Arnica for bruises, sprains, strains

I generally don’t use topical stuff or supplements. Even when I have a good remedy, I have a bad tendency to forget to use it. Arnica is my big exception. Arnica montana is an herb that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It makes a terrific topical oil for bruises, sprains, and strains. It’s fantastic for reducing inflammation in the area and speeding up healing.

arnicaoilI have a source for organic, locally-grown, hand-picked, hand-processed Arnica oil. It also contains a little St. Johns Wort for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, and olive oil so it soaks into the skin. I prefer topical application to the pills, because it puts the medication where you need it, rather than spreading it out over the entire body, and because in high doses, taken internally, it can be toxic.

In all my years of martial arts, personal training, and running an acupuncture clinic (not to mention my own boo-boos), this is easily the best preparation I have found. It’s far superior to the multitude of diluted oils, creams and homeopathic pills generally available (most contain only small amounts of arnica), and that’s why it’s the only product I carry. I have bottles for $15 – swing by and pick one up! Use on unbroken skin only, please, and of course discontinue if your skin is irritated.

 

Foot Pain, Foot Function, & Shoes

My personal health issues, combined with frustration with lack of results using the current common answers, continually take me to new and interesting places. In the past year most of what I know about metabolism, nutrition, and now feet (and foot pain) has shifted drastically. It all comes back to evolution.

I’ve had intermittent stabbing pain for about 7 years, focused at the 1st MP joint (where the big toe joins the foot). I walk a lot, and the more I walked, the more it hurt. It had been diagnosed as a stress fracture years ago, and and for years I would wear Danskos* (hard soles, so my feet didn’t flex) when the pain got bad. Basically the Danskos acted as a walking boot. I am heavy (180lbs, due to muscle and bone from my bodybuilding days, plus all the extra padding I’m currently carrying) and have small feet and a stompy gait… It just refused to heal.

The foot pain had been interfering with my workouts, but it was getting worse and now messing with my weekend fun, too … that’s no good! So I started investigating and it turns out the solution was simple. I didn’t have a stress fracture at all.

diabetes_foot_problems_s13_hammertoesWearing tight shoes, especially heels, can cause bunions (angled big toe), neuromas, and hammertoes (bent toes), too. Fortunately my problem was easier to fix than the poor feet in this stock photo!

I had to change my shoes.

That wasn’t all of it, of course – I also needed some fascial adhesions stripped out. Acupuncture reduced the pain and swelling, and the minimal shoes I transitioned into have had the cool side-effect of forcing me to soften my gait. I wear CorrectToes spacers when I remember. Still, changing the shoes was key . Shopping guide here.

Rolfer Karin Edwards-Wagner does a lot of work with feet, and she pointed me towards the brilliant Dr. Ray McClanahan. He’s got a bunch of videos and articles on his site, so rather than reinventing the wheel I’ll just let you look at his stuff.

Here’s the deal: See those bones on the top of your foot? Your toes should extend in a straight line from them. For centuries we have crammed our feet into shoes that gathered the toes together, creating a sleeker pointed look instead of the spread “duck-foot” that nature intended.

Available here in the office, Correct Toes spacers help separate and flatten your toes into a natural spread for better stability. Use them along with changing your shoes, and getting some acupuncture and medical massage to break up fascial adhesions and relax the muscles of your feet. Your knees, hips, and even lower back will be happier once your gait is correct!

ct-before-during-after__smCorrectToesLogo_small

 

Under your big toes are tiny floating bones called sesamoid bones, which provide leverage and assist in tracking as a tendon moves over bone. The knee cap is a sesamoid, too – in fact you can imagine a miniature knee cap under that joint in your foot. The bones have grooves that the sesamoids are supposed to follow. If the toe angles inwards, the bone is pulled off track. Ouch!

The funny thing here is that my feet look pretty “normal.” I don’t have bunions or any obvious deformation… just a few degrees was enough to cause that foot pain for me. I haven’t worn heels for years. Even so, I had a huge pile of shoes and boots (some of them practically new) that I had to sell, donate, or toss. The trick is finding shoes that:

1)   Have flexible soles across the ball of the foot and also longitudinally, for twisting.

2)   Have the heel at the same level as the toe. Now that I’m used to “zero-drop” shoes, even a half-inch heel feels weird.

3)   Fit well in the heel and instep, but have lots of room in the toebox. This is why regular “wide” shoes don’t work for me – the rest of my foot isn’t wide. See the pic below.

4)   Don’t have a lot of  “toe spring” – that’s when the toe of the shoe comes up off the ground. It pushes you into an unnatural position all the time.

When buying shoes, remember to check for fit with the shoe liner test. Take out the inserts and stand on them (with all of your weight). If your toes drip off the edge, they are too small. Standing  on the bottoms of the soles of shoes is another good way to assess how much room you’ll have. If your favorite shoes are just a smidge too tight in the toe box, you can remove the inserts, which gives you a few more millimeters of room to stretch out.  If they are lace-up shoes, skipping the first set of holes can also let the toe box open up.

No more foot pain! See how the medial (inside) edge has a square-ish corner, instead of being rounded? Wide at the ball of the foot isn't enough - that big toe needs to be able to move and spread outwards. These are my new favorites, Clark's "Faraway Field," available in other colors if you aren't into blue suede shoes. :)

No more foot pain! See how the medial (inside) edge has a square-ish corner, instead of being rounded? Wide at the ball of the foot isn’t enough – that big toe needs to be able to move and spread outwards. These are my new favorites, Clark’s “Faraway Field,” available in other colors if you aren’t into blue suede shoes. :)

The sad truth is that most of the anatomically correct footwear out there is hideous, but I have found some cute options! Shopping info here. My winter boot review is here.

In addition to going shoe shopping, I also got some socks! The regular “mitten” sock can encourage toes to gather together, especially if they get pulled tight as you slip into your shoe.  When I wear those, I stretch out the toe seam to give myself some room. Sock Dreams is a fun local company that carries a variety of toe socks, and they ship for free.

Can’t give up the heels due to work or your fashionista status? Check out this article on ways to mitigate the effects of high heels. 

So… the real question is, did it work? My emphatic answer is YES! A week after switching, for the first time I finished a LARPing weekend without being in agony. My foot and knee may have grumbled a few times (I run for miles during these weekends) but that searing pain was gone. At the end, instead of waiting miserably for Robert to be done cleaning, I was out doing extra trash sweeps, because I felt that good!  Plus, at my next workout, I had to ask Brandie to throw extra weights on for the leg extensions and squat press, because the weight we were doing before suddenly felt ridiculously easy. Correcting my foot function helped my knee normalize, too, which is a bonus I hadn’t expected. It makes sense, though. If the toes can spread out and do their job creating stability, it takes a lot of pressure off the knees.

The next adventure is the perfect intersection of SCA / LARP / craftiness, and healthcare: I’m going to try making my own shoes!

*Setting aside the issue of the heel height for the moment, it’s true that Danskos and other hard clogs make it easier on your feet. The trouble is, they make it too easy. It was obvious once I thought about it…

When a patient comes in with a brace (on the wrist, knee, back, whatever), we always have this discussion: “Immediately after an injury, a little support is very helpful. As you heal, though, you need to wean off the brace. It’s good to wear it for sports, or challenging events, but not all the time. If you baby the muscles, they won’t work and get stronger, which is what you really need to heal. Eventually you should be brace-free.”

I’d been over-bracing my feet. *headdesk*

Wearing softer, more flexible shoes that allow / force my feet to get to work makes them stronger. Here’s a cool exercise you can do to strengthen your arch. I still prefer some shock absorption when walking on man-made surfaces like concrete, but for dirt and carpet I like to go more minimal. More exercises! And even more!

What about arch support? Modern shoes actually give us TOO much support, so our foot and leg muscles don’t work, and get weak. Remember we evolved without shoes. Our feet are designed to support us, given the chance. By doing foot exercises and gradually transitioning to more minimal shoes, your arch will support itself. This is awesome because it means your feet take a lot of the load back from the ankles, knees, and hips in terms of balancing. The whole body works better when strong and supple.

Now that I have spent some time opening my feet up, I love the thin toe-separated shoes like Vibram 5 fingers. Just ease into them… minimal footwear takes some transition if your feet have been over-supported in regular shoes. I have a pair of Filas that are similar (just have shorter toes, so they fit me better) and I adore them! They are phenomenal for running around in the woods.

EDIT 7/1/13: Here’s an awesome article on another reason to wear good shoes – neurological challenge! Also – I get asked about foot pain due to Morton’s neuromas and plantar fasciitis (inflamed fascia) a lot. YES, I can treat them! The good news is that the treatment is immediately and highly effective. The bad news is that it’s the only treatment I do that hurts… Sorry. But only briefly, and it’s worth it, speaking personally!

Toenail Fungus: Prevention and Treatment

 

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the warm weather, more people are letting their feet breathe by wearing comfortable sandals and flip-flips. And with all these toes out for a walk, I’m seeing a lot of toenail fungus. Some sources claim as many as 12% of us are affected. You might have it, too! Are your nails thick? Yellowed? Crumbly? What starts as a mild case on one big toe can spread to all ten digits, and eventually deform your nails. I see it on hands, too, but not as frequently.

To prevent an infection of toenail fungus, thoroughly wash and dry your feet daily. Use only clean cotton socks, and don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row (this lets the insides dry completely). In wet common-use areas like a sauna or gym shower, use shower shoes to prevent exposure. Definitely treat your feet to an extra scrub after your dip in a public pool or hot tub. If you go for professional pedicures, you should bring your own tools (running them in the dishwasher before and after to keep them clean) to prevent picking up an infection from another client. If you are prone to toenail fungus, you should forgo polish. Fungus actually lives on the dye of the polish, according to a podiatrist friend, so use a clear coat as a base.

If you are already infected, don’t worry. Just follow the above hygiene rules, and add in a twice-daily anti-fungal treatment. Lamisil is a popular over-the-counter topical product. Vicks Vap-O-Rub works well, too, because toenail fungus dislikes an acidic environment, and the vaseline base makes it stick to the area. Apply it morning and evening, after a thorough wash and dry, then cover with clean white socks. In 6-8 weeks you should see healthy nail growth.

People who prefer the “natural” route can use tea-tree oil or vinegar, but be aware that the treatment can take months. Severe cases should ask their doctor for prescription medication. And of course, acupuncture to help boost your immune system is a great idea, too. :)

Trusted Referrals & Healthy Shoe Shopping

Here’s a short list of professionals I recommend. Please let me know if you use one of these referrals – I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

Also – the second half is a guide to shopping for healthy shoes.

Medical Doctor:
Dr. Kathy Alvarez
Cedar Hills Office Park 
1815 SW Marlow Suite 206 
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 296-6144

Chinese Herbal Medicine:
Root and Branch
7642 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, Oregon 97219
(971) 288-5939

Physical Therapy:
New Heights
Locations in Vancouver, SE Portland, and NW Portland

Hand Surgeon:
Dr. Charles Woolley
2311 NW Northrup St, Portland, OR 97210
(503) 274-4865

Podiatrist:
Dr. Ray McClanahan
Northwest Foot & Ankle
2701 NW Vaughn Street, Suite 424
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 243-2699

Personal Trainer:
Brandie Sylfae
(503) 422-0402

Rolfers:
Jenny Rock
(503) 345-7660
Body Balance Rolfing & Massage
10700 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway
Building 3, Suite 605  (2nd floor, there is an elevator)

Karin Edwards-Wagner
2732 SE 18th Ave Portland, OR 97202
(503) 230-0087

Massage:
Sally Leonard
Forget Me Knots
12655 SE Center St, Ste 530, Beaverton 97005
Yes, she’s in my office!
503-201-7110

Clark Original on the left. The Jafe on the right is too stiff to be ideal for regular wear, but a rare find for fancy dress-up occasions.

Clark’s Original “Faraway Field” on the left, grey with mint stitching, also available in red, black, and brown. The Jafe on the right is too stiff to be ideal for regular wear, but works as a rare heel-less find for fancy dress-up occasions. Edited to add: The Jafe’s softened up with use, and the Clark’s model comes in more colors now! I just got myself some blue suede shoes!

Buying bio-mechanically correct shoes:
First, read this article about foot function and how to assess a shoe. Then, look for brands like Born, Clark’s, Keen, Lems, Jambu & J-41 (sexy sandals!), Vivo, Altra, Jafe, Xero, TOPO, Vivobarefoot, and Merrell. Naot and Reiker make wide-toebox shoes that are super cute but stiffer / more supportive in the sole, so they are appropriate for transitioning or if you are going to do major mileage on concrete. FiveFinger and Fila make minimal, separated toe shoes (personally, my short toes like the Filas much better – and they were a mere $30 at Big 5 sports!). Please note that I am NOT endorsing every model shoe the above brands make. For example, Keen has two footbeds, a stiff, narrow version (skip these!) and the one I like with the wide toebox.  In all brands, some models may be great, but others are too pointy-toed, too stiff, or have a heel. Shop carefully. When trying shoes on, you need to step on the liner and examine other factors discussed here. Try not to get carried away with something cute or a pair that feels “good enough” – your feet will get pickier as they adapt to having room to move! They will also spread out, so if you are between sizes, go up. REMEMBER: Most people gain a half to a full size as their toes spread out, and they build muscle in their feet.  It’s best not to buy too many until you know your new size. Winter boot guide here.

A happy surprise for the Pacific NW Fall weather - Bogs rainboots have no heel and give plenty of room for the front of the foot. I got my pair at Clogs & More on Hawthorne.

A happy surprise for the Pacific NW weather – Bogs rainboots have no heel and give plenty of room for the front of the foot. I got my pair at Clogs & More on Hawthorne. Update: 2017, and I just bought another shorter pair of waterproof, fabric pull-ons from Bogs. LOVE THEM!

Places to get biomechanically-correct footwear locally:

Pie in the Alberta district
Cobbler Bill’s near 82nd & Foster
Shoe Mill and The Walking Company at big malls (NOTE – most of the shoes in the mall stores are aimed at symptom relief instead of true health and are too stiff! Be careful!)
FleetFeet (formerly FitRightNW) off NW 23rd
Footwise on Broadway
Imelda’s on Hawthorne
REI (surely you know where REI is)
Clogs N More – note – don’t buy clogs! :) Hawthorne and downtown

And don’t forget the toe socks so you can move freely inside your spiffy new shoes. Sock Dreams has a store in Sellwood, or you can order online. They carry unique, high quality stuff, including the elusive toesock with formed heels. I love that Sock Dreams thoroughly describe their stock on the website, including measurement info like calf size, and they ship for free.

Places to get biomechanically-correct footwear online:

Hot Chocolate Designs is making cute Mary Janes with a wide variety of prints! These aren’t quite minimal, but have pretty flexible soles.

Ahinsa Casual style, fabric shoes
Altra  Wide toebox running shoes, everyday shoes, and boots.
Baer Shoes check out the Joe Nimbles for women and men!
Belleville Military & law enforcement-type boots.
The Drifter Leather Sleek, stylish shoes and boots.
Glerups Wool felt clogs, shoes, boots
Hot Chocolate Designs Mary Janes with fun prints
Lems ugly but comfortable
Oesh Variety of women’s styles from professional to casual.
Shoes for Crews Steeltoes, other serious work shoes & boots
Skidbusters Nursing, etc.

soft-star-products

Part of the Soft Star shoe line. You can custom order your color choices!

 

Soft Star Shoes Minimal, basically leather socks. Rubber soles available. Based in Corvallis
Tadeevo casual laceups
Topo Athletic runners
Tune Men’s penny loafers
Unshoes sandals, mocs
Vibram FiveFingers and wrap shoes
Vivobarefoot Lightweight, minimal shoes and boots
Xero sandals, including DYI

Again, not everything these places sell will be good for your feet. Double check the shopping guide. I recommend wearing your new shoes inside for a while on a trial run (so they are returnable) before venturing out.

An ideal world

Do you know what you would do with your life, your career, your romantic situation in an ideal world? Do you have that mental list of things you’ll do when things get
better? Calm down? Settle? You know, life will be so much better when things get organized, when the student loans are paid, when the health scare passes, when the kids get just a little bit older.
It’s easy to think about what we would do “in an ideal world.” Unfortunately, such a world does not currently exist. That much is obvious, even to me. What’s less obvious, though, is that the ideal world will never actually exist.
We like to think about that because it gives us hope. Life as we know it is usually so crazy and stressful that we need hope to hold on to, if for no other reason than to believe that
life won’t always be like this. The trouble is, life will always be like this. If it’s not like this, then it will be like that – there’s always something! If things calm down in one area, they will un-calm themselves in another.
With that in mind, you have two choices. You can continue to stress yourself out, and postpone your happiness. Or you can choose to relish the good stuff you have right now. Focus on what really matters. I’m not saying you should blow off going to the office to eat marshmallows and smoke weed every day. I’m saying you should take a moment to enjoy time with your friends, the delicious food you are eating right now, the small achievements and successes in your day. Go for a walk. If something is making you crazy, ask yourself if it’ll matter in 5 years. Will anyone even remember this? If not… let it go, emotionally. By all means get to work and solve the problem, but don’t allow it to disturb your soul. Some problems are legitimate nightmares, of course. This is doubly true for them: You have to hang on to the positive or the negative will swallow you whole.
If you practice this, pretty soon you find you are living in something closely resembling that ideal world. Not a perfect one, but a happy one. :)

Suicide

Shared from a friend’s post, after we lost a mutual friend: If you are in pain and feeling stuck and hopeless, reach out, please. Reach out to the people around you, don’t get sucked into the quick sand feel that is depression. If you can’t talk to family or friends, call the suicide hotline. Some of your friends work there and some of your friends call there. There are counselors in the community who will work with you, who will work with you on price or help you locate other options. Here are the crisis line numbers. Multnomah County Crisis Line 503-988-4888. Clackamas County (503) 655-8585. Washington County (503) 291-9111. Clark County (360) 696-9560.

If the unthinkable has already happened (or been attempted) there are survivor support groups listed on http://www.suicide.org.

 

Ergonomic & Repetitive Stress Injuries

Good ergonomic posture at your desk is important. Even more important - take frequent breaks to walk and stretch.

Good ergonomic posture at your desk is important. Even more important – take frequent breaks to walk and stretch.

Repetitive stress injuries happen when you perform the same movement over and over for an extended period of time. Ergonomic problems are when your position or movement is counter to what your body does naturally. Common examples include carpal tunnel syndrome from using a computer, or a swimmer’s bad shoulder. Sitting itself can cause problems if you do it too much. To avoid injury:

1) Break up the repetitive nature of your motions. Get up and do a lap around the office (or house) every hour or so. Change your routine: Instead of typing on Tuesdays and filing on Wednesdays, do a little of each both days, so you aren’t making the same precise movements for hours. Can you switch to the other side or hand? Even small changes can make a difference. For example, my knitting friends who have trouble will opt for a different size needle (which affects hand position and motion) or even type of project. The more variety the better.

2) Double check your ergonomic situation. It may be helpful to get someone to take a picture of you while you’re working so you can see your own posture. If you use the phone, try a headset. Sitting at your computer, you should be looking straight ahead at the top third of the screen. If you are looking up or down, adjust either your seat height or the monitor. Your elbows should be resting at 90 degrees, and your wrists should be straight. Having them bent down or cocked back for the keyboard increases strain. Your knees should be at hip height or just above. If your chair is too tall, use a footrest. If you have a penny-pinching boss, you should know that OSHA can send out an ergonomic expert (free!) to suggest cheap/free fixes in your office.

When playing sports or working out, consult a coach or professional trainer to be sure you’re using good form. Learn the anatomy relating to your activity. In addition to preventing injury, your performance will improve! I used to be a bodybuilder and certified trainer, so feel free to ask me if you have any questions.

3) Stop as soon as symptoms start. Give your body a chance to heal. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may be helpful here, as will an anti-inflammatory diet. Likewise, get care early. A new problem is always easier to chase away than an entrenched one. Myofascial release will free up adhesions. Osteopathic medical massage can retrain your tight muscles, and acupuncture will reduce inflammation.  Rest. Stretch gently, and do any physical therapy exercises your healthcare professional recommends. Try to avoid that activity for a while.

Frequently re-examine your routine and ergonomics to identify any areas that need improvement. By nipping problems in the bud, you can prevent a long-term aggravation.

Cosmetic acupuncture: Before and afters

I finally remembered to take a good set of pictures:

Before

After

Before on the left, after on the right. This beautiful woman is about to turn 55. She gained these impressive results after just 5 sessions. She tells me that she loves the way her face looks more relaxed.

 

 

Before

After cosmetic acupuncture. Her skin is softer, and the lines between her eyes are shallower, with smoother edges. A dramatic difference!

Cosmetic acupuncture works by increasing collagen production, improving muscle tone, and stimulating circulation of blood and lymph to the face. Body points are also used to treat the skin as a whole. Most people see subtle changes immediately, with a more powerful shift after a few sessions. If you are a smoker or sun-worshipper, you will need to make a longer commitment to achieve results.

Winter health tips – avoiding colds, SAD, cracked heels, & weight gain

Winter is coming!

In Chinese medical philosophy, infectious illnesses are considered to enter the body at the nape of the neck, so scarves are an important defensive weapon against getting sick. Although I think it has more to do with insulating the carotid arteries at the side of the neck, I am a big encourager of scarf wearing. In addition to preventing infections, a toasty cover will keep your neck muscles warm and relaxed. Pick out a soft, colorful one and give yourself a woolly hug. You can also give your immune system a boost by stimulating TB-5, and including garlic and ginger in your diet along with lots of hearty vegetables.

Don’t be S.A.D.!

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the shorter days can sap your energy and leave you feeling depressed. You need to stimulate your pituitary gland, and the best way to do that is to get some time in front of a full-spectrum light, particularly in the morning. You can just pick up some full-spectrum light bulbs at the grocery store, or you can go in for a fancy “light box.” Soak up some photons at close range for about 15 minutes first thing in the morning, while having breakfast or catching up on Facebook.

Cracked Heel remedies

Winter health tip: keep your heels smooth and pain-free by treating cracks early, before they get out of control!

Winter health tip: keep your heels smooth and pain-free by treating cracks early, before they get out of control!

If your feet have suffered this winter, try this: Before bed, apply a high-quality lotion or wax (I like Waxelene, available at New Seasons. No nasty chemicals!) and put on some clean socks. This will keep the moisturizer on your feet rather than your sheets. I hate the restrictive sensation of wearing socks to bed, so I cut the toes off an old pair, which works beautifully. In the morning, before you shower, use a pumice stone or even a broad nail file on the DRY skin to remove the dead skin. If you have painful, deep cracks, use some SuperGlue (or better yet Dermabond) to hold them closed and continue with the routine above.

Holiday stuffing

Ah, parties and recipes and comfort food… it’s all fun and games until your pants don’t fit, isn’t it?

Think ahead about making good choices. Have a nutritious snack before a party if you suspect the goodies won’t be good for you.

Potluck? Bring something healthy instead of a dessert!

Focus on quality, not quantity. Save your calories for when they count: Skip the storebought cookies so you can splurge a bit on Aunt Susan’s homemade toffee.

Don’t use the “it’s the holidays” excuse from mid-November to the end of the year! ON the actual holiday, of course, allow yourself to indulge a little, but not everyday! That’s a big chunk of the year!

Winter Heath tip: Get some exercise! Peacock Lane (at 40th and SE Belmont) is annual festival of electricity and inflatable animals in human clothes, and makes for a fun walk.

Winter Heath tip: Get some exercise! Peacock Lane (at 40th and SE Belmont) is annual festival of electricity and inflatable animals in human clothes, and makes for a fun walk.

Bundle up and go for a stroll in a winter wonderland! Check out the lights wherever you live. Some light exercise will aid your digestion, mood, and keep your muscles and joints in good shape. Don’t forget your scarf! :)

If you do overeat, use St-36 to promote digestion. This point is great for nearly all stomach complaints, but be aware that it generates more gastric acid. If you’re having heartburn / reflux, use PC-6 instead. To help speed up peristalsis (the movement of food through your intestines), rub your belly clockwise circle (up on the right side of your abdomen, across the top, down on the left). This is good for painful gas retention, too. For small children, just use a few fingers.

I hope you find these Winter health tips useful. Stay warm! :)

Digestive health (and roasted cauliflower!)

I’ve been seeing an increase in people coming in with digestive problems, and it correlates interestingly with a  little revolution in my personal dietary habits.

Acupuncture for digestive upset – in this case nausea and “grumbling” intestines.

Last month I gave you a recipe for steel cut oats. They are far healthier than regular cereal for breakfast, but ironically, I am longer eating those oats… I’m off grains for the time being. A high-carb/low fat diet is not consistent with our hunter-gatherer evolution, and for some people it causes all sorts of problems, from weight gain to heartburn. I’m reading an amazing book called “Primal Body, Primal Mind.” The author cites a satisfying glut of scientific sources. The information in it resonates strongly with everything I know about physiology, and everything I’ve experienced in my personal struggles with weight. I’ve known for ages that bread is bad for me (very bad for me personally – your metabolism may differ), but it took reading this book to get up the motivation to quit. Working out and eating a “healthy diet” wasn’t doing it… but this seems to be doing the trick. It’s too early to say for sure, but I *am* losing weight and feeling good. My clothes are finally getting looser!

The old-fashioned “food pyramid” (built by lobbyists for Big Food Business) and the emphasis on low-fat, high carb has built a nation of obesity… myself included. It’s time to recognize that science demands a shift in thinking. I want to be clear here that I am not prescribing a ban on grains for everyone. You need to figure out what works for YOUR body. There are a few basic concepts, though, that I think everyone who’s reading the latest research can agree on:

1) Processed food is no substitute for actual, human-made food. If the majority of your meals are coming in bags and boxes, you need to reevaluate.

2) Empty calories (white bread, pasta, and other starches) and sugars lead to chronic inflammation, fat storage, and blood sugar problems. Put down that soda and have some water instead.

3) Fats are not the enemy. We need fats for brain function, neural insulation, and padding for organs, among other things. The trick is to get them from good sources like extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, fish, and grass-fed meats, rather than chemically-altered trans-fats.

Delicious and nutritious! Cauliflower fights cancer and has a surprising amount of Vitamins C and K (important for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory function). Of course it’s also a great source of fiber.

So here’s my new “popcorn” – Cut up cauliflower florets (about the size of a quarter or slightly bigger) and spread them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil if you like, but it’s good without, too! Add a little sea salt, and roast at 350 degree for 45 minutes. Seriously – even my red-blooded, dedicated-to-his-American-diet boyfriend loved it. Super yummy. Big thanks to personal trainer extraordinaire Brandie Sylfae. :)

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to turn into a food blog. I’ll be back to more acupuncture-oriented discussions next month! :)