Health Bytes

Want to check on your brain?

Use BrainSpan

Brain health is cell health. One of the easiest and most effective ways to check on your brain wellness is with a BrainSpan assessment. With a few drops of blood and a 15 minutes web-based cognitive online assessment, you gain insight into functional brain changes before they become apparent in traditional medical screening.

The BrainSpan assessment examines

  • Nutritional Brain Health
  • Inflammatory Response
  • Brain Cell Toxicity
  • Short Term Memory
  • Sustained Attention 
  • Processing Speed

Two weeks after submitting your dried blood spot and online analysis, you’ll receive a report of your current cell and brain biomarkers and a report of how to improve them.

You can go to the website for more information. We have the test kits available at Health InSyncs.

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Ginger is Powerful Medicine

Ginger contains many therapeutic compounds, with well documented responses in the body. Two well recognized ginger compounds in the research include gingerol and zingerone. Cooking transforms gingerol into zingerone so the benefits of ginger will vary somewhat with the form used, whether fresh grated, cooked or powdered.

Ginger is an antioxidant, an analgesic, a blood thinner, and a liver protector. Research on its compound zingerone (most prevalent in cooked ginger or ginger tea) determined that it reduces inflammation, improves blood sugar, eases muscle and joint pain,  speeds fat breakdown and improves immune function. You can easily add it to soups, sautéed vegetables or make tea to make it part of your dietary habit.

What’s not to like about ginger? It tastes good, too! However, some medical cautions are in order. Ginger amplifies the effects of some medications, like tetracycline, some calcium channel blockers and blood thinners. If you’re on these medications, do not suddenly add a lot of ginger to your diet without medical supervision.

“We think of ginger as a flavor agent, but ginger is powerful medicine.”
Suzy Cohen, America’s pharmacist

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Nutrients to Heal a Leaky Gut

Use natural gut healers such as aloe vera juice and bone broth, both  very supportive of intestinal healing. Choose aloe vera juice “not from concentrate” for maximum effectiveness. Bone broth should be derived from healthy grass-fed animals.Supplements such as quercetin and other bioflavonoids, the herb slippery elm bark, l-glutamine (caution if you react to MSG!), and MSM especially support healing of the gut lining.  

A good quality multi-vitamin and ionic minerals provide the extra nutrition needed.To provide butyrate, an essential building block for intestinal cellular repair, eat lots of fibrous vegetables. Initially, eat them cooked, for ease of processing; add raw vegetables as the gut improves. These are a few self-help guidelines. If you haven’t accomplished significant changes with these steps to heal your gut lining, you may have a microbial  imbalance requiring more targeted strategies. But you’ll have at least strengthened your system for a quicker resolution. 

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Blueberries as Medicine

Blueberries are known for warding off urinary tract infections, and supporting beautiful skin. They are also rich in manganese, important to your hormone balance, thyroid function, and stress reserves; rich in Vitamin K, which is important to utilizing Vitamin D and your bone health; and contain many amino acids.

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The Science of Hugs

We need 4 hugs a day for survival … 8 hugs a day for maintenance …12 hugs a day for growth.”

Virginia Satir, world-renowned family therapist

We’ve been admonished in recent months to avoid physical contact with our family and friends to avoid contagion. Sadly, science suggests that the recommendation does not support the immune system!  One study showed that  people with a social support system that hugged each other frequently got sick less often and with less severity than people without a hugging support system.

You might surmise that happier people are just healthier and more huggable; research suggests more specific health effects of hugging. Multiple studies demonstrate that the regular practice of hugging reduces blood pressure and heart rate, lessening heart attack risk. Hugging coaxes the body from the tension and hyper alertness of the “fight or flight” sympathetic state into the relaxed, calm, balancing parasympathetic state that protects and restores our health.  

Don’t hug and run; hugs of 20 seconds or more are required for the best effect! The sustained hug stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone and neuropeptide first associated with childbirth and bonding, but also related to promoting benevolence and sharing, as well as reducing pain and promoting some kinds of learning.

Hug up! for the health of it…



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Sugar Addiction?

High-sugar, high-glycemic foods are addictive in the same way that cocaine and heroin are addictive. Foods that spike blood sugar biologically stimulate the addiction center of the brain, independent of calories or nutrient content. Food addiction is real and is biochemical. Craving a food when you are not hungry is a signal of addiction.

To prevent or reduce sugar spikes: Eat sweet foods with fat, protein or fiber to slow the sugar absorption into your blood. Avoid highly sweetened liquids. Avoid artificial sweeteners which not only create cravings for the sweet taste – but as a “bonus”, dysregulate your gut flora! Some people are reactive to the “sugar alcohols” like erythritol and sorbitol.

The natural sweetness of fruit (with its own stock of fiber, protein and oils), raw honey (with immune factors), maple syrup (with minerals) and true stevia (not to be confused with derivatives like Truvia) are healthier options to consider.

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Feel the Need for Caffeine?

Overexposure to caffeine (yes, even chocolate!) can reduce blood flow 25%. Constriction of blood vessels, reducing blood flow, is one mechanism by which caffeine can help migraines, (and that’s a good effect) but is also how it contributes to reduced brain function.  With caffeine, your brain will be “hyper” with faster firing neurons, but they won’t produce your best neuronal work …

How much caffeine is too much? The answer can depend on your genes. Yes, you have coffee genes!  Actually, caffeine-sensitivity genes determine whether you slowly or quickly metabolize caffeine. Slow caffeine metabolizers are at increased risk for infertility, heart attacks, sleep disturbances, anxiety and miscarriage with caffeine use. Fast metabolizers will actually reduce their risk of heart attack with 2-3 cups of coffee daily.   If you have any of these symptoms after 1-2 coffees, sodas, or hot chocolates, you may have caffeine sensitivity:  jitteriness, increased heart beat, nausea, sweating, dizziness, diarrhea, insomnia or headache.

Frequently drinking coffee or caffeinated sodas, or eating chocolate actually increases your caffeine tolerance over time, reducing symptoms. That would seem helpful for the caffeine sensitive – but it unfortunately does not reduce the health risks of caffeine  sensitivity. 

Enjoy, with mindfulness of your uniqueness.

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Is Breakfast an Important Meal?

“Skipping breakfast” has recently been equated with “intermittent fasting” as a health strategy. And the logic would fit if we were intermittently running after game for food, and gathering fruit and nuts on the way, as our ancient ancestors did. But that’s not my lifestyle, and probably not yours, either.

Many, perhaps most of us, have stress chemistry and blood sugar issues that require protein metabolism to start the day strongly. Beginning the day with 1-2 glasses of water to prime the digestive system, followed at least 15 minutes later with a meal of a protein and fruit or vegetables complement, initiates the metabolism that will steadily provide an efficient source of energy, and help prevent sugar cravings.

Eating 3 meals daily, and not eating late in the day will strengthen stress resilience, and provide the energy needed for the 14-18 hours workday (at home and/or work) that most of us live.