 million Americans who still smoke cigarettes to kick their habits in the butts. Besides clearing the air with non-smokers, the biggest benefits for users to stop smoking are health-related. Kicking cigarettes to the curb reduces their risk of many types of cancers, as well as decreases the chance of heart attack, stroke and chronic lung disease. Quitting smoking also increases the success of treatment for already diagnosed health problems like cancer.

This is critical when you consider that approximately 80 percent of deaths from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) are a result of smoking. Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 60 are known carcinogens. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States, and smoking causes approximately nine out of 10 cases of lung cancer.

Lungs of Smokers vs. Nonsmokers


Smoking also slows down lung growth in children and teens, With a third of the nation’s youth estimated to eventually die prematurely from smoking-caused diseases, this roughly equates to 6 million young people alive right now—76,000 of whom are currently living in my home state, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Here, smoking is the number one cause of heart disease, which is the top cause of death in the state.

The health threat of tobacco smoke isn’t limited to smokers alone. Secondhand smoke can cause disease and premature death in nonsmoking children and adults. Secondhand smoke can cause severe asthma in children, as well as lead to pneumonia, bronchitis and an increased risk of SIDS. Exposure to secondhand smoke is thought to increase the risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent and cause roughly 46,000 deaths from heart disease each year in the United States .

Fortunately, you’re never too old–or too young–to quit smoking. Studies have shown that smokers who quit around the age of 50 reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 50 percent compared to those who keep smoking. Those who quit at age 30 reduce their risk of early death from smoke-related disease by more than 80 percent.

The ACS states that within 12 hours of refraining from lighting up, smokers experience the level of carbon monoxide in their blood returning to normal and the abnormally high heart rate and blood pressure in smokers drops. Circulation can improve in within a few weeks, and coughing and wheezing is reduced. Within several months of quitting, people also experience significant improvements in lung function.

Even we non-smokers know that quitting isn’t easy. There are a number of tools and resources out there to help. It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for you—if you can’t quit cold turkey, consider gradually cutting back on the amount you smoke. For some people, the decision to quit is for health reasons; for others, motivation comes from setting a good example for their kids.

My mother was a smoker before I was born, and her children implored her to quit. She shared how important it was to have a detailed plan in place before she made the date to stop smoking. She first visualized what her life would be like as a non-smoker. She would stop going outside with co-workers during work breaks when everyone was smoking, and she decided she would walk during that time instead. She had a steady supply of crunchy carrot and celery sticks at her desk to combat the craving to have the physical sensation of a cigarette in her mouth. With her plans firmly in place, she was able to quit cold turkey.

It’s also crucial to set up the right supports. Surround yourself with people who will cheer your mission to quit. Find a buddy you can text or call whenever you have a craving to smoke, who will help remind you of why you really don’t want to pick up that next cigarette.


Fit4Mom’s Passion Project Brings Peace of Mind and Self-Confidence to Women

Lisa Druxman and Passion Project's Judy, age 70

Lisa Druxman and Passion Project’s Judy, age 70

As a fitness professional for more 20 years, Lisa Druxman has helped thousands of women transform their bodies. Now, with the release of her new, body-positive video campaign, Passion Project, Druxman is looking to help women transform their minds as well.

“For so many women, no matter how we change their bodies, they are still not comfortable being in their own bodies,” she said in a recent interview.

In the Passion Project, Druxman highlights seven women, ages 20 to 70, who express their own experiences with body image. Some share common frustrations of not liking certain body parts when they look in the mirror, while others commented on how they would feel beautiful when they lost weight or if they were proportioned differently. Druxman wants women to be able to look into the mirror and not see their imperfections first, but to see their own beauty here and now—not 15 pounds from now.

“Change the lens that you’re seeing your beauty,” she said, asking women to stop looking in the mirror and picking themselves apart by fragments and parts, with this stretch mark here and that bulge there. “If you’re going to fragment, look for the good—the strength and the definition you earned through your fitness.”

Druxman, who has been helping moms and moms-to-be get fit with the fitness program Fit4Mom since 2001, wants women to stop measuring their value by the number they weigh on a scale. “We need to redirect our goals so they are not so ego-based,” she said, suggesting that women not get obsessed with counting calories and pounds, despite the great societal pressure to be thin. Instead, she encourages women to change their focus to becoming healthy and strong, with more energy to fully (and even playfully) live their lives with the ones they love.

She feels this is especially important for new moms. While women believe in the idea of putting on their own oxygen mask first to have the energy and strength to take care of their child, Druxman said that most mothers don’t put this into practice. Normal, sleep-deprived moms are struggling to juggle caring for a newborn with household chores and other familial duties, much less make time to care for themselves.

“We’re often martyrs as mothers and try to do it all,” she said. “But it’s important to carve out some time for yourself, fueling your body with fitness and food.”

Druxman stresses the importance of mothers getting adequate sleep for sanity and health. She also encourages moms to take naps when babies are sleeping and to exercise wherever they can fit it in. Women can make great progress in their fitness goals by working out a couple days a week, exercising for the 20 minutes while their baby is in tummy time or by doing a stroller workout.

“It’s important to realize time constraints don’t mean you can’t get a good workout in,” Druxman said. Just because a new mother may not be able to get in an hour-long yoga or spin class does not mean she cannot still see the benefits of exercise, say from a 20-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout.

Because the body is put through a lot of forward movement during pregnancy, Druxman encourages moms to focus on their core and back strength for balance. “You want to put muscle back on with lean body mass,” she said, encouraging a combined core and cardiovascular workout.

Stories of celebrity moms, like Kate Hudson and Victoria Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio, losing 45 pounds or more of weight in three or four months put unnecessary pressure on new moms to lose weight fast. “It’s very harmful to compare yourself to these celebrities,” Druxman said. “They have nannies, personal trainers and chefs.” Many of these celebrities also have the help, time and energy to work out two to three hours a day, six days a week.

Druxman said that most women can experience changes in their bodies six to eight weeks after adding exercise to their routine, but they should expect that it will take nine months to a year to get pre-pregnancy body back, depending on what their fitness level was before pregnancy. “Have the gratitude for your body getting you through pregnancy and delivery,” she said, “and the grace to realize it took nine months for your body to grow a child so it’s going to take some time to get back in shape. Be patient with yourself.”

Fit4Mom Passion Project MomWhile the barrage of unrealistic representations of women and mothers in media is hard to avoid, Druxman said, “If the imagery you’re looking at doesn’t make you feel good, start looking to new sources of input.”

A typical human has 60,000 thoughts a day, she said, “and 98 percent of your thoughts are what you said to yourself yesterday. So if you want to change a thought, you need a do-over thought to replace the negative one. We need to keep going to the place we want to get to mentally.” By doing this consistently, we can start to retrain the mind to think positive thoughts and get the body to start doing positive things.

Druxman encourages women to start looking around to see how beautiful real people are. Mothers especially can take notes from their children. “It’s time to say, ‘how do my children see me?’ and start looking through their lens,” she said. “Children see you as beautiful and only see your flaws when you point them out.”

With the Passion Project—which included a liberating, naked photoshoot—participants found increased self-confidence and peace of mind. They reflected on how much time, energy and peace of mind is wasted when women don’t recognize their innate beauty. “With age comes wisdom, and so many other things are important. And I’m so sorry I didn’t get this earlier on,” said Judy, age 70.

Druxman said Judy emphasized the reality that one’s body is going to change over time and the importance of realizing how amazing you are right now. No matter what age you get to, you’re going to look back and ask yourself, ‘why didn’t I realize I was good enough back then?’

Fit4Mom is the parent company of Stroller Strides and Body Back, which help new moms, moms-to-be and seasoned moms, exercise with a community of other like-minded women—those with similar goals, struggles and hectic lives. The classes provide a safe and supportive environment for women to share and help each other with the difficulties of raising a family, and keeping mom’s health a priority when all too often we let that fall to the bottom of our priority list. Learn more here:

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Rev Run and Wife Justine Urge Readers to Get Screened for Diabetes

Rev Run Talks Diabetes RiskYesterday was hip-hop icon Rev Run’s birthday and World Diabetes Day. Wondering what the two have in common? After learning about the Ask.Screen.Know campaign for diabetes from Novo Nordisk, Rev Run knew he had to get involved to help others at risk for developing the disease.

“I found out that November 14 is World Diabetes Day. That’s actually my birthday,” Rev Run said in an interview this week. “If there ever there was a sign from God: ‘Okay, you’re in the right place. So World Diabetes Day is your birthday, dude—you need to be on board with this.’ So it got me even more passionate about it.”

With a father who had diabetes, Rev Run was worried about his own risk for developing the disease. “I was afraid because I didn’t realize when the last time I was screened. I got concerned right away. I checked myself, got screened and found out that I didn’t have it,” he said. “I realized through the website at that moment that, you know, ‘I’m at risk though. I’m at risk because I’m over 45. I’m at risk because I’m African American. I’m at risk because I’m overweight. I had to take off some weight.”

Being overweight increases the risk of developing the more prevalent, Type 2 diabetes. According to a 2004 study by Harvard University researchers, excess weight stresses the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) system of cellular membranes, which then suppress the signals of insulin receptors, leading to insulin resistance. In Type 2 diabetes, while the body is able to make enough insulin, the cells of the body grow resistant to insulin consistently increasing the amount of glucose in the blood. Losing weight has been shown to help control, and sometimes even cure, type 2 diabetes.

Rev. Run said he’s traded in cake for chopped up fruit to satisfy his sweet tooth. Since changing his diet and adding walking to his daily routine, Rev Run has lost 20 pounds. “I’ve changed my mindset. I’ve changed my refrigerator,” he said. “I’m doing things so that I can avoid, or at least have less of a risk of getting diabetes.”

Ask.Screen.Know states that more than 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for diabetes, with African Americans nearly twice as likely to develop the disease as Caucasian Americans. The American Diabetes Association reports that 1.7 million Americans were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2012, bringing the total of those living with the disease to 29.1 million people, or 9.3 percent of the population. Approximately 8.1 million people were yet undiagnosed with the disease, according to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report, which is why early screening and risk assessment is so important.

“I found out I was at risk listening to my husband talk—over 45, I was African American, overweight, and diabetes ran so deep in my family—my father, my uncles, my aunts,” said Rev Run’s wife Justine. “My cousin passed away with diabetes, and she had children and was in her early 30s. So right there let me know—this could be me.”

Someone with a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes has five to 10 times greater risk for developing diabetes than a person without a family history of the disease, according to the Obesity Action Coalition.

“A lot of people feel that, if it’s in the family, you have to get it and that’s it—live with it,” she said. “But that’s not true. With diabetes, this disease is what you don’t know can hurt you and what you do know can help you.”

Justine has been instrumental in helping to transform the bad habits in the family’s diet by getting more creative in the kitchen. For example, she has a crispy chicken recipe to replace fried chicken. When Rev Run has a hankering for hamburgers, she puts seasoning on veggie crumbles. Topped with fat-free cheese and a pickle, Rev Run said, “It was like eating a real hamburger for me. It’s little changes making big differences.”

Justine, at age 48, has discovered a love of Brussels sprouts that she shares with the kids. “Now, I got an amazing recipe that I love and that the kids love, almost to the point where our son will try to hide his portion and take my portion.” She recalled a late night when she and her 19-year-old son ate freshly baked Brussels sprouts like they were chips. “I couldn’t believe this was happening. So it’s a lot of new things.”

Some of her healthy recipes can be found on

With three of their six children still living at home, Justine said, “Thank God our children who are not with us are already eating very well.” At home, healthy living has become a family affair. Their 19-year-old was already making the choice to eat healthy and work out. “That’s what he wants around him. He wants fresh vegetables and fruit. Chicken with no skin. It’s amazing that it happened at the same time, and now it’s like everybody is doing it.”

Rev Run and Justine believe the best way to teach children about diet and diabetes is to live the example. Their 7-year-old already has awareness of the disease. “I just wish my family had this knowledge early,” Justine said.

“We’re going to stop the cycle if we can,” said Rev Run. “At least we’re going to cut the risk.”

AskScreenKnow diabetes riskAfter initially being fearful due to having a lot of the risk factors, Justine got tested and founded out she didn’t have the disease. “But now I do know there are a lot of things you can do to cut your risk down, like walking, eating well and working out. Just those things can help cut your risk, or if you do have it, it can keep it under control to where it feels like you’re living a normal life, managing it,” said Justine. “So that’s why we’re here to spread the word because maybe my cousin wouldn’t have passed, and maybe my father wouldn’t have been so sick [with diabetes] right now.”

She and her husband acknowledge that many African Americans are especially hesitant to visit health professionals. “I think I was the top afraid guy to go to the doctor,” Rev Run said. “But what got me was looking at my children, you know—doing it for them. Once I thought about doing it for my wife, doing it for my children, then, for some reason, it struck a chord—like, okay, now it got me afraid because I didn’t want to do anything to hurt anybody else.”

Rev Run admits that he can be especially persistent in encouraging his friends to get checked for diabetes. Many will go in for routine medical testing expecting diabetes screening to be part of it. He said, “A couple of my friends were like, you know what, I didn’t get checked for diabetes, so thank you. So I feel like patting myself on the back a little bit for being so aggressive because it’s been helpful. I’m thankful that I can get in where I fit in. So I’ll tell anybody out there, if not for yourself, do it for the ones you love.”

At Ask.Screen.Know, readers can take the diabetes risk factor assessment. Common risk factors for diabetes also include lack of physical activity and high blood pressure. Those with a number of risk factors are encouraged to see their doctor to get screened for diabetes to take a proactive role in preventing or managing the disease.

View my full interview with Rev Run and Justine here.

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New Mother Met Mesothelioma Head On–Her Story and Recovery

Heather Von St. James and Dr David Sugarbaker

Heather Von St. James and Dr David Sugarbaker in 2012 at Heather’s bi-annual checkup.

Heather Von St. James was just 36 years old when she was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. The aggressive form of cancer, which affects the membrane lining of the lungs, abdomen and, rarely, heart, is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 50 and 70. Von St. James was the mother of a 3-month-old when she discovered she had the most serious of asbestos-related diseases.

“I’m a new mom and I’m having all these weird symptoms,” Von St. James recalled in an interview. She attributed her fatigue to being a mother of an infant and a low-grade fever to hormonal fluctuations. “I was short of breath, but I figured it may have something to do with having had a c-section or because I was breastfeeding.”

Von St. James lost a significant amount of weight and grew increasingly anemic, pale and “bone-weary,” she said. Yet it wasn’t until she passed out for a couple hours on the couch when she was home alone with baby Lily that she finally called the doctor. An x-ray revealed that she had excess fluid around her lungs, what’s called a pleural effusion.

She was referred to a pulmonologist for a CT scan and a thoracentesis, a procedure that draws the fluid out of the lung. “There was over a liter of fluid around my left lung,” said Von St. James. “It was crunched up to about half its size.”

The CT scan revealed a mass in the lower left portion of her lung. She was scheduled for a needle biopsy the next day. Two weeks later, the biopsy results came back: She had malignant pleural mesothelioma. A surgical biopsy performed by the Mayo Clinic confirmed the disease two days prior to Christmas.

The leading cause and risk factor for mestholioma is asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once ubiquitous in daily life, thanks to its strength and insulation properties, while being both lightweight and fireproof. It was woven into fabric, like fireproof vests, as well as mixed with cement or used as insulation in residential and commercial construction.

Abestos Causes MestholiamaBetween 2,500 and 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Not surprisingly, construction workers—especially plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters and electricians—are most vulnerable to asbestos-related diseases, according to Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. As asbestos was widely used in ships, tanks, aircraft and trucks and was used all over military bases from the 1930s to the mid-‘70s, approximately a third of all Americans with mesothelioma are military veterans.

“It affects them disproportionately more so than any other cancer,” said Von St. James. “Many navy ships hulls had been lined with it, so navy veterans are especially at risk. It was used in brake pads, so army and marines who worked on jeeps have gotten it. Asbestos is anywhere where there’s insulation in things.”

Von St. James said that those most at risk for mesothelioma today are DIYers who are demolitoning old houses. They are unknowingly exposing themselves to asbestos-containing vermiculite in building insulation. Now a known carcinogen, the use of asbestos has been largely restricted, and it has been banned in more than 50 countries—although not in the U.S.

So how did the young, former hair salon owner get the disease? Von St. James acquired mesothelioma from secondary exposure to asbestos—her father worked construction while she was growing up, and she frequently wore his clothing.

“In his early years, he did a lot of sanding, cleaning up after drywall installation and mudding. A lot of drywall mud, drywall and insulation had asbestos in it. Those fibers would go airborne and settle into his coat,” she explained.

During the cold Minnesota winters, her father’s coat was always hanging in the entryway, so she would put it on for any quick trips outside. “I wore this coat when had to go outside and feed my rabbits because I didn’t want to get my coat dirty,” she said, also recalling that his car was always dusty.

Her father eventually developed renal carcinoma, or kidney cancer. He passed away from the disease this past February. Von St. James believes asbestos is what caused her father’s carcinoma as well.

mesotheliomaMesothelioma can affect the lung, stomach and rarely the heart. Peritoneal mesothelima affects the stomach, causing bowel issues, like constipation, vomiting, pain and swelling in the belly, as well as swollen feet. Von St. James developed pleural mesothelima, which affects the lungs. Common symptoms include:

• Shortness of breath
• Anemia
• Chest pain that doesn’t go away
• Dry cough
• Difficulty swallowing
• Persistent, low-grade fever
• Weight loss

The disease is further differentiated by type of cell, with the more easily distinguishable epithelial cell as the most common. These types of cancer cells are most commonly associated with pure lung cancer. Sarcomatoid, grown out of supportive structures, like muscles and bones, is less common and has a grimmer prognosis. Biphasic mesotheliomas have a mix of the two cell types, with a prognosis of 15 to 18 months.

“Most pleural mesothelioma patients die within 15 months of first developing symptoms,” Von St. James said. According to, only 8 percent are expected to live three to five years from the disease onset. It wasn’t a prognosis someone with a three-month-old wanted to hear.

Her doctor advised that her best option was to go to Boston to see Dr. David Sugarbaker, who had developed a groundbreaking new surgery where the lung would be removed. “Without the surgery, and with chemotherapy and radiation alone, my survival would be 5 years at the most,” she said, “but with the surgery, I could live up to 10 years or more.”

Her husband said, “Get us to Boston.”

HeatherReceivingChemoIn February 2006 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Von St. James had what is known as an EPP (for Extrapleural Pneumonectomy). The affected lung, the lining of the chest (or pleura), the lining of the heart (or pericardium), the left half of her diaphragm and a rib were removed. After surgery, she had a heated chemotherapy wash, where the medicine is pumped into the chest and “swished around” in a procedure known as the shake and bake.

“It was in clinical trial when I had it nine years ago,” said Von St. James. “[Dr Sugarbaker’s] perfected the technique.”

She had four sessions of chemo and 30 session of radiation for a total of one year of treatment from diagnosis to last radiation treatment. Today, nine years later, she considers herself very much a “normal person.” She keeps active around the house and takes walks. “You only need two lungs to float,” she quips.

She does experience shortness of breath walking up several flights of stairs or in really cold weather. She is also sensitive to cigarette smoke, strong perfumes and laundry detergent aisles. She switched over to the Clean+Green cleaner products, which are non-toxic and fragrance free.

As she had to give up working in the toxic environment of a hair salon after surgery, her husband went back to school after her diagnosis, while working full-time. “He did it for two years, graduated at the top of his class and never missed a day of school,” she said. Asked to give a speech at graduation, her husband said, “If my wife can beat cancer, I can do this.”

Heather Von St. James-family-photo

Heather Von St. James, with husband Cameron and daughter Lily, now 9.

His sacrifice inspired the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship, which kicks off this year. As leading mesothelioma advocates, the Von St. James created the scholarship for anyone who has battled cancer or who has a loved one with cancer. “Cancer can be such a financially devastating thing,” Von St. James said.

The $4000 per semester scholarship will be awarded to a full-time student at an accredited university or college. Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be eligible. The deadline is Dec. 1 for the Spring 2015 semester and March 31 for Fall 2015. Applicants must submit a typed essay or video submission describing how cancer has affected them, how it has changed their outlook on life, and what the scholarship would mean for them.

“I hope some of the scholarship winners are inspired enough to go into research or medical field, like nursing or medical school,” she said. “Education is the future.”

For more details, visit


Can We Grow Even Stronger as We Age

Building Strength with Pull-UpsA couple of years ago, I was so pumped up when I discovered I was able to do more than 15 pull-ups in a row, reaching all-time highs. After years of battling chronic illness, it had been quite some time since I felt quite that strong and nimble. I felt as if I were channeling the gymnast I had been as a child who broke records in school for the most pull-ups done by a girl (FYI, I could also do more than most boys my age).

More than two decades later, I was thrilled when my body started responding with more strength and flexibility again. I give much credit to yoga for reawakening those muscle fibers, but I can’t deny the power of a strong foundation—and great genetics. I was immediately humbled when I found out my father, pushing 70 at the time, revealed that he did multiple sets of more than 20 pull-ups.

So perhaps this is why I’m not as shocked as others might be to read the news that a 54-year-old, Mark Jordan, broke the record for the number of pull-ups completed in 24 hours on Nov. 3. Still, 4,321 pull-ups in one day is a hugely impressive number for a human of any age or gender. Jordan beat the old record by 111 pull-ups.

Equally as cool, each pull-up Jordan executed raised money for the Hammons Education Leadership Program, a non-profit in Corpus Christi, Texas that provides youth mentoring and career coaching.

It just goes to show that age alone need not dictate your fitness level. As I inch even closer to 40, the last couple of years have seen me at my fittest and strongest as an adult. One day, I aspire to be like 96-year-old Master Tao Porchon-Lynch. In 2012, Guinness Book of World Records officially deemed her the oldest living yoga teacher at the age of 93.


Beating Back the Common Cold with Creamy Spinach Bone Broth Soup

Creamy Spinach Bone Broth Soup RecipeThere are few things more soothing to a throat ravaged by the harsh coughing of a first fall cold than a cup of soup or broth. Fewer still things are as tailored for fighting the cold and flu better than a nutrient-rich cup of soup made with  rejuvenating bone marrow, reduced cartilage to help normalize the immune system and mineral-rich bones. That’s why I’m excited to share with you the delicious dish I consumed this morning: creamy spinach bone broth soup.

This recipe takes the shortcut to making bone broth by using top-quality beef gelatin from U.S. Wellness Meats, made with sherry vinegar and beef marrow bone stock. I was really happy to see they used the beef stock recipe from Nourishing Broth—and that all the bones came from completely grass-fed and grass-finished animals.

Beef GelatinThe beef stock is made from beef bones, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf, Malabar peppercorn, parsley and thyme. Celery, parsley and thyme­—packed with vitamin C—and manganese-rich peppercorn all have antioxidant properties, as does carrot, which is an excellent source of vitamin A. Thyme, which contains the antimicrobials thymol and carvacolo, has also long been used in herbal medicine as an expectorant, helping to treat coughs and chest congestion. Bay leaf has also been used medicinally to treat colds and flu, and it is considered antibacterial and antifungal.

The defining soup ingredient, spinach, is also full of antioxidants, particularly vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin (B2) and manganese. Oregano is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E and K, and it contains the two powerful antimicrobials, thymol and carvacrol. I added the herb to this soup recipe due to its reputation as a potent antioxidant and infection-fighter, particularly for upper respiratory infections, like the cold or flu. To add the final knockout to my cold, I used Kerrygold garlic and herb butter with the potent cold-blaster garlic and antioxidant-rich parsley and chives (packed with vitamins A and C). The essential oils of dill are anti-congestive, antioxidant and antimicrobial, and paprika contains the mucus-clearing capsaicin.

Great Lakes GelatinYou can read more about the benefits of bone broth here and how collagen helps you heal more quickly, but I wanted to throw in a good word for its headlining ingredient, cartilage. Nourishing Broth quotes Arthur G. Johnson, PhD, as saying bovine cartilage is a “’true biological response modifier,’ meaning it increases the ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria and viruses.” Johnson is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anatomy, Microbiology and Pathology at the University of Minnesota-Duluth School of Medicine. With all the above, it’s no wonder why our elders so frequently “prescribed” us a bowl of chicken soup when we got sick as kids.

Creamy Spinach Bone Broth Soup (A Ketogenic Recipe*)

Creamy Spinach Bone Broth IngredientsIngredients:

  •  2 cups of organic spinach
  • ½ cup of boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream (organic, grass-fed, un-homogenized)
  • 2 tablespoons of Kerrygold garlic and herb butter
  • 2 tablespoons of MCT oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Great Lakes unflavored beef gelatin
  • 1 grass-fed, pasture-raised chicken egg
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano


  1. Easing Bone Broth Soup RecipePut a teakettle of water on stove to boil while assembling the rest of the recipe.
  2. Briefly pulse the spinach in a food processer or blender.
  3. Blend the whipping cream, MCT oil, beef gelatin, egg, oregano and butter with the spinach in the food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add boiling water and blend again until you have reached your desired soup consistency. I preferred a thick and creamy soup, so only used half a cup of boiling water.

If you choose, you may melt the butter in a saucepan on low over the stove before blending.

Creamy Spinach Bone Broth Soup

Creamy Spinach Bone Broth Soup

* So what’s this about the MCT Oil? Medium-chain triglycerides are a special type of fat that requires less energy and enzymes to be digested, providing easily accessible, steady energy and an increase in metabolism. It is a key tool in the ketogenic diet, which I am following to strengthen and further protect my neurological health, but a whole lot more on that in another post.)


How Aromatherapy Treats the Common Cold and Other Fall Ailments

This is a guest post by Kelli’s Gifts for Aroma HomeThe health benefits of essential oils

In this first week of November, reality is setting in that autumn is truly here and winter is approaching. Mood and sleep quality may be affected as the hours of daylight grow shorter. For those with joint and muscle concerns, dropping temperatures frequently signals an increase in pain and stiffness. For many, this change in seasons also means colds–stuffy noses, coughs and headaches. While finding relief for these ailments has often been time-consuming, costly, and frustrating, now it can be as simple as lying down and letting your nose do all the work.

Aromatherapy is a pleasant way to tap into a person’s olfactory system with scent, triggering a healing response in the brain and throughout the body. “Aromatherapy is a natural, non-invasive modality designed to affect the whole person not just the symptom or disease and to assist the body’s natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself by the correct use of essential oils,” writes Jade Shutes in an article published to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

There are many essential oils that are commonly used to help alleviate insomnia, pain, congestion, anxiety, stress, nausea and more. As the environment around us begins to change, let’s take a close look at a few specific essential oils that can help us tackle many of the effects these changes can have on our body:

  • Oregano is typically the first essential oil turned to when looking for immune support for adults. Highly concentrated, it is suggested to dilute with other oils such as olive or almond. Nonetheless, being diluted and applied using certain methods can prove to have a great benefit on pain, inflammation and infections, as well as warding off unwanted smells.
  • Lavender oils are obtained from the flowers of the plant and have been used as perfumes as well as in aromatherapy. Lavender helps to induce sleep and sleep regularity so is used as a form of treatment for insomnia,. Lavender is also known to assist in issues such as depression, headaches, acne and pain relief. “People have used lavender and its essential oil throughout history to ease mental, emotional, and physical ailments,” notes Jan Hirsch, a provider of Aroma Home® aromatherapy treatments.
  • Frankincense, best known for its debut in the Bible as a gift from the three wise men, is widely known to help prevent acne. But what you may not know is that, mixed with coconut oil, it can be rubbed into the soles of your child’s feet and will not only help them sleep at night, but will help boost their immune system.
  • Eucalyptus oils are extracted from the fresh leaves of a eucalyptus tree. Newer to the aromatherapy world than others, its most well known use is to assist in respiratory problems. Runny noses, congestion, sore throats, are all ailments that eucalyptus oils are used to relieve. In addition, eucalyptus is anti-inflammatory in nature, so don’t dismiss its abilities to assist those muscle pains!
  • Sandalwood is extracted from an evergreen tree and releases a woody fragrance. Often used in yoga for calming and hydration for the skin, it is also known to help the mucous membranes in the chest wall helping to alleviate chest pain.

The usage of essential oils may vary based on the type of oil itself and the reason you are attempting to benefit from it. Oil mixtures can also be created by blending several oils together to achieve their highest benefit for your ailment: For example, two drops of eucalyptus, two drops of lavender and one drop of thyme oil can be added to hot water to create a steam inhalation for a sore throat.

This video from Aromatherapy in the Home is a great way to start looking for ideas on how to infuse aromatherapy in your life for a healthy change:



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