Fortify yourself this winter with Nature’s Medicine Chest

Cold and flu season is almost upon us. Before it’s too late, strengthen defenses naturally with herbal, dietary and lifestyle tips. If a bug does manage to settle in, use a few of the following suggestions to lessen symptoms and severity — helping you to get back on your feet fast.

Diet for a strong immune system

Sugar. Quite literally the scourge of health. Macrophages (a type of white blood cell) Continue reading

A Winter Danger you should be Aware of

There are the murmurings out there that shoveling snow can cause a heart attack. We’ve long thought that it happens every so often, but just in some incidences. Now the evidence points to men who have a family history of heart disease. It is they who should be cognizant about the risks that winter snow can bring…when it is on your driveway.

Two of the most important cardiology associations in the U.S. include snow-shoveling on their web sites as a high- risk physical activity. But the evidence didn’t seem convincing enough for a group of researchers. So they went to work.

They reviewed hospital patient records from the two previous winter seasons and came to this discovery: of 500 patients who came to the hospital with heart problems during this period, 35 of them (seven percent) had started experiencing symptoms while shoveling snow.

They call this a “huge” number. In fact, seven percent of anything in medicine is a significant proportion. What’s more is, perhaps they missed some patients that could have been shoveling snow around the time of a heart attack, but failed to mention it to the doctors. It is conceivable that the number of people could be double that.

The study also identified three main factors Continue reading

Five Winter Wonder Foods

Now that we’ve officially entered the dregs of winter, the supermarket’s produce section has started to look a little dull and dismal and you may feel like your diet is lacking a bit on the nutrition front as a result. Here are five superstar foods you can add to your cart this week to give your meals an instant upgrade.

KALE

Kale is a nutrient-dense dark leafy green that offers a trifecta of ingredients for enhancing eye health: beta-carotene (a form of pre-vitamin A), lutein, and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are a potent antioxidant pair that work together to protect the eyes from diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Kale is also rich in fiber (for a healthy heart and regular digestion) and vitamins C and K (for healthy blood vessels).

Kale makes a terrific side dish when sautéed in a drop of olive oil with garlic and chili flakes. It’s also a great addition to hearty soups and stews.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

This winter staple is brimming with beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant the helps repair and renew your skin to give it a youthful, radiant glow. Once converted to vitamin A, beta carotene also helps your immune system function at its best. Beta carotene, along with other carotenoids found in butternut squash, may also help fight arthritis aches and pains.

Butternut and other winter squashes, such as acorn, are also good sources of potassium and magnesium; two nutrients that help manage blood pressure and keep bones healthy and strong.

You can serve butternut squash mashed (like potatoes), or cut it into cubes and roast it to bring out the veggie’s nutty, sweet flavor.

FROZEN BERRIES

During the winter months, when fresh berries are out of season, frozen berries are your best bet. They’re riper, sweeter, and less expensive than fresh this time of year. To really get a good buy, pick up jumbo bags of frozen strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries at club stores or discount retailers.

Berries deliver a generous dose of vitamin C, which helps keep skin looking firm and vibrant. That’s because vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, a protein responsible for giving skin its structure and elasticity. In addition, berries are one of the top sources of anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants that give berries their deep purple-blue hue. Exciting preliminary research shows that anthocyanins may actually help preserve memory by protecting the brain from cellular damage that occurs as we age.

Add frozen berries directly to smoothies for a hit of natural sweetness and vibrant color. Or, thaw them in the fridge overnight and use them to top yogurt or a bowl of oatmeal.

LENTILS

Lentils are incredibly rich in fiber and protein, which means they’re digested sloooowly to provide a steady, sustained stream of energy. They’re also a good source of several B vitamins that are essential for energy production, as well as iron, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body.

Unlike dried beans and other legumes, lentils don’t require pre-soaking, and they cook up quickly in about 20 minutes. To make a simple, fast lentil side dish, start by sautéing diced onions, carrots, and celery and a few cloves of minced garlic until soft. Then add 1 cup brown or green lentils, 2 cups water or broth, and a couple of bay leaves. Simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are just tender. Or, whip up a big batch of lentil-vegetable soup, and you’ll have a hearty lunch to warm you up for days to come.

GREEK YOGURT

A relative newcomer to the dairy case, Greek yogurt provides twice as much protein as traditional yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained to give it a thick, creamy texture, and this process also concentrates the protein. Incorporating protein-rich foods like Greek yogurt is critical to any weight loss plan, since protein helps you stay fuller longer so you can keep hunger pains at bay while dieting. Adequate protein also helps you build and maintain strong muscles.

Yogurt is one of the best natural sources of calcium, which helps keep bones dense and strong. A 6-ounce container typically proves 25% of the Daily Value for calcium.

Enjoy Greek yogurt plain, or jazz it up with nuts, seeds, chopped fruit, wheat germ, or a sprinkling of granola.

 

Softer, Younger Skin All Winter Long

Are your hands starting to feel like your pet lizard? With winter’s outdoor cold, dry, windy weather and indoor blazing heat, your skin can take a beating, looking older than your years and feeling dryer than a desert. Luckily, you don’t have to suffer anymore this winter. Follow these tips to smooth your way into softer skin and save those flakes for Mr. Snowman!

1. Eat your way to soft, supple skin

Healthy, moisturized skin starts internally, so make sure to consume a diet rich in anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids.

• Women of ancient Babylon would eat a mixture of sesame seeds and honey, called halva, to extend youth and beauty. Indeed, sesame is a favorite food among Chinese women for promoting beautiful hair and skin, prized for its nourishing qualities.

• Oily fish like salmon and sardines, walnuts, and flaxseeds are all rich in omega–3 fatty acids. An abundance of mono- and poly-unsaturated oils are also beneficial, especially unrefined organic coconut, sesame, and olive oils.

• Eat up to two small handfuls of nuts and seeds, especially hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, sunflowers seeds, every day between meals.

• Avocado is rich in good fats, and also abundant in gluthione, the antioxidant compound that helps reverse premature aging of cells.

• The imperial empress of China included sea cucumber as an ingredient in her skin-beautifying recipes. A relative of the starfish, sea cucumber contains essential amino acids that are the building blocks of collagen and elastin. It can be found in dried form in Chinese food stores, ready to be used in soups. If food form is a little too adventurous, it is also available as a supplement; a typical dose is between 700 to 1,000 mg daily.

• Use healing herbs to get exquisite skin. Exquisite Skin is a traditional Chinese herbal combination that tones, nourishes and lubricates your skin, while expelling impurities.

2. Water your skin

In addition to consuming the right foods, the amount of water you drink affects your skin. Think about your house plants: without sufficient water, they slowly begin to wither away, so to prevent a sallow, wilted complexion, make sure to enjoy at least eight 8-ounce glasses of filtered water daily. Water will keep your whole body hydrated, helping to irrigate your skin and promote healthy bowel habits for eliminating toxins. Be sure to limit your intake of famous skin-dehydrators coffee and alcohol.

3. Moisturize as nature intended

A little lotion makes fine lines look better — provided the lotion is nourishing to your skin. That pumpkin pie-scented body lotion may smell delicious, but beware of the hidden chemicals within! Many commercial moisturizers contain harsh chemicals that can do more harm than good, stripping your skin of lipids and moisture. Our skin is the largest organ on our body and has thousands of pores through which toxins can enter or exit. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.

• Organic coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil are all excellent choices to use as body moisturizers.

• Massage some olive or coconut oil onto your cuticles to look like you’ve just stepped out of the salon.

• To bring relief from tight, itchy skin, mix ten drops of Tonic Oil (wintergreen, eucalyptus, menthol, fennel, and sesame oil) with fresh aloe gel; apply liberally and frequently!

• For a deeply moisturizing treatment, gently rub your skin with calendula oil twice a day. Calendula has been shown to speed healing of wounds, and is thought helpful for eczema and psoriasis.

• Be on the watch for toxins. It is best to avoid using products that contain: parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, petroleum, sodium lauryl or lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, phenol carbolic acid, dioxane, and toulene.

• Nurture your skin cells and minimize the appearance of aging with the powerful healing herbs in Rejuvenation Cream.

4. Easy-does-it cleansing for beautiful skin

On a frigid day, a long, steamy, hot shower or bath may seem to be just what the doctor ordered. However, hot water can strip our skin of its natural oils, which may lead to even more dry skin. Keep bath time under 15 minutes and opt for warm water rather than scalding hot. Also, use natural soap made from vegetable and plant-based oils that won’t dry out your skin. Is your body soap or facial cleanser too harsh? The test: After cleansing, your skin should never feel tight or dry. Wash and softly pat your skin dry with a cotton towel.

5. Protect your skin

Don’t let sun damage and dry, cold, windy weather rob your skin of vital moisture and circulation, leading to prematurely older-looking skin. Wear sunscreen, even in the winter, and bundle up from the windy cold: gloves, hat, and a scarf to protect your face — the whole nine yards! The clothing layer closest to your skin should be cotton or other natural fabrics that breathe well and are soft on skin.

6. Steer clear of stress

Also, depression, anxiety, and stress create tension in your skin, particularly on the face, causing uneven blotches and lines. Relax, breathe deeply, and release tension with gentle exercise. Make sure to get 7 to 8 hours of zzz’s in every night.

I hope that these tips will bring you young-looking, moisturized skin well into the winter! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

You can find many more anti-aging strategies in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. Also, my new book, Secrets of Longevity 8-Week Program can assist you in achieving your longevity goals.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

Re-print from Dr. Mao.