May 2019 Newsletter Re-post

Hello and Happy May Day! I hope you are well and enjoying all the beauty of spring.

Rest and Digest

We all have heard the term “Fight or Flight” but have your heard about “Rest and Digest”? It is the pleasant name for the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS); the other side of the nervous system that balances out the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). For example, during a fight or flight response, the SNS increases heart rate and blood pressure. This is good for fleeing or fighting but bad for general daily existence (tiger yes, deadline no). Afterward, the PSNS works to slow the heart rate down and lower blood pressure. It also starts up bodily processes that were temporarily put on hold when the SNS was activated, such as digestion. If you are in a continual state of fight or flight, you are not allowing your body to do its job of digesting and assimilating the nutrients from your food, nor are you fully breathing (hyperventilating does not count), and you are disrupting your hormones which usually keep things in check.
Now I am not advocating for an Italian-style siesta although that would be lovely. What I am saying is that we need to (1) be aware of our rest and digest system and (2) give it a chance to work on a regular basis. The best way to kick in the system is to lie on your back with your feet elevated above your heart. Next, try breathing deeply and fully, simply enjoying a peaceful five minutes. Other ways to help out your PSNS is to meditate, get out in nature (especially where you can go barefoot for a “grounding” session), positive affirmations, and enough quality sleep.


Speaking of sleep, it was suggested by a dear reader that I write a bit about magnesium and foot baths. This is a great topic! A quick, easy way to reduce tension and set yourself up for a restful night’s sleep is to give yourself the gift of a soothing foot bath. It is simple:
  1. Put your phone in the other room and turn on some good, relaxing music or enjoy some silence                                               
  2. Heat a large bowl of water so that it won’t cool too quickly but is not so hot you burn your toes
  3. Add in some Epsom salts or bath salts* and if you like a few drops of essential oil**
  4. Sit back and relax for at least five good minutes but longer would be best
  5. Remember to moisturize your feet once done as this can be a bit drying


*There is a lot of chatter about whether to use Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes. Both contain magnesium which is an essential mineral. Magnesium is an important cofactor in many enzymatic functions, necessary for bone formation, the central nervous system and cardiovascular health (hello rest and digest support system). Now clearly almost all of your mineral will come from food, but it never hurts to give yourself a little extra boost. Epsom salts are magnesium sulphate and the flakes contain magnesium chloride. Some will tell you the latter is far better absorbed but there is no conclusive evidence to this. Start simple and see what works. You can also skip the foot bath and try a magnesium chloride oil spray, but I find the warm water to be more effective.  **Essential oils will add another level to your foot bath. Consider:

  1. Lavender or chamomile for the calming and anti-inflammatory properties
  2. Rosemary to boost circulation and calm the nerves
  3. Ylang ylang or jasmine are also known for calming and promoting relaxation while the scent may remind you of that wonderful tropical vacation
  4. Sandalwood is known to calm the brain and to relieve tension
NOTE: people with diabetes or who are pregnant should talk to their doctor before using Epsom salt and other mineral products.

Spring is in the air

And with spring there tends to be a few seasonal allergies. If you experience these consider trying stinging nettles as a natural antihistamine. Really. They can be found at the farmer’s market, are delicious and give an energy boost — but they do sting until cooked so take care. An easier root is to consider the supplement form of freeze-dried nettles and quercetin. Quercetin is a plant pigment that is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which might help reduce inflammation as well.
NOTE: if you are pregnant, have kidney issues or are on a medication do not consider this option unless your physician approves it.

Wishing you a great month!

PS: If you are wondering about my monthly mini challenge, last month went far better than the first. Tying a new habit (an extra vegetable) to an existing one (prepping veggies) really makes it easy. I hope your new habit building is gong well. I would love to hear about your success and any tips!