Natural Health
Better living through nature

Managing Diabetes Naturally


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I've been a type 1 diabetic for 15 years; I’m one of 1.25 million U.S. citizens with this form of the condition. Just to clarify, type 1 and 2 diabetes are very different diseases. Type 2 typically occurs after the pancreas becomes exhausted, and slows down, sometimes from lifestyle habits. Type 1 can be genetic or triggered by a virus; victims often appear to be healthy before onset. Type 1 usually occurs in childhood, and requires daily insulin injections that the patient would die without. Type 2's typically manage their condition with diet, exercise and pills.

Throughout my life as a diabetic, I've struggled on and off to afford the medication that keeps me alive; insulin. Secondary medications like Symlin have helped me so much, but are also expensive; about $1900 a month before I reach my insurance premium.

I have no choice but to remain on insulin, I'll die without it. Many people have told me "just don't eat sugar." The human body cannot survive without sugar; insulin carries sugar into cells and without it, our bodies would begin to feed off of fat and muscle, creating an acidic byproduct, ketones, that poison the blood. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is the end result and can be lethal. Carbohydrates also break down into sugar, so I'm not saying diabetics have to consume pure sugar; healthy grains and starchy veggies will do too.

All of that being said, I've had to get creative with my care; improving insulin sensitivity through natural practices so I'll need less insulin. This allows me to conserve medication, which is a personal decision. You should always talk with your doctor before making changes with your own regimen.

Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV

ACV has shown to lower blood sugar by blocking carbohydrate absorption and improving the way our bodies use insulin, according to Diabetes Self Management. Three times a day, I mix two tablespoons of organic ACV with a glass of water. In addition to better blood sugar control, ACV suppresses my unhealthy cravings and eases stomach aches.

Turmeric

I drink Taka Turmeric tea on a regular basis, because it reduces inflammation, which is an underlying cause of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when cells stop responding to the hormone, then more is needed to control levels. Excess insulin means weight gain, which worsens insulin resistance.

Exercise

According to the American Diabetes Association, muscles contract during exercise, allowing glucose to be used whether insulin is available or not. Before insulin was discovered, type 1 diabetics were put on a starvation diet and a vigorous exercise regimen. While this did not stop the inevitability of death, it helped individuals live a little longer.

Exercise increases circulation and strengthens the heart, which holds off nasty complications diabetes may bring. Getting moving through riding a bike or practicing yoga also lowers cortisol, which is another insulin resistance contributor. A relaxed diabetic is a healthier diabetic.

Water

When blood sugar is high, the body uses its fluids to push sugar out through the urine. Drinking more water aids this process by providing the body more fluids to flush with, says Diabetes.co.uk. It's important to note that flushing large amounts of sugar through the kidneys may eventually result in damage, so do your best to prevent crazy high numbers. However, water is always a powerful health tool. 

While it's appalling that people have to worry about affording life-saving treatment, we should be practicing good health no matter what. Even if we have access to all of the insulin in the world, we need to use the tools nature has given us to remain healthy.

Let's keep fighting for insulin affordability, you can sign T1International's charter to make insulin accessible all over the world. But accept nature’s healing gifts as well.


Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.


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Ditch "I Should" and Break Bad Habits With These 4 Tips


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"I should."

You have probably uttered these two words to address unhealthy habits like: "I should work out more," "I should eat less sugar," "I should eat better..."

"I should" is a common saying that comes before an excuse. If you want to adopt a healthier habit, you can only break it if you truly want to make the change for yourself and no one else. Your current behavior works for you, and until you actually believe that it's not working for you anymore can you effectively create a different lifestyle.

Here are four ways to implement change, once you've taken the step beyond "I should" and decided "I will."

Create Small Goals: "I want to eat healthier food."

If you want to overhaul you diet, start small so you don't set yourself up for failure. Eating healthier food is a general statement that ranges from person to person. For you it may mean drinking black coffee instead of cups full of sugar, or it may mean eating a salad for lunch and cooking healthy meals at home with the help of a meal delivery service like Blue Apron. Just keep in mind that it's difficult to transform your eating and drinking habits 100 percent from the get-go. An effective way to start achieving your goal is to plan to home cook two healthy meals a week or to cut out gourmet, sugary coffee drinks. Once these changes become your norm, then introduce another one.

Prioritize and Prepare: "I want to lose weight."

Even though losing weight may seem as simple as moving more and eating less, it can be a more complex endeavor. There are social pressures and emotional stressors that may contribute. Committing to drop pounds requires sacrifice and a shift in your priorities. You may have to wake up earlier to hit the gym before work. You may have to skip a work happy hour to avoid the temptation of calorie-laden drinks. You may need to dedicate more time to meal-prepping your lunches and dinners and scheduling in your workouts. You need to ask yourself, "Am I making losing weight a priority?" and then "Why have I made this a priority?" Checking in with yourself and your priorities will help you be more successful.

Be Mindful: "I want to stop overeating."

Mindfulness and curiosity are powerful ways to break bad habits. While sitting in front of a large plate of food, stop and live in the moment. Be mindful of each bite. Enjoy the flavors, without already thinking about your next bite. As you eat, acknowledge your diminishing hunger. Be aware of overeating and if you experience signs of discomfort or feelings of guilty and shame. Once you acknowledge these feelings and enjoy the bites you do take, you can better control heavy, excess eating.

Change Your Surroundings: "I want to workout more."

Your surroundings impact your motivations and behaviors, which includes your friends, family and co-workers. If the people closest to you agree to become your support system, then you have a greater advantage for achieving success. A workout buddy who shares your goal also keeps you accountable. It's a way to connect with someone and create a bonding experience. Together, you can plan workout regimens, find cool gear for your individual fitness needs and celebrate mini achievements. And remember, fitness shouldn't just be a priority when you're in your 20s and 30s. You can achieve your fitness goals at any age as long as you have support, goals and some helpful gadgets. For example, there are fitness trackers for seniors available from a reputable company like GreatCall. These helpful fitness devices allow seniors to create and complete daily challenges. The comfortable and waterproof senior fitness tracker acts as a pedometer and tracks your daily steps. Just remember, staying fit should be a lifelong goal.

As you start achieving your goals, know that you may slip up from time to time. Understand that with the highs, will come the lows. Changing your lifestyle with different habits takes time, so acknowledge that you won't be perfect. Instead of quitting after the first time you mess up, cut yourself some slack and reflect on how far you've come to regain momentum. Progress is certainly achievable.


Abby Terlecki is a marketing copywriter for a university in Phoenix, Arizona. At 5 o’clock, Abby heads to happy hour at her CrossFit gym to hang out at her favorite bar. In between writing and lifting, She explores the Grand Canyon state and enjoys the outdoors. She earned her journalism degree from Ohio University and has since made the desert her happy home.
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Adaptogens: The Stress Solution

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What are adaptogens?

Herbs have been used for their health benefits across the globe for millennia. Among many effective and useful medicinal herbs, one class of plants stands apart from the rest: adaptogenic herbs, or simply adaptogens. Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that have a normalizing effect on the body. Herbs with adaptogenic qualities bring the body to homeostasis or balance. Specifically, “they increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function.” *

An adaptogen’s power comes not from a specific action, but rather, a reaction. Adaptogens help the body respond to stressors in a more healthful way, ultimately maintaining balance in physiological functions. Adaptogens are like very good friends;

they help promote and maintain wellness.

The Stress Response

If a bear were charging toward us, our bodies would respond by turning on our “fight or flight” mode, releasing a surge of adrenaline and cortisol to enable us to run, fight and survive. The fight or flight mode, or stress response, is meant to activate and deactivate as needed. This response causes cortisol, known as the “stress hormone” to rise and fall, ultimately returning to normal levels once the stressor has subsided.

The tricky part of our current western lifestyle is that day to day stressors are taking the place of the bear: We are bombarded everyday by social media, breaking news, traffic... While we may not be in immediate physical danger, our bodies react to these stressors with the same physiological response. While there is (hopefully) little likelihood of a bear charging you at the office, you may have a deadline that’s been blaring in your head all week, causing your “fight or flight” mode to activate and remain activated. In the wild, the bear comes and goes, and with it our fight or flight mode turns on and off, problem solved. In the office, the deadline lingers in our minds and creates a phantom stressor that has very real consequences for our bodies.

These small stressors are ignited by the brain, which activates our stress response in order to protect the body, which in turn reacts as if a life or death situation is at hand. If we experience stress often enough, the continuous surge of stress hormones can prevent the body’s cortisol levels from returning to baseline; chronically high levels of cortisol have the potential to cause damage to multiple body systems.

So, what’s the big deal? It is now common knowledge that stress is a primary cause of many illnesses. More than ever before, people are waking up to the importance of practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Along with stress-busting mindfulness practices, adaptogens can lend their restorative power to ward off the negative effects of today’s constant stressors.

Adaptogens have been shown to strengthen the body's natural stress response, working in the body to mitigate the ill effects of chronic stress, rather than become physically compromised by it. Daily stressors are not going away; the good news is: neither are adaptogens!


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Adaptogens near you

Many herbs utilized in Ayurveda (traditional Indian system of holistic medicine) qualify as adaptogens. Here’s a quick look at ORGANIC INDIA’s top 4 supplements and their adaptogenic properties.

Tulsi-Holy Basil

• Also called the “Queen of Herbs”–the most cherished and legendary health-supporting herb
• Helps support: stress relief, digestion, energy, cortisol balance and respiratory function
• Balances the mind, body and spirit.

Turmeric Formula

• Most well-known herb in Ayurveda.
• Supports the digestive, circulatory and cardiovascular systems
• Aids in joint mobility and support

Triphala

• Translates to “Three Fruits”–Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki
• Cleanses and supports the entire gastrointestinal tract
• Improves digestion, elimination and assimilation of nutrients

Ashwagandha

• Also called “Indian Ginseng”–most well-known for its restorative and rejuvenating properties.
• Strengthens the immune system
• Provides natural vitality and energy

Sources:

• Winston, D., & Maimes, S. (1956). Adaptogens - Herbs for Strength, stamina, and stress relief.
• ORGANIC INDIA USA, Tulsi-Holy Basil: Herbal Guide (Image Relay: ebook-Tulsi_Herbal_Guide-2106.pdf)
• Sapolsky, Robert, (1994). Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers


One company, ORGANIC INDIA, is streamlining the merge of ancient healing herbs into western culture. ORGANIC INDIA’s herbal supplement line brings organic, adaptogenic, whole-herbs into a modality of everyday health.

 

A Possible Antidote for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


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The air we breathe every day is full of toxins. According to the EPA, particle pollution and ground-level ozone pollution still affect numerous areas across the U.S.

How they affect each of us individually depends on our bodies, how much of the toxin we are exposed to and how long we are exposed to them. Generally, our bodies tell us when we are exposed to such a poison — we cough or our skin becomes itchy. Generally, mild exposure will cause no reaction. Higher exposure, however, can cause an immediate reaction so that we know to avoid it in the future.

Unfortunately, carbon monoxide gives no such warning. Of the toxins that are dangerous, carbon monoxide may be the most frightening because of this. You can’t smell it, see it or taste it — making it impossible to know if you or your family have been exposed to this noxious gas until it is too late.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Also known by its scientific name, CO, carbon monoxide is the result of incomplete burning of natural gas and other material that contains carbon. Examples of carbon-containing materials include: kerosene, gasoline, oil, wood, propane or coal. The most common source of CO in the workplace comes from internal combustion engines, though any place that uses these materials — like homes or businesses — can be a danger.

Blast furnaces, forages and coke ovens can also be causes of CO exposure. If you work in a place where these are in operation, you should understand the risks to your health. OSHA recommends:

• Installing proper ventilation
• Maintaining water heaters, space heaters or stoves that can produce CO
• Switching from gas-powered equipment to electric or battery-operated

In addition, the air should be tested regularly for CO, and personal CO monitors with alarms for exposure, especially for workers in fields with a high risk of exposure, should be standard.

Effects of CO Exposure

The effect of carbon monoxide on the body is subtle. When people are exposed to carbon monoxide, the CO displaces the oxygen in the blood, depriving the brain, heart and other organs of the oxygen necessary for life. Exposure to large amounts of CO at once will overcome people, and since there are no irritants to warn them of the poison, they are likely unaware of even being exposed, leading to loss of consciousness and suffocation. 

More immediate symptoms of CO poisoning are chest tightening, headache, fatigue, dizziness or nausea. Prolonged exposure may cause people to be confused, vomit and collapse, though symptoms will vary from person to person.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Effects of CO exposure will happen sooner to people who are more susceptible, like the young, elderly or people with lung or heart issues. Smokers will also likely be more affected than non-smokers, due to the fact that smoking cigarettes causes elevated CO blood levels.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed if it is caught in time, but in cases of acute poisoning, permanent damage may result from the brain and organs not getting enough oxygen.

People in the following occupations are the ones who have the highest risk of exposure to CO:

• Welder
• Carbon-black maker
• Garage mechanic
• Taxi/Uber/Lyft drivers
• Firefighter/police officer
• Customs inspector
• Longshore worker
• Organic chemical synthesizer
• Metal oxide reducer
• Diesel engine/forklift operator
• Marine terminal worker
• Toll booth or tunnel attendant

The nature of the exposure depends on the field, but anyone in these industries should be aware that CO exposure is a possibility.

Science Offers a Revolutionary Answer to CO Poisoning

According to the journal Science, there may be an antidote to CO poisoning — an amazing advancement. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered a protein that reverses carbon monoxide toxicity in mice — the only known antidote to carbon monoxide poisoning. The researchers in Pittsburgh tested the mice by giving them lethal doses of carbon monoxide.

When testers gave the mice the antidote within five minutes of exposure, 87% of them lived — a number rarely seen in clinical situations. Such medication would be a revolutionary advancement, as more than 50,000 emergencies each year are the result of carbon monoxide exposure. In fact, globally, CO exposure is the leading cause of poison-related death.

The Next Phase of Research for CO Exposure

Until this antidote becomes more mainstream, prevention is still the best way to stop accidental poisonings from carbon monoxide. In CO removal systems like CO extractors, water is removed first, followed by the catalysis of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide.  In homes and businesses, carbon monoxide detectors are a simple and effective way to keep people aware of CO levels.

In the meantime, scientists are working on furthering their research regarding the antidote to CO exposure in larger animals, like mice. Though all the answers to CO poisoning aren’t known yet, researchers are hopeful that this antidote will change our fear of carbon monoxide.


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5 Simple Yoga Poses to Aid Digestion

Nausea, bloating, flatulence, heart burn and abdominal pain can all point to poor digestive health. Regardless how sensitive your system is, we’ve all experienced one or more of these problems and there are plenty of ways we can influence improved digestion with better lifestyle habits, such as exercise and diet.

Whether you already have an established yoga practice or simply experience frequent digestion issues, these simple poses can help combat digestive discomfort. Each of these yoga poses combines deep breathing with stretches that focus on abdominal muscles and organs to help relieve a wide range of common digestive upheavals.

upward abdominal lock
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Upward Abdominal Lock (Uddiyana Bandha)

This pose is best done at the beginning of your asana sequence. Upward Abdominal Locks benefit digestion by massaging abdominal organs, stimulating blood flow and improving elimination to relieve constipation and indigestion.

seated twist
Photo by Chris Hornbecker, via YogaJournal.com

Bharadvaja’s Twist (Bharadvajasana I)

This simple, seated pose can help with a number of health problems, including digestion and menstrual pain. It’s also easily modified for those who may have limited joint mobility; simply sit sideways in a chair, rather than on the floor.

head-to-knee forward bend
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Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend stretches the legs and spine, but can also stimulate the liver which aids digestion by increasing the body’s ability to digest fats and absorb essential nutrients.

fish pose yoga
Photo by Fotolia/dadima.

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

For beginning yoga practitioners, Fish Pose can be modified by supporting the back with a rolled towel or blanket, bending the knees with feet flat on the floor, or keeping legs straight pressed against the floor. Like Bharadvaja’s Twist, this pose can relieve pain associated with menstruation, fatigue and constipation.

reclining hand-to-big toe pose
Photo by Rory Earnshaw, via YogaJournal.com

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

Stretch hips, hamstrings and other leg muscles while improving digestions, relieving back pain and menstrual discomfort with this relaxing, low-impact pose. If you’re muscles are particularly stiff, try this pose with your heel against a wall or by using a yoga block.

Digestive health and gut bacteria have been popular topics of scientific studies in recent years, and have been linked to everything from mental health to weight control. Learn more and discover more ways to improve your inner ecosystem in The Vital Importance of Healthy Gut Bacteria.

Simple, Post-Holiday Detox

chopping fresh veggies for detox
Photo by Fotolia/V&P Photo Studio.

Holidays are all fun and games until someone comes home with a few extra pounds, and it’s easy to understand how we end up with the gift we never asked for. No matter how hard you try to maintain portion control, holiday meals are loaded with carbs, fats, sugars and salt that you might usually forego in your diet. All of these indulgences can leave you feeling bloated and tired, as well as a little guilty.

Most Americans gain 1-2 pounds during the holiday season—from Halloween to New Year’s—with the bulk of weight gain occurring around Christmas, so you’re not alone. Rather than turning your holiday remorse into a resolution to lose weight in the coming year, try shedding the pounds with a few simple daily detox practices.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Start your morning with a full glass of water, hot tea or hot lemon water to help rehydrate and flush toxins from your system, along with reducing any bloating. Throughout the day, continue to drink plenty of water or tea with the goal of drinking 64-100 ounces.

Healthy Breakfast

After you’ve had your morning glass of water, cup of tea or lemon water, follow it with a breakfast that supports healthy digestion. Oatmeal, a natural diuretic, is a light yet filling option that will help reduce bloat even further.

Have a Hot Lunch

More specifically, have a hearty soup for lunch for a few days after holiday eating. Choose a low-glycemic recipe, such as lentil, tomato or miso soup, to curb sugar cravings. Soups will also give your stomach and intestines a break from hard-to-digest foods.

Aside from these simple ideas, choose nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods for all of your meals. Consider eliminating unhealthy snacks from your own kitchen to further reduce temptation. If you’re a grazer, replace them with fresh fruits, veggies, yogurts and nuts to ensure you have plenty of healthful options to choose from.

Shedding post-holiday weight doesn’t have to be painful or difficult. A few simple ingredients, most of which you may already have in your kitchen, can be combined to create this simple post-holiday detox plan. Now you can make your New Year’s resolution something much more exciting than losing weight!

The Importance of Self-Care

Work followed by dinner or cocktails with friends. Kids and after school activities. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and numerous other digital media outlets sending you notifications—all day, every day. Modern life can become stressful all too quickly, and sometimes we just need a break.

Regardless of the stressors in your life, self-care is a crucial part of maintaining the best version of yourself possible. Although some may consider it selfish, self-care benefits, not only you, but everyone in your life. Particularly for women, who spend a large portion of their lives nurturing others—from caring for children to elderly parents and everything in between.

happy girl on city bench
Photo by Fotolia/javiindy.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is “identifying your needs and taking steps to meet them…about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.” This sounds like a no-brainer, right? Yet, when we’re stressed or feeling down, it’s easy to set ourselves aside and focus our attention on the needs of others.

Benefits of Self-Care

Avoid or reduce the effects of stress. Extended periods of stress begin to wear on your mind and body. Signs of prolonged stress can result in insomnia, anxiety, hair loss, muscle pain, indigestion and more.

Refocus. We take breaks during difficult projects and tasks to help us refocus, and come back to it refreshed. Self-care acts in the same way, and helps us perform better in life.

Improve physical health. Continued practice of self-care may make you less prone to stress in the future, and boost your immune system.

Boost emotional well-being. It also promotes feelings of calm and relaxation.

Ideas for Your Self-Care Routine

- Make time for things you enjoy. Whether its reading, watching movies, painting or taking a hike, make sure you set aside time for these activities—daily or weekly.

- Exercise. We’ve heard it, time and time again—exercise boosts mood. And it’s true! Regular exercise releases endorphins and other uplifting brain chemicals, relieves tension associated with stress and improves concentration. Your workouts don’t have to be intense to reap these benefits. Activities as simple as walking will work, and help you clear your head.

- Pamper yourself. For me, self-care often includes taking a bath or painting my nails. Whatever makes you feel relaxed, a little luxurious and special…do it!

- Eat well. Diet plays a huge part in our physical and mental well-being. Nutrient-dense meals can provide a sense of emotional stability, while less nourishing meals can leave you feeling anxious, sluggish or some other less-than-good sensation.

- Meditate or journal. Both activities give you a chance to unplug, even if briefly, and spend a little time with yourself. It’s also a good way to check-in with your inner self, remind yourself of your goals and purpose, or take notice of what you’re grateful for.

Whether you’re overwhelmed and stressed from life’s daily grind or you’re preparing for the upcoming holiday and a house full of guests, taking the time to care for yourself is just as important as your to-do list. Rather than foregoing the things that bring you joy, make sure you keep your self-care habits in your routine during times of stress.

What are some of your tried and true self-care acts? Let us know in the comments below!