Do Flowers Hold the Secret to Universal Intelligence?

Since modern man and woman walked the earth with the capability to question and comprehend the world and its universal laws, flowers have been the topic of much philosophizing. They are the epitome of beauty, the most celebrated of gifts, the subject of great poems and works of art, and metaphors for revealing our natural inner essence.

Consider this: Have you ever seen an ugly flower? Even a simple daisy is beautiful, and somehow perfect, in its design.

So, what is it that makes flowers universally pleasing to the human eye? Mathematicians, botanists, artists, astronomers, architects and even our own intuition may hold the answers.

In 1202, Italian mathematician Leonardo Pisano, better known by the name Fibonacci, wrote about a sequence of numbers that occurs when a number is equal to the addition of the two numbers prior––for instance, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on.

The Fibonacci sequence correlates to the discovery of this pattern and similar patterns throughout history, dating back to about 300 B.C. It has been called by many names: The Golden Mean, The Golden Ratio, The Divine Proportion and, in more recent centuries, by the mathematically divided ratios of these sequential numbers that equals 1.618, named phi, after the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet.

This sequence and this number are said to have the proportions that human beings consider to be aesthetically pleasing. Science has found phi more than anywhere in nature––in pinecones and pineapples, in cacti and conifers, in hurricanes and galaxies, in the branching of trees, in the spiral of nautilus seashells and, yes, in many flowers.

Botanists determine that a flower opens its petals to absorb the greatest amount of sunlight—and quite often the number of petals follows the Fibonacci sequence, having 3, 5 or 8 petals, for instance. Oftentimes, the head of a sunflower has this divine pattern in its number of seeds and the proportional formation in which the seeds spiral. The Golden Ratio can be found throughout nature, including in many of our fruits and vegetables––in the spiraling head of a cauliflower, in the pattern of an apple cut in half.

This mathematical equation can also be found in much of art and architecture, as it creates a sense of beautiful proportion and balance in the design. Another Leonardo––namely, da Vinci––is the artist most known for using this proportional ratio in his works and may have even intentionally incorporated it when creating “The Last Supper” and the famous “Mona Lisa.” Whether he intended it or intuited it, the Divine Proportion is there.

But its appearance throughout nature is what has scientists pondering its universal intelligence, its cosmic wisdom. You can even see the patterns in the human body. We have five fingers on each hand, three sections to our arms, and if you divide the length of the forearm by the length of a hand, it equals––you guessed it––about 1.618. Recent discoveries have gynecologists amazed that the most fertile uterus is one that has proportions correlating to 1.618.

Clearly, this mathematical intelligence is a part of our natural world. Though not all things in nature follow this pattern, there are enough examples of it that mankind has taken notice and has been contemplating it for millennia.

A fascinating question: Is there something within us as human beings that resonates with nature, in that we recognize its beauty, balance and cosmic intelligence? Those in the fields of science, math and art will continue to ponder this naturally occurring mystery.

And we will, too.

When we at Vitanova were deciding on the symbol that would best represent our company, we unanimously selected an eight-petaled flower, one that just happened to follow the Fibonacci sequence. We did not choose to incorporate the Golden Ratio into our logo, but that particular flower resonated with us because of its beauty and harmony. We also recognized that a flower is a metaphor for the blossoming of the human essence, a symbol of awakening and rebirth.

It wasn’t until later that we discovered its multi-faceted perfection: the balance, the beauty, the science, the botanical wisdom, and the power of those elements combined. Behold, the flower—that speaks to us of its universal secrets.

Sources:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/math-concepts/fibonacci-nature1.htm

http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/3/5/160091

http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=111

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578919

http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/emat6680/parveen/fib_nature.htm

http://www.livescience.com/37470-fibonacci-sequence.html

http://www.maths.surrey.ac.uk/hosted-sites/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibnat.html

http://www.medicaldaily.com/golden-ratio-womans-uterus-linked-her-fertility-241942

Ashwagandha: Keep calm and be awesome

 

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the never-ending to-do list of modern life, there’s one herb you should know about: ashwagandha. The root of this well-studied herb has a long history of use in Ayurveda—the ancient Indian system of medicine—for restoring vigor and strength after the body has been depleted by stress.*

 

A premier adaptogenic herb

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. This remarkable class of herbs actually increases an individual’s ability to maintain homeostasis, even when under physical, mental, or emotional stress.*

Unlike most herbs, which work in one direction, adaptogens work in all directions. Ephedra, for example, is a stimulant. No matter who takes ephedra, the herb will have a stimulating effect similar to caffeine. Its direction, in other words, is always up.

Adaptogens, however, can turn the dial up or down as needed. Like a thermostat that heats or cools the air to maintain a consistent temperature, adaptogens increase or decrease bodily activity to maintain homeostasis.* Their direction changes depending on the person.*

As an adaptogen, ashwagandha reads what your body needs and then fine tunes your system in response. If you feel fatigued, it will energize you.* If you are stressed out, it will calm you down.* If you need to concentrate, it will help you focus.* If you need to rest, it will relax you.* Sound too good to be true? Check out the research!

 

Researched benefits of ashwagandha

Several human clinical trials published over the past two decades provide scientific evidence that ashwagandha is effective for the relief of occasional stress.*

In 2000, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that after six weeks of treatment with 500mg of ashwagandha per day, 88.2 percent of participants felt relief from occasional stress, while only 50 percent of those taking the placebo did.* (In other words, it was almost twice as effective!)

Another double-blind study published in 2009 and lasting 12 weeks compared two different protocols for occasional stress. One group of participants received counseling about diet, learned deep-breathing exercises, and took a multivitamin plus 600 mg of ashwagandha per day. The other group received psychotherapy, learned the same breathing exercises, and took a placebo. At the end of the study, the ashwagandha group experienced a 56.5 percent reduction in stress, while the psychotherapy group experienced just a 30.5 percent decline.* (Again, ashwagandha was nearly two times as effective!) The folks taking ashwagandha also experienced more marked improvements in concentration, energy, social functioning, and overall quality of life.*

 

How ashwagandha works

The active constituents of ashwagandha are called withanolides. They work by decreasing levels of cortisol, a hormone released during stress, and increasing levels of DHEA, a hormone that supports a positive mood.*

These mechanisms of action were illustrated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2008 that compared stress symptoms and hormone levels among people taking either 125, 250, or 500 mg of Sensoril® (a standardized extract of ashwagandha) or a placebo. Sensoril® not only helped reduce feelings of occasional stress—as well as sleeplessness, forgetfulness, and irritability—it also reduced cortisol while increasing DHEA.*

Ashwagandha root extract is sold in capsules or tablets, or as a powder or tincture. The withanolide content is often standardized and indicated on the label and can vary from 1.5 percent to 10 percent.

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958355/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255

https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/

Collagen: Bring firmness back to your skin

By Sara Lovelady

One hallmark of youthful skin is firmness. When you’re young, your skin is naturally taut. As your skin ages, though, it loses its firmness and starts to sag. Ideally, you want to take steps to prevent your skin from sagging in the first place. But if you’re past that point, is there anything you can do? The answer is yes, in the form of collagen.

Beauty from the inside out

Collagen is a structural protein and the main component of connective tissue. It makes up 30 percent of the protein in your body and an amazing 70 percent of the protein in your skin.

Think of collagen as the scaffolding of a building. It provides the structure that supports and binds the other tissues of your body, including your tendons, muscles, cartilage, skin, and bones.* Unfortunately, several factors—including chronological aging, sun exposure, pollution, and smoke—break down the collagen in your skin, causing it to droop and wrinkle.

The good news is that collagen supplementation can help. In fact, a human clinical study found that when 26 women took 1 gram daily of a combination of type II collagen, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid for 6 weeks, the collagen content of their skin increased significantly.* At the end of the 12-week study, the participants experienced visible skin health benefits, too, including significant reductions in facial lines and wrinkles, dryness, and skin scaling.*

How does collagen work?

Collagen appears to work in a number of different ways to support youthful skin.* First, test-tube research has shown that collagen stimulates chondrocytes (cartilage cells) to produce type II collagen and proteoglycans—both important components of connective tissue.* Second, human research has documented that collagen supplementation may help the body synthesize hyaluronic acid (HA).* Because HA holds water molecules in the skin, it contributes to skin firmness.* And third, animal research has found that collagen ingestion enhances the number of fibroblasts (cells that produce collagen) in the body and protects against UV damage to the skin.*

All collagen is not the same

Importantly, there are several different kinds of collagen:

  • Type I collagen is present in the skin, tendons, blood vessels, organs, and bone
  • Type II collagen is present in the cartilage
  • Type III collagen is present in the reticular fibers of connective tissue
  • Type IV collagen is present in the basal lamina, a layer of the extracellular matrix
  • Type V collagen is present in the cell surfaces, hair, and placenta

A combination of various types of collagen may be more effective for supporting youthful skin than one type alone.*

* This statement has not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3426261/

Finding Calm

Vitanova Calm

It’s happening…that moment when you lose your calm.

It happens to all of us at some point. The stress of today’s hectic lifestyle mounts, we feel overwhelmed, agitated and we lose our calm.

Whatever it is that takes away our calm, we all know that feeling.

The kids have been crazy, the boss has been piling on the deadlines, someone cut in front of you driving, you get home and there is no toilet paper in the bathroom again—and finally you really do lose your sense of calm.

5 Daily Rituals to Keep Our Calm:

Slow Down

It sounds simple, but it works: Slow down and remember to breathe. The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale)
  • Imagine all the stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face. Really it works.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to. The good thing about breathing is that we can do it no matter where we are!

Meditate

Meditation is another way to help us to relax. Think of it as exercise for your mind.

Choose a word and then meditate on that word for just five minutes a day. This can help decrease your stress and make you more mindful.

Headspace is an application and blog to help you learn to meditate. They have a great free application to download here. It is a great resource if you have never meditated before, and we love the ones to do on the go!

Exercise

Speaking of exercising—it is not to just burn off those calories! Making exercise part of our daily routine helps us burn off energy and be mindful of our bodies. It can be as simple as taking a short break during the day to go outside and connect with nature, finding time to put a walk into your routine, or discovering a yoga class that will fit into your schedule.

ClassPass is a fun way to try out different classes that may work for you and is also useful to find classes when you are traveling. We love the flexibility of it. They even have a Newbie option.

Golden Milk Cocoa

Photo: Local Milk

Put down your cup of joe. This energizing and cleansing beverage* gets a nutrient kick from coconut oil, turmeric, and adaptogenic ashwagandha. “Long used in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is said to reduce anxiety and cortisol (the stress hormone) as well as improves your ability to focus,”* writes Local Milk blogger Beth Kirby.* Drink break, anyone?

*Article originally posted LocalMilk blog / WellandGood

Explore the Benefits of Ashwagandha

Try adding the adaptogenic* herb Ashwagandha supplement as part of the daily ritual to support keeping calm and being awesome.*

Ashwagandha was used in the ancient Indian system of medicine Ayurveda which is the… You can learn more about the science of Ashwagandha here. It is said to help alleviate symptoms of occasional stress and fatigue and support an energetic sense of well-being.*

Vitanova recently launched our KeepCalm Organic Ashwagandha supplement to support daily living to find and keep calm. We believe that success in life should be calm and peaceful. Learn more about our new product here.

Vitanova means new life and rebirth. We support those seeking to live boldly and those who are looking for a sense of rebirth in their daily life.

Joan Liman’s Story

Some people seem to have it all—going through life with luck on their side, having good things seemingly come to them without effort. Most of us don’t have it that easy, of course, but neither do we have to deal with major obstacles at a young age, only to have more problems pile on top of those. Joan Liman has had to deal with mental and physical illnesses simultaneously. She’s had marital problems. She lost a job. But one word that isn’t in her vocabulary is “insurmountable.” Not only did she make it through medical school, she found a creative outlet for expressing her life’s dramatic challenges via the magic of theater. As Joan relates her story, one can’t help but hear the hope and humor through all of the layers of turmoil. Although for much of her life, she has been arm wrestling with life’s challenges, Joan explains how, through perseverance, attitude and humor, she was able to gain the upper hand and deal with things that might have devastated mere mortals.

“I was 26 when I had my first battle with depression. I was hospitalized. Depression ran in my family. I had my ECT—electro-convulsive therapy—in 1977. It worked. I had recovered from my depression, but I wasn’t really happy being just a stay-at-home housewife and mother—doing laundry, and that kind of thing. So I decided to apply to medical school. I was accepted. I had been pre-med in college, but I abandoned it when my daughter was born. I loved medical school. I really felt I had found my niche.

At the end of my second year, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was stage four, which meant it had spread. I was given two years to live. I developed depression again at the end of my third year of medical school. People told me, “You have cancer—of course you’re going to be depressed.” But it was more than that—the deep depression had returned. My marriage was on shaky ground. Not only did my husband have to deal with a wife with a mental disease but now also a very serious physical illness. So I had fallen into a very serious depression. This time, I was hospitalized for four weeks in a residential facility. I had taken a leave of my medical residency when that happened. I figured my marriage was going to fall apart, and I knew the courts weren’t so kind to people with mental illness back then. I wasn’t even sure I could return to my residency. At this point, I was a non-practicing physician.

The depression episode was kind of an “aha” moment for me. I decided I was going to keep my family together and was very fortunate to find a position in medical school administration. I joked that I used to feel like a Jewish mother who had 500 kids. People there were going through all sorts of things I had gone through, like depression and cancer. It was a 9-to-5 kind of job, as opposed to the hours I would have had to work as a doctor.

I defied the odds with my lymphoma—everything was great. Then, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. On top of that, a new dean came in to the medical school where I worked. They wound up letting a lot of people go—and I was one of them. I got a severance package from the school, which I really had to fight for. I went through chemo and had a double mastectomy. I suffered from another phase of depression, but it was nothing like before. At this point, I had been on an effective antidepressant for a number of years.

I realized after being laid off that being involved in theater was something I could put my energy into. I heard an interview on NPR about this small theater I had never heard of. This theater company celebrated the minority perspective. It really appealed to me because I came of age in the sixties, during the civil rights movement. At the end of the radio interview, they said they needed volunteers. I decided to volunteer for the theater, and ended up taking a course in producing—and I began to produce plays.

Someone once told me, “You have had such an interesting life—you should really write a book about it.” I’ve always wanted to write, but if I wanted to write at all it would be a play because I love theater, and it would be a musical because I love musicals. So I came up with “A Limanade Life,” which is a play on words of the old expression, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Well, my name is Liman, so it makes Limanade! Basically, the play tells in song and narrative what I just told you. It’s been performed mainly for fundraisers for The American Cancer Society. I’ve also had it performed in a theater festival, where I was a semi-finalist; and I just submitted it to another theater festival. It’s opening up there at the end of August. It was one of ten plays chosen, and it’s the only musical. Hopefully, it will keep having a life of its own.

I’m a two-time cancer-survivor. I’ve been depression-free and mania-free for 20 years. My mantra is that when tragedy strikes, don’t be defined by it—find the divine in it. I’m a person who happens to have cancer—it doesn’t define who I am. My career path took so many twists and turns. No one knows why bad things happen to good people. The question is what happens after bad things happen to good people? I have a good sense of humor. That’s what got me through it. The message of my play is that if you have obstacles, you can overcome them. I have, and you can too!”

A Second Chance at Life – Bruce Oakes’ Story

One afternoon, Bruce Oakes, father of three, and a successful lawyer in his mid-40s, felt a severe pain in his chest. Somehow, he was able to drive himself to the nearest emergency room. Oakes, it turned out, had suffered a heart attack—unsurprising, considering the severity of the pain. And though it was a relatively minor one, the doctors decided, as a precaution against a future heart attack, to put in stents, a common preventive procedure that opens up the arteries. And there were other issues: Oakes was a heavy smoker, and—in addition to his briefcase—he carried a few extra pounds. Those factors, combined with the often stressful and demanding pace of his job, which called for almost constant traveling, created the perfect storm for health issues. What’s more, in addition to the heart problem, a previous bout with pancreatitis had left Oakes with serious diabetes, which one feckless physician deemed “out of control”—yet he sent Oakes home with no treatment; just a scary diagnosis that left him confused and feeling helpless.

“I had the first incident in 2007. I was at work, and I had some chest pains. I somehow managed to drive myself to the hospital. They told me I had had a heart attack. Well, they weren’t positive I did, but they said I was 99% blocked. That was bad enough. I was told I could have a bypass, but they thought that putting in some stents might be enough for now. They told me I should lose some weight and quit smoking. But, I still ate the same. Around that time, I was seeing a doctor who turned out to be pretty bad. He would write on my chart: ‘Diabetes out of control. Patient isn’t eating right.’ He should have prescribed shots of insulin; but instead, he did nothing. He just sent me on my way, as though there was nothing he could do. Things were fine for a while. But about seven years later, I was having some chest pains again. I didn’t want to admit it, but I knew things were bad. At that point, I decided I absolutely needed to stop smoking. I should have quit earlier. Actually, I switched to the vaping system, which was better than cigarettes. But, in other ways, I wasn’t taking care of myself at all. For example, I didn’t go to cardiac rehab, like I should have. I finally went back to my cardiologist and, this time, I was told that bypass therapy wasn’t elective—it was essential. Quadruple bypass. So, I went under the knife. Man, it was scary. But I pulled through the ordeal with flying colors. The doctor said I had strong heart muscle, and because of that, through all of this, it didn’t sustain much damage. He thinks that’s because I played a lot of sports when I was young.

I look at life so differently now. I feel as though I’ve been given a second—or, is it a third?—chance to do things right. For one thing, I’m eating healthy. My wife, Dawn, cooks for me. About a month ago, I started on a diet consisting of a lot of vegetables—low carbs. And, I started walking about two miles a day. Now, I’m up to four miles. Since the surgery, I’ve felt so much better. I have energy. I work hard, but I try to find time to take it easy—to travel; things like that. I’m feeling grateful for so many things: my wife, my kids, my grandkids, my parents, my puppies—and I’m grateful that my law firm is doing well. I’m thankful for sports, for great drama series, and a good steak at Morton’s. And, I’m working on a novel, too; I haven’t given up my dream of becoming the next John Grisham. I have so much to live for. Life is short but wonderful—and now my heart is in it.

How fermentation can enhance nutrition. Hint: think sauerkraut and vitamins.

Sauerkraut has made a comeback with a new generation of foodies––healthy foodies. That’s because fermentation makes this centuries-old European cabbage dish a good-for-you choice, and Millennials have re-discovered its benefits. According to Chelsea Krost, Millennial lifestyle expert, younger generations are “obsessed” with fermented foods because the active cultures make them “good for intestinal health and digestion.” Essentially, they’re a delicious way to get your probiotics.

Fermented foods may be one of the latest culinary trends, but many of these recipes have been around for thousands of years since fermentation is one of the oldest-known ways to preserve foods. Fermented foods have played a role in cultures across the globe throughout history, including: Latin America, India, Russia, Europe, China, Japan and Korea. Other well-known, fermented foods include kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, and tempeh.

So, how does fermentation occur? Yeasts and lactic acid bacteria are two types of microorganisms that foster fermentation—and in the process, common foods such as milk, cabbage and soy are transformed into substances with far more nutritional value. And, not only do they become more vitamin-rich, but the nutrients are also more bioavailable, meaning your body can absorb the nutrients better.

Science-Based Medicine, an organization that explores the scientific perspective of alternative medicine and treatments, did their own research and drew the same conclusions: “The fermentation process enhances the nutritional quality of food by contributing beneficial compounds such as vitamins and by increasing the bioavailability of minerals,” writes Lucy Shewell, author of the Science-Based Medicine article. She goes on to say, “Probiotics, including those found in kimchi, have a range of positive effects on health.” These include supporting a healthy inflammation response, positively impacting the immune system, managing weight, and altering the composition of the gut microbiome.*

Here’s a fascinating fact: Did you know that your vitamins can be produced with fermentation, benefiting your intestinal flora and making the nutrients more bioavailable? It’s an important development in nutrition.

Vitanova™ is one of the only multivitamin brands in the world to use a fermentation process to enhance the nutrition of their supplements. They start with the organic yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and then add in their wide array of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, omega fatty acids, organic superfoods and enzymes from tropical fruits. Vitanova then adds three strains of beneficial probiotics: L. acidophilus, B. bifidum, and L. rhamnosus. Under low heat, the fermentation process continues and the cell walls of the substances break down, thereby increasing the bioavailability of the nutrients. In the end, the process creates a living, whole-food complex from which the supplements are made.

So, go ahead, eat your sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchi—and take your vitamins. Who knows? Maybe you just discovered the secret to staying younger, longer.

Sources:

10 Food Trends Millennials are Obsessed With

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/fermentation.aspx

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/070112p32.shtml

Everything you always wanted to know about fermented foods 

The Hero’s Journey

The hero’s journey. You know the story. The main character is shaken by something external or internal—death, injury, financial crisis, disease, or maybe just struggling with the complexities of life—and has to find his or her way out of the turmoil. We follow along hoping for the best for our hero because we’ve all been there at various points in our own lives. We feel we share a cosmic tie and we’re invested in the outcome. We have to know our hero can do it because we know we may face another challenge along our path to bliss, happiness, contentment, peace.

The hero’s journey has been epitomized countless times in literature, plays, and movies—Lancelot, James T. Kirk, The Hero’s Journey, Homer’s Odyssey, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. They all take us on that journey to find a new life or a way out of whatever the hero is facing, and we’re living vicariously through them.

Who doesn’t know the story of Dorothy and Toto? We want to know that she escapes the wicked witch and finds the Wizard who can help her return home. Instead, she finds that she had Oz with her the whole time—in Kansas—within herself. She didn’t need Oz. This is what we strive for in our own journey. We want to know that Uncle Henry and Auntie Em will be waiting around the corner for us with a gentle hug and maybe some apple pie. We want to find the answers we seek.

While those stories are often outlandish tales of good versus evil, our own lives are examples of the hero’s journey. We want to see our hero make it. We need to see our hero make it because it gives us hope—hope that we can make it, too.

We’ve gone from our own depths of hell— tests and travails, allies and enemies—just as Dorothy did. We’ve learned lessons along the way: avoid the wicked witch; stay with Glinda, the good witch; be careful whom you trust. Maybe we’ve gotten our own ruby slippers, or maybe we’re still on our yellow brick road. We must find our own answers to whatever path we’re on, but knowing that someone else has triumphed gives us hope that we will be victorious.

There are many real-life examples of people who have overcome tremendous obstacles and have seemingly won their battles: J.K. Rowling, Elizabeth Gilbert, Marco Polo. The woman who has four children and has no idea how to pay the bills and develops an idea for a product that makes millions. The man who decides he needs to completely rewrite his life and takes off for a trip around the world. The couple who gets rid of all their stuff and finds they’re content just to live a life of adventure. We all want to find our nirvana—the life that has meaning and purpose.

This fall, Vitanova will be touring the country looking for people with stories to tell of their own journeys—and how they overcame their demons, fought their battles, won their wars, or are still on their path to finding the answers to life’s questions.

We’ll let you know when that journey begins so you can follow us and possibly even tell us your story.

Botanical Wisdom: Why Vitanova Uses Ginger.

Most of us have heard at least something about ginger, either as a spice or for our health, but most probably don’t know why or how we should be using it.

Ginger has been on record for more than 5,000 years and was one of the first recorded spices. Native to south Asia and brought to the Romans and Greeks by Arab traders, ginger was once considered a luxury costing the equivalent of an entire sheep in the Middle Ages. Belonging to the Zingiberaceae family (along with turmeric and cardamom), ginger (zingiber officinale) is best known as a spice used for adding a warming feeling to the stomach and a pungent taste to many food dishes, but it also has many medicinal uses and health benefits, as well.

In Ayurveda, ginger is used for a variety of health issues including stimulating digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, relieving menstrual cramps, and for easing the pain of sprains or strains and increasing joint comfort and flexibility.* Chinese medicine recommends dried ginger to support respiratory health.* And, modern clinical research indicates that ginger is an excellent tonic for nausea, occasional indigestion, gas, and possibly even motion sickness.* Ginger is one of the most studied spices for improving health.*

Can a spice also help you lose weight? Ginger’s high fiber content means that foods ingested will be processed more efficiently and move through the gastrointestinal system and out of the body more quickly. In addition, ginger improves digestion by increasing the pH of the stomach, which can stimulate digestive enzymes. But, the big piece of ginger’s helpful weight loss properties lies in its ability to rev up the body’s burners resulting from its thermogenic effect. This increases metabolism, which translates to fat burning.

Not only is ginger a proven fat burner, it’s also effective for curbing the appetite. A study in the journal Metabolism from 2012 showed that giving study participants (men) a tea with 2 grams of dried ginger powder helped with feelings of satiety. The men were given ginger tea with breakfast on alternating days, and hunger was recorded hourly. The study showed that ginger had a significant effect on the feeling of hunger after eating.

Ginger comes in a variety of forms: tinctures, powders, whole rhizome (root), essential oils, pickled, and in supplement form (pills or capsules), and the FDA has registered the spice as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Since it also has the ability to reduce blood platelet build-up as effectively as aspirin, speak with your doctor before adding ginger to your stable of natural remedies if you take medications for blood thinning or other maladies.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21849094

http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/zingiber-officinale-ginger

Ginger Root In Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine

http://www.progressivehealth.com/ginger-for-weight-loss.htm

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART00366

http://www.herballegacy.com/Whitney_History.html

http://www.metabolismjournal.com/article/S0026-0495(12)00118-7/fulltext

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginger

http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/zingiber-officinale-ginger

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277626/

http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm091048.htm

Living Healthier, Living Longer – Katie’s Story

Katie Doble is a 34-year-old staffing manager. Single and seemingly healthy, she was blindsided by a diagnosis of a rare cancer, ocular melanoma. Refusing to let the diagnosis define her, she learned she needed to be living a far healthier lifestyle if she was going to give cancer her best attack.

Katie sat down with me to tell me her story. ~ Story by Sandi Pearce

I had already been going to an ophthalmologist because of my poor vision. When I went in to see the doc again after noticing a slight loss of vision in my left eye, he noticed a bump on my retina and said he wanted to send me to a specialist. I went to the retina specialist that same morning.

On my way to the specialist, I called my sister, Julie, and told her there was something wrong with my eye. My dad was diagnosed with macular degeneration when he was my age, and my sister and I were both worried it might be that. Instead, I was diagnosed that day with ocular melanoma. I was completely blindsided by the diagnosis.

I called my sister crying—she was at her son’s field day at school—and told her I have cancer. She called my parents and other siblings to let them know the news, and then accompanied me to the afternoon appointment to find out  what my options were.

A week later, I had radiation treatment to my eyeball. They left the radiation plaque anchored to the back of my eye for one week and also biopsied the cells during the treatment. The cells came back as 1A, which meant that there was a 98% chance that it wouldn’t metastasize.

I experienced this euphoric state when I got the news that it was a 1A. I was suddenly a cancer survivor only a few weeks after diagnosis. I didn’t lose my hair, I didn’t have to go through chemo, and I didn’t miss any work. I was very grateful. I did lose my vision in that eye, and I’ve had to adjust to a different depth perception. I run into walls and I can’t catch anything to save my life, but that’s a small price to pay.  And then, it was just back to my normal, single life.

I met my husband, Nick, that fall of 2013, on LinkedIn. Weeks earlier, I had been on a date with a guy who said that my current situation wasn’t conducive to starting a romantic relationship, but if I wanted to call him when I was all better, we could hang out again. When I met Nick, I let him know what I’d recently been through, but it didn’t faze him at all. I knew right then that he was the one.

For a year after that, I had been getting routine ultrasounds. With ocular melanoma, if it’s going to metastasize, it will spread to the liver or lungs, so I had chest x-rays and liver ultrasounds every six months. After the first one, I got a voicemail from the clinic saying that everything was fine. Then, I had another checkup in November. While I was in a meeting with a client, my phone started blowing up with messages. By the time I got out to my car, I had two missed calls from the doctor’s office and a voicemail from the doctor saying I needed to call her back right away. You know it’s bad when the doctor calls. So, I called her back, and she asked if I was sitting down. My heart was racing. She said there was something suspicious on my liver. She said she didn’t know anything yet, but she wanted to biopsy it right away.

Nick followed through with his previous plan to propose to me on Thanksgiving Day, which just happened to be the day before my biopsy. My dad, a general physician, flew into town Thanksgiving morning to be there with me for my biopsy the following day, and Nick and my sisters also joined us.

When I was 15 years-old, my mom died of pancreatic cancer. She came to me in a dream a couple of years after she died and told me that whenever I saw a hot air balloon, I would know she’s with me. As I was rolling into the biopsy room with my dad at my side, I immediately started crying. My dad asked what was wrong, so I told him to look up. In the ceiling tile, there was a picture of a hot air balloon. I have seen more hot air balloons this year and last than I ever have before. Almost weekly I see one.

We found out for certain a week later that I have uveal melanoma.

After starting in a clinical trial in New York City, I decided to make a stronger effort to clean up my diet. So in the spring of 2015, I met with a nutritionist. She was operating under the assumption that I knew how to cook, which made it difficult to work with her because she would tell me to sauté something, but I had no idea what that meant! I had no cooking skills. All of my dishes involved bison or red meat because I’m from Nebraska. I needed someone to hold my hand and tell me what to do. The drug I was on caused me to become lactose intolerant, so I struggled to find things to eat that didn’t have dairy in them. By July and August, as a result of the drugs, I had no appetite at all. The only thing that I wanted to eat was french toast. It was such a painful thing because I was so hungry; yet, the thought of food was horrible. That’s the only time that I went off wine! I lost 30 pounds. I’m pretty petite, so that was a huge loss.

In August, I was forced to go off that trial because it was not working. We tried another trial in September that also failed. With the break in medications, I finally regained my appetite. From mid-October through the end of the year, I ate horribly. I was drinking milkshakes every day, eating donuts—you name it, I’d eat it. I was just trying to put weight back on. I was really struggling because I knew I needed to gain the weight back, but at the same time, I knew I wasn’t making healthy choices.

I spoke with one of my doctors about my eating habits, and he made me promise to call another doctor he recommended. He’s a general physician who specializes in nutrition. Up until this point, none of my doctors had talked with me about diet.

Dr. Ed, the nutrition doc, is also a cancer survivor. After practicing medicine for some time, he went back to study integrative medicine to combine Eastern and Western medicine. He talked about meditating and asked me where I see myself in 10 years and asked me to start to meditate about that. That’s something I do every day now. I picture being in Ireland with my husband and future family. That’s my happy place. He wanted me to put positive thoughts in my head instead of living in fear. I stopped doing things like thinking of songs for my funeral. It’s a lot easier to get through the day thinking happy, positive thoughts.

Dr. Ed gave me a homework assignment: read The China Study. That book gave me the science and facts I needed to start making healthier choices.  He also has me taking a number of supplements. I tell people who are wary of supplements, “I know that taking extra vitamin D or magnesium is not going to hurt me. It might not help me, but it’s certainly not going to hurt me.

Since I started taking the supplements and changed my diet, I have eaten very little red meat at all. You’re talking to the girl who used to eat meat three meals a day.  I don’t struggle as much with not eating meat as I do with no dairy.

Nick has been so supportive. He used to do most of the cooking, but now I do most of it, and I cook a lot of vegetables and salmon now. My doctor is 90% vegetarian, a plan I also adopted. Just eating 10% meat is helpful because I don’t feel as restricted.

I used to be in this huge struggle between my willpower and my food. I needed the doctor to explain the science behind it so my willpower could rise above my cravings. The China Study was the exact tool I needed to finally learn how to change and take this seriously. I don’t cut myself off from everything, but I make much better decisions now. It talks about the correlation between animal proteins and cancer, and dairy was a big piece of it, too. And, it’s in everything.

I have a habit that helps me. I use lists. I have a daily checklist. On it, it says: Meditate, fruits and veggies, juice, bedtime pills, dinner pills, lunch pills, breakfast pills and 30 minutes of exercise. In the beginning, I looked at that list every day so I wouldn’t forget anything. That’s something that really helped me mentally cope.

Someone else suggested this mantra: “I am healthy, I am young, I am light, I am love.” And I added, “I am surviving.” That’s one that I say when I drive to work or when I am rolling down that CT scan tube.

My advice to people is to take it one step at a time. Everyone just has to figure out their own go-tos to get through whatever they’re dealing with.

I have literally never felt this good before. I feel the healthiest I’ve ever felt. That gives me hope. This cancer can’t take me.

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