The power of meditation

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” ―Sydney J. Harris

I51356326_Mt’s no secret that reducing your stress levels can improve your health and well-being. We know what you’re thinking: Easier said than done. Right? What exactly can you do to significantly reduce stress — and is it even possible?

Meditation is a powerful way to reduce stress, anxiety and improve your overall health and well-being. It might be something you have considered or maybe you’ve never pictured yourself doing it. Some people think it’s a practice only relegated to gurus and people from eastern traditions. Neither is true. Meditation is accessible and can be adapted by anyone, anywhere. It’s really just focusing your thoughts.

Here are some steps that can help you become a meditating master:

  1. Set a schedule: When meditating, it is important to set aside a specific time just for this purpose. Make it a priority.
  2. Make yourself comfortable: If your body isn’t comfortable, it’s going to be extremely difficult to focus your thoughts on anything else. Find a cozy chair, sit on the floor or even lay on your back, whatever makes you feel most relaxed.
  3. Focus on your breathing: Focusing on your breathing will help you get your heart rate down and relax your body. Take deep breaths! It will also help you keep your thoughts from wandering onto other things. Try inhaling through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth. You can also focus on how deeply you can breathe. Speaking of breathing, here are some simple mindful breathing exercises to try.
  4. Get some help: One of the biggest obstacles to using meditation as a health and wellness tool is getting started. Many people feel intimidated and/or worried they won’t be able to figure out how to do it correctly. Try one of these free apps to get started. UCLA Mindful, for example, has a Getting Started section, which can help you understand what mindfulness is, how to do it and how often, and how it can benefit you.
  5. Experiment: The most important thing about meditation is finding out what works best for you. Try to experiment with different techniques and guided meditations, keeping your eyes open or shutting them, being indoors or outdoors. The time of day might also impact the overall experience.

Stress can not only put a damper on your mental well-being but also your physical well-being. Why not try incorporating meditation into your daily schedule?

How to get your insurance company to cover the mold damage in your home

It’s a common situation. Many homeowners discover mold in their homes and either neglect to engage their insurance company or engage them on the terms of the insurance company. Mold and dirt on window

If you have mold damage, you must notify your insurance company about the damages.

But in doing so, you need to do this smartly. You may have a few questions about what is covered. Below are statements that are true for most policies (although some discrepancies may apply). Generally:

  • Storm damage is covered.
  • Broken pipes are covered.
  • Damage due to an accidental case like you left the water running in the bathtub and it overflowed onto the floor, ceilings, etc. is covered
  • And in most cases, the resulting downstream effects of these covered situations are also covered.

However, damage due to owner neglect is generally not covered. Similarly, damage that resulted from normal “wear and tear” is not covered. To make sure mold damage is covered, you have to tie it to a covered event to get it covered.

These steps outline the process.

  1. Get a copy of your policy and read it carefully so you know exactly what is covered and what is not covered.
  2. Do your best to reconstruct a covered event and tie it to the presence of the mold. For example, perhaps there was a storm some weeks/months ago that caused a roof leak that went unnoticed, but now you can see it. Or there may have been a storm that opened a leak into the basement
  3. When reconstructing, you have to avoid having the insurance company classify the situation as owner neglect or normal wear and tear, so again, refer to point #2.

There is no magic but with some awareness of what is covered is what is not covered and some good detective work and a good memory, you may be able to reconstruct a scenario that meets the insurance company requirements for coverage. Even if you don’t get 100% coverage, you may get partial coverage if they determine that some percentage of the issue was caused by the storm, but you failed to mitigate so they apportion some of the damage to you. You are still generally ahead of the curve if you can even get a partial determination of coverage.

Mold, too, can have an ongoing effect on your health, especially on lung health and allergies. If you’re experiencing signs of chronic illness or not feeling optimal, we’re here to help. Visit our website to learn more about our approach and treatment options: http://proactivewellness.com

Are you sabotaging your gut health?

50763936 - woman blending vegetables“All disease begins in the gut.”

This is a quote attributed to the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates nearly 2,500 years ago. Well, he wasn’t far off. With every food and lifestyle choice, we’re either feeding disease or fighting it!

On that note, are you helping or hurting your microbiome? As you look to make some changes in 2022, be sure you’re not jeopardizing your gut health. Hundreds of species of bacteria reside in your gut. Some of them are friendly, while others are not. Your body is constantly trying to keep itself in balance so that it can function at an optimal level.

That said, if you’re concerned with gut health (as you should be) here are 10 habits you may want to reconsider:

1. Thinking fermented foods are the only means to support your gut through food.

Move over kimchi —there’s more to the story than fermented foods to keep the good bacteria happy. For example, functional medicine doctors recommend eating cruciferous vegetables to promote gut health. They’re known to support digestion and can even help with bloating. So maybe toss some arugula in your morning smoothie.

2. Using a less-than-ideal probiotic.

With so many probiotics on the market, you might not know where to turn. When in doubt keep in mind that experts recommend selecting a probiotic with targeted strains, each of which performs a different function in the gut. Think: combatting bloating, supporting digestion and regularity, and promoting a healthy weight.

3. Eating when stressed.

You likely know the expression “eating your feelings.” Our emotional state while we’re eating can actually affect digestion and nutrient absorption. When we eat in a state of fight-or-flight, this can then cause that food to sit in the gut for longer. While it’s not always possible to feel completely serene when eating, it’s worth trying to consume meals mindfully when we can. That means turning the TV off and putting your phone away. Also, try to chew each bite and truly enjoy the food.

4. Having a sweet tooth.

If your diet includes only processed foods, your overall health will suffer but your gut will be the hardest hit. Eating food products that are high in sugar can send your gut into an imbalance. This poor condition can lead to excessive sugar cravings that can cause inflammation in the body. And inflammation leads to disease, so you can see why it’s a dangerous proposition to eat a lot of sweets all the time.

5. Not drinking enough water.

You enjoy your morning latte, but do you make a point to get in enough water, too?

Water is important for your overall health. Drinking a good amount of water at regular intervals aids digestion improves skin as well as regulates bowel movements. Make a point to drink half your body weight in ounces and limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Herbal teas are hydrating, too.

6. Leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Exercise is very important for a fit and healthy body. Breaking a sweat is not only good for losing weight but also improves heart health and blood circulation in the body. Any form of physical activity — from walking to lifting weights— causes movement in the body, which is also good for the gut.

7. Abusing alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol regularly leads to an imbalance in the gut bacteria. Drinking moderately and occasionally is preferable to ensure you keep the good bacteria happy and fend off disease. Cheers to that!

8. Not maintaining a healthy sleep routine.

An irregular sleep cycle leads to severe problems like constant fatigue, irritation as well as acidity. Not maintaining a healthy sleep cycle puts a strain on your body and makes you more susceptible to getting sick.

9. Taking antibiotics too often.

Antibiotics are necessary and important medicines used to treat infections and diseases caused by bacteria. They work by either killing bacteria or preventing them from multiplying and have saved millions of lives since their introduction.

However, one of their drawbacks is that they affect both good and bad bacteria. It’s known that a single antibiotic treatment can lead to harmful changes in the composition and diversity of the gut flora. Read: Your stomach might not be happy for some time.

10. You smoke cigarettes.

You might not think your smoking habit would have far-reaching effects beyond increasing your risk of cancer, but you’d be wrong. Smoking causes harm to nearly every organ in the body, including your stomach.

Cigarette smoking is also one of the most important environmental risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease. Worse yet, smokers are twice as likely to have Crohn’s disease, a common type of inflammatory bowel disease, compared to non-smokers.

The good news? The damage is not irreversible. In one study, smoking cessation increased gut flora diversity, which is a marker of a healthy gut.

If you have specific questions or concerns about gut health, please feel free to contact us at (703) 822-5003. We’re here to walk alongside your health journey however we can.

Mindfulness – make it a daily habit

There’s no doubt about it: Mindfulness can be a powerful health and wellness tool. After all, most people want to feel happier, healthier and less stressed. And mindfulness is more accessible than ever before. There are a ton of apps, like Calm and Headspace, that can help you bring mindfulness into your daily practice. More and more workplaces are also focusing on mindfulness and wellness practices, as well. It’s easier now than ever to hone this skill, and all it takes is a few minutes a day to get results. Working woman thinking about solution

But if you’re new to mindfulness and meditation or if you don’t love traditional therapy practices, it can be a little overwhelming to dive into an app or program. That’s ok! There are lots of other ways to re-center and refocus that don’t require a lot of time or effort. Here are a few you might try:

Be more present: Do you find yourself zoning out and looking at your phone during in-person conversations with a friend? Or maybe you feel so anxious and overwhelmed, it can be difficult to focus on the tasks at hand.

We’ve all been there. That’s called phubbing and it can harm relationships. Challenge yourself to keep your device in your pocket and maintain eye contact during the exchange. Your friend will appreciate your undivided attention and return the favor. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do. Trying limiting the number of times you multitask in your daily life, especially when you’re communicating with friends and loved ones, who deserve your undivided attention.

Create: Science tells us that engaging in activities that require the use of the right side of the brain can help us tap into creativity and innovation we didn’t know we had. For example, the mere act of coloring in a coloring book designed for adults can be a way to detach healthily and unplug from life’s stressors. The same goes for other arts and crafts pursuits, like sewing, knitting, jewelry making, etc. Find what speaks to you and carve out space for it when you can.

Sleep: There’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep — and the research backs it. It’s well known that the most successful people make a point to get more shuteye. They also tend to be more patient and understanding with their friends and family. If you struggle with falling asleep right away, you might consider creating a calming bedtime ritual that includes guided meditation or listening to some calming music before bedtime. Talk to your physician about getting a better night’s sleep. Sleep tracking devices and apps can help you make see patterns and tweak them as necessary for optimal sleep.

Try meditation. It may seem mysterious, but it’s quite simple. And research suggests that there’s a whole bunch of benefits to meditating regularly. You can start meditation by just sitting in silence for 5 minutes a day. During this time, try to focus on your breathing. It can be tough to tune out all the thoughts swirling around our heads, but by focusing on inhaling and exhaling, you can start to clear your mind. Meditation takes practice, however, so don’t worry if thoughts if you can’t quiet all the thoughts in your mind. Check out this guide to getting started, too.

Mindfulness may seem trendy, but the truth is, it’s been around for thousands of years. And people need it more than ever with the pandemic weighing heavily on a lot of us.

Aging secrets from the Blue Zones

42109205 - senior african american couple at home“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

There’s no fountain of youth, but there are habits that can set you up for success as you age. What does it take to become a centenarian and truly enjoy life as you advance in years? Here’s a look at some of the commonalities between people in Blue Zones — areas where people have long lifespans and low rates of chronic disease.

1. Integrate basic movement into your everyday life.

The world’s longest-lived people don’t run marathons or do CrossFit. Instead, they’re always on the go and seldom sedentary. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical interventions for house and yard work. In other words, their activities of daily living keep them healthy and fit. Movement is more of an afterthought than something they intentionally seek out.

2. Find purpose.

Whether it’s through one’s zone or a hobby, knowing your sense of purpose is key to aging happily and healthfully. Experts say it’s worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.

3. Destress.

People in Blue Zones are not immune from stress. Such a feeling is associated with chronic inflammation. Every major age-related disease is caused or exasperated by high inflammatory markers. What the world’s oldest people have that we don’t are routines that help them cope. For instance, Sardinians do happy hour and this social interaction can pay dividends. Some people turn to four-legged friends as therapy or go for daily walks. Others have hobbies that keep them centered. Whatever the case, these healthy coping mechanisms can mean the difference between a mediocre quality of life and a rich one. Even just 10 minutes each day can improve your outlook and lower stress.

4. Follow the 80% rule.

What if you stopped when you felt 80 percent full? Think about how that might positively impact your waistline. In Okinawa, they do just that. Their fellow peers in other Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and then they don’t eat anymore for the rest of the day. That means no snacking!

5. Eat mostly plants.

Blue Zoners tend to be more omnivorous than carnivorous. Beans, soy, and lentils tend to be staples of centenarians. Meat is mostly ceremonial and only eaten a few times a month — and in moderation. Serving sizes are 3 to 4 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. People in these regions also tend to eat very little or no dairy.

6. Lean into Happy Hour.

Dry red, anyone? People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. The data tell us that moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers but with a few caveats. The trick is to drink one to two glasses per day with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and go on a bender on Saturday to round it out.

7. Find belonging.

Are you a regular at Sunday services? Blue Zone residents are keen on faith-based communities. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month can add up to 14 years of life expectancy.

8. Put loved ones first.

Family is at the center of life in Blue Zones where they often live in multi-generational households. Aging parents and grandparents live nearby or in the home. These individuals commit to a life partner (which can add up to three years of life expectancy) and have strong connections to their children.

9. Find the right community.

Centenarians aren’t islands. On the contrary, they have rich and robust social circles that support healthy behaviors. For example, Okinawans create moais—pods of five friends that commit to each other for life. There’s research that shows we tend to adopt the habits and behaviors of those in our inner circles. In this sense, healthy practices are contagious!

To make it to age 100, there are some genetic factors at play. But most of us have the capacity to make it well into our early 90s and largely without chronic disease if we take care of ourselves, eat sensibly, move more and make a point to put friends and family first. In this sense, nature and nurture both matter and it’s never too late to make changes for the better.

What’s one of these habits you can work on this week? As Dan Buettner, who studied Blue Zones, puts it: “Living longer and feeling better is the sum of a few small easy choices you can incorporate into everyday life.” In other words, start small and work your way from there and you’re bound to find success.

We hope that you find this message to be informative and useful as you look to making some changes in 2022. If you have specific questions or concerns about longevity, please feel free to contact us at (703) 822-5003. Remember, you’re never too old to invest in your health.

4 ways to sneak in more vitamin C

This year, as with every flu season, everyone is trying their best to steer clear of cold-causing germs. Of course, best practices are to wash your hands (20 seconds under hot water with soap), get adequate sleep, drink plenty of fluids and keep your home clean. You can also keep flu at bay by bolstering your immune system with vitamin c.
16311394 - sick woman  flu  woman caught cold  sneezing into tissue

Our bodies do not naturally produce this essential nutrient, so one of the best ways to benefit from it is by eating vitamin c-rich foods.

Strawberries
Half a cup of this fruit contains 49 milligrams or 82 percent of the recommended daily value (DV). Lucky for us, strawberry season coincides with flu season, so stock up!

Other non-citrus fruits
While oranges generally come to mind when you think vitamin C, there are also plenty of non-citrus fruits brimming with the immune-booster, and sometimes offer even more. These fruits include guava (140 percent of the DV for a single guava), kiwi (one kiwi comes in at 79 percent of the DV) and papayas (one cup provides 97 percent of the DV). Try cutting them up for a delicious cold-fighting fruit salad.

Herbs
Thyme and parsley are big vitamin C providers. In fact, fresh thyme has three times more vitamin C than oranges and two tablespoons of fresh parsley provide 11 percent of the recommended DV. Sprinkle your meal with these herbs and not only do you end up with a palate pleaser, but you’ll also benefit from the vitamin C you need to help fight flu-bearing germs.

Cabbage and sauerkraut
Red cabbage, in particular, is high in vitamin C, but when fermented into sauerkraut, you can expect the vitamin C levels to increase by more than 600 milligrams per cup!

Vitamin C is water soluble, which means our body does not store it. You want to make sure you’re getting the recommended daily dose through consuming food that contains it, and incorporating a little more into your diet when you feel a cold coming on or in the thick of flu season. Don’t let the flu get you down this season. Cheers to good health now, and year-round!

The skinny on gut health

43693853 - closeup up the bowl of healthy breakfastFor years, scientists have known about the existence of another brain within our bodies. No, it’s not science fiction but reality. Our stomach functions totally independently and does far more than just digestion. It’s said that health begins in the gut, which is to say that its condition can influence and impact our overall health. Chronic inflammation in the gut is known to cause various diseases and conditions ranging from mild to acute.

On the other hand, lifestyle factors can be a boon to one’s microbiome, also known as the collection of the gut’s microbes. Here’s a look at a few of the variables that can help or hinder the gut’s state and what you can do to optimize your microbiome.

Diet

This one is fairly obvious, but it’s worth noting. Think: You are what you eat. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides the fiber that makes the good bacteria happy. For example, a bowl of oatmeal with some berries is a great way to start your day and keep your gut healthy and happy.

Nutritionists and dieticians also recommend fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, kombucha and the like to balance the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gut. If you suffer from chronic constipation and bloating, you may have an undiagnosed condition to blame. Make sure to express any concerns to your doctor and make note of any recent changes in your bathroom habits. It helps to keep a food journal so you can better connect the dots.

Sleep

A good night’s rest is a friend to anyone, but there’s more to rest than we give it credit for. Just as R&R is good for your overall constitution, a deficit can also prove to be detrimental. Poor quality or not enough sleep can increase your risk of obesity, which can wreak havoc on the gut. Side note: Some experts believe it’s a chicken-and-egg phenomenon. Does obesity cause poor gut health or does poor gut health cause obesity? We’re still learning a lot about metabolism and the role the gut plays in the process. In the meantime, we know that poor sleep hygiene can take its toll on the body and mind.

Movement

Sedentary people tend to have a less diverse microbiome than those who are more physically active. Importantly, physical activity increases the abundance of beneficial bacteria in your gut, enriches the diversity of the bacteria, and can enhance the production of disease-fighting compounds. It’s also known that exercise can help us manage our weight by keeping us “regular.” Even a daily 20-minute daily walk can help aid digestion. So get moving!

 

Stress management

Nerves got the best of you? There’s a reason some people get an upset stomach when they’re feeling uneasy. The state of our gut is reflected by our emotions and vice versa. The good news? The more you can manage stress — especially the chronic kind — the more you can maintain a healthy mix of gut flora.

Another reason to try to keep your cool? There’s a contingent of research that suggests that when we are exposed to stress, the abundance of health-promoting bacteria is reduced. The reduction in diversity and the low abundance of beneficial microbes in the gut can influence our mood, cognitive abilities, and behavior. The two-way communication system, known as the gut-brain axis, really is a powerful thing.

Travel

Travel can be a real wildcard. Airplanes, changing time zones, eating airport food and local cuisine, lack of hydration, and even stress can cause a microbial imbalance and manifest in digestive issues. However, eating whole foods can increase the abundance of healthy bacteria in your gut. Do your best to try to maintain some of your routine and your stomach will thank you.

Medications and Supplements

Certain prescriptions like antibiotics can destroy the balance in the gut. That’s why if you take one your doctor might recommend following it with a high-quality probiotic to help restore the beneficial gut flora. Other drugs can also disrupt the microbiome. Opioids, for example, like morphine, are associated with severe constipation. One study found up to 25% of 835 non-antibiotic drugs suppressed the growth of at least one bacterium.

On the proactive side of things, some people swear by collagen to nurture their microbiome on a daily basis. Collagen is beneficial to gut health because it contains large amounts of the amino acids glycine, glutamine and proline, which can be beneficial to the intestinal tract as well as the stomach.

When it comes to a healthy belly, there’s no magic bullet. What’s one gut-healthy habit you can work on this week?

We hope that you find this message to be informative and useful as we look to the promise of a new year. If you have specific questions or concerns about gut health, please feel free to contact us at (703) 822-5003. Remember, health is wealth!

How being intentional can change your life

Do your days ever run together so much that you’re left at the end of the week wondering where the time went and confused about what you actually accomplished? Did you enter into the weekend with the realization that your to-do list was not even close to completed?

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It is okay to find yourself in these scenarios every so often, but if it becomes a pattern that has you stressed and wanting to make a change, think about intentionally becoming…well, more intentional. You’ll see the difference when you do. Here’s how to start:

What to know about being intentional
Living with purpose has its benefits because you’re curating and living a life that is full of meaning for you. It ends up translating to a fulfilling life that greatly improves your attitude, stress level and relationships with others. When we wander through our life aimlessly, we may find ourselves more often in situations that make us unhappy or unsettled.

How to begin living intentionally
It’s simple in theory and just takes a little bit of finesse to adjust to your new way of living. First, start with truly engaging with people. For example, instead of thinking of what you want to say next as your co-worker is speaking, actively listen and take in what they’re saying. Your interactions will shift from having a transactional feel to feeling like they have more meaning, even if the conversation is about work.

You can also try these tips:

  • Every morning think about what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel when the day is over. Then, with that in mind, conquer your day in such a way that you can meet that intention.
  • When you find yourself in a scenario where you have a choice to make, take the time to evaluate your options. This can serve to empower you in other areas of your life.
  • Write down your goals. Follow the S.M.A.R.T goal criteria by making sure your goals are specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related.
  • Be observant of the world around you and act as you see fit. This can mean holding the door for the elderly or buying a coffee for a stressed-out mom.

Being intentional is a lifestyle shift that will do wonders for your mental health. You can also expect to feel more productive and better equipped to handle curveballs that come your way. If you want help being more intentional or you want to improve your goal-setting skills, call and make an appointment with Jenny Bair, Life Coach, at (972) 930-0260.

Omega 3’s vs. Omega-6s: What you need to know

Top view of different types of hummusRemember when fat used to be a dirty word? We’re looking at you, 1990s fad diets. The truth is, we as Americans were misguided by bad information. Somewhere along the way, we were taught to believe that all fats are created equally. In reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. Any knowledgeable provider will tell you that certain so-called “good” fats are essential for achieving and maintaining optimal health. You may be deficient in some of these fats. We’re talking about the good guys, omega-3s.

“Good” fats

For context, the major omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The latter are the fatty acids found in cold-water fish and fish oils are a darling of the integrative nutrition community today. But they weren’t always in favor. Scientists first became interested in omega-3s while studying native peoples in Alaska known as the Inuit. This ethnic group eats nearly 10 pounds of meat and blubber a day, with almost no reports of cardiovascular disease! You read that right!

News flash: Fat isn’t the enemy. The researchers soon concluded that there had to be something about omega-3 fats that was different from other types. In contrast to omega-6 fats, it has health-promoting properties.

Benefits of omega-3s

Fast forward to today and the benefits of omega-3 oils are still being studied. However, we do have hard data that can guide patient care and outcomes. First, it’s known that omega-3 oils decrease VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins). These are the worst of the worst when it comes to causing coronary artery disease. In other words, eating foods rich in omega-3s has the effect of lowering triglycerides, the fat found in your blood.

Secondly, omega-3 oils are helpful in that they promote the production of good prostaglandins over bad prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that serve many functions in the body. The good ones make blood more “slippery” and tend to relax the smooth muscles in blood vessels, promoting good cardiovascular health. Of course, this is an overly simplified explanation, but you get the idea.

Other research indicates that increasing omega-3 oils and decreasing omega-6 oils (most vegetable oils) decreases the risk of cancer. The benefits of eating omega-3 oils extend into other diseases as well, including arthritis, asthma, depression, and possibly bipolar disorders. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat,” and omega-3s can really help you in the quest for a long, healthy and happy life.

“Bad” fats

Some research suggests that early humans consumed equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in their diets and that this was beneficial to their health. But we’re no longer hunters and gatherers and our bodies work differently than they did centuries ago. Today, many people in the U.S. eat far more omega-6s than omega-3s. Researchers believe that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in a typical Western diet is 20-to-1 or higher. Wow!

A lot of omega-6 fats are “hidden,” in that they’re found in common processed foods such as cookies and crackers, as well as in fast food and fried foods. You can also find them in safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Just as omega-3s might be a boon to health, omega-6s can have adverse effects. For instance, a 2018 study found an association between a higher dietary intake of omega-6 fats and inflammation associated with tissue damage and disease. What’s more, the Arthritis Foundation claims that omega-6 fatty acids may trigger the body’s production of pro-inflammatory substances, potentially worsening symptoms in people with arthritis. Other data has linked diets high in omega-6 fats to obesity.

Dietary changes

Now for the good news? Armed with this information, you can make better choices when meal planning. For example, organic meat and milk differ markedly from their conventionally produced counterparts in measures of certain nutrients. In particular, levels of omega-3 fatty acids were 50 percent higher in the organic versions. The higher levels of omega-3 are because organic milk and beef come from cattle that graze on grass, while most conventional milk and beef come from grain-fed cows.

It’s recommended that Americans do their best to ensure that no more than 5% to 10% of their daily calories come from omega-6 fats. For someone consuming 2,000 calories a day, that translates into 11 to 22 grams. A salad dressing made with one tablespoon of safflower oil gives you 9 grams of omega-6 fats; one ounce of sunflower seeds, 9 grams; one ounce of walnuts, 11 grams. On the other hand, omega-3 fats can be readily found in oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines; fish oil and flaxseed oil; flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds.

If you still have questions about omega-3 and omega-6 fats and how they might affect your health, we’re just a phone call away. (703) 822-5003

Four reasons to eat pumpkin seeds this season

These little seeds are big on nutrients. Given that we are in the season of pumpkin patches and pumpkin pie, you probably have a surplus of pumpkin seeds. Instead of discarding them, clean them off and get to roasting!32978900_S

These tasty seeds are packed high with zinc, magnesium and the healthy kind of fat you want to consume. Not to mention that they’re incredibly versatile and delicious. Beyond adding flavor and crunch to your foods,here are just some of the health perks you may benefit from eating pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants.
Antioxidant-rich foods are known to protect the body against many diseases, as well as reduce and prevent uncomfortable inflammation. Antioxidants also help to prevent certain cancers.

Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium.
Magnesium is a mineral you need to stay healthy, but you may be surprised to know that at least half of all Americans (some studies report up to 80%) aren’t getting the recommended daily dosage. Magnesium helps with blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar and more.

Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber.
You can expect a little over a one gram of fiber per one ounce serving of pumpkin seeds. That’s an impressive amount of fiber for such a small serving. Foods containing a fair amount of fiber promotes good digestive health, as well as a reduced risk of diabetes and obesity.

Pumpkin seeds may help you sleep.
And here you thought all of that Thanksgiving turkey was to blame. Tryptophan, an amino acid known to aid in sleep, found in turkey also occurs in pumpkin seeds. The high levels of magnesium and zinc in pumpkin seeds may lull you to better sleep.

So, give pumpkin seeds some love this season. Roast them and eat plain, sprinkle raw as a topping on salad, or even make your own granola with seeds, oats and other nutrient-rich foods.