Healthy Drink Choices, Coping with Stress in Transition: Natural Qi Fall Newsletter

Natural Qi Newsletter
Celebrating the Beautiful Fall!

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Hello Friends,

We are finally welcoming beautiful autumn weather! After a scorching summer, I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy the new fallseason.

This fall’s newsletter containsinformation about staying hydrated, and coping with life’s transitions. Also, check our healthy ginger marinated portabello mushroom recipe!

As always, please contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to speaking with you or seeing you at your next appointment!

–Melani

Staying Hydrated With Healthy Drink Choices

We’ve all heard that staying hydrated is important for your health, but what does that really mean? Well, the human body is made up of 60-70% water. Our bodies continually lose water as we sweat, urinate, and breathe (especially in dryer Fall air!). So, you need to continually replace lost fluids to maintain your fluid balance.

If you wait to drink until you feel thirsty, you’re already on your way to becoming dehydrated. Another common symptom of poor hydration is dark colored urine. When you are properly hydrated, your urine should be almost clear. On average, a healthy adult should urinate about eight times a day. To avoid early symptoms of dehydration, try to make a habit of drinking plenty of fluids – especially when you are sweating because of heat or physical activity.

Staying hydrated helps your whole body function. Water helps your body flush toxins, and keeps your organs functioning optimally. If you don’t stay hydrated, it is likely you will feel sluggish, experience headaches, lose skin elasticity, and feel nauseous. In fact, most headaches are actually a symptom of dehydration. More severe symptoms – like vomiting, confusion and weakness – will set in if the body becomes severely dehydrated.

How much coffee, soda, juice? – Not all drinks are created equal
Just drinking liquid is not enough – it’s important to drink the right kind. Beverages like soda, coffee, and cocktails may seem appealing, but they are not great options in terms of your health. If you love these drinks, it is best to try to consume them in moderation, and to drink them alongside plenty of more-hydrating drinks like water.

Most soda, coffee drinks and alcoholic beverages are high in caffeine, sugar or chemicals. Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretic – meaning they increase urine output – and drinking them can actually leave you less-hydrated. The sugars and chemicals found in these drinks can also put you at risk for other health problems. As a general rule, it’s good practice to drink one of these beverages along with at least two glasses of water to maintain optimal hydration.

Sugary drinks and drinks high in any type of sugar content are linked to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. Sweetened drinks raise blood sugar and increase triglycerides (the chemical that forms fat in the bloodstream). In fact, the 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that women who drink 2 sugary drinks a day are at a 35% higher risk of heart attack than women who only have one sugary drink per month. Women who have one sugary drink per day are at a 23% higher risk.

People who drink soda, whether full-sugar or diet, are also at risk for kidney and digestive problems. The phosphoric acid in sodas, which act as a preservative and taste enhancer, have been related to kidney disease. Carbonation and aspartame (a popular diet soda sweetener) have been linked to acid reflux and digestive upset.

So what are good drink options?
The number one option, of course, is water! If you are tired of plain water, there are many ways to give your water a little zing. Soaking sliced lemons, apples, cucumbers, or ginger can add flavor to a pitcher of water. Or try adding a few drops of lemon juice to your water bottle. If you want a little sparkle, opt for carbonated water (aka, seltzer).

Another great beverage is fruit juice, consumed in moderation along with water. I recommend mixing one part 100% juice with two parts water. This way you have the flavor and nutritional properties of juices, and the extra water helps reduce the sugar content and keep you well-hydrated. When considering juice, don’t be afraid to expand your horizons beyond the standard orange, lemon and apple juices. Pomegranate, blueberry, and acai juice have antioxidant properties. Celery juice is great for detoxifying.

Tea – hot or iced – is also a great drink choice. Green and white teas have antioxidant properties, however, be aware that decaffeinated teas are your best option for hydrating. Herbal teas give you the tea flavor with none of the added caffeine. If you want to sweeten your tea, I recommend using a natural sweetener like organic honey.

Navigating Through Life’s Transitions

The past year has been a time of great transition both for myself and for many of my clients. Whether it be changes in health, “finances, work, personal relationships, or family, the past year has heralded many transformational events. I myself have experienced big changes-not the least of which includes my transition into motherhood!

While major life changes may seem wonderful or challenging, any significant life change can trigger stress or anxiety. Here are some simple ways to approach coping with transitional stress that can support you in maintaining both emotional and physical well-being.

Remember to Breathe

During transitions, frequently people will go into”fight or flight” mode, and one of the first “fight or flight” responses is to stop breathing deeply. Often, people even hold their breath! While shallow breath may temporarily allow a person to cope with a sudden crisis, our bodies aren’t meant to operate in crisis-mode on a continual basis. Breathing deeply is an important part of maintaining one’s health by allowing it to rest and restore itself.

Breath delivers vital oxygen to your cells, and is essential to every function in your body. Free, deep breath also allows you to move through negative or stressful emotions so you can process and release them quickly. Ideally a person should only experience short periods of stress and physiological tension, while generally living in a state of physical relaxation and deep breathing habits so they can enjoy physical and emotional health.

If you find yourself burdened with stress, I encourage you to try consciously practicing deep breathing. My website contains some short videos on deep breathing exercises that can get you started. You only need do these exercises a few minutes a day to see noticeable changes in your mental attitude and physical well-being.

Practice Compassion With Yourself

Most people I know are harsher judges of themselves than anyone else they know. It’s easy to fall into the habit of self-criticism–especially in a fast paced, achievement-oriented city like New York. But a critical attitude towards oneself is not supportive of mental or physical health.

I encourage people who are experiencing self-criticism to try looking at themselves with compassion. One great exercise to help with this list o ask yourself, “how would I speak to my best friend?” If you are not extending yourself the kind of compassion and support that you would a friend or loved one, you might want to soften up on yourself.

We are all human. We are all imperfect. We all are trying our best and deserve compassion and gentleness as we walk through life.

Let Go of How Things “Should” Look

One of the biggest challenges for people facing transitions is managing expectations. For example a new mother may be upset to find she isn’t able to easily establish sleep or feeding schedules with her child, or maybe she finds she is less patient than she had expected to be. For someone who lost a job, s/he might be facing questions like, “who am I if I’m not a banker/chef/teacher/etc?” or, “what am I going to do now that I may be making less money than I had expected?”

In stressful situations, it’s important to ask yourself the question, “how important is it really?” Instead of tying to change things, is it possible to accept things as they are right now? Is the problem as serious as you are making it? Would you feel happier and more relaxed, and possibly improve your spirits, if you simply adjust your expectations of how things”should” look? Of course it’s difficult to let go of how you want things to be, but sometimes re-adjusting expectations of yourself and your life can help you navigate ups and downs, and possibly allow you to recognize opportunities and possibilities you couldn’t have imagined!

Ask For Help

Everybody needs help. Most people have a difficult time asking for it. But needing help is part of being human. We are designedto live in community, and an important part of this connection is the process of giving and receiving help.

Often times, people are happy to lend a hand if you are willing to ask. In fact, the act of extending help often is gratifying for the helper as well as the person receiving support. Also, when you ask for help, you give other people permission to ask for support, too! This kind of exchange builds intimacy, good will, and helps smooth the bumps of life’s transitions. Knowing you can ask for help can also help you feel safer and more secure as you face life’s challenges.

Take Care of Yourself

For many of my patients, the last person on their priority list is themselves. But taking care of oneself is an important part of adult life. Self-care is a demonstration that one is willing to take responsibility for oneself, and self-care is an important extension of loving kindness.

Self-care can take many forms. Perhaps you need to take time to journal, construct an exercises plan, or come up with a realistic budget that helps you reduce credit card debt. Maybe self-care means scheduling an acupuncture appointment, making sure you have a regular eating schedule of healthy, nourishing food, or scheduling a regular bedtime to get a full night’s sleep. Whatever you do to care foryourself will ultimately help you feel stronger and more able to navigate life’s transitions, and will make you more prepared to extend your love andsupport to those around you.

Cooper Tip

I like to romp around in the grass. I’m sure you feel the same way. But whereas I can clean up just by shaking my beautiful fur coat, (or getting a doggy bath,) you may need to clean the clothes you wear after a good tousle in Central Park.

Here are some clothes-cleaning tips for the eco-friendly. If you wash your own clothes, think about using concentrated soaps since they use less packaging. Also look for biodegradable, dye- and fragrance-free soaps so that your clothing won’t carry chemical cleaner residue that rubs against your delicate skin wherever your clothes touch you. This is especially important for babies and children! You can find soaps like these at most health food stores and even some drug stores and supermarkets.

If you need to dry clean, try to use a green dry cleaner. Most traditional dry cleaners use perchloroethylene–a highly toxic chemical. For good eco-friendly, professional cleaning results, try professional wet cleaning or CO2 cleaners that are part of the Carbon Dioxide Dry Cleaners Alliance. Be sure to research your local “green” cleaner, because the criteria for “green” or “organic” dry cleaning are not standardized. You can find these cleaners online using one the green business search site, Ecovian New York. Luckily, if you live in New York, there should be many eco-friendly dry cleaning options in your neighborhood!

Ginger Marinated Grilled Portabello Mushrooms

This recipe is fun for vegetarians and omnivores alike! It’s great for grilling in the late Summer/early Fall, and mushrooms can be a satisfying appetizer or main course without the fat and sodium of most meat dishes.

Ingredients

4 large portabello mushrooms
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Directions

Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove their stems. Place in a glass dish, stemless (gill) side up.

To prepare the marinade, in a small bowl whisk together the vinegar,pineapple juice and ginger. Drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms.Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, turningmushrooms once.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill orbroiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack orbroiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inchesfrom the heat source.

Grill or broil the mushrooms on medium heat, turning often, untiltender, about 5 minutes on each side. Baste with marinade to keep fromdrying out. Using tongs, transfer the mushrooms to a serving platter.Garnish with basil and serve immediately.

This recipe was found on the Mayo Clinic healthy living website.

If you have questions, or would like to discuss anything you read here, please feel free to contact me. Take Care and Be Well!

Melani Bolyai
Natural Qi Acupuncture and Herbs

web: http://www.naturalqi.com
email: melani@naturalqi.com
phone: 917-533-2097

Fall 2010