So if you read my blog last month you know that I’ve been sick for the past few months. And, in my pursuit of getting back to “normal” I’ve been talking health with lots of different people: the coaches at my cross-fit gym, a well informed woman who works in the vitamin section at the West Hollywood Whole Foods, my gynecologist, my chiropractor, an ayurvedic practitoner, my mom who was one the first people to own a wheat grass juicer back in the early 90’s, and even a renowned naturopathic doctor who was listed in Time Magazine’s “Alt List” as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People”! Wow, what a mouth full that was… I suppose I’ve been collecting data for this blog long before I knew I would even write about this topic. The thing is I genuinely find science/nutrition/medicine incredibly fascinating. I also find that I like learning about this “stuff” because it makes me feel more confident about my own health and the decisions I make to take good care of myself.
Feeling a need to take control of my own health became important to me when I was without health insurance for many years, and I know I’m not alone in this somewhat risky choice. The lifestyle of actors, artists, or any free lancer can be pretty unconventional. Many of the jobs we tend to take don’t include health insurance, and as a result a lot of people forgo getting insurance altogether. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I ventured into the world of finding private health insurance for my husband and I. Thankfully, my fabulous sister-in-law had already chartered the unknown territory of finding health insurance and so she was able to give my husband and I great advice… which I will now share with you! We got our insurance with the help of an agent. I had no idea this even existed. And, if you’ve ever looked into getting insurance on-line, you know how confusing it all is. Needless to say, I was happy to work with someone who was well versed in finding health insurance. The process was fairly simple. We told our agent what we wanted to spend on our insurance, he in turn did some research, and then he came directly to our home, laid out our options, explained them to us in laymen’s terms, helped us fill out the crazy long forms, and got us insurance that same day! If this is something that might interest you, check out the website: http://www.affordablehealthinsuranceweb.com/index.php
But, let me get back to my more recent journey of not feeling well where as a result I’ve ended up learning a lot more about some vitamins and herbs I was previously less informed about.
Vitamin D: I’ve learned a great deal about this important vitamin recently. As it turns out, 75% of Americans are vitamin D deficient! One of the reasons for this is the best way to get vitamin D is through being in the sun. The catch is that it doesn’t work if you are wearing sunscreen. Most of us are so worried about aging and skin cancer that it’s pretty rare that we expose ourselves to direct sunlight without the stuff. During my yearly gynecologist visit, I complained I was catching cold after cold and she immediately suggested a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with catching colds, cancer, and many other things. I took my doctor’s advice and picked up a bottle of vitamin D, and since starting it I feel more energetic, more me again!
Oregano Oil: This one is totally new to me. I also learned about this one from my doctor in response to my recent bout with sinus problems. She told me that many of her patients have been touting the benefits of oregano oil, claiming it’s kept them from getting sick. My own web surfing confirmed this information, and so I’m now taking it too. So fingers crossed, it starts boosting my immune system!!
Zinc: Zinc is an oldie but goodie. When taken in high doses right at the onset of a cold, it’s been scientifically proven to help shorten the life of a cold. Of course, be careful… too much zinc can cause an upset stomach. Do your research before attempting this one.
Elderberry syrup: my mom swears by it for colds, and she’s always been ahead of her time so, I share this one with you too. I admit I have not tried it yet, but will at some point.
Prenatals: Wait, but I’m not pregnant… Well, the thing about prenatals that’s different than a regular multi vitamin is that they contain extra folic acid or folate. Folic acid/folate has a symbiotic relationship with B vitamins. If you are feeling low energy, lethargic, it may be because you need some added B vitamins, but you’re going to need folic acid for it to be absorbed… hence the thought behind the prenatals. Both my gynecologist, and my ayervedic practitioner suggested I take a prenatal vitamin.
Glucosamine/chondroitin: O.k. this one has nothing to do with me, but it might for you and since I’m on the topic of vitamins and supplements, I thought I’d throw this one in too. Holy cow, that just rhymed. Anyway, my husband, Jeremy, swears by the stuff. His shoulder was hurting him for years until he started supplementing with it… He tried a cheaper version of glucosamine at Trader Joes and not only did it not work, but it caused my husband an upset stomach. Moral of the story… you’re better off paying more money for a quality supplement that actually works.
Fish oil: The coaches at my gym are huge advocates of it. Aside from being important for the production of good cholesterol, it also aids in recovery from vigorous work-outs. Like many vitamins and supplements out there, not all fish oil is created equal. My go to brand comes in a bottle in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods and is lemon flavored. I take a teaspoon of it daily. Bonus info: Fish oil is great for dogs too! Think shiny coats.
Ginger tea: Not a vitamin or a supplement, but it’s amazing when you are suffering from allergies or a cold. My ayurvedic practitioner suggested it, and wow, what a difference. You can use fresh ginger or just get the tea bags.
Diet: When you have a cold or allergies and dealing with excess mucous production, you’re going to want to make some changes in your diet. Believe it or not there is a correlation between diet and outdoor allergies. I was advised by my ayurvedic practitioner to stop eating wheat, dairy, and sugar to help manage my allergy symptoms. I followed this advice, but after a few weeks of eliminating these things from my diet and only sensing slight relief from my symptoms, I decided I’d cheat while I was working a catering job (free delicious food… who can resist?!!) … dairy, sugar, and wheat were all consumed by me in copious amounts. And, I kid you not, the next day my allergies flared up in the worst way! I guess it can be hard to note progress when it is gradual… as was the case with my diet and allergies. But, it was with this glaringly obvious reaction, that I became a true believer in the connection between food and other allergies.
If you are interested, there are ways to test whether or not certain foods are affecting you in sneaky ways. Probably the best way to determine what foods are affecting you is to do a cleanse/detox diet. The way I do a cleanse is I remove all foods known to have allergic reactions: wheat, corn, soy, night shade vegetables, dairy, avocado, peanuts, citrus, eggs, chicken, pork, and beef for 7-14 days. During the cleanse I eat a diet of leafy greens, wild caught fish or beans, fruits, and other veges. Once I’m finished with however many days I’ve committed to, I then reintroduce one new thing per day… I take note of any reactions I might have including: headaches, aggravated allergies, aches and pains, lethargy, and of course stomach issues. And, the science is fairly simple, if your body reacts, it’s usually a sign to stop eating that food… maybe not forever, but at least for a few months. Sometimes, your body just needs a break from a certain food. Please note that this is a very abbreviated definition of a cleanse that I am describing here. There are so many books devoted to this subject, but from my experience, this is what has worked best for me. Of course if you don’t feel like conducting a science experiment on yourself, you can just eliminate all processed foods, dairy, and sugar from your diet and you’re likely to feel an enormous boost of energy and vitality from that alone!
Well this concludes my blog for the month. Last month I promised you an update in this month’s blog. To be honest, I still haven’t figured out how to cope with stress in my life, but I’m starting to meditate, I’m attempting to be more patient and kind with myself, and I’m learning my limits in life. This past month, I still managed to catch another cold, but overall I’m feeling much better. All in all, I’m feeling optimistic, and eager to finally get back to all the “big plans” I’ve been putting on hold. It’s a work in progress…
Until next time, muah!! Enjoy the summer!