Ethical Meat Sources

Awareness in regards to the well being of our food animals has been steadily on the rise. Personally, this makes me very happy, as I have spent the better part of my life aware of the conditions most animals in our meat production system survive in. For many, many years I lived as a vegetarian/vegan as a protest against this. When my health began to severely decline, in spite of my efforts to nutrient combine, eat organic, limit sugar, etc., I found myself at a crossroads. Having exhausted every option to regain my health, short of western medications (I was fearful of the side effects), I realized I was facing down the reality that I needed to take a hard look at my diet.

In 2012, after 22 years of vegetarianism/veganism, I decided to do a 3 month experiment and reverse-engineer my diet, so to speak. I made the decision to eat a Paleo based food elimination diet for 3 months. If that didn’t work (which I admit I kind of hoped it wouldn’t!) I would take western medications. This was a hard decision, but I was glad markets like Whole Foods were offering grass fed and finished meat and pastured chicken. I was glad I could use my money to support small farms and ranches where people cared about their animals.

Needless to say, this change in my diet worked and all of my autoimmune issues resolved.

Over the past 8 years, the grass roots movement toward ethical family ranches and farms has done nothing but increase. The animals who lose their lives to feed us deserve respect. Below I will share a list of the farms, ranches, and sellers who support the movement back to proper land management with great respect toward the animals who provide for us.  Feel free to share this post and spread the word about these ethical food producers- it’s good for the animals, good for us, and good for the planet. Also, if you are interested in how changes to your diet can help you feel better, we would love to see you in our clinic and help you along your path to great health!

 

Butcher Box

https://www.butcherbox.com/

Five Marys Farms- Northern California

http://www.fivemarysfarms.com/

(they have an incredible Instagram account @fivemarysfarms)

U.S. Wellness Meats

https://grasslandbeef.com/

Vital Choice- Seafood

https://www.vitalchoice.com/

 

Whole Foods carries a great selection of 100% grass fed meats and local sourcing. Nugget Market is a close second, and Sprouts has a growing selection as well.

 

What can you do? Ask you favorite market to carry ethically sourced meat. Demand creates supply.

 

And of course- share this article! Most people want to do their part to help this world, their families, and their neighbors be better…to steal Mary’s, from 5 Mary’s Farms, favorite saying- “You can do it!”

 -Karen Wright, L.Ac. 

Magnesium.

Do you ever get that annoying eye twitch that won’t go away for days? You’re trying to figure out why it keeps happening, asking yourself if you’re really stressed or have something heavy on your mind. Or sometimes you’re sound asleep at night and your leg gets a severe cramp that shoots you out of bed. You’re hydrating and stretching, eating bananas like they’re going out of style, yet cramps keep happening and everything you try isn’t working.

40% to 60% of people are deficient in magnesium. Nowa days our food is becoming less and less nutrient dense, and we’re having to take supplements to make up for what it is lacking. Not many of us are realizing this, so we consume more of what we know but playing catch up is just not happening.

Some red flags that you may have a magnesium deficiency include headaches, migraines, constipation, muscle tension, eye twitching, cramps (even menstrual cramps may be eased by taking magnesium!), restless leg syndrome, and sleep issues. These are such common issues that a lot of us don’t even think twice about them. But over time they can become painful and an every day occurrence.

The best time to consume magnesium is at night, with food in your belly. The reason for this is because in the morning, cortisol levels are high. Cortisol is meant to suppress the immune system and aid in metabolism of fat, protein and carbs. Meaning we don’t absorb and process nutrients as easily as we do in the evening when levels are low.

Natural foods such as nuts and seeds, dark greens and legumes are high in magnesium. However taking a supplement is helpful, and should always be discussed with your physician before consuming.

One of the best ways to increase magnesium is by taking epsom salt baths! Your body easily absorbs magnesium through the skin. Plus who doesn't need to chill out and take a bath every now and then?!

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Habits.

My step father was someone I admired deeply. He was intelligent, a great story teller, a dedicated meditator, and made whoever he spoke to feel like they were the only person in the room. He taught me how to dream big and create a vision for my ideal future. He taught me about health, about caring for patients, and about how to run a successful business. He was my first exposure to meditation, to spiritual growth, to the manifestation of an ideal life.

This past November he passed from pancreatic cancer. Since his passing, my sisters and I have been going through his things. We continue to find little quotes and words of wisdom he had found and written down in places all over his home in journals, note pads and on post-its.

One note said something along the lines of “You must recreate your future every single morning.”

Can you imagine if your daily habits each morning were intentionally directed towards the future life you want to create?

What habits would you incorporate? What habits would you eliminate?

Ask yourself what will happen in ten years if I continue this habit routinely?

From the soda you may drink and not think twice about, to the decision to go to bed past midnight, to saying yes to something you totally hate doing. From writing down your goals on a weekly basis, to planning meals ahead, to taking an extra ten minutes in the morning to get quiet and meditate, or 60 seconds to visualize a goal.

It’s in these moments that we have the choice to live an intentional life. Stone by stone, a castle.

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GUT HEALTH

Gut Health

Common question: Are probiotics and digestive enzymes the same thing?

Answer: No!

Enzymes react with your stomach acid to break down nutrients in your food for absorption. Protease, Lipase, Amylase are enzymes that break down protein, fat, and carbohydrates respectively.

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live in your lower intestines and are constantly assaulted by antibiotics that kill bacteria, environmental toxins, antibacterial products, glyphosate (in pesticides - another good reason to eat organic). The body can't make probiotics. Probiotics will proliferate in your gut under the right conditions.

Do you need both? If you have issues with digestion, heart burn, absorption, nutrient deficiencies, you need digestive enzymes.

Unless you live in an organic bubble, you need probiotics. Maybe not everyday for the rest of your life, but it is a good idea to do a few courses of probiotics a year. Probiotics help with regularity, body odor, mental clarity, immunity, fertility and so much more.

Dr. Vanessa Stretton, MSOM, DACM, LAc

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NEW YEAR | NEW HEIGHTS

We're officially done with our first MONTH in 2019. It's overwhelming to reminisce on how much happened in 2018. We’re even beginning to experience new shifts even now! It was a whirlwind of huge patient success, team growth, inspiration and education. All of that thanks to YOU.

Because of your trust, we were able to help heal + empower so many patients. With the help of acupuncture, we witnessed a patient undergoing chemo return to eating again after over a year of zero appetite or interest in eating. Not to mention a huge decrease in his nausea.

We eliminated migraines in a veteran who suffered for 60 years before he found relief with just a few acupuncture treatments.

We turned so many who were curious but maybe not so sure about Chinese medicine into to die-hard supporters who send their friends and family in for care like it's their job (you know who you are!).

Because of your needs, we were able to bring on an incredible human and acupuncturist, Dr. Stretton. Who not only is an amazing doctor, but helps so many women on their fertility journeys and shines a light on a very hushed topic. Dr. Stretton’s gift to help women from the first through the "fourth" trimester is unparalleled. We are so proud to have a member that is a beacon in woman’s health.

Because you deserve it, (and we desperately needed it) we found Erin; our force, our captain, our mechanic to a well oiled machine. Erin keeps appointments flowing, clients’ needs met, rooms in top condition and greets everyone like a welcomed family member. But wait, then we gained Sadie! We now have not one, but TWO amazing leaders. Sadie brings our office full circle, her gentle and warm nature keeps everything grounded. We are so grateful to have them!

And finally, our newest location. Expanding our home to Fair Oaks was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Our office is located to other wellness centers, and we all have a common core belief on how to care for ourselves. We now get to help so many more people in such a gem of a city and we couldn't be happier about it.

It is our mission to keep spreading the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We are here to educate and empower others that good health and a quality way of life is within arms reach and not a side effect of the lucky few.

Everyone deserves to feel good. Everyone deserves to be healthy.
Everyone can obtain it, as well as sustain it with the right attitude, education and ownership.

Thank you all so much for the most amazing 2018. I can't even imagine all the good things to come this year, so let's keep this momentum going.

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Yin + Yang

Yin and Yang. Black and white. Parasympathetic and Sympathetic. Wait, what the heck is that?

Our bodies have a sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). These modes can be flicked on and off like a light switch, however being the society that we are today, we tend to stay ON 24/7. Always being in that “fight or flight” mode could be causing physical problems and stopping your body from healing. 

 

Our bodies  are incredibly smart and wired to SURVIVE. These bodies are ancient machines and really haven’t changed much over the course of the last tens of thousands of years. So despite our modern ways of living, we still react to stress as if a tiger was chasing us. And with our busy western lifestyle, demands, etc, stress is higher than ever. This causes us to spend a lot of time in fight or flight mode. When our bodies are in fight or flight mode, the most important thing at that time is to run or fight. Things like healing, reproductive health, and digestion are literally put on hold. Our bodies no longer put energy in these areas because they are no longer of utmost importance.

 

So consider what happens to you when you spend 40+ hours a week stressed out at work. Even the hours you lie in bed worrying about deadlines, whether or not you’ll meet sales quotas or perform as your boss wishes. Whether your relationship is going well, if you paid that bill, if you’ll be able to put your kids through college, let alone pay of your own student debt, and the list goes on. Your body is living in fight or flight mode at a completely insane proportion. No wonder your periods are irregular, your sleep sucks, you’re tired, infertile and digestion is less than optimal. 

 

Acupuncture is incredibly effective at getting your body out of stress mode and into parasympathetic, or “rest and digest” mode. Allowing processes like sleep, healing, reproductive health and digestion to occur with ease. It isn't always just to have fun, but incredibly important to unwind, disconnect and give your body some rest. It's literally what the doctor orders!

 

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Mindful Eating

How many times have you heard “You are what you eat”?
How many times have you thought, “I deserve this cookie.”

How many times have you told yourself, “I’ll eat better tomorrow. Monday, I’ll go on that cleanse.”
Fighting back and fourth between “Treat Yo Self” and “My body is a temple”.

I cannot tell you how much guilt and shame encompasses something so powerful and nurturing as food. We have grown up being told what to eat, how much to eat, what to avoid, what not to avoid, and yet- most of it was a lie.

We have walked away from intuitive and mindful eating because whatever we want is now at our fingertips. We can literally order from most restaurants and have it DELIVERED to our homes without having to leave our couch. It’s no wonder we are so sick!

Hunters and gatherers consumed food based on seasons. They consumed food that they had to work for, that they cherished, that they even prayed over. Their food was from the land. Natural and untouched. Food was nutrient rich and grew in the sunlight with pure air and water. Women used more and more natural resources to create and amplify the richness in their meats and berries. Men took every useable piece they could from their kill to pay respects and remain resourceful because they knew how important it was.

Disease did not exist like it does today. There were no such epidemics like obesity, ADD or allergies. Throughout the years man kind had it’s ups and downs with their resources and therefore nutrition suffered. Now, having more people than we can sustain, we have turned to science to feed the masses.

 

So it’s no wonder our nutrition is failing. Our food is no longer pure and our choices are made upon money. If you want something nutrient rich and untouched, it’s going to cost you. If you want to feed your family and are on limited income, your health will suffer. Although food is looked at as a necessary resource AND something most of us can grab quickly, it is also killing us.

Imagine a fish tank. It’s clean, clear, and filled with life swimming all around inside. The fish are vibrant. The plants are rich in nutrients and the water cycling through the pipes is fresh and filled with oxygen. Everything is working swimmingly (heh…) and you rarely need to clean it because everything has it’s purpose and is working well with one another.

Now in that fish tank, you introduce a cheap fish food. It says fish food so why wouldn’t the fish like it? Turns out it consists of chemicals, fibers, and foreign ingredients that fish have never eaten before. Once consumed, the fish start to get sick. Their PH is off in their feces, therefore it begins to kill the plants and the water starts to turn. When the water starts to become filled with bacteria, algae begins to grow. The glass starts to get a little green and the cleaner fish can’t keep up because they're not used to this type of algae nor does it taste good. Over time, the tank becomes polluted, pipes clog, fish die, and the once beautiful cycle of fresh water is stagnant. Sound familiar?

Food doesn’t always have to cost you. Making better choices and substituting your favorite go-to’s can be easy with the right research. If you begin to groan thinking about creating a new habit of eating healthy, would you rather groan about your hefty medical bill as well? Food has the ability to heal or harm you. Eating clean, rich, non-inflammatory foods is the health preventative we all need. Supplements, education, information, and learning how our body works is the criteria to live a better life. Eat mindfully. Slow down. One tiny little choice at a time. Changing your eating habits will not happen over night. So don’t freak out. Just give it a little more thought and see the bigger picture of what you are doing to your body. And remember, you are supposed to feel WELL. So EAT well. SLEEP well. LOVE well. I assure you over time, your body will TREAT you WELL.

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Stone By Stone, A Castle

castle

Magnificent things take time. Your closest relationships, your children (or that puppy you thought you'd never train), your physical body, spiritual or emotional growth, career milestones, any goal you've ever reached. You probably didn't get there because of one single thing you did. You took a series of tiny action steps day by day, week by week, month by month... Stone by stone. And then one day, you looked up, and realized it had been done. A castle.

What stone, or maybe just a little pebble, can you place today to work towards reaching your wildest dreams? Perhaps a short workout, taking the time to prepare a nourishing lunch, a phone call, a love note, one minute of meditation, ten minutes of writing, signing up for that first yoga class. 

What stones are you already placing that you're not giving yourself enough credit for? Maybe you read to your little one at bedtime a couple times last week, you slept a full 8 hours last night, you told someone you love them, you picked up a piece of trash on the sidewalk, you made a first step to something big.... Remember, it doesn't take much and it doesn't have to be all at once.

 

The hidden ingredient which could be wreaking havoc on your health

Photo courtesy of celiac.org

Photo courtesy of celiac.org

Gaining weight or having a hard time shedding pounds? Do you feel you eat pretty consciously yet you're still not reaching your health goals? You may want to consider the amount of sugar you're consuming daily. Many advertised "health foods" tend to be full of hidden sugar, which causes a number of health issues!

A longterm increased consumption of sugar doesn't just add to our waistlines, it can also cause some pretty serious health complications. High sugar intake is linked to diseases including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, certain cancers, Alzheimer's, and premature aging (And let's be honest, we all want to delay wrinkles setting in!). Sadly, sugar is considered to be the most addictive substances on the planet. Try quitting - you'll understand. 

So how much should you consume per day? The American Heart Association recommends the following:

  • Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
  • Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)

To give some perspective, one can of soda has about 39 grams or just over 9 teaspoons of sugar! That means that just one soda will set you over the limit here! Yet the average American consumes 82 grams or 19.5 teaspoons per day! No wonder more than a third of our country suffers from obesity!

I always thought of myself as a pretty enlightened consumer when it came to knowing what exactly I was eating. I've read food labels since I was a teenager. But to be completely honest, I was mostly checking to make sure foods were gluten free and not full of chemicals or "food-like" ingredients. Turns out, I was completely skipping over the fact that sugar seems to be in most of the things I was eating!

It was during my time in acupuncture school when I was receiving a treatment in the school clinic, that a fellow student asked what my sugar intake was like. He thought that perhaps some of the imbalances going on in my body could be resolved my decreasing my sugar intake. He said to me "believe it or not, sugar is found in just about everything." At that time I thought, "I think I'd know if I was over-consuming sugar." Typical response from someone in the health field right? We always think we know everything. Needless to say, I went home and started to assess the foods I was consuming day to day. Sure enough, I was finding sugar everywhere! In my almond milk, marinara sauce, salad dressings, protein bars, you name it! This was the beginning of a totally new way of thinking for me.

I quickly started to realize that there were many other names for sugar, which is the very reason I was missing it.  I suggest reading labels on food packaging to determine whether or not there is sugar added. Unfortunately, you're unlikely to find the word "sugar" in the ingredients list. There are over 60 different names for sugar! Some of the more common names you'll find on labels are:

  • Cane juice
  • Corn syrup/High fructose corn syrup
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose (anything with '-ose' behind it!)
  • Fruit juice/Fruit juice concentrate
  • Granulated sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Rice syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Evaporated cane juice

Some foods that are typically high in sugar include cereals, sauces/salad dressings, soups, granola bars, breads and juices (I suggest avoiding fruit juices all together if you can). Just about anything that is prepackaged and more highly processed is more likely to have sugar in it, not to mention other ingredients that I'm amazed pass as edible. It's never a bad idea to consume more whole foods. You can easily accomplish this by avoiding the aisles in the center of the grocery store and sticking to the produce and meat departments. When you can recognize a food in its original form - you're doing it right! And I promise, your body will thank you!

Acupuncture Happy Hour this Monday January 16!

Just about every time I meet someone and they ask what I do, they're first response is "Ohhh I've always wanted to try acupuncture!". So I thought an Acupuncture Happy Hour would be a great way to introduce my community to this brilliant body of medicine. All you have to do is show up ready to relax! Feel free to bring your friends, family and coworkers! 

How does Acupuncture work?

Do you ever wonder how in the world these tiny needles could possibly create so much change in the human body?! I vividly remember one treatment I received when I was in Chinese med school. I was totally stressed out from the insane workload I had signed up for and for the first time in my life was experiencing severe stomach pains. I thought I must have given myself an ulcer from the stress! So I scheduled myself a treatment in our school clinic, not even sure that acupuncture would help. A supervisor palpated some points on my ear (I now know he was palpating the ear points which correlate to the digestive organs). He found a tender spot and put a tiny needle in the point, added a couple others on my wrist and abdomen, then asked me how my stomach pain was. I realized it was completely gone! I couldn't believe it! Instant pain relief! No drugs, no surgery, no side effects. I knew right then I was exactly where I needed to be in my education and future career.  

Just as I was that day, you may be thinking to yourself, "Okay, okay, this stuff SOUNDS cool, but HOW does it actually work?!" Today I want to share a couple of the therapeutic mechanisms behind this brilliant medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the most ancient systems of medicine in use today. It is estimated to be anywhere from 3,000-5,000 years old. It is an evidence-based system of medicine which utilizes placement of very fine needles at specific points on the body as well as herbs, massage, cupping, gua sha, diet and exercise. The World Health Organization recognizes TCM to treat dozens of conditions, including many types of pain, infections, as well as neurological, respiratory, digestive, OBGYN and blood disorders to name just a few. 

There has been extensive research into the therapeutic mechanisms behind this medicine. Today we will briefly discuss two of those:

1. Acupuncture increases blood circulation. The main cause of disease is blood stagnation, or decreased blood circulation to an area of the body. When there is a problem with blood flow, then there is a decrease in oxygen and nutrients to cells which diminishes their ability to function properly. This significantly hinders your body's ability to heal itself. Acupuncture causes blood vessels to dilate, sending new, oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to certain areas of the body. This effectively decreases pain and improves organ function.

2. Acupuncture effectively works with the nervous system to decrease pain by inhibiting the nociceptors (these are your pain sensors) and sensory neurons (the nerves which transmit sensory information to the brain or spinal cord) and by activating proprioceptive fibers (these are constantly giving your brain spacial information, that is where your limbs and other body parts are located). Acupuncture improves the nerve signals to your brain and forces the brain to release opioids (natural pain killers) to stop pain signals and decrease your pain. 

Acupuncture is a safe and effective form of medicine which taps into the body's natural ability to heal itself. Suffering from a lack of healthy and vitality in your life? Wondering if acupuncture and Chinese medicine is right for you? Give our office a call today and schedule a consultation to find out!

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Health Basics

When it comes to health, many people in our culture want a quick fix, a magic pill or a new fad diet to fix all of their problems. We want to be told by our trusted health practitioner that a new prescription, an herbal supplement or vitamin or mineral will do the trick. It is estimated that Americans spent $374 billion last year on prescription medications and $21 billion on supplements. Most of the time, health is really simple. We can create huge change in the way we feel simply by assessing some basic but essential aspects of our lives. 

When I find myself not feeling well, whether my energy is low, my mood is bad, or maybe my stomach is not feeling great, I always start with the basics. I ask myself: 

  • How am I eating lately? Have I had enough water today?
  • How much sleep am I getting? Am I getting to bed early enough?
  • How has my exercise routine been? Do I need to change what I'm doing? Has it been too long since my last workout?
  • Have I been outside lately? When was my last hike or backpacking trip?
  • When was my last acupuncture session? The last time I had a massage?

So, take a moment and assess how you've been feeling lately. What can you do TODAY to take better care of yourself? Maybe it's a simple walk by the river this afternoon or attending a yoga class tonight. Maybe you'll make yourself a dinner with fresh vegetables tonight and get to bed an hour early. Sometimes, it really doesn't take much. 

Treat your body kindly - it's the only one you'll get!

6 Steps to Protect Against Colds & Flu Naturally

Autumn is in full effect here in Northern California. Leaves are changing color, days are getting shorter, and we've even had quite a bit of rain! This is the time of year it is especially important to focus on boosting immune function. 

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine take a preventative approach to health. This means taking steps to improve your health before you get sick! This year, consider incorporating these few tips into your daily practices to boost your immune system and avoid getting sick.

  1. Avoid sugary foods. High sugar intake is known to lower the body's immunity. One Loma Linda University study showed that intake of the same amount of sugar found in one soda (100g) significantly inhibited the function of phagocytes (the white blood cells which engulf harmful bacteria) for up to 5 hours after ingestion!
  2. Get 30 minutes of sun exposure a day without sunscreen or supplement with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a key component in immune health. Study after study shows that a low serum Vitamin D level significantly increases your chances of getting sick, among many other health issues.
  3. Make sleep a priority. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults age 18-64. It has been shown that chronic sleep loss is a risk factor for immune system impairment. 
  4. Manage stress. This requires taking some "you time". Do something healthy to help you shut off your mind and get a break from the monotony and constant doing. Take up daily meditation or breathing exercises, incorporate yoga practices into your life, schedule a massage! 
  5. Exercise. We all know that exercise is key to good health. Exercise can effect immunity directly by improving blood circulation, allowing the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body and its tissues freely to do their job efficiently.
  6. Keep up with your acupuncture maintenance care. Acupuncture is incredibly effective at increasing the functioning of the immune system (this study demonstrates how a single acupuncture treatment improves immune function for 72 hours and continued treatment does so for even longer).

Follow these 6 easy steps and you may save yourself a couple of not-so-fun days. Who has time to get sick anyway?!