The Mind-Body SHIFT

Nourishing the Body, Feeding the Mind, Nurturing the Soul


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Protect Skin With These Summer Sun Safety Tips

Protect Skin With Summer Sun Safety Tips

This past Monday Memorial Day marked the unofficially first day of summer. Many celebrated with barbecues and trips to the beach or by opening up household pools. Right on cue, it’s been heating up here in Connecticut, with daytime temperatures in the 80s and high 70s. As more of us are heading outdoors to enjoy the sun, today—Sunscreen Day—is the perfect time to review some summer sun safety tips to protect skin.

Why You Should Protect Skin From Sun

Skin Cancer by CoolibarSkin cancer is the most common form of the cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, approximated 3.5 million people are diagnosed with basal or squamous skin cancer each year. In 2015, more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer will be melanoma, which causes most skin cancer deaths. While melanoma is usually curable when found in the earliest stages, it is the most likely skin cancer to grow and spread to other parts of the body, making it difficult to treat.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and severe sunburns in the past are two major risk factors for skin cancer. UVA rays contribute to early skin aging, such as wrinkles, while UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns. While UVA rays play a role in some skin cancers, UVB rays are thought to cause the majority of skin cancers. Using broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed skin can help protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.

Summer Sun Safety Tips

  • Use a broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher. Sunscreens with SPF values under 15, whether they are labeled Broad Spectrum or not, can only claim to help protect against sunburn. There is no evidence that SPF values greater than 50 provide any additional benefit. The Connecticut DPH  recommends looking for water-resistant sunscreen that contains zinc oxide as the active ingredient, or as a blend with titanium dioxide. These mineral blockers are preferable to chemical skin-absorbers, like oxybenzone. See the next section for potential sunscreen risks.
  • Apply sunscreen a half hour before getting out in the sun. Reapply at least every two hours. Apply more sunscreen after swimming and sweating.
  • Seek shade when UV rays are at their most intense, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear sunglasses with 100 percent UVA/UVB protection to protect your eyes and surrounding skin.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face, ears, and neck.

Watch Out for These Sunscreen Risks

ewg-sun-safetyThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released its Sunscreen Hall of Shame to highlight products that promise to shield consumers from the dangers of the sun but fall flat on protection. Their review of 1,7000 products in the sunscreen market found that 80 percent fail to deliver adequate sun protection or contain worrying ingredients, such as oxybenzone and retiyl plamitate (a type of vitamin A).

Half of the sunscreens reviewed by EWG contain the active ingredient oxybenzone, which absorbs ultraviolet (UV) light. This chemical is absorbed considerably through the skin, posing a threat to human health. Oxybenzone is suspected to be an endocrine disruptor, interfering with hormone secretion and regulation and acting like estrogen in the body. Studies have linked endocrine disruptors with reproductive and child development problems, learning disabilities and cancers of the breast, prostate and thyroid. Oxybenzone can also trigger allergic skin reactions.

According to the EWG, nearly 20 percent of sunscreens and SPF-rated moisturizes contain retinyl palmitate. On sun-exposed skin, this form of vitamin A may enhance the growth of skin lesions and squamous cells of the skin to form cancer.

EWG also singled out sunscreen with high sun protection factor (SPF) and spray sunscreens. The latter are difficult to apply evenly and in adequate amounts for skin protection. They also may pose inhalation risks.

As for SPFs above 50, one eighth of evaluated sunscreens promise excessive claims to protect skin from burns caused by ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which may cause skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends products with an SPF of at least 30. However, there is no evidence that SPV values greater than 50 provide any additional benefit. In fact, EWG claims that the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeks to bar SPF numbers higher than 50, as the European Commission, Japan and Australia have done.

EWG Hall of Shame Sunscreen Lotions

EWG named 12 of the worst sunscreen lotions of 2015. These lotions claim SPF above 60 and also contain oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate:

  • Summer Sun SafetyBanana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen, SPF 75
  • Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
  • CVS Sport Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
  • CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 100
  • CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Daily Liquid Sunscreen, SPF 70
  • NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60
  • NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85
  • Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70

The major sunscreen brands of Banana Boat, Coppertone, CVS and Neutrogena all have poor product scores. EWG specifically called out Neutrogena for having the greatest advertising hype surrounding suncare protection with the worst ratings. Neutrogena products claim extremely high SPF values, including 100 and higher. More than 80 percent of heir products contain oxybenzone and a third contain retinyl palmitate.

To see a list of EWG’s best-rated beach and sports sunscreens, click here.

For those concerned about the chemicals in some sunscreens (and insect repellants) UConn dermatologist Meagen M. McCusker, M.D. also offers natural, toxin-free alternatives here.


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Donning Purple to Draw Awareness to Lupus

Put On Purple for Lupus AwarenessLike a lion hiding in the underbrush before it pounces on its spied prey, the symptoms and severity of lupus and other auotimmune diseases can sneak up you when you are least prepared for it. One day you may be feeling like your old self before the disease took root, super strong, active and as healthy as the next person. The next day you may literally collapse, a rash spreading across your skin, a respiratory infection settles in deep, and your neurological system can go haywire, causing you to sink into a severe relapse of disease.

How long will you be, like me now, be confined to the bed or couch? A couple days, a couple weeks, a couple months or much longer? The uncertainty of autoimmune disease, the limited or misinformed knowledge about its origin and manifestation, and the lack of a cure are important reasons why I do what I can to promote awareness. So today, I PUT ON PURPLE for lupus.

Five Important Facts about Lupus

Although millions of people worldwide live with lupus, many do not know much about the disease. Here are five things you should know about the disease:

  1. An estimated 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people around the world, have a form of lupus.*
  2. Lupus is a type of autoimmune disease, in which antibodies made by the immune system erroneously begin to attack one’s own healthy tissues as if they were foreign invaders threatening the body. Lupus specifically may attack joints and organs, causing swelling and degeneration, pain, skin rash, sun sensitivity, extreme fatigue and vulnerability to severe cases of infection.
  3. LupusAwarenessMonthSystemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) accounts for approximately 70 percent of all cases of lupus.* A major organ, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys or brain–as in my case–will be affected in approximately half of these patients. Brain involvement and central nervous system dysfunction–as well as its sister disease Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS), or Hughes Syndrome, an autoimmune syndrome that affects vascular function and blood clotting–is thought to be a cause of the neuromuscular movement disorder, dystonia, in my specific manifestation of illness.
  4. 90 percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women.* The disease most often strikes in one’s childbearing years, though women and men of all ages may experience symptoms of lupus.
  5. There is no cure for lupus, though a patient may go into remission, whether long-term or short-term repeatedly over the course of disease. Nutritional therapy, mind-body exercise, avoiding triggers of my photosensitivity and reducing stress have been crucial for helping to keep lupus and APS (and thus dystonia) in remission for long periods of time.
As with so many other health conditions, awareness and knowledge is power. Let’s show our support and help drive more research to better understand this pervasive autoimmune disease! For now, you can Put On Purple to show your support for those of us with lupus.
*Statistics from the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA)


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Get Festive For Cinco De Mayo With These 4 Flavorful Recipes

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Ever wondered what the celebration is all about on May 5? Believe it or not, the day is more than a festive opportunity to drink margaritas and have Mexican fare—though we love that part too (and much more on that later).

While many mistake Cinco de Mayo as Mexico’s day of independence (which is actually celebrated on Sept. 16), the holiday actually commemorates El Día de la Batalla de Puebla in Mexico, an event that occurred some 51 years later.

A Brief History of Cinco de Mayo

The Battle of Puebla was the unexpected victory of the Mexican army over the larger, more experienced French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862. The French, Spanish and British had come to Mexico in late 1861 to collect debts borrowed from European countries to help fund Mexico’s civil war of the late 1850s. While Spanish and British troops shortly left the country, France took advantage of the chaos of the neighboring U.S. civil war to invade Mexico in April 1862. At the town of Puebla that May, less than 100 miles east of Mexico City, a small Mexican army pulled a victory reminiscent of David’s over Goliath (though it was largely symbolic, as the French did eventually conquer Mexico and established a monarchist regime there, from 1864 to 1867).

While the celebration of the Battle of Puebla was largely unknown to most of the country for almost 100 years, Cinco de Mayo became a popular holiday in the United States in the 1960s. Chicano activists brought attention to the battle to instill pride in the Mexican-American community. While Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, it is largely celebrated today across this country to honor Mexican culture and heritage. And who doesn’t love to celebrate the successes of underdogs?

4 Flavorful Recipes for Your Cinco De Mayo Fiesta

If you’re looking for some last-minute, quick and easy Cinco de Mayo recipes for your fiestas today, consider these dishes from Steve Lindner, go-to healthy chef and founder of Zone Manhattan, and the team at bistroMD.

Cinco De Mayo Salsa Recipe

BistroMD’s Super Simple Salsa with Avocado

Ingredients

  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 small, sweet onion, diced
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 chopped finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 haas avocado, cleaned and diced
  • 1 lime, for juice
  • A pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. For this healthy twist on a Cinco de Mayo favorite, all you have to do is combine all of the above ingredients, and chill it in your refrigerator for about one hour.
  2. Pair with a bag of low fat corn chips or veggies, and you are ready to start snacking!

Cinco De Mayo Enchilada Recipe

Zone Manhattan’s Lobster, Pea and Pablano Enchilada

(Serves 12)

Ingredients

  • Lobster – 1 ¼ lb.
  • Crepes -12
  • Pea Tendrils
  • Veggies for Filing- onions, Peas, Lime Juice and Zest, cilantro, Roasted Pablano
  • Cooked Black Beans – ½ lb
  • Green Squash – 1 c. Diced Small
  • Snow Peas – ½ c. Sliced Small
  • Grilled White Corn Cut off cobb
  • Chayote- ½ c Small dice
  • Baby Pepper- 1cs Sliced Round and Roast
  • Monterey Jack cheese – ½ pc.
  • Roasted Tomatillo and Green Pea Salsa
  • Tomatillo- 5 ea Dice and Roast
  • Lime- 1 Juice and Zest and Cilantro
  • Avocado- ½ Diced
  • Whole Wheat Crepes

Directions

  1. Cook Lobster for 15 min in boiling water, cool and remove meat and dice.
  2. Sauté Veggies for filling until cooked, then cool.
  3. Mix Lobster and Veggies, add Juice and Zest of ½ a lime.  This and cheese is your filling for the enchilada.
  4. Trim Crepe and Roll Enchilada.  These can be made in advance and heated for 1 ½ min in a micro with Cheese and Salsa on top. Whole Wheat Crepe as Tortilla, Roll and Warm in Micro for 1 ½ min.
  5. Season Black Beans with Cilantro, Toasted Cumin and Lime Juice and Zest.  Add Orange Grape Tomatoes, Diced Vegetables and roasted Corn.   Mix. This can be made in advance and heated for 1 ½ min in a micro after warming sprinkle over Pea Tendrils.

Chicken Burrito Bowl Recipe

BistroMD’s Better for you Chicken Burrito Bowl

Ingredients

  • For the Chicken:
    • 4, 4 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded
    • Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Paprika and any other of your favorite spices to season (optional)
  • For the Red Burrito Sauce:
    • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1/2 tablespoon corn oil
    • 1 yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon masa flour
    • 1/2 cup low sodium, chicken broth
    • ½ cup tomato sauce
    • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
    • ½ jalapeno pepper, diced
    • 1 teaspoon lime juice
    • ½ teaspoon chili powder
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • Pinch of Sea Salt

Bowl Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 1 can (15 oz.) reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 ears fresh corn OR 1 can (15 oz.) reduced sodium, organic corn kernels, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup bell pepper, any color(s), diced
  • 1 cup fresh tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin
  • ¼ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • Jalapeno or other hot pepper, diced (optional)
  • Garnish (optional)
  • Reduced-fat Cheddar Cheese
  • Chopped Cilantro

Directions:

  1. Red Burrito Sauce:
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the corn oil and unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and jalapeno and saute until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the masa flour and whisk together. Allow to cook 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually add the chicken broth; constantly whisk to ensure no clumps of flour.
  4. Adjust heat to medium-low. Add tomato sauce, granulated garlic, lime juice, chili powder, paprika, oregano and pinch of sea salt. Stir together, cover, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Burrito Bowl:
    1. While the sauce is simmering, add lime juice and fresh chopped cilantro to the cooked brown rice and blend together.
    2. Add the blacked beans, corn, bell pepper, tomato, cumin, garlic and jalapeno to a medium sized bowl and mix.
  6. Divide the rice into 4 portions. Divide the black bean and corn mixture into 4 portions.

Cinco de Mayo Dessert Recipe

Zone Manhattan’s Gluten-Free Coconut Tres Leches

Ingredients:

  • Cake (if making from scratch, see ingredients below)
  • Coconut Milk
  • Soy  Milk
  • 1/2 and ½= Sweeten to taste
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Ricotta – ½ C
  • Tofu – ½ C
  • Lemon
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Champagne Mangos- 1
  • Raspberry- 1

Directions:

  1. Cut Cake into 2 ½ inch rings.
  2. Combine coconut milk and soy milk and a touch of ½ and ½ add Splenda, lime zest and vanilla extract.
  3. On serving plate, Pour liquid over cake and let sit 20 min.  You want the liquid to soak into the cake.  Before Serving add a little more liquid to fill the plate.
  4. Combine Ricotta and Tofu in food processer.  Add vanilla and lime zest and Splenda puree smooth, and add around edge of cake.
  5. Dice Mango and sprinkle with a little lime zest and juice.  Spoon this into the middle of the cake.  Top with Coconut Flakes and Raspberry.

*Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 C Soy Flour
  • 1 c Canola Oil
  • 13 Eggs
  • 2 C Almond Flour
  • .75  Tbsp. Baking Powder
  • .75 Tbsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ C Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
  • ½ C Coconut Flakes
  •  1 C bag Splenda
  • 2 Tbls. Vanilla
  • Zest of 1 lemons

Directions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in mixer.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients and add into dry mixture. Blend until combined.
  3. Fold in whipped egg whites.
  4. Divide onto 8-inch nonstick pan sprayed with Pam. Bake for 12 minutes at 350. Check and continue at 2 minute intervals until knife in center comes away clean.


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Learn From Favorite Yoga Teachers in Live Conference From Your Living Room

Suzanne Bryant's Virtual Yoga ConferenceIf you are a student of yoga who has always dreamed of attending a yoga conference but lacked the time or finances to spend days learning from your favorite teachers, YOGA IS brings the action directly to you. This weekend, virtually attend the largest online yoga conference from the convenience of your own home. YOGA IS kicks off Thursday, April 30, and continues through May 3. Participate in the special event live or re-live the experience at your leisure any time you desire with unlimited access beyond the conference.

Soak up the wisdom from dozens of the most renowned yoga and meditation teachers in the world over the course of the next four days. With eight classes per day, attendees will have access to more than 30 total hours of interviews and classes with some of most respected teachers in the yoga world on a myriad of topics. While attendees have the opportunity to refine the physical practice of yoga, they will also learn the yoga of life—how to find and embrace their personal power to overcome destructive habits, obstacles and challenges; create courage, embrace love and joy, find inspiration and serve others.

Baron Baptiste gets you to Energize and Elevate with Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga. Shiva Rea shows you the fluid power of Prana Vinyasa Yoga. Cameron Shayne leads you to radical honesty with a dynamic combination of yoga asana and ancient martial arts.

Sara Invanhoe emphasizes the critical role breath plays in yogic practice as the body’s fuel. Learn the power of mindfulness with Congressman Tim Ryan. Discover simple yet powerful meditation techniques for staying present and centered in busy, daily life with Elephant Journal founder Waylon Lewis.

Yoga Is Conference Lineup

Dharma Yoga Founder Sri Dharma Mittra teaches the yogic practices for accessing instant vitality. Dr. Sara Gottfried discusses how yoga affects hormones and metabolism. Addiction recovery expert and yoga teacher Tommy Rosen teaches how Kundalini activates the “infinite pharmacy within” to correct your endocrine system.

Learn how to dig out of destructive emotional ruts with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee, how to Aim True to achieve your dreams with Kathryn Budig, and gain the tools to break through emotional roadblocks to abundance, happiness and success with Sadie Nardini. Participants also learn about power of the breath, Ayurveda for everyday life, the yoga of business, and Seane Corn speaks on the yoga of service.

Yoga Teacher Suzanne BryantHost of the conference Suzanne Bryant is a yogini and filmmaker of the internationally acclaimed documentary YOGA IS: A Transformational Journey, which traced her journey of self-discovery through yoga in India after the tragic loss of her mother. Following the documentary’s success. Bryant created the YOGA IS conference to help others gather, thrive and transform both the body and the mind. During the conference, she will lead asana, meditation and lecture on learning from obstacles and moving through them to obtain happiness, vibrancy and an inspired life. In addition to completing 500HR yoga teacher training with Alan Finger, Bryant holds a master’s degree in spirituality and nutrition and is a wellness coach and meditation teacher.

The YOGA IS conference runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST (noon to 11 p.m. EST) daily. You’ll want to be sure not to miss any of the invaluable teachings and rare interviews. With an all-access pass to the YOGA IS online conference, you get unlimited access to each interview and class even after it goes live. Admission is just $39 for a limited time only; it later rises to $79. Register now at yi.yoga


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Get Airborne to Raise Awareness for Debilitating Movement Disorder Dystonia

Src: Kouta Fit Club Maribyrnong

Src: Kouta Fit Club Maribyrnong

Folks across the globe are “getting air” to bring attention to the little-known movement disorder called dystonia. The Jump For Dystonia campaign is a social-media driven movement to bring attention to this painful, often disabling condition that affects an estimated 300,000 people across the United States and more than 500,000 people across Europe.

Dystonia Europe, a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of people living with the movement disorder, launched the Jump For Dystonia campaign in Paris in 2014. Participants are encouraged to take photos of their jumping and upload them to social media, “in order to raise awareness of dystonia to speed up diagnosis, combat stigma and encourage more research,” said Monika Benson, executive director of Dystonia Europe.

Dystonia is a neurological condition that causes repetitive, abnormal movements or postures due to uncontrollable muscle contractions. Dystonia can affect just one part of the body, like the hand or neck, or it can involve multiple areas of the body. This movement disorder can affect one’s ability to walk, talk, swallow and even see and breathe.

Benson originally came up with the idea for the dystonia campaign while on vacation, “jumping for fun and for life” with her daughter. “Since I also have dystonia, jumping is something I never thought I would do again at the time of diagnosis… but now, it works,” she said.

Jumping is an activity I also found hard to imagine doing again when I first came down with full-blown symptoms of dystonia. I lost control of my lower body, causing me to fall when I walked or tried to stand in the shower. A former competitive athlete who sprinted and leaped substantial heights and distances for sport, I grew increasingly frustrated after months of being bed-bound and often confined to a wheelchair when I traveled. After discovering a medication that helped manage symptoms, along with using yoga and nutrition for therapy, I found myself once again able to walk, tumble, swim and jump after a few years. Yet, there are others who are not so fortunate in their journey with the disabling disorder.

Src: Facebook

Src: Facebook

Joey Tehle, who has early-onset generalized dystonia, is one of the people jumping for others who can’t. Many with dystonia aren’t able to stand, much less jump.

“I posted my first picture I took of myself with a self-timer on my [Facebook] page. My camera went off super fast so I had to jump as fast as I could, and I’m sure my dystonia made it more challenging,” said Tehle of North Dakota. “I kept trying 80 or so times ‘til I got at least a few with air. I didn’t realize how hard it is to get my knees up! I kept trying ‘til I wore myself out. It was fun trying to get some air. A little air and an arm up just to help raise awareness.”

Benson stressed, “But the JUMP campaign is not only about jumping. If you cannot jump, you can raise your arms, smile or blink with your eye. Everybody should feel included.”

Tehle found that jumping wasn’t easy with her condition, but that hasn’t stopped her from participating in dozens of jumps for the campaign. “I got involved because I love jumping photos, and I thought this would be a great way to spread awareness,” she said. “By telling people about it, they usually are game to jump. Some need a little extra twisting of the arm. Everyone I have asked has thought this is for a great cause.”

The campaign has seen thousands of jumps from people living with dystonia, as well as from their loved ones, friends, neighbors, colleagues, healthcare providers and even pets. There has been support from local news anchors, state and local officials, college basketball teams and celebrities, including guitarist Lita Ford, who played for the band The Runaways with Joan Jett, and actress Dee Wallace, from the films E.T. and Cujo. Last November, British politician, Glenis Willmott, leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, even hosted a two-day Dystonia Europe JUMP for Dystonia event in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to help raise awareness and show support.

“So far, the campaign has gone around from Europe to the US and Australia, and I hope it will continue to spread,” said Benson.

Mike Delise, a tireless dystonia awareness advocate, initiated the campaign here in the United States. “The main reason I did was to show unity,” he said. “My feeling is we all need to come together for one cause and unite to make us stronger.”

Delise then made contact with Micheline Elasmer, founder of Connecting Dystonia Australia. “Mike encouraged me to get involved with a group of passionate people as part of the Jump for Dystonia Campaign,” she said. “Now, we are trying to spread it here in Australia.”

Src: Facebook

Src: Facebook

Elasmer was 9 when she first began exhibiting symptoms of dystonia, with a twisting neck, balance problems while walking, a stiff left arm and voice changes. It took 16 years of countless medical tests and scans and multiple misdiagnoses before Eisner was finally diagnosed with the rare disorder after a car accident. After years of feeling alone with her mysterious condition, Elasmer created the Facebook page called Connecting Dystonia Australia, which “now has become the first contact for many to get the support they need,” she said.

“Months in to the page I started chatting with a dystonia page in Germany. He said that there were definitely others in Australia and passed my details to Lee Pagan, who was the creator of the only Australian dystonia support group. It was so overwhelming that I cried for days knowing there were others,” Elasmer said. “Like me, it took them years to get diagnosed; one lady was diagnosed after 40 years. Hearing their stories is what made me determined to create dystonia awareness.”

In 2014, Elasmer heard Dr. Florence Chang give a speech where she said primary dystonia affects 3 in 1000. An estimated 70,000 people in Australia have the neurological disorder. “We only have 273 members in the Australian Dystonia Support Group,” Elasmer said, “which means, there are tens of thousands in Australia that that may feel alone with their dystonia journey and don’t even know of the support that is available.”

After living most of her life with increasingly concerning symptoms and treatments that made her health worse, Australian Nikki Bell was just diagnosed with dystonia in the past six months. Bell is a struggling single mother of a 5-year-old son who is now unable to work due to the disorder; her mother lives with to help support her. However, time spent getting treatment at a rehab hospital helped brighten her perspective on living with dystonia.

“My light bulb moment was when I saw a soldier on the morning show who had is arm and leg blown off, and he was still working out with an amazing positive outlook on life. I was like, if he can do it, I can do it,” said Bell, who is now on the administrative team for Connecting Dystonia Australia. ”As soon as I was diagnosed I had an attitude of: This will not beat me; but it has chosen the best person to get the awareness out there.”

Elasmer, whose group raised $10,000 in funds for the Brain Foundation in Sydney in 2013, said, “If we can help someone get an early diagnoses, if we can get people to understand what dystonia is, if we can give people the support they need and deserve—then I feel that we’ve been involved in a positive change.”

Elasmer is currently raising funds through GoFundMe to help bring greater awareness to dystonia in Melbourne. You can donate here.

The Jump for Dystonia campaign has also joined forces with Dive For Dystonia, which was started by Linda Thompson, of Memphis, Tenn., to help raise awareness for this condition. The “strong and fearless” adventurer first noticed symptoms of dystonia in late 2011 and was diagnosed in March 2012.

“I have always been athletic, so when my dystonia symptoms began, it was very noticeable to me,” she said in an interview today.

“I wasn’t able to develop my career because of the fast pace,” said Thompson, who ran full-service restaurants in several states at the time. After the drastic appearance of symptoms, she was eventually diagnosed with dystonia at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. She said she has seen doctors all over the mid-South ever since.

Src: Dive for Dystonia

Src: Dive for Dystonia

“My left side has been greatly affected, so I’ve adjusted my activities to accommodate. I jet ski almost daily, and all my controls are on the right side. I hike, often pushing myself more and more each time,” she said said. “The medicine I’m on now is taking some getting used to, but I do believe it helps.”

Thompson grew up with a father working in law enforcement who encouraged Thompson and her brothers to push themselves physically. “I have three older brothers that run marathons, 50k and 100k trail runs. They are quite motivating for me,” she said. “I decided to skydive when my anxiety from dystonia was just as crippling as the condition itself. I hoped it would help me overcome my newest fear of flying…it did!”

While her doctor has not yet approved her for solo skydiving, Thompson enjoys tandem diving for now. She organized the first Dive for Dystonia skydive to educate and increase awareness of movement disorders, like dystonia. It was held Feb. 28.

A Jump and Dive for Dystonia will be held this summer. “We will be trying to get people all over the world to do skydives, and we’ll have people come out and watch and do a Jump for Dystonia on the ground,” said Delise,  “We are going to be doing one in Michigan at Midwest Freefall near Romeo, Michigan sometime in June or July.”

Thompson said she has two main goals with Dive For Dystonia. “One is to get awareness out there. And two, don’t let dystonia stop you!” she said.

Src: FB/Jump For Dystonia

Src: FB/Jump For Dystonia

No matter where you are in the world, you can become part of the Jump For Dystonia campaign NOW by posting a picture of you jumping on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtags, #jumpfordystonia and #dytoniaawareness.

“Dystonia is the third most common movement disorder, yet most people have never even heard of it,” said Treacy Henry, a health activist with dystonia from Massachusetts. “The Jump for Dystonia campaign is a fun way to raise awareness and help spread the word about this debilitating disorder.”

You can learn more on the Jump For Dystonia Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jumpfordystonia.


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Sustain Condoms Can Help Climate Change Through Curbing Population Growth

Babies, Overpopulation and Climate ChangeLast month, we addressed the rising threat of water scarcity and safety to the health of the planet due to climate change, pollution and a growing global population. A 2014 study by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that increased population is one of the two most important drivers of global climate change. For Earth Day, we spoke with Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Sustain, the first sustainable brand of condoms marketed toward women, about the strong link between climate change, population growth and family planning.

The population is growing at a rate of 78 million per year, or 9,000 people per hour. Each person on the planet generates carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution, said Hollender. As the population rises, so does the amount of CO2 pollution. It is believed that slowing population could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 percent.

“Because most pregnancies—51 percent of these in the U.S.—are unplanned, the population is growing faster than most families would like,” said Hollender. “Greater access to birth control will slow population growth.”

Sustain Earth Day

There are 220,000 babies born across the world each day. A surprising number of those unplanned pregnancies are here in the United States. By age 45, it is estimated that more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, a rate that is significantly higher than many other developed countries. Hollender believes that the lack of sex education, or the presence of abstinence-only education in many states, is partly to blame. He also believes parents are not adequately communicating with their children about sex.

“It’s also due to the increased reduction of access to birth control, resulting from efforts to defund organizations like Planned Parenthood,” he added.

Global Lack of Access to ContraceptionIn developing countries, there are currently 222 million women who want to avoid pregnancy but lack access to contraception and reproductive health and family planning services. Yet universal access to contraception will only work if people use it. How do we educate those cultures that reject the idea of contraception and that force women into having sex?

“These are terrible challenging problems. The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh has developed many great solutions; some include only lending money to women and only providing mortgages to women,” Hollender said. “This fundamentally changes the power relationships with-in families and lead to much greater leverage for women to insist on the use of birth control. We need more of these types of solutions.”

Forty percent of women purchase the condoms used for contraception and family planning. Sustain condoms are the first to be marketed specifically toward women. Hollender believes reaching out to women is critical for decreasing unplanned pregnancies.

“Women cannot rely on men to take responsibility for birth control,” he said. “At best, it should be a joint responsibility. Women need to buy and carry condoms to take responsibility for their reproductive health care.”

The Sustain co-founder believes that women need to be pro-active about their reproductive health for the same reasons that they exercise, eat healthy and develop skills for better career outcomes. “It’s all a critical part of their wellbeing,” he said.

Sustain Co-Founders Jeffrey Hollender and daughter MeikaHollender, who is also founder and former CEO of an eco-friendly household and personal care products company Seventh Generation, and daughter Meika developed condoms that are sustainable, Fair Trade certified, vegan and non-toxic. “Non-toxic contraception reduces the exposure to toxic and carcinogenic chemicals,” he said. It contributes positively to women’s health “in the same way that organic food, non-toxic cleaners and natural cosmetics do.”

There are an estimated 17.4 million women in need of publicly funded reproductive health and family planning services. Sustain also donates to non-profit organizations that provide education on sexually transmitted infections, testing and treatment for women in need. Through its Ten Percent For Women (10%4Women) reproductive health initiative, 10 percent of the company’s profit goes toward organizations, like Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Planned Parenthood of the Gulf and Planned Parenthood of the Pacific NorthWest.

Hollender said, “We also support, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy, Women’s Voices for the Earth and the Breast Cancer Fund.” The Breast Cancer Fund also works to remove toxic chemicals for the environment, including ones that can interfere with women’s reproductive systems.

Learn more about how Sustain supports sustainability and women’s health at SustainCondoms.com


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Does Removing Silver Fillings Rid Body of Major Health Risks of Mercury

Mercury FillingsMost of us at or above a certain age can count at least one “silver” filling in our mouth from getting cavities when were kids. And really, when one grows up with the option of sugar-laden cereals for breakfast, like Froot Loops, Cap’n Crunch and Apple Jacks, it’s more surprising not to have a mouth full of cavities. But today we’re not talking about the blight of sugar, unhealthy bacteria and plaque. We’re instead focusing about the more insidious dangers of those silver-colored amalgam fillings in our mouth.

What we call silver fillings are actually an amalgam of several metals, including copper, tin, zinc and silver. “Fifty percent of amalgam fillings is mercury,” said Dr. David Villareal, a holistic dentist in Newbury Park, Calif, in a recent interview.

Used for more than 250 years in dentistry, mercury amalgams are fast, cheap and easy to use, said Villareal. Unfortunately, mercury is also one of the more toxic, natural substances in our environment. While the FDA still holds the position that mercury tooth fillings are safe, mercury is a known neurotoxin and endocrine-disrupter in humans, and it can stress and suppress the immune system over time. Scientific studies have linked mercury exposure to autoimmune disease (like ALS and multiple sclerosis), several cancers and increased risks for cardiovascular disease and vision loss, as well as neurological problems ranging from Autism to Alzheimer’s.

In 2010, research findings from Northeastern University published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that long-term exposure to mercury can cause neurological problems and pathological changes to the brain that are normally associated with Alzheimer’s. Pharmacology Professor Richard Deth and German colleagues found that mercury binds to selenium, reducing the bioavailability and efficacy of this antioxidant in the body to suppress damaging chemical reactions to the brain. The oxidative stress of mercury in the body causes nerves to cease properly functioning and leads to cognitive impairment and cell death.

“Mercury is clearly contributing to neurological problems, whose rate is increasing in parallel with rising levels of mercury,” said Deth in Northeastern University News.

Mercury evaporates at room temperature, and it enters the body, as with mercury fillings, in the form of a gas. When mercury crosses the blood-brain barrier, this gas can also trapped inside the brain and accumulate in toxicity over time. When mercury metal, amalgam fillings are implanted into the human teeth, they release vapor into the body, which accumulates the longer one has those fillings in the mouth. It is believed that mercury vapors seep from these fillings constantly, while chewing releases an even larger amount of these toxic fumes.

Holistic Dentist Dr. David VillarealVillareal has seen the innate ability of the human body to handle a reasonable amount of toxic load reach a tipping point in many of his patients. These patients may present with autoimmune disease, cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Alzheimer’s, he said. They ask the holistic dentist why they are only getting sick now, despite having had mercury fillings in their mouths their whole lives.

“Stress is the number one cause of any autoimmune disease,” Villareal explained. With the inundation of both physical and emotion stress in our daily lives today, the compromised body has an increasingly difficult time keeping the toxic effect of mercury at bay over time. “When a traumatic incident occurs, like a death, divorce or auto accident, the body sometimes says, ‘I can’t take it anymore,’” he said.

Villareal observed that how the body deals with toxins really depends on its reactions to stressors. Someone can have a mouth full of silver fillings and physically feel fine, while another patient can have just one silver filling and be extremely sick. “We know there are certain factors that play into more mercury leaching into the body: the number of fillings in the mouth, the age of the fillings, the grinding of teeth, diet and the acid we put in the mouth through carbonated drinks,” he added.

While some dentists and health educators promote removing mercury amalgam fillings across the board, Villareal takes a more patient-centered approach to advocacy. “My belief and philosophy is to educate people on the pros and cons of amalgam filling removal,” he said. “With my patients here, it’s all about education. It’s their body, and I have my patients decide. You intuitively go inside yourself and decide what’s best for you.”

For those who do elect to have their silver fillings removed, Villareal’s BioDental Healing practice takes all precautions possible. It is believed that mercury vapor release is at its greatest when fillings are put in and taken out. “Make sure the dentist is using a dental rubber dam that isolates the tooth and minimizes the amount of mercury vapor released.”

Metal Filling Removal at BioDental HealingVillareal compares his practice during filling removals to a HazMat response team. “We’re completely covered. We wear special air filters and use oxygen masks and protective eyewear on patients. We drape each tooth so everything that comes out goes into the rubber dam,” he said.

The rubber dam isolates the teeth being worked on, preventing particles from getting into the soft tissue of the mouth. Dental air vac suction is placed right by the patient’s mouth throughout the procedure to absorb mercury gasses to protect the patient, dentist and assistants. Oxygen masks worn over the nose also serve as an important barrier to eliminate the risk of breathing in mercury vapor. Ionizers remove free radicals in the air, and teeth are disinfected with ozone prior to a new filling being placed. The practice has a special water filtration system to separate out amalgams to protect the local water system and oceans for mercury exposure.

The patient also receives intravenous vitamin C administered by a naturopathic doctor. “It helps tremendously in protecting the body by acting as chelating agent,” said Villareal. It removes heavy metals from the bloodstream, as well as boost glutathione, arguably the body’s most critical antioxidant and master detoxifier.

Prior to replacing silver fillings, Villarreal performs a blood compatibility evaluation with patients on the dozens of different filling materials now available. After blood tests are sent to a Colorado Springs lab, patients receive a list of composite materials to which they are highly, moderately and least reactive.

“There are a lot of composites, or white fillings available, but they are not all created equal,” said the holistic dentist. The newer silver fillings, for example, release mercury 50 percent higher than the older ones, according to Villareal. “We choose the materials that best support your body’s natural power to heal,” he said.

In holistic biological dentistry, bio-individuality is emphasized and dentists look at all the factors that may contribute to a patient’s health—including stress, environment and diet. Villareal pointed out that soil depletion is robbing many vegetables of essential nutrients, for example. He encourages patients to eat a lot of protein, a lot of vegetables and greens. “I don’t recommend fish because of the mercury content,” he added.

“The body is amazing instrument that can heal itself without burdening itself so much with heavy metals in the mouth and bad diet,” Villareal said. While removing fillings isn’t a guarantee of recovery from serious illness, he has seen thousands of patients helped.

Villareal emphasizes the relationship between dental health and disease in other parts of the body. He calls the separation of oral health from the health of the rest of the body the “decapitation” of Western medicine. Chinese medicine, which has been around for thousands of years, has long recognized the connection between the teeth and the organs. According to Villareal, Chinese meridian points have been shown to connect each tooth to different organs in the body.

“If you have problems in the organs, it affects the teeth; it goes both ways,” he said. “That’s why vets check the horse’s mouth first before examining the rest of the animal. But we don’t have physicians looking into their patient’s mouth during their yearly physical visits.” He says only one health insurance company looks at gum disease, though the American Dental Association (ADA) now recognizes that gum disease is associated with a higher risk of diabetes and stroke.

The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and IllnessVillareal began practicing conventional medicine in 1984. However, his outlook and approach transformed in 1992 after a patient gave him a copy of the book, It’s All in Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness. Dr. Huggins’s book details extensive research revealing a link between mercury toxicity and neurological and immunological disease that made Villareal rethink the health effects of metal amalgam fillings.

“I couldn’t put the book down; it made a lot of sense to me,” he said. He then went to Colorado Springs to receive training in holistic dentistry. “That year I took all my mercury fillings out.”

While Villareal acknowledges that removing mercury fillings can be expensive, he points out that managing a severe, chronic disease can be a heavy financial burden as well. “Dentists make crowns out of silver fillings, and it lasts a long time. A lot of mercury fillings are very large, partial or full crowns, so removing them can be costly. On the other hand, if you are sick, you’re going to end up paying a lot of money to feel well as well. At least if you remove the silver fillings, you don’t have that toxic burden of mercury anymore.”

The dentist estimates that he’s removed approximately 20,000 removals mercury fillings in the past 24 years. “I wouldn’t be doing this type of dentistry if I didn’t see it helping people,” he said.

Learn more about holistic biological dentistry on the websites for the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology  (IAOMT) and for the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine (IABDM). Find out more about the dangers and toxicity of mercury at ToxicTeeth.org and in the new documentary You Put What In My Mouth.

You can learn more about Villareal’s practice of holistic dentistry at BioDentalHealing.com.

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