Is it just me or are the transition seasons easier for instilling new and releasing old habits? It is of essence this month to consciously take the season change in stride and create new routines for better health. Let’s hop on the self-care bandwagon early, before symptoms of the cold/flu season rear their awful mucus-brimming heads. Grab a buddy, because self-care can also be done as a community!
[mantra for the month]
“You can make your fullest contribution to life only when you are healthy and health alone enables you to enjoy your life to the fullest in return.” – Robert Svoboda, first Western-born Ayurvedic physician
Sleep! Your lifestyle affects your immunity. Enough rest and sleep is essential, most easily done by maintaining a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
Moves before booze. Stay conscious of your alcohol intake. I know it’s pumpkin beer season, but lowering your intake of inflammatory foods like sugar and processed grains (in other words, beer) is important.
Instead of drinking alcohol, keep stress levels in check with exercise. All year I look forward to fleece-clad fall runs and bike rides. If you must, make the drink the reward after the climb, the ride, the run, or whatever thing you’re doing to get moving (I have acquired this wisdom through trial and error). Calm down and de-stress with some yin oriented exercise like yoga, qigong and meditation, which feel so right in the quieting months of autumn.
Salt Lake has a few great qigong teachers: Find Toni Lock at Red Lotus School of Movement [740 S. 300 W.] on Monday evenings from 6:15-7:15pm. $15/class. Scott White is at Tracy Aviary [589 E. 1300S.] starting October 3, Monday mornings 8:30-9:30am. 8 week course for $40-45.
Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Cold and flu virus spreads on surfaces and through the air. Tea tree oil is my pick for a natural multipurpose antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, not to mention it smells like fresh heaven.
Herbs. Next time you’re making soup, put in the Chinese herb astragalus (astragalus membranaceous can be found at Southeast Market, 422 Harvey Milk Blvd, aka 9th South) along with maitake and shiitake mushrooms. Simmer for an hour, then remove woody astragalus root and shiitake stems. Astragalus is a proven powerful adaptogen, meaning that it helps protect the body against physical, emotional and mental stress.
Vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Get Zinc into your diet naturally by eating more spinach, beef, pumpkin seeds, cashews, cocoa, and beans. Ideally, we would get all of our vitamins and minerals from vegetables, but diminished soil quality has left us needing more. Garlic, especially raw, can help your immune system punch through a cold. If you find yourself suffering from waning sunlight, supplementing with Vitamin D3, can be beneficial to your immune system (1000-2000IU/day).
Flu shot or not? Dr. Todd Mangum writes in detail on the issue: [http://bit.ly/2cJyMZG] Whether you decide to get one or not, remember: Prevention is key.
[cleanse: get ready to neti]
Neti pot, or nasal irrigation, is something Eastern and Western medicine agree on for its cleansing purposes of the sinuses and nasal passages. It’s traditionally done with a small ceramic or metal tea pot, with the spout inserted into the nostril and the head tilted out and to the side so that the water poured into the top nostril flows out of the bottom nostril. Make sure you do it over a sink! Timothy Lewis, of Wasatch Ayurveda in Yoga Upstairs, is enthusiastic about neti-ing. He says, “You should do it everyday…even twice a day!”
Yoga instructor April Kirkhart tells me the practice balances the ida and pingala, which are similar to the yin and yang. “Balancing the energy in the body can be correlated with balancing the two hemispheres of the brain. Notice which side tends to be more stuffed up.”
Kirkhart recommends adding a teaspoon of sea salt to a pint of boiled water (distilled or filtered, cooled to lukewarm—don’t skip this step!) and, using your neti pot, slowly pour one cup of the mixture into one nostril, then the remaining cup into the other. This can be a bit uncomfortable to downright painful at first, similar to accidentally snorting water while swimming. Mucus flow is the purpose, so embrace any pain and appreciate the flow!
[safety: STD testing]
The Student Health Center at the University of Utah is a boon to any student. At a reduced cost (30-50% less than a traditional healthcare provider) students may receive STD/HIV tests, TB tests, basic immunizations and international vaccines. Each fall and spring semester, the Health Center goes mobile, setting up free sex-health clinics around campus. Free onsite prevention and risk education are also offered, along with free HIV and chlamydia/gonorrhea tests.
The Student Health Center is by appointment only, but mobile clinics welcome walk-ins (Fall clinic TBD).555 Foothill Dr. Level 1. 801-581-6431. StudentHealth.Utah.edu—ZS
CATALYST welcomes Rachel Silverstone as our new HealthNotes columnist. Her most recent story was “A Doctor With the Time to Listen: A Different Approach to Wellness Through Naturopathy” (CATALYST, August 2016).