7 Tips to Renew Your Optimal Health

I looked up the word origin of the word “Spring” and found that it basically means “to jump.”  So “Spring” is about sprouting, emerging, youthful-ness and so much more.  Ever since I wrote my first book, Staying Healthy With the Seasons, I have considered Spring the time of new beginnings and re-establishing the foundations of our health.



Spring is also the time of year when (in the northern hemisphere) the days begin to lengthen and our Mother Earth emerges from her cold winter sleep.  It is a time of birth and re-birth, of sprouting, of thawing snows and new buds on plants and trees.  It is also a time for each of us to renew our commitment to optimal health and nutrition.



Here are some simple ways for you to “get in sync” with Spring and optimize your health for the coming year.



1. Hydrate


By definition our bodies need water for so many reasons…to transport nutrients, supply our cells with fluids, promote detoxification, provide our kidneys and livers with the capacity to remove waste products. Water also helps our bodies regulate our temperature and protect our joints and organs.




People often ask me how much water they should drink, and the old “six-to-eight-glasses-per day” rule is not always the best.  What I tell people is:  Eat lots of vegetables and fruits and drink fluids when you are thirsty—this is the right amount of water for YOU! Of course, if you exercise and sweat, or during the warmer climates, you may need more liquids.



2. Focus on Veggies & Fruits


In addition to being an excellent source of hydration, fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, essential minerals, fiber and lots of antioxidant nutrients.  Eating a seasonal diet centered around plant-based foods is the most healthful and natural way to nourish and support you body. Think about making veggies and fruits the core of your meal, then adding other elements as you desire.  Let’s face it—veggies and fruits are one of Mother Nature’s purest ways of delivering energy and high-quality nutrition to our bodies. Consider in your local region what Spring veggies and fruits are coming into season, and either plant them for use, or go to local farmers’ markets and natural food stores and bring them home for great meals and recipes.



3. Pantry Makeover



Spring is a great time to go through your kitchen and pantry and “clean house.”  Open your pantry doors, and ask:  What’s the first item of food I see? Well, what you see is what you eat! I recommend that you see Spring as a great time for a “full pantry makeover”—rid your cabinets, shelves of foods you know are not good for you, including those which are highly-processed, contain artificial/chemical additives, those high in sugar, or poor quality oils, or are out-of-date —and you can build on this makeover by being sure you don’t buy them when you next go shopping.  Instead, bring your healthy foods and snacks home and place them at eye-level where you and your family can easily reach them.  You will probably find that in addition to eating more healthfully at home, you will start being an even better shopper for healthy foods when you are at the store.



4. Free the Fridge and the Freezer


What’s the first thing you see when you open your refrigerator?  Is it “good” foods or beverages, or is it junk?  Think about a quick Fridge/Freezer makeover—ditch the bad foods and put the “treats” toward the back.  Bring all of the great healthful foods and beverages toward the front.  You might be surprised at what a difference such a simple process can make, for everyone in the family.



5. Plan!


Many people have difficulty trying to decide what to eat each day. Well, guess what?  One of the easiest ways to deal with this is to sit down and create a weekly meal plan.  List out your menu ideas for each day, then write out a shopping list according to plan–what a concept! (And nowadays, there are great Apps to help with this.) You don’t need new ideas every week, recycle your favorite lunch and dinner ideas from week to week and include just enough variety to make the next week’s meal plan enjoyable but not a hassle for you to prepare. If you have children, get them involved with you in this process.



6. Healthy Snacks



Oh, don’t we all love our favorite snacks?  Well, snacks come in all sorts of types and sizes, some more healthy than others.  I suggest this Spring that you make a list of the healthiest snacks you like, then stock your cabinets with these, leaving the junk snacks on the store shelf. Look through the shelves at your natural foods store and see what is best for you and family.



7. Small Changes


Think about making very small changes in your eating habits—over a year these can have a huge impact upon your health.  Some ideas include:


• Reduce sugar and milk/dairy products;


• Cut your oils and mayonnaise in half;


• Reduce wheat and baked good products;


• Have smaller and fewer lattes, etc. 



The cumulative impact of “modest moderation” can be huge, and you probably won’t even notice it. Yet, it is quite likely that you may notice some health benefits.




Here’s to a great Spring for all of you as you “Spring into Health.”



Dr. Elson






Money-Saving Ways to Stay Warm

Winter is a great time to explore natural and environmentally-friendly ways to stay warm and save on our heating bills. In addition, maintaining a healthy body temperature enables us to function more optimally and ward off potential colds, infections, and other illnesses.

First of All—Stay Healthy!

A healthy human body is one big energy producing machine, especially when we give it the right fuel. When you look at a picture of the human body with infrared technology, all you see is radiating heat—At its normal resting state, it generates enough heat to boil a gallon of water each day. The body’s heat cycles vary daily, but certainly by insuring that your body is in a good state of metabolic health, you can do a lot to maintain a healthy body temperature even during cold winter months.

Cover Your Windows and Seal Your Doors

If you haven’t yet insulated (double-paned) your windows and sealed your doors, you can take short-term measures to save heat and money. Cover your windows with a sheet or blanket, making sure that the window is all the way closed first and that your covering is not near a heating system. Weather stripping around doors and even taping around the edges of doors that aren’t used may also help keep out those cold drafts.

Hot Water Bottles, Hot Tubs, Saunas

One of water’s many miraculous qualities is that it has a high heat capacity. A bottle of warm water will hold its heat for a while even in a cold house, acting as a very cheap mini-furnace. The rubber bottles made for this purpose may be better insulated and more comfortable to hug, but any bottle will do. Also, taking hot baths (showers not as good for building body heat) or hot tubs if you are lucky enough to have access to one is a good way to heat up the body, as are dry saunas.

Nutrition and Herbs

Food is our body’s fuel and feeds the furnace. We burn calories and that produces heat. During the colder months, we need more cooked foods and more complex carbs, proteins and fats to fuel our furnace. Baked squashes are good, hot soups, nuts and seeds as snacks, and roasted veggies are all good choices. Warming herbs, either sprinkled on foods or cooked in them, include garlic and onions, ginger and mustard, cayenne pepper, and chilies.

Get to the Root

A great and healthful source of winter warming is to eat cooked root vegetables like carrots, onions, turnips, parsnips, yams, and sweet potatoes (also, the hard squashes have a great warming effect on the body).

Hot beverages

A true no-brainer, cups of tea or other hot healthful beverage are an integral part of any winter survival plan. Ginger root tea, simmered with slices of about half to one teaspoon per cup of water for 5-10 minutes, can be drunk with some lemon and honey for throat soothing and got enhancing body heat.

Move It or Lose It

Working out, exercising, and moving during the winter may not seem like the most enjoyable activity, but it works!  As well as giving you a rush of endorphins, which boosts your mood, exercise will get the blood pumping around your body and vitally heat up your skin. Blood and body fluids from the warmer parts of your body are more efficiently transmitted to the cooler parts of your body.

Keep Your Extremities Protected

Who hasn’t been out in the winter freeze and felt their ears burning, or their fingers and toes tingling from the frigid temperature. Your extremities are farthest away from your body’s heat center, and their circulation is more readily restricted that other parts of the body when we are trying to save energy.

Be Social

Probably the most enjoyable ways to stay warm during the winter months is to hang out with friends and family. Besides creating activity (and heat) and distracting you from the cold, more people produce more heat.

Recipe: Wet Your Appetite with Cherry Ice

  • 1 cup of frozen, pitted dark cherries
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of cherry juice concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon of xylitol or “Just Like Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend as much or as little as desired.

Add sparkling mineral water for a bubbly kick and lemon juice for a hint of tartness. Or you can use add honey or agave for more sweetness. Serves one.

Recipe can also be found in The Detox Diet.

Image courtesy of A Journey of 1,000 Stitches Begins with Just One.

12 Health Tips for a Healthy 2012 and Beyond

The following are 12 health tips that are time-tested and will help you make the most out of 2012 as we move into summer.

1. Prepare for the worst and expect the best. Have the supplies you need at your home, at work, and in your car in case of emergency. Visit Health Haas Online for tips on emergency preparedness.

2. Keep love alive in your heart and in all your relationships—and speak your truth! Visualize a positive future and be present to live every day (one at a time) to your fullest, especially in your close alliances—family, friends, and coworkers.

3. Plant food and feed the earth so that she can feed you in return. Even in an apartment, you can grow some food indoors by windows or outside in containers on the deck, around your home, or in the yard. I asked Mother Earth about her message to this planet’s children, and she said, “Love me and I will nourish you in return.”

4. Drink good, clean water. A home filter is more economical and eco-friendly than buying plastic bottles. Also, conserve your water use as possible with efficient washing of dishes and taking baths and showers. Use low or no chemical household products to lessen pollution to our waterways.

5. Buy or grow organic foods. This supports growers who are not using chemicals and not polluting the earth’s environment. Shop at farmer’s markets to eat locally and seasonally and support your neighboring farmers. Create community gardens, even in cities.

6. Eat your vegetables! These are overall our most nutritious foods in regards to calories and nutrients. I suggest 50% veggies in most healthy diets, and working with children to eat their vegetables, as I describe in my book, More Vegetables, Please! Of course, eat a balanced diet so that can include fruits, grains and beans, nut and seeds, eggs and dairy, and animals.

7. Find your best food proteins, be it vegetarian legumes, nuts and seeds, or animals foods such as eggs, fish, poultry or beef. This is a personal choice yet does affect the earth. Sprouted legumes are a very good vegetable protein.

8. Detox your body and your habits. It’s a good place to start, by looking at your substance and food abuses. Is it your SNACCS—Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine, and Chemicals? Or it can be sugary foods, wheat and baked goods, or milk, cheese and ice cream? It’s wise to take a break to also perceive and alter any adverse effects of these dietary aspects. Remember, we all make these important choices every day.

9. Assess your diet and health, and see if you might enhance them or need general and specific nutritional and herbal supplements. Is it ionic minerals to help your cellular and tissue hydration? Or omega-3 oils to support tissue health and reduce inflammation? Or supplements to support your digestive function or replace lost healthy flora reduced by a course of antibiotics?

10. Be conscientious with your eco-footprint. Conserve, re-use and re-cycle. Keep things simple and share bigger items with neighbors if possible. Be efficient in your driving and running errands. Minimize your use of throw-away plastic items like coffee cups and plastic bags.

11. Love yourself and love the world. When you love yourself and maintain that attitude, you will make sure you make good food choices, exercise regularly, sleep well, and handle stress in your life.

12. After you are healed, enjoy your creativity, and find some good things to do for others. Help in your local community or somewhere in the world and the people in need. We are all in this together. Be an immortalist—live like you’ll live forever and as if this is your last day.

Embrace life and stay healthy!