Healthy Cool Treats for the Summer

You are minding your own business, suddenly, in the distances, you hear the sweet charms of an ice cream truck. Like a Pavlov’s dog you start to salivate. Now you’re frustrated! You want something cool, you want something refreshing but you don’t want the muffin-top look in your bathing suit. To prepare for this yearning, I searched for simple, healthy, refreshing treats and tried them on my family and neighbors. These were their favorites:

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Homemade Popsicles

Avoid the high fructose corn syrup and brightly, colored, stained lips and tongue with a natural fruit popsicle. You can use any fruit combination with almond or coconut milk to add smoothness. Try this following recipe:

Mango, Orange, Green Apple, and Lime Popsicle:
Combine 1/2 pound of frozen mango chunks (no sugar added variety), one green apple, 1/2 cup of light coconut milk, fresh squeezed juice from one orange and one lime, 1 tablespoon of honey (or agave or sugar) puree in a blender until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze bars for four hours or until firm.

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Fruit and Herb Infused Water (Spa Water)
So many benefits to keeping hydrated with water such as combating fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps and pain. Water improves digestion, metabolism, thinking and alertness. It also plays a big role in aiding weight loss and maintenance.

But, the thought of plain water does not excite most of us. So making fruit infused water is a natural delicious alternative to high sugary drinks such as lemonade and soda. Water with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals from fresh fruit, mixes up a perfect refreshing beverage for the summer!

(Spas frequently serve this water to their clients to cleanse and refresh, hence spa water.)

How to Make Spa Water
You can use any fruit (except for bananas) and fresh herb combo. Use 2 quart mason jars or a pitcher. Wash fruit well before adding to the jar. For a strong flavors, gently press or crush fruit and herbs. Fill jars with ice cubes, add water to the top, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let the fruit and herbs steep. Good for up to 3 days.

Infused Water Combos To Try
1). Watermelon Rosemary ( Sweet and aromatic. Biggest hit!)- 1 cup of watermelon cubes and a sprig of fresh rosemary.
2). Strawberry, Lime, Cucumber, Mint (Light and refreshing)- 8-10 strawberries cut in halves, half a cucumber sliced, one lime sliced and mint leaves.
3). Blackberry, Blueberry, Lemon, Sage (Rich savory berry flavor) – Handful of blackberries and blueberries, one lemon sliced and sage or mint leaves.
4). Orange, Lemon, Lime (Tangy and a little bitter)- One orange, lemon and lime sliced.

*Fruit and herb infused waters are not very sweet. You can add 1 teaspoon of honey, agave nectar or sugar to your cup. A little sugar is still much better than the 10 teaspoons of sugar in soda.

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Frozen Banana Pops
Instead of cake-pops, how about banana-pops! These were gone in seconds.
Just slice a couple of bananas, melt dark chocolate in the microwave, dip banana slices in the chocolate and place on wax paper. You can top the slices with sprinkles, chopped almonds, walnuts, shredded coconut or chia seeds. Place a tooth pick in each banana slice. Refrigerate or freeze for one hour. Enjoy! Keep in fridge/freezer for storage.

On a hot summer afternoon try these easy refreshing healthier treats, instead of stalking the ice cream man. Have a great summer!

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Couples ‘Teething’ Into Parenthood: Tips for the Transition

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Nothing can be more stressful on the health of a marriage than transitioning to parenthood. For example, right now, I am listening to my kids fighting upstairs while my husband is left to fend for himself. He’s okay… I’m REALLY busy… then “Alicia can you give me some help here!?”….sigh.

Children bring endearment, fulfillment and a sense of purpose to a marriage but they also can bring lots of conflict as well. In fact, sociologist studies found 90% of couples reported decrease marital satisfaction when transitioning to parenthood. Furthermore, martial issues were ranked at its highest during the child’s first year.

Don’t fret! This is temporary! Studies also showed martial satisfaction goes up as the child gets older. In fact, the rate of satisfaction returns to the previous (before baby) level.

Happy Marriage, Happy Baby
There’s hope amongst the spit-up and diapers. Couples who have a solid relationship before going into parenthood, have less conflict and cope better when issues rattle the marriage.

Knowledge of these problems is the key; this is important because studies show ‘Happy Marriage’ leads to a ‘Happy Baby’. The following is a list of common conflicts and research supported solutions.

What Issues Rattle A Marriage?
Studies identified four top issues of conflict:
1. Sleep deprivation
2. Imbalance workload- Women do 75% of childcare/housework. (Ramp it up guys!)
3. Social isolation
4. Depression- Occurs in 10-20% of mothers and one-tenth to one-quarter of fathers.

The Right Formula Can Help?
Reacher’s identified 3 top strategic ingredients for couples to implement:
1). Awareness- Couples need to be aware of the common issues.
2). Exercise empathy- Research shows a little empathy goes a long way.
3). Devise a Game Plan- For example, to help avoid feeling socially isolated have a social outing or date night once a week.

(Above data obtained from the book, ‘Brain Rules For Baby’ by John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist. *A must read!)

Local Marriage Author and Blogger Gives Advice
Lori D. Lowe, Indianapolis resident, is a marriage researcher, writer (WTHR.com and ICON newsletter), blogger and author of ‘FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: HOPE & INSPIRATION FOR YOUR MARRIAGE’. She is committed to providing marriage advice supported by research. I contacted Lori for marital advice for new parents and she eloquently responded:

To help prepare for the transition from married couple to parents, first be ready for a wide range of emotions. My husband and I were surprised at the blissful feelings we felt upon becoming new parents. Everyone warned us of the work and exhaustion, but there are often feelings of overwhelming joy. On the other hand, friends have shared experience with postpartum depression, so be aware that changing hormones can bring mood changes.

Prepare your marriage for this transition by discussing the lifestyle you want to live with your children. In what faith will you raise them? What church will your family attend? Are sports and the arts important for them to participate in, or will you try to keep a less hectic schedule where kids can explore and learn on their own? Will one parent stay home, and if so, how will your finances be affected? Discuss these topics while you have the time and energy. Make a financial plan, so that money stresses do not overwhelm you.

Don’t think you can split the workload for home and child care 50/50. While it’s great to say both partners will contribute equally, the truth is that when one partner is exhausted, the other one may have to give 100%. If you have family and friends who are willing to help on occasion, use that time to reconnect as a couple.

Prioritize your marriage; a strong marriage is one of the best gifts you can give your children.

It’s an amazing blessing to transition from a marriage to a family with children. Remember you are part of a team. Work together to encourage one another. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Instead of complaining to others about your spouse, focus on what they are doing right. Research shows that focusing on gratitude and expressing it to your spouse will enrich your marriage.

For more research-based marriage tips, visit Lori D Lowe’s blog at http://www.marriagegems.com.

So while caring for your new bundle of joy, don’t forget about your biggest baby….your husband (I’m kidding). Remember-‘Happy Marriage Leads to Happy Baby’. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Boredom Brilliance

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“Mom, I’m bored…” that statement is like nails on a chalk board to me. Usually the complaint is announced by my 5 year old son when we are running errands or at one of his sister’s practices or shows. Guilty, I am, of handing him my phone or iPad but my tolerance for this wining is low. And I feel sorry for him, he’s bored.

I confess, in these times, I as well, am engaging in mindless surfing. And that is the question, do we need to be stimulating our brains with our devices constantly? Should we let ourselves get bored and space out?

The Boredom Question
Researchers are studying the cognitive effects of boredom and mind-wandering. What they found so far- Boredom Leads To More Creativity!

Constant stimulation does not allow for creative thought. Spacing-out (mind-wandering) or day dreaming gives the brain much needed downtime. A brain on idle allows conscious and subconscious thoughts to kick in. This leads to sprouting of original ideas which fuel the creative juices. Also people reported improvement in self-reflection and problem solving.

The More You Use It-You Lose It
The more a person spends time on their device, studies have shown the following:
-Less originality
-Less creative thoughts
-Decrease self-awareness/reflection
-More likely to be ‘stuck in a rut’

Extinction of Boredom
It is not uncommon to walk into a waiting room or restaurant seeing several people looking down at their phones checking Twitter and Facebook. I don’t blame them. I think people feel pressure to keep up with social media (or defending their Clash of Clans Base.)

I grew up in the pre-cell phone pre-internet era where ‘day dreaming’ or ‘spacing out’ was a daily occurrence. As an American, I also grew up with the idea that ‘day dreaming’ or ‘spacing out’ is an unproductive act. Time should be spent more wisely doing something. So when Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, now you have the world right in your pocket! It is not surprising that Americans hitched on so quickly.

Quick Stats
-58% of American adults have a smartphone
-Average American spends 2 hours and 48 mins a day on mobile devices. (Flurry study, 2014).
-Average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day
-44% sleep with their phone next to their beds.

Bored and Brilliant Project
Check out the informational web-site, ‘New Tech City’ Manoush Zomorodi, host of the WNYC podcast recently launched a project coined ‘Bored and Brilliant: The Art Of Spacing Out’. They asked participates to put down their phones and become bored once a day. Then a task was requested to create or do something, such as, construct your dream home out of stuff from your wallet.

What they found from 18,000 participates was stunning. The participants reactions:
-Felt more present in the moment
-Tried new activities
-Got new ideas. Had creative and brilliant moments.
-Notice problems and found solutions

Many were challenged with putting down their phone. It was very hard and some described having a “withdraw” effect. In the end, most felt more satisfied in their lives and will continue to limit their usage.

Connecting To Your Self
Remember: allow time to just THINK without being entertained by your device. This will help you connect- BACK TO YOURSELF.

Of course, there’s an app for that-called ‘Moment’ it will track how often you check your phone and usage time. It is suggested to limit your usage to 30-95 mins a day.

For technology use by kids, it is suggested by Dr. L. Rosen, a researcher psychologist, to use a 1:5 ratio. Every 1 minute of screen time should be equivalent to 5 mins of non-tech activities (ex: 30 mins of iPad: 150 minutes of other activities). In teens, technology becomes more important for school work and social life so the ratio flips to 5:1.

Now when I hear… Mom I’m bored, I respond THAT IS GREAT! now you have the opportunity to exercise creativity (O-TEC). “It’s O-TEC time”. This little acronym nugget came from my boredom. Brilliant huh?! Maybe I should stick to my phone.

Posted in boredom, cognition, creative, Family and health, health care, Psycholog | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The “Foutain of Youth” Flows with Chocolate

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If Ponce De Leon was alive today his search for the “fountain of youth” would end at the social gather around the table top, plug-in chocolate fountain. The notion that chocolate can promote health and youthfulness is NOT a modern idea. Back in the 1570’s the cacao beans or cocoa started gaining popularity as a medication and aphrodisiac. The first health benefits were published in 1653, praising chocolate as a great stimulate for the spleen and digestive system.

Today several research publications regarding the health benefits of chocolate continue to “sweetened the pot” for the healthy eating enthusiast. But it’s a bitter sweet relationship- only the LOW FAT, LOW SUGAR, DARK CHOCOLATE rich in cacao or cocoa is shown to promote health. Unfortunately the other chocolate products promote more risks than benefits.

Flavanols
The cacao bean which comes from the cacao tree is rich in flavanols, a type of antioxidant. Foods in abundance of flavanols have many health benefits. The higher the cacao or cocoa percentage in your chocolate means the more flavanols you will consume and dark chocolate is where you get the biggest bang for your buck.

Several research institutes including John Hopkins and Harvard University studied the effects of daily consumption of chocolate high in flavanols (1-2 ounces daily) and found several positive effects, such as a reduction in cardiovascular disease, improved mood and increased cognitive function.

Decrease Heart Disease and Stroke by:
-Reducing blood pressure
-Slowing platelet clotting
-Reducing LDL oxidation (the bad cholesterol)
-Anti-inflammatory action
-increase insulin sensitivity (reducing blood glucose)

Improve Mood and Cognitive Function by:
-Increasing blood flow to the brain (research showed improved memory and thinking scores in elderly)
-Increase serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep)

I Say Cacao You Say Cocoa- Is There a Difference?
Yes, there is… At the refining process Cacao nibs or powder is made from the cacao bean, in its raw uncooked state. When cacao beans are cleaned, roasted and processed it is called cocoa. The process method used to produce cocoa can reduce the flavanols but still contains a sufficient amount for health benefits. Unless the cocoa is “processed with alkali” or “dutching” this makes the chocolate less bitter but the amount of flavanols are reduced significantly, more than half.

What to Look for in Healthy Dark Chocolate:
-Cacao/cocoa >70%
-Avoid Cocoa “processed with alkali” or “dutching”
– Sugar should not be listed before the Cacao or Cocoa ingredient. Sugar should not dominant. (Ingredients are listed from most to least quantity).

Dark Chocolates to “Fall In Love With”
*Green and Black’s Organic 70%/85% Cacoa
*Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72%/86% Cacoa
*Endangered Species 70%/72%/88% Cacoa (organic)
*Godiva Dark 85% Cacoa
*Dagoba eclipse 87% Cacoa (organic)
*Chocolove 70% Cacoa
*Lindt Excellence 75%/85% Cacoa

Dark Chocolates to Dump
*Dove Dark Chocolate- very low in cacao, alkali processed
*Hershey’s Special Dark- high in sugar, alkali processed
*Dark Chocolate M&M’s- ambiguous ingredients, high sugar
*Nestles Dark Chocolate Cocoa- high sugar and tans-fat, proceed with alkali

If you want to avoid sugar and be low in calories, you can get cacoa nibs or powdered and add to hot water, coffee or tea. Cacoa nibs, powder or healthy dark chocolate is found at Market Thyme, Earth Fare and other grocery stores.

So this Valentine’s Day enrich your loved one’s heart physically and passionately with a little dark chocolate.

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Don We Now our Fitness Technology Apparel!

The last time I donned wearable technology was a Casio calculator watch in 1982. Now with the new technology, I can go from converting metrics to collecting my own personal biometrics.

imageWhat Is It About Wearable Technology That Excites People?
The answer is data. We LOVE collecting personal data that can be analyzed and graphed, revealing details of our daily lives. So naturally devices that collect personal biometric data would be popular among the fitness and tech crowds. Fitness bands can do an array of metric measuring such as heart rates, step count, calories burned and some even track sleep patterns. Most bands alert you when your daily goal has been met or remind you to get moving. All this data can be synched to a smart phone, tablets or PC and if desire, you can share your metrics with others to add a “gaming” element to your fitness.

Myriad of Fitness Bands
There is a bundle of fitness bands on the market, but how do you know which one is right for you? It all depends features and price. ($50 up to $400). Here is a review of some of the most popular and reasonably priced bands on the market:

Garmin Vivosmart ($199.99)
This band “learns” your activity habits and tailors a personalize goal each morning. It has a nice display screen to check progress and tell the time. So you do not have to synch-it to see basic data. Vivosmart alerts you by vibration when you have calls, texts, emails, meetings, or if you need to walk more. This device connects wirelessly to Garmin Connect, although some complained of experiencing issues with syncing the device to a computer and phone. The less expensive Garmin Vivofit (99.99) has the same features except the call/text notifications.

~Tracks steps, calories burned, distance; monitors sleep (Have to switch to sleep mode)
~Monitors calls, texts, meetings and emails with vibration or screen display.
~ Long battery life, more than a year; water-resistant
~ Wireless sync; pairs with heart rate monitor

Fitbit Flex ($99.99)
Known to be very comfortable and sleek in style, the Flex has a LED lights only to inform of progress, no display screen, data is checked through a wireless connected app. Highly rated for being motivational and providing great data to help achieve daily goals.

~Tracks steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes; sleep patterns
~Vibration wake-up alarm
~LED lights show how your day is stacking up against your goal
~Rechargeable battery up to for 5 days; water-resistant
~Wireless sync

Jawbone UP ($49.99)
This is the most slim and inconspicuous band on the market. No LED lights or display screen so you would have to check your progress on the phone. Known to be easy to operate and it allows you to scan food barcodes through the app. The new Jawbone UP24 (129.99) has Bluetooth capabilities, although there has been a lot of complaints with the rechargeable battery malfunctioning.

~Tracks steps, exercise, calories burned; sleep patterns
~Tracks diet, calories, and nutrients with UP App Food Score; monitors healthy eating.
~Vibrating alarm to get moving or to wake-up.
~Rechargeable battery up to 10 days; water-resistant
~No wireless syncing; have to be plugged into phone

Misfit Shine (119.99)
The Shine has the most unique and versatile design with its removable rounded face that can be worn as a wristband, pin, belt clip or necklace. It also can be worn while swimming. A halo of LED lights informs of activity progress, but has no display screen.

~Tracks steps, exercise, swimming, distance, calories burned; sleep patterns
~No charging required, replaceable battery lasts up to 6 months
~Wireless sync
~Waterproof; can be worn while swimming (up to 50 meters)

In talking to several local greenwood residents that wore a variety of these bands, most agree that the technology is only as good as your motives. If you don’t check your data, the band is only an accessory. However most found that these bands were a “wake-up” call in acknowledging your fitness goals, and inspired them to at least walk or run more. Yes some had some frustration with the technology at first, but moved from fashion accessory to the ultimate goal: getting fit.

So, this holiday season that starts off with an extra serving of stuffing, and ends with a “resolution,” give fitness bands a second look to keep you dedicated to your overall health and fitness. Happy (Healthy) Holidays!

Posted in exercise, fitness, Fitness bands, Gifts, Healthy habits, holiday, parenting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Which Is Better- The Short or Long Workout Session?

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I just got done with my “CrossFit”-type workout session. I know what CrossFit means now. My burning thighs and calves are pretty ‘cross’ and my aching biceps and shoulders are throwing a ‘fit’.

Wow that was fun, exhausting and exhilarating all in a short period of time. But is it helping me improve my fitness? I can’t be burning as many calories comparatively to the longer workouts, am I?

So what is better? The short 20-25 minute workout or the longer 60-90 min workout? I have always felt that I was not getting an adequate workout unless I did the longer sessions. So, longer workout sessions are better, right?
Well, as it turns out, NO. Unless your goal is to run a marathon or participate in a long endurance activity then a longer workout will be the best for you. Other than that, a short workout program can fit into your busy life and give significant results.

Studies are showing that shorter workout sessions are just as effective as longer sessions, and may have more benefits and better results. This is a huge paradigm shift for me. But when I converted to the short high-intensity exercise programs I was amazed on the quick response I was achieving. I had better muscle tone, definition and endurance than I ever had before in half the time.

Now don’t let me scare you off and think you have to get “Insane” with Shawn T’s workout program to get fit. There are two ways of approaching the short workout: the modest-pace and, the high intense-pace. The one you chose depends on your ability and fitness goals you want to meet.

The short modest-pace workout is engaging in 10 minutes of regular exercise, 3 times a day, 4-5 times a week. These 10 minute sessions can all be one type of exercise, such as walking or jogging three times a day, or a variety of exercises. For example, one 10 minute session is walking, another 10 minute session is swimming and last 10 minute session of the day is rotating leg lunges/squats/push-ups. Just do anything that will get your heart rate up.

Researchers have looked at the shorter 10 minute workout sessions, 3 times a day verses the continuous 30 minute session, each group exercised at a moderate intensity, and they found both groups had the same benefits. The two groups improved on strength, muscle tone, mood, weight loss, blood pressure and cholesterol. Although the 30 minutes broken down into 10 minute sessions maintained a slightly lower mean blood pressure, mild increase in weight loss and tended to rate feeling less stressed and more energetic throughout the day than the continuous 30 minute exercise group.

Pondering this, it does make since that frequent activity sprinkled throughout the day would have more improvements in the subjects. Exercise releases all sorts of chemicals in the brain and body that help with stress, suppress food cravings and lower blood pressure. So giving yourself a quick “therapeutic boost” of all natural chemicals during the course of the day can keep yourself more balanced and your hand out of the cookie jar.

This is great news for a person that has limited time to workout, or have a difficult time getting through 30 minutes of continuous exercise. The idea of just 10 minutes three times a day seems time-wise, physically and psychologically doable then exercising for 30 to 60 minutes. Lets see- 10 mins of cardio before we go to work, 10 minutes upper body strength when we get home and 10 minutes of legs and abdominal in the evening or a brisk walk, run, jump rope, etc. Do this 4 to 5 times a week and you got it all wrapped up. Not so painful right?

Now for the people who want a more dramatic response in body composition the 20-25 minute high intense-pace or high intensity interval training (HIIT) gets the blue ribbon over the lower-intensity 60-90 minute workout. This is where quality wins over quantity. Studies have shown the 20-25 minute fast-pace interval training is more efficient in improving body contouring, strength, metabolism and weight loss than the lower-intensity 60-90 minute workout. The American Council of Exercise recognizes the above benefits of the short higher-intensity exercise over the longer lower-intensity workouts.

Exercise experts have been aware of this and have been developing HIIT exercise programs such as Insanity, Tabata, CrossFit, TurboFire and so on, that have shorter time frames 20-25 mins that give excellent total body fitness results.

Consumer video programs such as “Insanity” or P90X are great workout programs that can be done at home (I have gotten great results from both of them). Just get ready to do a lot of Burpees and jump squats. You can adapt the HIIT concept with running, spinning, eliptical, stairs, etc. you just need a good timer.

For example: increase speed or sprint for 1 minute then slow down pace for 4-5 minutes, then increase again and repeat until 20-25 minutes is finished. Another example is the ‘beloved’ wind sprints- try sprinting ten 100-400 meter dashes with 1 minute rest period in-between sprints.

There are several HIIT websites (bodybuilding.com and beachbody.com) and Youtube programs that you can look into for ideas. There is even a variety of interval timing apps to keep you on task. Although, it is fun to workout in a group and several gyms are offering HIIT such as, Tabata and Insanity or you can join a CrossFit center.

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Want to get protection now for the up coming cold/flu season? Get your hands dirty!

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The Greenwood Community Garden- join in to cultivate tomatoes, peppers, green beans and your immunity. Immunity? Grow your immunity in the garden?
Yes, want to get protection now for the up coming cold/flu season? Get your hands dirty!
Now getting your flu vaccine is important to help prevent or lessen flu severity symptoms. Most people know proper hand cleaning reduces the transmission of illnesses, such as, the common cold or flu. On the other hand, getting them dirty in the soil helps seeds and cultivate a stronger immunity. Exposure to the enriched bacterial, fungal, parasitic laden dirt-makes your immune system more robust. Does that make you want to dig in? It should and here is why.

As soon as we are born the skin and gut starts to colonize with bacteria from the environment. This bacterial agriculture is essential to immune development. If this did not occur the infant’s survival would be at risk. A child is born with passive immunity from mom, but that will not stick around, they need to develop their own- to continue to live. The exposure to good, bad and ugly pathogens are essential to mature an immature immune system and it is now believed to reduce other chronic illnesses such as asthma and allergies. In time, trillions and trillions of bacteria will colonize on the skin, mucous membranes and intestines. In fact, over a 1000 different species of bacteria will eventually take residence in the gut alone. An adult can have up to 2-3 pounds of bacteria in the intestines. These gut microbes go to work on an array of task from digesting hard to digest fibers, cultivating immune health and influencing your metabolism. In fact, alterations in the bacterial gut flora can affect hormones, such as insulin, that regulate hunger and energy. A healthy intestinal microbe community is vital which is why the medical community is so excited about the positive results of, brace yourself- fecal transplants! As disgusting as it sounds, fecal matter from a healthy person is transplanted to an ill person to cure certain problems such as antibiotic-resistant C.difficile.

So once your immune system matures does it stay that way? Well the basic mechanisms do but over time, if it is not continually being challenged it will weaken.
Do you know someone who is constantly washing their hands and surfaces with disinfectants? They avoid touching door knobs, stair railings and other community surfaces. They are not challenging their immune system.
If you think of your immune system as your personal entourage of bodyguards, you would want your bodyguards fit and equipped to protect you against harm. For them to be effective and efficient at this, they need to train and learn new skills. No one wants lazy, clueless, ill-equipped bodyguards working for them. That is why exposure to pathogens like bacteria, viruses and funguses keeps your defense mechanisms on their toes.

Believe me, I do appreciate society’s advances in disease prevention. We have been successful in decreasing morbidity and mortality with sanitary water, proper waste management, food-borne illness prevention, pasteurization, antibiotics and vaccines. But in the western world we have become obsessive with cleanliness to the point that we have been causing more health harm. Not to mention the over-use of antibiotics creating antibiotic-resistant ‘super-bugs’.

Have you heard of the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ phenomenon? It is quit interesting.
Generally they found two major theoretical epidemiological associations.
They found that countries whom have a decline in pathogen-causing illnesses from bacteria, viruses and parasites, such as the western civilization and other developing countries had an increase in certain chronic illnesses. Allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis and autoimmune disorders such as Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are way more common in developed countries. I was really shocked to read that parasite exposure was associated with decrease inflammatory bowel disorders such as Chron’s disease.

Secondly, they found that children exposed to bacteria, viruses, parasites, dust, dirt, animals, siblings, daycare centers in early childhood had a decline in allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis and autoimmune disorders inspite of genetic, nutrition, economic and pollution variances. This is why the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ has gotten so much buzz from major medical establishments such as the New England Medical Journal.

So use common sense with hand washing- keep washing your hands with antibacterial soap after digging in the dirt. Here comes the disclaimer- soil does have dangerous pathogens such as tetanus, botulism and anthrax that can cause serious harm especially if your immune system is compromised. So you would need to consult with your doctor before digging.

Obviously wash your hands in high risk situations such as after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, preparing meals and after touching raw meat. Healthcare employees, daycare workers and food preparers need to be washing their hands frequently.

After reading all of this, lets get back to playing in the dirt like we did when we were kids. You can still start a garden in July. If you do not have a spot of your own the Greenwood Community Garden is perfect! It is located along Fry Road between U.S. 31 and State Road 135. A 20-foot by 20-foot plot rents for $20 for community center members, $25 for city residents and $30 for non-residents. Returning members can dibs on their plots through March 1. Newcomers can rent remaining plots beginning March 1.”
You can find this information on the http://www.greenwood.in.gov. Search for community garden. To sign up there is a ‘garden application’ link you click on.

So we need to get over our germ-a-phobia. You need all the friends and foes to mature and challenge your immune system. Remember healthy gut microbes are vital to support digestion, metabolism and immune system. Get outside, get your hands dirty and cultivate your immunity.

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Research—-
1). Easy Immune System Health: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/Handwashing.html
2). Immune System Health: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/Immune-System-Health.html
3). Hygiene Hypothesis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841828/e
The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ for autoimmune and allergic diseases: an update
H Okada, C Kuhn, […], and J-F Bach April 2010; 160(1): 1-9.
Clinical and Experimental Immunology from the Journal Translational Immunology.
4). Greenwood city website: www. greenwood.in.gov
http://www.greenwood.in.gov/topic/subtopic.php?topicid=74&structureid=17**

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