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Employee Health & Fitness

Can you believe we are already heading into the month of May? This year is certainly zooming by quickly!  The month of May is a significant time in health awareness. In addition to Arthritis Awareness, Mental Health Month, Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection/Prevention, and Hepatitis Awareness, May serves as the Global Employee Health and Fitness Month.  




Borrowing from the main site, http://www.healthandfitnessmonth.com/about I wanted to share with you the significance of this particular cause, as it pertains to several of the goals we set for ourselves in the beginning of the year.


What is Global Employee Health & Fitness Month and How Does it Work?

Global Employee Health & Fitness Month (GEHFM) is an international and national observance of health and fitness in the workplace, created by two non-profit organizations, the National Association for Health & Fitness and ACTIVE Life. The goal of GEHFM is to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to employers and their employees through worksite health promotion activities and environments. Formerly National Employee Health & Fitness Day, Global Employee Health & Fitness Month has been extended to a month-long initiative in an effort to generate sustainability for a healthy lifestyle and initiate healthy activities on an ongoing basis.


Employers everywhere are invited to participate in GEHFM. Throughout GEHFM employers will challenge their employees to create Healthy Moments, form Healthy Groups, and develop a Culminating Project. Participants will be able to log these activities on the GEHFM website throughout the month, allowing employers and employees to track, share, and promote their individual and group activities.


History of Global Employee Health and Fitness Month

From 1989-2010, tens of thousands of employees engaged in National Employee Health & Fitness Day. However, it is clear that healthy behavior changes take time to develop into lifestyle habits. Recognizing the potential for making healthy habits, NAHF and ACTIVE Life decided that in 2011 a full month - and an international focus - would lead to healthier lifestyles and sustainable behavior change worldwide.



To mark Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, Healthyroads (A wellness program company) offers the following tips to help companies begin building a fit company:


1. Understand Your Goals. Does your company have a broad population of smokers with smoking-related health issues that are increasing health care costs? Are there work-related back injuries increasing medical utilization? Know the root causes of your increasing health costs by studying your claims data, absenteeism and other issues that can reveal the real causes of your increasing health costs. Then develop a wellness program that helps to reduce those issues, among others.


2. Know what motivates your employees. Set real and achievable goals, then create a meaningful incentive to motivate healthy changes in your culture. Based on human nature, individuals must be mentally ready to make a change before they will engage in healthy activities. Incentives can help stimulate the motivation your employees may need to get started or keep going.


3. Get senior management support for your health improvement initiatives. Is there a manager in your organization who is ready to quit tobacco, lose weight or get fit? Encourage him or her to become a champion of health and fitness, charting his or her progress along the way. For example, if senior managers smoke, employees will have a hard time believing your company's commitment to go smoke-free. Encourage your leaders to set an example for healthier lifestyles.


4. Build a champions network. Ideally, this network should consist of representatives of the entire company supporting any company-wide health improvement initiatives. Your champions are the eyes, ears, arms, and legs of your wellness program and can help you disseminate information and provide feedback.


5. Provide consistent, multi-faceted communication touch-points throughout the course of the year. Oftentimes, employers want to believe they can simply "launch" a health improvement program, and those employees who need it most will participate. That is often not the case. It may take many messages to get through to some people. Vary the mode in which you communicate your efforts, using posters, emails, meetings, contests, bulletin boards, word of mouth and onsite health activities. Different approaches get through to different people.


6. Implement population-wide onsite health activities throughout the year. This will generate awareness and enthusiasm, especially when set up as competitions. The Healthyroads(R) Total Health Management Program offers 20 creative and fun challenges that employers can use to get employees healthier year-round.


7. Promote a culture of wellness. Get your whole company involved in the process of health improvement. Encourage healthy alternatives at luncheons, offer healthy foods in vending machines, organize lunchtime run/walk clubs and send out monthly emails that keep people motivated. When health surrounds you, you're apt to embrace it!


8. Provide onsite educational activities. Research local or community resources available to provide lunch and learns, health fairs, onsite massage therapy or gym membership discounts for your employees.


9. Initiate and integrate. Wellness programs that are included as part of an employee's benefit plans (medical, prescription drug, disease management, EAP, etc.) provide a seamless program design that streamlines communication and education.


"Motivating lasting behavior change is not easy; health improvement programs compete with your employees' other life demands," added DeVries. "But following these best practices can help you get their attention and give them rewarding reasons to get involved. Then, everyone wins."


That is definitely sounds advice.  I'm curious - What are your employers doing for Global Employee Health and Fitness Month? Are there any programs in your workplace which have worked really well?  Does anyone know of programs that focus on Naturopathic Medicine or Integrative Medicine? Please share your stories in the comments.


If you have questions as to how to develop a wellness program in your workplace, please contact me by phone or e-mail. I would be thrilled to work with you and your employers to not only promote wellness, but to help you serve as an advocate for more natural health measures and programs.


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Naturopathic Kids



We have reviewed how Naturopathic Medicine has helped kids with ADHD, Autism and food sensitivities. But I want to reiterate that the greatest focus with pediatric care is prevention.  Our goal is to support the natural immunity-building processes in the body, interfering as little as possible. 


If a child is sick, we work to determine if the proper building blocks for the body are being provided in order to grow and maintain health (good nutrition, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, protein, essential sugars and calories) and correct any deficiencies. "Tolle causum," naturopathic doctors are instructed in school — this is Latin for Find the Cause. Identifying and treating the underlying causes of illness is one of the guiding principles of Naturopathic Medicine.


Naturopathic pediatricians monitor growth and development. We provide needed assistance to fight off infection (homeopathy, botanical medicines, vitamins, minerals, essential sugars, and at times, antibiotics) but especially to protect gut immunity with probiotics (natural organisms that promote gut health.)


Integrative Health looks at stressors (such as molds, chemicals, interpersonal struggles, dietary issues) that might be lowering the child’s immunity and help parents to problem-solve in correcting the home environment. 


Naturopathic medicine focuses on preventing illness and achieving optimum health. We are also trained and skilled in diagnosing and treating disease. Naturopathic pediatric care includes helping parents give their children the healthiest possible start in life, providing complete well-baby and child care, and treating a myriad of childhood ailments and chronic conditions. 


At the beginning of the year, you may remember (because I've tended to remind you in several blog posts!) that in 2012, I have challenged you to take charge of your health.  As a parent myself, I want my kids to be as healthy as possible and like you, don't want to see them taking lots of prescription drugs for each an any ailment.  Taking charge of your health extends to your family. I'm delighted when I see the whole family develop an interest in maintaining optimal health. I look forward to seeing you and your children in my office soon, whether it be to treat a chronic condition, or for a wellness check-up. Let's work together to prevent illness and provide the best chances for your child to grow in health.


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Berry Wellness

You may have seen on Facebook and Twitter, as well as the newsletter that I recently sent out that one of my favorite antioxidants is receiving some extra attention this month. Many of you are regular customers in the Integrative Health Solutions online store. However, many of you probably don't even realize that you can refill your supplements, vitamins and items directly from the site.  


Since it is spring time and a perfect moment to think about your health as we head into sunny and social time in San Diego, I'd like to promote one of my favorite products, Berry Wellness. This is a powerhouse of a formula designed to provide you with the most complete mix of the most powerful antioxidant and immune supporting berries and extracts available. It contains Gogi, Sea Buckthorn, Pomegranate Fruit, EGCG from green tea, Cranberry Extract, Tumeric Blueberry extract, Elderberry extract, Cayenne and Bioperine for maximum absorption. 

Tibetan Goji's are wonderful and delicious tonic fruits used as a blood tonic, to nurture the heart, they have been used to relieve heart palpitation, insomnia, forgetfulness and anxiety associated with blood and chi deficiency. The berries have a high content of iron, about 20 times that of grapes and 15 times that of spinach. Many Tibetan formulas include these berries with other ingredients and offered in a well built formula with tonic herbs, astringent herbs, herbs to strengthen essence, nourish internal organs and build blood.

There are antioxidants and then there are antioxidants. Pomegranates are loaded with phytochemical antioxidants called polyphenols. The polyphenols in pomegranates include anthocyanins and tannins, which are among the most potent plant antioxidants around.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is one of four major catechins in green tea. Catechins belong to the flavan-3-ol class of flavonoids. Green tea catechins are the flavan-3-ols found in green tea leaves. Green tea catechins, especially EGCG, make up approximately thirty percent of the dry weight of green tea leaves. Of the catechins, EGCG is the most abundant one in green tea leaves. 

For the month of April, I'm offering Berry Wellness at 35% off.  Please use the code 35BERRY when you order directly from the online store.  I initially released the promo code on Facebook on April 1st, simply because I want to see more of you participate in the conversation we've been enjoying the past few months. I'd also like to begin releasing Facebook-only promotions, so keep checking in to see what's on offer! Make sure you LIKE my Facebook Page today. I appreciate your readership of my blog and look forward to seeing you on Facebook, as well as having you enjoy this great product promotion. 

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Complementary Treatments for Autism



April hosts a variety of topics for health awareness. Last week we discussed IBS and the variety of ways Naturopathic Medicine can relieve symptoms.  This week, I'd like to focus on Autism. I've posted a few articles  on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, but let me go into more depth here. The Autism Society reports:


In December 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 110 births in the United States and almost 1 in 70 boys. The issuance of this report caused a media uproar, but the news was not a surprise to the Autism Society or to the 1.5 million Americans living with the effects of autism spectrum disorder. Nonetheless, the spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of supports for their children.

Know the Signs: Early Identification Can Change Lives

Autism is treatable. Children do not "outgrow" autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Here are some signs to look for in the children in your life:

  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects



Autism is characterized by a spectrum of behaviors and developmental delays that are attributed to a complex set of neurological disturbances that result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Many of the alternative treatment approaches or adjunct therapies for patients with autism are designed to improve methylation and detoxification pathways.

These treatments generally view the environment or other external sources, like mercury in vaccines, as the origin of neurotoxic substances. Neurotoxins are defined as chemical substances that are lethal to neurons. While the environment certainly can be a source of neurotoxins, these therapeutic protocols overlook the fact that neurotoxic substances may originate within the body and can actually be formed within the neurons themselves.


Neurotoxins & Autism

Many patients with autism have high urinary levels of neurotransmitters indicating an increased rate of neurotransmitter turnover. Insufficient regulation of excitatory neurotransmitters increases the high rate of neurotransmitter release and re-uptake and increases neurotransmitter exposure to MAO (the enzymes monoamine oxidase).

Unchecked, excitatory neurotransmitters will cause rapid and repeated neuron firing and increase neurotoxin formation. Interventions that reduce high rates of neurotransmitter turnover will also reduce the formation of toxic aldehydes and as a consequence can reduce neurological damage.

Raising the level of inhibitory neurotransmitters will decrease the rate of firing and decrease aldehyde formation. Because over-stimulation results in the formation of toxic compounds and neurological damage, it may also contribute to the development of symptoms seen in autistic patients. Urinary testing of neurotransmitter levels confirms that supporting the inhibitory neurotransmitters with Targeted Amino Acid Therapy (TAAT) will reduce the excretion of excitatory neurotransmitters. 

Supporting inhibitory neurotransmitters with a TAAT program has been shown to decrease urinary levels of catecholamines and therefore is a  method to decrease the rate of catecholamine turnover. TAAT can be used to decrease the rate of neurotoxic aldehyde formation by MAO, and reduce the risk of further neurological damage in patients with autism.

The Autism Society also lists an excellent and thorough article "Summary of Biomedical Treatments for Autism" which surprisingly takes a naturopathic approach to treatment such as improving diet, looking at food sensitivities, intake of vitamins and supplements and immune system regulation, as well as amino acids.

Every child and person with Autism is different and will respond individually to various treatments. If you'd like to explore complementary treatments for Autism, please make an appointment. I'd be happy to discuss this complicated condition more in depth with you personally. While there is no cure for Autism, we can work together to find more natural methods to improve behavior and function.


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Natural Solutions for IBS

Welcome to the month of April. I can hardly believe how fast the time has passed already in 2012! Weren't we just welcoming the New Year and talking about taking charge of your health this year?  And now the first quarter is already over!


During the spring months, a lot of awareness begins to arise for many health issues.  Last month, I focused quite a bit on nutrition, as it was National Nutrition Month.  April, has an entirely new set of health issues to focus on, and I wanted to tackle one in particular this week, as it is a very common issue in the US with 10-15% of the population suffering from the condition. 


April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Month. Aside from affecting so much of the US population, IBS is prevalent around the world. IBS is associated with a significant healthcare and economic burden. Studies have shown that IBS patients have an increased number of outpatient healthcare visits, diagnostic tests, and, surgeries. IBS can severely compromise a person’s quality of life. It is second only to the common cold as a cause of absenteeism from work.




What is IBS?

IBS is a long-term or recurrent disorder of gastrointestinal functioning. It usually involves disturbances in the large intestine (colon) and small intestine. The disturbances involve:


  • motor function (motility),
  • sensation, and
  • secretion. 


These intestinal/bowel (gut) related activities are regulated by the brain. This regulation may also be impaired. That's why IBS is often called a brain-gut disorder.


The disturbances can produce symptoms of:


  • abdominal pain or discomfort,
  • bloating or a sense of gaseousness, and
  • a change in bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation).



Integrative Health Solutions

The good news is that Naturopathic Medicine has much to offer people with IBS.


Food allergy and sensitivity are a common cause of IBS, so making some diet changes can often be very helpful. Foods that have been linked to IBS include dairy products, wheat products, beans, caffeine, and foods containing fructose or sorbitol, among others. There is considerable fructose in fruit juices, fruit drinks, and dried fruit. Sorbitol is found in dietetic foods.


Another common cause of IBS is maldigestion. Inadequate secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach or digestive enzymes in the small intestine doesn't allow your food to be digested properly. This can lead to gas, bloating, loose stools, and the other symptoms of IBS. Improperly digested food in the gut can also lead to overgrowth of unfriendly intestinal bacteria, candida and the development of food allergies.


Addressing the psychological aspects of this condition requires a very individualized approach. One thing that most people with IBS have in common is that during stressful situations the contractions or spasms in their colon increase. Stress reduction techniques such as physical exercise, daily walking, yoga, meditation, or deep abdominal breathing can therefore be helpful.


The primary herbal medicine that has been studied in the treatment of IBS is peppermint oil. Peppermint is an effective inhibitor of colon contractions or spasm and also relieves gas. Peppermint oil should only be taken in enteric-coated capsules which aren't digested until they pass through the stomach and reach the small intestine. This prevents the peppermint oil from contacting the stomach where it can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Other herbal medicines that have historically been used for IBS include chamomile, rosemary, valerian, ginger, and lemon balm.


Most conditions, including IBS, are multifactorial in nature, having a variety of factors playing a role in the disease process. The most effective treatment approach for irritable bowel syndrome therefore employs a combination of all of the above. Many people with IBS are able to experience significant relief from this condition by following this approach. 


If you're suffering fro IBS, I'd love to work with you to help you find relief from your symptoms. With a  protocol to help you find out which foods may be contributing to your IBS, and natural therapies that can restore proper microbial balance in your gut, Naturopathic Medicine can help you find a solution to IBS.


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Diabetes in the U.S.



According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States. More than 25.8 million children and adults in the United States— 8.3% of the population —have diabetes. Diabetes can be life-threatening, as diabetics have 4-6 times the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke.

The 2011 released statistics show:

Total prevalence of diabetes

Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.

Diagnosed: 18.8 million people

Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people

Prediabetes: 79 million people*

New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.


The American Diabetes Association goes on to point out one of the main factors for Type 2 Diabetes.

Twin Epidemics: Obesity and Diabetes

Being overweight is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for type 2 diabetes. This is cause for concern since the rate of obesity among adults in the United States has doubled since 1980. According to the latest estimates, 64% of Americans are considered overweight or obese. The rate of obesity among our children has tripled since 1980.

Currently 16% of children ages 6 to 19 years, a total of 9 million youths, are overweight. Along with obesity, other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include lack of physical activity and an unhealthy weight.


While these statistics are dramatic, there are avenues for treatment that have shown some significant success, particularly in the area of Naturopathic Medicine. A strong emphasis has been on teaching future physicians to treat diabetes patients with complementary medical techniques as a more integrative approach to their patients overall treatment regimen.

Dr. Mona Morstein, Chair of Nutrition and Supervising Physician at Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center, has found significant results and benefits from a comprehensive, yet individualized Naturopathic course of treatment for her diabetic patients, no matter which type of diabetes they have.

Part of that treatment includes a low carbohydrate diet. A great deal of evidence-based research supports the use of such a dietary program, even though it is contrary to what the ADA suggests. Dr. Morstein also prescribes various nutrients and anti-oxidants as a result of studies showing that diabetics are lacking in a number of vital nutrients. Further, the research has shown that the problematic progression of their diabetes is considerably slowed by antioxidants. Dr. Morstein uses various botanical medicines to help decrease insulin resistance and sugar cravings, which has the added benefit of aiding in weight loss. Treatment can also include diagnosing and addressing imbalances in other hormones such as cortisol and testosterone. Regular aerobic exercise and weight lifting are necessary for the patient, and, if needed, stress relaxation and counseling should be part of the overall regimen.

The Naturopathic treatment regimen for diabetes has shown other significant benefits such as the reduction or elimination of oral hypoglycemics and blood pressure medicines as patients become healthier. For those Type I diabetics that require insulin, a unique way of prescribing the insulin is prescribed which enables the blood sugar levels to be very tightly controlled without causing frightening low blood sugar episodes.

Success has also been demonstrated in lowering patients hemoglobin A1C levels.  Medical studies have proven that lower A1C numbers significantly decrease the risk of diabetics, developing cardiovascular disease, and eye, kidney and nerve damage. Dr. Morstein remarks, "It's very rewarding working with people with diabetes and see them able to reduce or remove some of their medications, and significantly lower their A1Cs. They're very pleased and I know I've helped them lower their risk for developing diabetic complications in the future."

Naturopathic Medicine offers leading edge treatments for diabetes, and the results are healthier, leaner patients who taking less medications and having more positive health outlooks for the future.

Tomorrow is the American Diabetes Association Alert Day (March 27). 

You can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle. Change your diet, increase your level of physical activity, maintain a healthy weight. With these positive steps, you can stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of diabetes. This is what March, the National Nutrition Month has been touting all month, and why I've chosen to share with you these topics, directly related to your nutritional health, diet and general well-being. 

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We're Getting Fatter.

This week with respect to March being National Nutrition Month, I'd like to keep focus on dietary concerns and nutritional health.  Through a great website, MindBodyGreen, I discovered this wonderful infographic about the state of America's health and obesity rates.  I thought that I would share this with you today, as it is an effective method of sharing some pretty scary data. While our fast food culture is an easy target and excuse, it's clear that we also consume larger portions and more calories.  We also make poor food choices. I also mentioned in a Facebook post or two about empty calories.  In a nutshell, our eating habits are the source of many of our health issues. As a doctor, it is difficult to see that obesity is the #2 preventable death behind smoking.  What are we doing to ourselves?


Have a look at this data, and note that next week I will discuss Diabetes, a direct result of America's obesity problem. I look forward to your comments... what do you feel and think when you see data like this? What efforts are you making to not fall into the obesity trap?




Infographic credit to http://www.mindbodygreen.com




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Nutrition for You

March is National Nutrition Month, and I think this is a great topic to focus on for another week. You'll remember that last week, I provided a guide for buying organic, which many of you found helpful.  The EAT RIGHT website has some wonderful information, videos and games to help you start the conversation in your household and get everyone thinking about what foods you eat.


Before posting this article, I do want to encourage you to read up on food sensitivities and allergies.  No matter how healthy you try to eat, there may be foods you are consuming which simply don't agree with your system.  I can't tell you how many times I see patients with any variety of problems and how many times we can narrow part or all of the culprit to certain foods the patient is eating.  Depending on our general health, we process foods differently. There are some foods like dairy, gluten, seafood and nuts that are truly a challenge for your body to digest and will cause other issues as a signal that you cannot process those foods.  In my office, we do thorough allergy testing and can help determine a diet that is unique and specific to you.


I thought I would share this great article from the Eat Right website, as it seems this is a common problem for all of us - empty calories.  They taste good, but they simply do nothing for us nutritionally!




Replace Sodium and Empty Calories with Wholesome Foods to 'Get Your Plate in Shape' during National Nutrition Month

Grocery store shelves and restaurant menus are often crowded with foods containing solid fats, added sugars and high levels of sodium. During National Nutrition Month®, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is helping Americans understand how to get the most nutrients they need from the foods they eat, all surrounding this year's theme: "Get Your Plate in Shape."

"When people eat foods that have added sugars and solid fats, they are consuming extra calories they don't need," says registered dietitian and Academy Spokesperson Angela Ginn. "These 'empty calories' are found in a number of foods and drinks and offer little-to-no nutritional benefits."


Foods high in solid fats (like sausage, shortening and cream) and added sugars (such as regular soda and pastries) should be considered occasional treats rather than regular options. Eating these foods on a regular basis can cause you to consume more calories than your body needs in one day.


"Replace these foods with nutritionally sound choices, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy," Ginn says. "Eating occasional treats is okay. Just make sure to balance out those treats with healthier options and get plenty of exercise."


In addition to limiting foods high in solid fats and added sugars, consumers should also be aware of high levels of sodium in foods, especially pre-made options like frozen meals and canned soups and vegetables. Foods containing high levels of sodium are contributors to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.


"The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming only 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is about one teaspoon of salt," Ginn says. "While meeting this recommendation may seem hard at first, choosing foods that are lower in sodium is one big step you can take towards meeting this goal.


Ginn offers tips to choose healthier options and "Get Your Plate in Shape":

Choose foods and drinks with little or no added sugars.

"It is smart to look for foods that have no added sugars, like unsweetened apple sauce or unsweetened whole-grain cereals," Ginn says.

  • Drink water throughout the day. For variety, add lemons, limes or cucumbers to your water or try carbonated water.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk or 100-percent fruit juices.
  • Eat fresh fruit salad for dessert.

Eat fewer foods that are high in solid fats.

"Solid fats can increase your risk for heart disease," Ginn says. "You can reduce this risk by choosing healthier oils and lean meats."

  • Instead of regular ground beef, opt for extra-lean ground beef. Ground turkey and chicken are also available in lean options.
  • Grill, broil, bake or steam your foods instead of frying.
  • Cook with healthy oils like olive, canola and sunflower oils in place of hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils.
  • Opt for fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.

Cut back on sodium.

"Much of the sodium we eat comes from prepared meals and foods eaten away from home. This can be significantly reduced by eating fresh foods," Ginn says.

  • Instead of salt, use herbs and spices to season foods, and avoid salting food before tasting it.
  • Do not add salt when cooking pasta, rice and vegetables.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts Panel to compare sodium content of foods such as soups, broths, breads and frozen dinners, and choose the healthiest option.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, poultry and fish, beans and peas, unsalted nuts, eggs and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt.

Ginn also recommends cooking different dishes at home. "This allows you to control what you put in your meal," she says.

For more information on how to "Get Your Plate in Shape," visit the Academy's National Nutrition Month website for a variety of helpful tips, fun games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources.

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Here's wishing you a nutritious month and the start of you eating right. I look forward to seeing you in the office and determining the perfect diet for YOU.


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Guide to Buying Organic

Occasionally I come across some news articles or blog posts that are just perfect for sharing with my patients. You'll see that I post a lot of those to my Facebook Page, but this one was just too good and I wanted to share it here on my blog. Credit to THIS WEBSITE.  

The 15 Most Important Fruits and Vegetables to Buy Organic

 As many shoppers trim their food budgets in response to the economy, you may also be scaling back on organic purchases, which are sometimes (though not always) more costly than conventional food products.

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Peaches and apples are on the top 4 of the list of most contaminated fruits and veggies, with 87 percent containing two or more pesticide residues.
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Unfortunately, non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown with potentially toxic chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Those chemical residues remain not only on the skin of the fruit, but also can be absorbed into the inner flesh.

Even low levels of pesticide consumed over time can be problematic. A study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, for instance, found that people who had been exposed to low levels of pesticides were 1.13 times as likely to have Parkinson's disease as those who had never been exposed. Other studies have also linked pesticides to health problems including:

  • Cancer
  • Fertility problems
  • Brain tumors
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Birth defects
  • Irritation to skin and eyes
  • Hormone or endocrine system problems
  • Nervous system damage

Children, whose bodies are still developing, are especially at risk from pesticides, as are pregnant women, whose unborn children are extremely susceptible to damage from these toxic chemicals.

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Wash Those Veggies! Remove toxic pesticides, dirt, mold and other residues from your family's produce with a organic fruit and vegetable soap wash which typically makes foods taste better.

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And if you eat produce, there's a good chance you're being exposed. According to Hazardous Pesticides per the European Parliament, the eight food samples they tested, which ranged from oranges to strawberries to grapes, contained 28 different pesticide residues, with an average of almost five per fruit!

Among them were 10 known carcinogens, 3 neurotoxins, 3 reproductive or developmental toxins, 8 suspected endocrine disrupters, and 2 contaminants classified as "Highly Hazardous" by the World Health Organization.

Three of the eight food samples contained pesticide residues so high they were technically illegal to sell, and the oranges contained illegally high levels of imazalil, a carcinogen. By eating just one orange, a 5-year-old would receive 70 percent of the "Acute Reference Dose" for that chemical.

Which Fruits and Veggies are MOST Contaminated?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit environmental research organization, released a list of fruits and vegetables that are most and least contaminated with pesticide residues.

By eating some of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables, you and your children are exposed to about 10 different pesticides a day, according to EWG. Fortunately, by avoiding the most-contaminated produce out there, and concentrating on the least contaminated instead, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides by almost 80 percent, and be exposed to less than 2 pesticides per day, EWG says.

With that in mind, if you’re trying to decide which food products to buy organic, focusing on those on the following 2009 list of the MOST contaminated fruits and vegetables would be money well spent.

The MOST Contaminated Fruits and Veggies (Buy These Organic)

  1. Apples          
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches        
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines - imported
  7. Grapes - imported      
  8. Sweet bell peppers 
  9. Potatoes       
  10. Blueberries - domestic
  11. Lettuce       
  12. Kale/collard greens

Peaches and apples had the most pesticides detected on a single sample, with nine pesticides on a single sample, followed by strawberries and imported grapes where eight pesticides were found on a single sample of each fruit, according to EWG.

On the flipside, the produce with the LEAST amount of pesticide residues were:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe - domestic
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms



Hope you've enjoyed this piece.  Have a great week and be well.


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Your Spiritual Health



In the beginning of 2012, I challenged many of you to take charge of your health. And as I've spoken with several of you in my office, you know that I not only mean your physical healthy, but also your mental and spiritual health.


Recently, I took a much needed trip to Costa Rica.  I returned to my roots, to places which have shaped me as a person and as your doctor. While I had many activities planned, I was most eager to restore my spiritual health on this trip (which helped me feel better physically, of course).


One visit I was excited for was the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  Wonderful hiking trails and truly green scenery. Here's a link for general information: www.monteverdeinfo.com/index.html


The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was established in 1972 and initially covered some 810 acres (328 ha) of forested land. Nowadays, its protective reach extends over 35,089 acres (14,200 ha) and encompasses eight life zones atop the Continental Divide. There are over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles living within its bounds. It’s one of the few remaining habitats that support all six species of the cat family – jaguars, ocelots, pumas, oncillas, margays, and jaguarundis – as well as the endangered three-wattled bellbird and resplendent quetzal. Over 8 miles (13 km) of trails are available for visitors to explore on their own or with a guide.


Most of the photos in my office, the huge wall coverings, are from Monteverde, when I lived in Costa Rica. I'm reminded daily by those photos how beautiful this forest is...just imagine how eager I was to breathe it all in and experience it again, in person. I also had a task while in these beautiful surroundings. I'm working with two other doctors to establish an outpatient retreat. I searched for some good spots for this project.


I also had the chance to visit the site of my former farms in Las Juntas. This isn't much of a touristy town, as you'll read here: www.govisitcostarica.com/region/city.asp?cID=64

But that's not why I headed there.  There's a sense of familiarity, a feeling of home. I took note, once again, of how simply people live and how happy they are in their simplicity is another sentiment that sticks with me. We don't need much to live a fulfilling life.


I was glad to squeeze in a bit of beach time at Playa Samara. My family really enjoyed the time spent here: samarabeach.com/  - It was a good chance to unwind a bit.


Being back in Costa Rica was truly an enriching experience for me. I needed to reconnect.  Being back where there with so much biodiversity in life really reminds us how connected we are with mother Earth. Seeing how life itself wants to foster more life and how if left to its own devices, will do so, is very humbling.


So I challenge you - what can you do today to take charge of your spiritual health? You don't need to go to Costa Rica to find the answers, but to a place where you feel connected with your inner-self. Be mindful of what motivates you, what makes you truly happy. What makes you deeply content? Reconnect with those inner thoughts and take time daily to take care of YOU!

About Doc Bron

With Dr. Bronner Handwerger, NMD and Integrative Health Solutions, you can have access to truly private, personalized health care that not only addresses your medical needs when they arise, but also assists you in maintaining your health and optimizing your physical well-being. Enjoy a better, healthier life through Integrative Medicine.

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