Eat, Drink and Be Merry but Don’t Drink and Drive

The holidays are full of festivities and that generally means lots of food and drink. In North America, parties tend to include a variety of alcoholic beverages, and moderation can be difficult. Everyone needs to commit to not driving if drinking away from home.

Drinking and driving don’t mix, and the statistics are staggering. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that throughout the year, more than 10,000 people die from drunk driving—equal to 20 jumbo jets crashing. And, reports state that 300 Americans die annually during the few days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s.1 This computes to more highway deaths related to alcohol that occur during the holidays than at other times of the year.

Celebrations and joy making can turn into tragedies, but now more than ever, it’s easy to avoid the temptation to get into a car after drinking alcohol. There are rideshare services easily accessed by phone and in many major cities, community volunteer drivers for the holiday season.

PsychCentral2 notes that during the holidays, people who don’t usually drink may have some alcohol in the spirit of “joining in the fun.” There are also people who drink and drive because they believe they are staying within the “one drink an hour” rule. Unfortunately, this is not reliable and depends on variances in individual body weight and metabolism, as well as hydration levels and the amount of food eaten.

This holiday season, embrace Active Wellness and resist the pressure to drink in excess. If you enjoy alcohol, plan ahead by having a designated driver or ordering a rideshare service to pick you up. Active Wellness means moderation, so decide in advance how many drinks you will allot yourself and stick to it.

Since the holidays are a time for giving, remember to offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages when you’re hosting, and watch out for your guests. If they’re consuming alcohol, help ensure they have a driver or ride available before they leave.

There are still a few days left to shop from the Nikken Holiday Gift Catalog—a gift of magnetic bling is definitely something to toast!

1https://drivingschool.net/sober-facts-of-holiday-drinking-and-driving/

2https://psychcentral.com/lib/holiday-drinking-keep-it-safe/392/

How Often Do You Wash Your Hands?

During the holidays, we come in contact with more people than usual. Although this can help us expand our circle of friends and acquaintances, it increases our exposure to germs. Bacteria and viruses are easily transmitted by just about everything we touch. As we touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, we accumulate germs on our hands. We can infect ourselves with these germs by touching our eyes, noses or mouths, and we can also spread them to others through microscopic particles that will attack our immune systems on a daily basis.

That’s why our best line of defense is to wash our hands often. Although it’s impossible to keep our hands completely germ-free, washing our hands frequently is a must when practicing Active Wellness. Handwashing can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.

According to the Mayo Clinic1, we should always wash our hands when they are visibly dirty and before:

  • Preparing food or eating
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses

Always wash our hands after:

  • Preparing food
  • Using the toilet, changing a diaper or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • Touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick person
  • Handling garbage
  • Handling pet food or pet treats

The recommended guidelines are to scrub your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. A 2018 report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that up to 97 percent of us wash our hands incorrectly.2

The Center for Disease Control cites that handwashing can prevent one in three diarrhea-related sicknesses and one in five respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.3 Teaching children from a young age to wash hands often is key to preventing the spread of common ailments. The five easy steps are: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Remember to teach them the key to proper washing is to scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

It’s wise to wash your hands and change your clothes after you get home from your commute, and to wash your hands frequently during the workday. You don’t have to work with soil or anything else produced by Mother Nature to become infested with germs. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average office worker’s desk is covered in more germs than a bathroom toilet seat!4

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which don’t require water, are an acceptable alternative when soap and water aren’t available. If you use a hand sanitizer, make sure the product contains at least 60% alcohol.5

This holiday season, decrease exposure to germs simply by thoroughly washing your hands often and with soap, and enjoy Active Wellness.

 

1, 5 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/hand-washing/art-20046253

2 https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/06/28/study-shows-most-people-are-spreading-dangerous-bacteria-around

3 https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/handwashing-family.html

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4883643/

Do you Cultivate Gratitude?

One of the first things we teach our children to say is “thank you.” Since children get a lot of help with their daily activities, they have many opportunities to say thank you. In doing so, children are actively cultivating gratitude. Something happens as we become adults, and the simple words “thank you” are often forgotten as we take things for granted. Reciprocally, the words “you’re welcome” are now often replaced with “uh huh” or nothing at all.

According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words literally can change your brain. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they write: “A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. According to the authors, they propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and build resiliency.1

It might seem corny, but we need to practice using the right words not only when we talk to others but also when we talk to ourselves. Since we are first and foremost, blessed with our own abilities, we can cultivate gratitude by being thankful to our bodies and minds for supporting us and letting us work. We can thank ourselves for the progress we’ve made in living with Active Wellness—cutting out or cutting down on sugar, using a PiMag® Sport Bottle instead of single use plastic bottles, exercising daily, focusing more on plants when eating, recycling whenever possible, reducing waste and reusing rather than discarding goods—and commit to doing even more.

Although we should cultivate our own sense of gratitude every day of the year, there’s nothing like the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, to be mindful of the multitude of things that bless our lives. One way to cultivate gratitude is to take a look around us and see what we have to offer to others. How can we help with a simple gesture or random act of kindness? Little things often count way more than we know—helping someone pick up a spilled package, opening a door for the elderly, bringing a stray to the shelter to be scanned for an ownership chip, cooking a meal for a sick neighbor—and the result is feeling happy for being able to do something for someone else.

Feeling grateful doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Sometimes the person with the least has a greater sense of gratitude than someone with an abundance of family, material wealth and good health. When the power goes out for hours or days, we are reminded of how grateful we should be for having electricity 24/7 when other parts of the world do not. Those of us who live where we have potable tap water should be grateful we don’t live where water is scarce or rationed. In other words, what we consider basic and take for granted, really isn’t basic for many others. When we acknowledge simple things that fulfill our needs, we are grateful.

This holiday season, let’s be aware of the words we utter, be sincere with our thanks, lend a helping hand whenever we can and pay forward all the blessings we have personally received. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

 

1 https://psychcentral.com/blog/6-ways-to-cultivate-gratitude/

 

Is it Heartburn or is it GERD?

Most of us have had an occasional bout of heartburn, and as unpleasant as it might be, it’s relatively benign. On the other hand, if heartburn becomes chronic, it may be a symptom of GERD, short for gastroesophageal reflux disease.

November 24-30, 2019 is GERD Awareness Week in the United States. American Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday of November and often involves overeating, so that week is dedicated to educating the public about GERD, a disease which affects about 20% of the population and revolves around the digestive system.

GERD is also known as acid reflux disease and its prevalence is on the rise. Because GERD is a primary risk factor for esophageal cancer, it’s important to develop preventative habits and understand the triggers.

GERD affects the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. In normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and then closes to prevent food and stomach acids to flow back upwards. Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 12.36.35 PMReflux occurs when the esophageal sphincter is weak and allows the stomach contents to go back upward into the esophagus.

If heartburn occurs more than once a week, becomes more severe, occurs at night and awakens you, these are possible signs of GERD. Less known symptoms that may be associated with GERD include belching, difficulty or pain when swallowing, a sudden excess of saliva, dysphagia (the feeling of food being stuck in the esophagus), chronic sore throat, laryngitis, gum inflammation, tooth enamel eroding, morning hoarseness, bad breath and a sour taste in the mouth.1

Whether you suffer from occasional or frequent heartburn or even GERD, there are some precautions that can help prevent episodes:

  • Eat a plant-based diet. Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds all help prevent or shorten GERD attacks. Winter squash, corn, beets and whole grains also help minimize symptoms.2
  • Make green juice in a blender with cruciferous veggies such as cabbage or kale. These nutrient-rich foods promote a healthy digestive tract lining and help reduce stomach acids.3
  • Eat five to six small meals a day rather than three larger ones. Too much food triggers acid production in the stomach.
  • Eat your last meal of the day at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water daily, as water helps dilute stomach acid.
  • Try to avoid citrus, because they produce more stomach acid. These include oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes.
  • Alcohol and smoking worsen GERD and heartburn symptoms.
  • Fried and high-fat foods as well as caffeinated beverages trigger heartburn and GERD.4
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity or being overweight contributes to GERD. A British study of more than 10,000 people, ages 20 to 59, found that obese participants were nearly three times more likely to suffer GERD symptoms than those of normal weight.5

 As we approach Thanksgiving, let’s be mindful of what we’re eating and how much we’re eating. It’s all part of Active Wellness and treating ourselves is enjoyable unless we have to suffer the consequences of overindulgence. During the holidays, it’s prudent to keep Kenzen® Cleanse & Detox and Kenzen® Digestion Complex 4-20 with you everywhere you go!

 

1 https://www.aboutgerd.org/signs-and-symptoms-overview.html

2, 3,4,5 https://medshadow.org/avoiding-gerd-meds-side-effects/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA5dPuBRCrARIsAJL7oegRPO3Tz8m5wlXCjX3nKpESBen-Y9dIukdxY0fBUhTCeSj3j0Iw4akaAt6IEALw_wcB

Do You Reduce, Reuse and Recycle?

November 15 is designated as National Recycling Day. Created by the National Recycling Coalition, there are events held locally nationwide to spread the word on reducing waste and learning exactly what can be recycled and how. Recycling takes place when a product or material that is no longer being used is turned into a raw material that can be used for something else. It is a critical aspect of environmental sustainability.

How we recycle and reuse products directly impacts the environment. For example, about 60 million one-use water bottles enter landfills  in America daily.1 By using water filtration devices such as the PiMag Waterfall®Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 12.10.51 PM and reusable drinking bottles such as the PiMag® Sport Bottle, Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 12.16.46 PMthis outrageous number can be reduced to help sustain the environment.

One area of recycling that America is doing well in is aluminum, with about 65% being recycled in the U.S. alone. In America, about 105,800 cans are recycled every minute.2 To put this into perspective, a TV can run for three hours from the energy saved by recycling one can!3

As more people get on board with the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recyle) we are gradually returning to a more Earth-friendly lifestyle. Each year more than 60 million tons of wastes are recycled instead of ending up in landfills or incinerators. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a set a goal for America to reach 35% recycling. This is targeted at reducing the 4.5 pounds of solid waste created by each person every day, much of which can be recycled.4vanveenjf-nQrWPn1KJY8-unsplash

We have all thrown out things that are actually recyclable. Becoming more vigilant and knowledgeable about recycling is an integral aspect of Active Wellness. Over time, we’ll naturally reduce waste and modify our purchasing behavior in favor of less packaging and reusing things rather than throwing them out. Examples of items that people forget or don’t know can be recycled are inkjet or toner cartridges, glass jars, eyeglasses, pizza boxes, reusable plastic or cardboard food storage containers, plastic grocery bags, aluminum foil and empty aerosol cans.5 Donate old clothes and shoes rather than relegating them to trash. You’ll not only be helping someone in need but also reducing waste.

Consumers committed to preserving the environment can take the National Recycling Coalition’s pledge:

  • to find out what materials can and cannot be recycled in their communities;
  • to lead by example in their neighborhoods by recycling;
  • to recycle batteries, cell phones and other electronic waste;
  • to tell five friends that recycling is the easiest thing they can do to slow global warming.6

Remember that every day is a recycling day in the Nikken Wellness Community! Please join us!

1, 2, 3 https://nationaldaycalendar.com/america-recycles-day-november-15/

4, 6 http://www.doonething.org/calendar/recyclingday.htm

5 https://harmony1.com/20-things-you-probably-forgot-to-recycle/

Are You Confused About Carbs?

Diets come and go, but the need for a healthy Active Wellness regimen never ends. One of the ongoing trends is to cut down on carbohydrates or in some diets, to eliminate them. Those who have lost a lot of weight by focusing on protein and fats often commit to a low- or no-carb diet. Vegans are on the opposite end of the spectrum and are committed to staying away from animal protein and fats, while focusing on plants. The truth of the matter is, you know your body best. You need to pay attention to what your body tells you, especially if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic.

Since everyone’s body is different, there are no absolutes; however, the Center for Disease Control gives general guidelines on carb intake. On average, people with diabetes should get about 45% of their calories from carbs, with each serving measured as approximately 15 grams. Translated, this means three to four carb servings (45-60 grams) per meal for women and four to five carb servings (60-75 grams) for men.1 What also needs to be taken into consideration is age, weight, activity level and whether or not you are on diabetes medications. A certified dietician or medical practitioner can help with carb intake, especially if you take insulin—the carbs plus the amount of insulin you have in your body determine your blood sugar levels and impact how you feel.2

Since the role of carbs is to provide the body with a source of energy, the rule of thumb is to eat the “good” carbs and stay away from the “bad” ones. Carbohydrates are generally divided into three categories: starches, sugars and fibers.

  • Starches—or complex carbohydrates—include starchy vegetables, such as potato, corn, yam, beans, lentils, peas and whole grains. For example, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and brown rice are high in fiber and rich in B vitamins, which are nutritional essentials. These carbs serve as important sources of energy for the body and are considered “good” carbs.
  • Sugars include those naturally occurring (as in milk and fruit) and added (as in baked desserts). They’re best when kept to the naturally occurring kind taken in small amounts. All types of added sugar are considered “bad” carbs.
  • Fiber comes from plants and is often from the same category as starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce, and other salad greens, mushrooms, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini, have fewer carbs than starchy vegetables and contain lots of fiber. Fiber is also abundant in some fruit, nuts and seeds.

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water and turns into gel, which slows down digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk, which enables food to pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines and produces an effect similar to a broom, sweeping out waste. Eating a lot of fiber keeps your digestive tract happy and helps you feel full, making fiber an effective tool for weight management.

Since complex carbohydrates and fiber contribute to overall Active Wellness, they are needed in most healthy dietary regimens. Since not everyone has the discipline to eliminate sugar, the key is portion control. One easy way to control portions is called the “plate method.” Start with a 9-inch dinner plate:

  • Fill half with non-starchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.
  • Fill one quarter with a lean protein, such as chicken, beans, tofu, or eggs.
  • Fill a quarter with a grain or starchy food, such as potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta (or skip the starch altogether and double up on non-starchy veggies).Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 12.31.18 PM

Diabetic or not, it is prudent to choose foods with a low glycemic index. Low GI foods are more slowly digested and absorbed by your body, so you stay full longer, and they don’t have a big impact on your blood sugar. Examples of carbs with low GI are beans, brown rice, tomatoes, yogurt, apples, and milk.3

Be sure to take advantage of the Nikken November Special: Get three Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix for the price of two through November 24! Made with superior quality matcha green tea, brown rice solids, kiwi fruit and stevia leaf extract, you get good carbs and none of the bad, with only eight calories per serving.

 

 

1 https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/diabetes-and-carbohydrates.html

2 https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/understanding-carbs

3 https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/meal-plan-method.html

 

 

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth the Healthy Way!

For those with a sweet tooth, the last three months of the year may well be the worst. Temptations are everywhere, as brick and mortar shops display sweets galore and we’re bombarded online with images and recipes of holiday dessert. What’s a body to do!

Here are some practical tips to ease cravings for sweets while staying on an Active Wellness regimen:

  • For a quick sugar fix, eat a piece of fruit or a sweet vegetable. Crunchy textures seem to help satisfy cravings, so choose carrots, beets, apples and persimmons. Fruit that is high in natural sugar also satisfies cravings more quickly—for example, grapes, mangoes and pineapples.
  • Berries are delicious and when you freeze them, they take on the characteristics of sorbets. Try blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and any combinations. They’re high in fiber and actually low in sugar. A healthy combination of exotic berries is the basis of Kenzen Super Ciaga®, a great replacement for sodas when blended with seltzer water.
  • Watermelon is wonderful as a base for smoothies and other blended beverages. Add some mint or even basil, and it’s scrumptious.
  • Healthy sweeteners include monk fruit and stevia. They have zero calories and none of the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners—that’s why monk fruit is the sweetener in Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix and stevia is in Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix.
  • Are you a chocoholic? amirali-mirhashemian-RCVIlSXhYI0-unsplashThe good news is that dark chocolate (with 70% or more cocoa) contains healthy plant compounds known as polyphenols. It still contains sugar and fat, so eat a couple of squares and savor it—no bingeing allowed.
  • Dates! They’re nutritious and very sweet, naturally. They’re also rich in fiber, potassium, iron and a source of antioxidants. As a dried fruit, they contain a lot of natural sugar, so eat three or four, not too many.

To keep sugar intake low, here are some habits to develop:

  • Read labels! Hidden sugars lurk in unexpected places. For example, packaged instant oatmeal has virtually no fiber but contains lots of sugar and artificial flavoring. Condiments such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili contain a lot of sugar—a single tablespoon of ketchup may contain as much as four grams of sugar, which is about one teaspoon.1
  • It may be counterintuitive, but when trying to decrease sugar intake, go for full fat rather than low-fat or non-fat versions of beverages and desserts. This is because low-fat and non-fat drinks and desserts add more sugar to compensate for the lack of fat. For example, an 8-ounce coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, contains 2 grams of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories.2 The same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 26 grams of added sugar and 160 calories.3
  • Minimize consumption of processed foods. Go natural and organic. Processed foods contain 90% of the added sugars in the average American diet.4 For example, one serving, or approximately 128 grams, of canned pasta sauce can contain nearly 11 grams of sugar.5
  • Choose nutrient-dense whole foods whenever possible. It takes a little more time, but preparing desserts with dried fruit, nuts and seeds provides healthy fats in addition to fulfilling your sweet tooth.
  • Be a good role model for your family. Start your children on an Active Wellness regimen as soon as they can eat solid food. Mashed roasted yams and smashed bananas are great starter foods.

 

1 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/14-ways-to-eat-less-sugar#section1

2 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/69/2

3 https://starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/white-chocolate-mocha-?foodzone

4 https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/3/e009892

5 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/soups-sauces-and-gravies/131612