Thrive In Uncertain Times

In March 2020, governments responded to the rapidly spreading coronavirus by shutting down the world. Schools closed. Non-essential businesses locked their doors. Travel was restricted.

Essential workers (doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, police officers, postal workers, truck drivers) faced exposure while everyone else sheltered at home, either alone or with direct family.  Many workers were furloughed or lost their jobs as bars, restaurants, non-essential retail, hair salons, hotels, and more ceased operation. Others quickly learned the technology required to work remotely.

Closed sign
Woman Working at Home with Kids around her

Many parents of school age children suddenly had to both work from home and homeschool their kids. Many parents have developed a new appreciation for their kids’ teachers!

 

Normal flies out the window and in its place is fear of getting a serious illness, working in a different way or unemployed in an uncertain economy, with children constantly under foot or being completely isolated.

Over the months, the number of cases and deaths have grown. Rapid opening leads to spikes in case, followed by spikes in deaths. 

 

Fear for our physical and economic health plagues us.

 

Can you say stressful?

Handling Emotional Stress

How did you handle the swirl of stress and emotions? Is a newly found passion for baking treats and enjoying those creations helping to sooth the anxiety (emotional eating to the rescue)? Since the gyms are closed, has exercise ceased (motivation to move disappeared)? Have you caught up on all of your favorite shows and discovered a number of new ones (couch potato time)?

 

Having an emotional temper tantrum is a reasonable response to these extraordinary circumstances. Eating without concern for calorie count or health helped many handle the relentless pressure. Cocooning on the couch compensated for the disappearance of their routine.  Watching amusing entertainment provided many the needed escape from the frightening daily reality.

Did emotional eating and other less than healthy coping methods help you to navigate these first few months of living in the middle of a pandemic? Now, over four months later, is the realization that this is our new normal dawning? The understanding is growing that our lives are not being upended for a short stretch, but instead we are in the middle of a marathon.

Baking Cookies

Surviving (Maybe Even Thriving) Today

 

What do we need to do to survive living with this potentially deadly disease in our world and communities for the duration? 

Coronavirus Health Guidelines

Continue Following Health Guidelines

First step, we all need to follow the medical guidelines to wash our hands, wear masks in public and maintain a physical distance from each other to reduce the spread of this virus.

Dust Yourself Off

Second step, time to stop having an emotional temper tantrum and embrace a healthy response to the constant stress, unease, and uncertainty. Don’t strive for perfection or make “a chocolate will never pass these lips again” declaration. Time to pick yourself off the floor and move towards a healthier response.

Moving Matters

 

The goal here is a healthy balance. A funny comedy followed by a dance party in the living room. Want to feel better? Move it! Start or end the day with a gentle yoga routine and/or stretching and/or cardio and/or strength training. There are wonderful online yoga and exercise classes. Many gyms have created virtual exercise classes. Call your gym to see if they have online classes. 

Here are some resource to give you an idea of what can be found to help you get strong, flexible and in shape (let them know that Calmglow told you about them):

Moving Matters

A Little Zen

Moving your body helps release stress and other stress management techniques such as journaling, meditation, and taking a moment to breath deeply are great help towards reclaiming a healthier you. A moment of calm can even help you sleep. And with a solid night of sleep under your belt, you can handle so much more!

You Are What You Eat

 

Next we turn our attention to what’s cooking in the kitchen. After all, food is the foundation of our health.

 

Getting creative in the kitchen

One of the benefits of working remotely is that we have more time to spend in the kitchen creating tasty, healthy food. While many turned to experimenting with baking and desserts when the lockdowns began, let’s now challenge ourselves to make delicious, healthy, comfort food. The Mediterannan Diet is one of the healthier diets with an added benefit that it is not based on elimination of a category of foods, such as carbohydrates.

The Mediterranean diets incorporated the traditional foods enjoyed in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. While most are more familiar with the foods of France, Greece, Italy and Spain, there is inspiration to be found from each country: Morrocan Tagine, Turkish Chicken Kebab, Lebanonese shawarma bowls and more.

When you are planning your cooking adventure, think about adding a rainbow of color to your plate: red peppers, purple cabbage, orange sweet potato, green broccoli, and yellow squash.

You can make your diet more Mediterranean-style by:

 

  • eating the rainbow of color of fruits and vegetables (organic, if possible)
  • eating whole grains and legumes 
  • eating lean proteins (fish, chicken, plant-based)
  • eating less meat and dairy products
  • choosing healthy fats, such as olive oil and nuts

 

To enhance the flavor of your meals (and the fun of your culinary adventure), add fresh herbs and spices. A tip: before starting on this kitchen adventure, purge your spice cabinet of old spices. Spices lose their flavor as they age.

 

A tip: watch your portion sizes. Too much of even a good thing can undermine your efforts.

A Mediterranean Feast

 

You have finished with your emotional temper tantrum. You are shaking your tail feathers, finding zen moments in the midst of COVID chaos, and dining on delicious (maybe even homemade!) dishes. One more area to improve: the home in which you are sheltering-in-place.

 

Pictures of rooms in a home

Make Your Home A Comfortable Nest!

Surround yourself with the objects that bring you happiness. Clear the clutter and the chaos. Play music that brings you joy or soothes your soul. Fill a vase with fresh flowers. Diffuse citrus, floral or spicy oils. Open the windows. Put a bowl of summer fruit on the kitchen table. Chill a pitcher of water with slices of cucumbers and mint to enjoy when the temperature rises. Toss a soft throw over the back of the sofa so you can wrap yourself in warmth on a cool morning. Place twinkle lights inside to enjoy once the sun sets.

 

Your home is your sanctuary and now you are spending more time there than usual. Make it a place you hate to leave.

Do not plan to change everything at once. Let go of your emotional temper tantrum. Make changes to bring balance back. Consistent, small steps create huge improvements. Create the health lifestyle that supports you during this new normal. 

 

To your health.

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

 

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5 Lifestyle Pillars For A Vibrant Life

 

With the news and social media feeds filled with stories of mounting cases of COVID-19 and staggering numbers of daily deaths caused by this virus, feelings of fear and dread are a reasonable response. To combat the paralysis of overwhelm and despair, arm yourself with the knowledge to improve your immune system and overall health, and implement the 5 lifestyle pillars for a vibrant life.

In an earlier blog, we focused on the recommended supplements that could help most everyone boost their immune system and which could help prevent becoming infected and could lessen the severity of the disease.

 

This blog will focus on how to take charge of your health by focusing on improving these 5 lifestyle pillars.

 

Bag of Groceries

Nutrition:

As Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1826 in Physiologie du Gout, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Translation: Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.]

 

The modern saying is: “You are what you eat.” So what should you eat to support a vibrant life and to boost your immune system?

Fruits and Vegetables

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. The colors of the food rainbow are red, purple/blue, orange, green, and white/brown. The reason to eat the variety of colors is because each color has its own unique disease fighting properties.  Each day have 9-13 servings of a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables to obtain a wide array of phytonutrients to boost gut microbiome.

Fruits and Vegetables at a market
Beans and Whole Grains - Fiber

Dietary Fiber

Years ago, many a grandmother advised her grandchildren to eat more roughage. Roughage is what we call fiber, the indigestible part of plant food, the soluble and insoluble fiber. Those grandmothers were wise women. A high-fiber diet has many benefits: helps maintain bowel health and normalizes bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, and helps maintain a healthy-weight. Consume a minimum of 28-35 grains of fiber daily, preferably from whole foods.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that provide health benefits when consumed in adequate numbers.There are two ways to get more good bacteria into your gut: fermented foods and dietary supplements. The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses. Probiotics can help balance the friendly bacteria in your digestive system, prevent diarrhea, boost your immune system and reduce belly fat.

Probiotic Food

 

In addition to eating a rainbow of color fruits and vegetables, high fiber foods and probiotics, avoid foods high in saturated fat, added sugars and salt, which are known to negatively impact your immune system.

 

Images depicting ways to reduce stress

Stress Reduction and Stress Management

Even before our lives were upended from COVID-19, many Americans reported living with moderate to high levels of stress on a regular basis.  While stress may be unavoidable, it can be managed. Small changes in your responses to stress can improve your resilience. When you find your shoulders up at your ears and your jaws clench, lower your shoulders, loosen your jaw and try one (or all!) of these stress reducers:

 

  • Take deep breaths, center yourself and visualize yourself somewhere which brings you joy (a mountain meadow, a window overlooking the beach or an amusement park).
  • Take a walk outside or put on fun music and dance. 
  • Grab a piece of paper and write down something for which you are grateful.
  • Pause and consider if this is something you will even remember five years from now. 
  • Call a friend and catch up.
  • Do something creative (write, draw, knit, cook, color).
  • Watch a funny movie and laugh without restraint. 

 

Figure sleeping

 

Sleep:

Deep, restful sleep for seven to eight hours daily is extremely important for optimal health. Sleep is as essential as food and water for survival. During sleep your brain stores new information and your body repairs your cells (that’s why it is called beauty sleep!). 

 

Practice good sleep hygiene: keep a regular sleep schedule, turn off all screens (phones, TVs, etc.) and keep devices out of your bedroom while sleeping, and make sure your room is a cool, quiet and dark place.

 

Figures depicting various exercises

 

Exercise:

 

Our bodies are designed to move, not sit at a desk all day and on the couch all night. Figure out what you enjoy doing from running miles to walking blocks to swimming in the ocean or backyard pool to having a dance party with your kids to weeding and planting in your garden. If you enjoy the activity you’re most likely to spend time doing it! A wide variety of exercise options can be found on the internet. Try something different: yoga, pilates, zumba, or crossfit.

 

Image depicting various types of social connection

Social Connection:

Humans are social creatures. While we may be physically distancing right now, we need to still have social connections. Have fun with those sheltering in place under your roof. Walk around the block and wave at neighbors (while maintaining a safe distance). Visit those who are isolated at home by talking through a window so as to keep a safe distance. 

 

Think of other ways you can use technology to maintain human connection during this time of social distancing. While social media can help keep tabs on friends, make an effort to also call friends and family. Set up a Zoom happy hour with your bookclub. Arrange a video conference with far flung family members for a visit. Play multiplayer video games with friends from near and far. 

 

A vibrant life is built on a foundation of these 5 lifestyle pillars. Dial in your diet, stress, sleep, exercise and social connections and you will be on the path to optimal health and wellness.

 

To your health.

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

 

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REDUCE YOUR STRESS & BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

 

Researchers have confirmed that stress can negatively impact your immune system. To fully understand how stress affects your immune system, let’s explore how your immune system works, what happens to your bodies when it’s stressed, how to manage stress and how to boost your immune system.

 

Immune System

 

Immune System

 

 

The immune system is your body’s defense system and essential to your survival. To function properly, your immune system must detect invaders, such as viruses, and distinguish them from your own healthy cells. 

Immune System

 

 

Parts of the Human Immune System

Mucous Membranes:

Mucous membranes secrete mucus, which has protective antibodies. Mucous membranes are in the areas which are prime entry points for invaders: mouth, nose, eyelids, windpipe, and lungs. 

 

Tonsils:

Your tonsils stop invaders entering your body through your mouth or your nose as they contain a lot of white blood cells responsible for killing germs.

 

Lymphatic System:

Your lymphatic system is a network of vessels and nodes that transports and filters lymph fluid containing antibodies and white blood cells.

 

Thymus:

Some of your white cells mature in the thymus.

 

Lymph Nodes:

Lymph nodes are where white blood cells sample information brought in from your body. If they recognize invaders, they will eliminate the invaders.

 

Spleen:

Your spleen processes information from your bloodstream. White blood cells are enriched in specific areas of the spleen, and upon recognizing invaders, they will respond accordingly.

 

Bone Marrow:

 

Your bone marrow contains stem cells that can develop into white blood cells that are important first-line responders to infection.

 

Key Player in the Immune System

White Blood Cells:

White blood cells are on constant patrol, looking for invaders. Once an invader is found, the white blood cells eliminate it. White blood cells also remember each novel invader encountered, so as to more quickly eliminate future attacks by that invader.

Supporting Players: 

 

Skin:

The skin is usually the first line of defense. Skin cells produce important antimicrobial proteins. In addition to the mucous membrane, tears and saliva protect your body where there are openings in your skin as they contain an enzyme that breaks down the cell wall of many bacteria.

 

Lungs:

In addition to enabling us to obtain needed oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide, our lungs have an important immunity role.  Mucus is secreted which keeps the airways moist and traps unwanted particles that have been inhaled. The lungs remove unwanted debris by either sending it to the gut or coughing it out. The lungs also contain specialized white blood cells that destroy foreign particles in the lungs. 

Digestive Tract:

Your gut has to deal with the pathogens in everything you ingest.

Innate immunity

We are all born with some level of immunity, such as skin and mucous membranes. If an invader manages to dodge the innate immune system, adaptive or acquired immunity kicks in.

Adaptive (acquired) immunity

 

This develops as we go through life. As we are exposed to diseases or get vaccinated, we build up antibodies to different invaders. An immunization introduces weakened invaders in such a way that we do not become sick but still produce antibodies. Because your body saves copies of the antibodies, it is protected if the threat should reappear later in life.

 

White blood cell 600 x 600
MInd Body

 

Mind-Body Connection with Immune System

Do different mental states affect how our bodies function? Emerging evidence is supporting a mind-body connection. In recent years, research has suggested that emotions like stress and worry, when they persist long-term, can negatively affect our immune system. As seen in research with college students, chronic feelings of stress reduce our immunity.

 

Driving in a storm 300 x 600

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Stress and Cortisol

When you hear the word stress, do you think all stress is bad? Stress can be good.  Examples of good stress include physical stress on muscles or your vascular system when exercising, alertness in response to psychological stress such as taking an exam or pay attention to driving during bad weather.

 

One of the main hormones released under stressful conditions is cortisol. Cortisol mobilizes a “fight-or-flight” mode, increasing blood pressure and heart rate. 

 

When your body encounters an invader, your immune system responds. Part of this response causes inflammation, which is often a good thing (it means your immune system is working). Another interesting property of cortisol is that it acts as an anti-inflammatory signal, meaning that it acts as an “off switch” for your immune system’s inflammatory response.

 

Having cortisol turn off your immune system in response to a short-term issue, say being chased by a saber-toothed cat or taking a final exam, is good. The problem arises when chronic stress becomes your norm.

 

If you are stressed for a long time, your body never gets the signal to return to normal functioning. This can weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viral infections and frequent illnesses. Your regular vaccines will not work as well if you have chronic stress.

 

Stress 600 x 600

 

How Chronic Stress Affects Your Immune System

Chronic stress can negatively impact many of your body systems, from muscular to cardiovascular. Researchers have found evidence that 75% to 90% of human disease is related to chronic stress and inflammation. While short term suppression of the immune system is not dangerous, chronic suppression leaves the body vulnerable to infection and disease. For a vaccine to work, there needs to be both antibody and virus-specific white blood cell response. Changes in the immune response by chronic stress can negatively impact both antibody and white blood cell response to viral vaccines.

 

Boost Immune

Ways To Boost Your Immune System

  • Stress reduction: Practice stress reduction strategies regularly.
  • Sleep: Practice good sleep hygiene and maintain consistent sleep hours.
  • Exercise: Moderate, regular physical activity helps to boost immune system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, increasing circulation, and decreasing stress hormones. 
  • Nutritious foods: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Include fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods.
  • If you smoke, stop smoking.
  • If you drink alcohol, only drink in moderation.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Take the appropriate supplements for your body. A functional medicine practitioner can help you identify the supplements you need.

 

 

 

Stress Reduction Strategies

  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine
  • Aromatherapy
  • Keep a journal
  • Spend time with friends, family, and pets
  • Laugh daily
  • Deep breathing, meditation, yoga
  • Take a bubble bath or sauna
  • Get a massage
  • Set boundaries and say no
  • Listen to music
  • Be creative
  • Talk with a therapist

 

Reduce Stress in Mind & Body 600 x 600

 

Understanding the role chronic stress plays in compromising your health should inspire you to take charge in lowering your stress. Find the stress-reduction strategies which work for you and employ them daily. Implement the steps to boost your immune system. Your future self will thank you.

 

To your health.

 

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

 

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Want To Feel Great? Move It!

Now that the song “Move it” from the movie “Madagascar” is playing in your head, let’s find out just how accurate this advice is.

What Are The Benefits of Exercise?

 

Regular exercise not only helps with weight loss; it also helps to improve your mood, strengthens your bones, lowers your risk of certain cancers and heart disease, helps you to sleep better, and more.

To improve your odds of incorporating regular exercise into your schedule, find activities you enjoy. While that sounds like simple advice, how many of us have forced ourselves to partake in an exercise program? So dance, garden, hike, swim, bike, jump rope, do yoga, chase the kids around the park, roller skate, or rock-climb. Find activities that you enjoy and do them.  Have fun!

 

Many different activities

 

Is 30 to 60 Minutes of Daily Exercise Enough?

If you are exercising 30 minutes per day, pat yourself on the back. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, less than 5% of adults exercise 30 minutes per day.

 

An exercise plan which includes the four types of exercise (Cardio/Aerobic, Strength/Resistance, Flexibility/Stretching, and Balance) is important, but more is needed to counterbalance hours of sitting: regular movement.

 

4 exercise types and movement

 

The reason to focus on regular movement throughout the day is that many of us are spending more time being sedentary (desk jobs with long hours, sitting in the car for longer commutes, then finishing the day by collapsing on the couch to watch our favorite shows).

Our bodies are designed to move, not sit still for hours on end. Shilpa P. Saxena, MD in her articles “Movement, Exercise, and Long-Term Health” states, “Increasing research supports that sedentary behavior should be viewed as a separate and additional risk factor for chronic disease development, specifically the development of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. So even though daily exercise should be commended, we must inquire further to ensure the risks of the office chair do not unknowingly fuel vascular and metabolic risks long term.”

So while taking a morning run is an awesome way to start the day, we need to make sure that we are regularly getting out of our chairs during the day. Stop sitting all day at our desks and in our cars and move it!

 

5 Ways to Add Movement Throughout Your Day

Recurring Calendar Reminders

 

On your work calendar, set a reminder at each hour to move. This could be as simple as pacing your office or cubicle while on a call, stretching your arms over your head, or rolling your shoulders away from your ears. Walking during your lunch and not just eating at your desk would help your productivity and your heart.

 

computer calendar
drinking water

Drink Enough Water

 

If you are drinking the correct amount of water (such as 8 eight-ounce glasses), you will have to leave your desk regularly to empty your bladder. Just saying.

 

Housekeeping and Errands

 

While not necessarily on the list of preferred activities for most of us, these are activities most of us do regularly. Put on fun music and clean the house at a brisk pace. Do deep squats while putting away pots and pans. Take the stairs or park further away when running errands.

house chores
walk the dog

 

Walk the Dog

If you have a dog, commit to daily walks (come rain or shine). Both you and your pet will benefit from the walks.

 

 

Lap the Field  

 

If you take your kids to their sports practices, instead of sitting in the car or in the stands during the practice, bring your running shoes and lap the field.

Lap the field

 

You will be amazed at how better you feel after you add regular movement to your day. Your future self will thank you for moving it!

 

To your health.

 

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

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What our
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are saying

Always get clarity and understanding…

Dianne has always help me understand the complicated issues of hypothyroidism, understanding the symptoms and long term effects. She has helped with my dietary needs and overall well being. Highly recommend if you are still feeling the symptoms even if your on traditional medications.

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The best part of talking with new patients…

I have worked with Dianne Hinton at Calmglow for 4 years. I receive calls from new patients every day. I think the best part of talking with new patients is that I give them the knowledge and hope in knowing that I–like all of Dianne’s staff–was her patient before her employee. I think that says a lot about Dianne as a practitioner. She is very compassionate and caring towards each individual patient.

— Cindy Toste

Diane Hinton saved my life!

After over a year of traditional doctors misdiagnosing and mistreating my illness, Diane immediately got it right. She identified the root cause of my illness, and I went from being chronically ill to healed and healthy in less than a year. Diane listens to and cares for her patients like no one I’ve ever known. I highly recommend her for diagnosing the true health issues, rather than just treating your symptoms.

— Sarah Hayes

My husband and I just love Calmglow …

Just what is Functional Medicine?  Simply put…. I call it getting to the “cause” of a health issue. Rashes, High Pressure, Arthritis, Obesity, Insomnia, and Fatigue are a few of the issues she’s helped us with.  But what I really like best is; she doesn’t say “here, take this pill” and it’ll “treat the symptoms”.  She treats the “cause” of those symptoms so they truly go away without requiring “pills”.  Our bodies are healing, and the we feel we’re the healthiest we’ve been in a long time! What we’ve discovered about the manner in which our bodies “had been” functioning previously, from the in depth tests she recommends, was pretty astounding. We’ve learned so much since starting to see her as our practitioner, I would never choose to go back to an Allopathic doctor!