Rocky Gorge Wellness Spring 2021 Newsletter

May is National Physical Fitness & Sports Month…Let’s Get Moving!

In recognition of National Physical Fitness & Sports Month, let’s review three key elements in achieving overall fitness and attaining a healthier lifestyle.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

As the winter ends and spring emerges, we’re coming out of a long year of restrictions. The additional hours of screen time as we zoom and binge-watch have taken a toll on our tight, tense upper backs and necks. Try these therapeutic strategies to relieve those pressures as we launch into spring activities, such as gardening, golfing, or just cleaning out our garages!

Increased Flexibility

Stretching directs oxygenated blood to your joints and muscles, which in turn, benefits overall flexibility by improving range of motion and reducing joint stiffness, sore muscles, and chronic pain. Increased flexibility allows greater ease in lifting, reaching, stretching, and participating in everyday activities.

Improved Muscle Strength

Strength training is critical to improving musculoskeletal function. Resistance training using free weights, exercise machines, and elastic bands or tubes are key to building stronger muscles, increasing endurance, and preventing injuries. The results are greater endurance, better posture, lowered risk of injury, better bone density to prevent osteoporosis, and the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs).
The American Council on Exercise recommends 150 minutes of exercise weekly. Broken down, that’s five 30-minute sessions a week, which is quite attainable if planned into daily routines.

Back on Track

The spinal cord is a multifaceted system that coordinates our central nervous system in with muscles, ligaments, tendons, and discs. Many of us experience lower back issues affected by activities such as prolonged sitting, gardening, incorrect lifting, and recreational activities. Aging, of course, is another factor. Here are three simple stretches to get your back on track. The first two are excellent for strengthening your abdominal muscles. A strong core eases pressure on the back.

Pelvic Tilt

Lying on your back flat on the floor, bed, or exercise table, bend your knees shoulder-width apart, keeping your feet flat. Your arms should be at your sides, palms down. As you flatten your back against the floor, tighten those abs as you slowly bend your pelvis slightly upwards and towards your belly. Imagine that you’re trying to zip up a very tight pair of jeans. 😊. Hold for ten seconds and repeat three to five times.

Bridges

Lying on your back in the same position as the pelvic tilt while tightening those abs, lift your hips upwards gently until your pelvis is elevated towards your knees. Keep your back straight. Hold for about three deep breaths and repeat three to five times.

Seated Hinge Stretch

Sit on the edge of a chair, sofa, or bed with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. While resting your forearms on your thighs, close to your knees, slowly bend forward at the hips. Breathe slowly and hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat two times.

Pound Off the Pandemic Pounds: The Three P’s

As we emerge from COVID-Cave Syndrome, for many of our lifestyle habits have been impacted by overeating. The months of lockdown, working from home, binge-watching, and boredom as we dined on food deliveries and did more home cooking than usual resulted in some negative outcomes. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, 42 per cent of Americans gained an average of 29 pounds during the pandemic months.
Consider three helpful suggestions to adjust your eating patterns for a healthier you – the Three P’s!

Prepare

Recognize that your pandemic eating patterns may have led to an unhealthy new normal. Prepare to make positive, intentional changes in eating patterns. This includes gutting your pantry and fridge of tempting foods that trigger overindulgence, such high calorie processed products.

Plan

Create a practical strategy that can help you redirect eating habits towards a manageable outcome. This might include joining a weight-loss group such as Weight Watchers™ or downloading an app, such as My Plate™ to help you track calories, nutritional content, and activity levels. You have to plan your work to work your plan!

Portion Size

Is key to effective weight loss. Many of us are unaware of the caloric heft in our food. Understanding portion size helps curb daily consumption. For example, knowing that a single bagel is actually two servings of bread; one half cup of cooked pasta or rice is one serving; and the average boneless, skinless chicken breast is four ounces – will help you plan portion size. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meat and dairy, and high in dietary fiber is the basis for better preparing, planning, and success in the weight loss process. In addition, another helpful tip is to eat off smaller plates and bowls to limit quantities.

Way to G.O.A.Ls!

If you would like further help in designing a food plan that works for you, do not hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We also offer a weight loss support group called “Way to G.O.A.Ls.” We meet monthly via Zoom. Our next Way to G.O.A.Ls meeting is May 15 at 1 p.m. Please contact us if you’re interested and we’ll send you the Zoom link.

Love Your Liver

This month we’re singing the praises of that multitalented, multifunctional organ (the second largest of our body) that metabolizes fats and cholesterol and detoxifies by working constantly to filter waste from our blood: The liver.

According to resources from Johns Hopkins Medicine, the liver performs more than 500 vital functions. Here are just a few crucial jobs that the liver steps up to:

  • • Regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes bile that carries away fats and waste products
  • • Controls blood clotting
  • • Processes all blood leaving the stomach and intestines
  • • Produces cholesterol and proteins to carry fats through the body
  • • Clears blood of toxins from additives, alcohol, medications, and harmful environmental substances, including air pollution, radiation, heavy metals, petrochemicals, and plastics
  • • Converts ammonia to urea, an end product of protein metabolism excreted in urine
  • • Resists infections and removes harmful bacteria from the bloodstream
  • • Energy production and balance: converts excess glucose into glycogen, reserving unused sugar that can later be converted back to glucose for energy
  • • Helps metabolize vitamins and minerals
  • • Produces bile, stored in the gall bladder. With the kidneys, it creates vitamins A and D, storing those fat-soluble substances
  • • Supports six immune functions, including white blood cells and liver lymphocytes

Harmful substances are broken down and excreted into the blood and bile. Our intestines absorb and expel bile byproducts and our kidneys filter and eliminate blood byproducts.

Tonify with Tonics: Spring is a time when our ancestors recognized the need to recharge their sluggish livers after a long winter and a diet short on fresh plants. That’s why many cultures traditionally ingest spring tonics in the form of food and beverages that include plant compounds that stimulate liver activity. It’s definitely time for some spring cleaning!

Bitter elements stimulate the release of digestive secretions beneficial for liver function. Bitter alkaloids help to decongest our livers. A four-hundred-year European tradition is to add an ounce or so of “Swedish bitters” to a glass of water before eating a substantial meal. Bitters are an infusion made from several bitter plants such as aloe and angelica. The formulas vary from maker to maker. If you’ve ever taken a bite of a fresh, leafy green that’s bitter, you might recall a little shiver through your body when you swallow – that’s your liver telling you that it is on call!

Before we share some ideas for nutritional liver boosts, consider what to limit or avoid in our diets:

Excess alcohol consumption
Foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, whole-fat dairy
Refined carbohydrates low in dietary fiber, such as white flour and white sugar
Overprocessed products, such frozen meals, fast food, soft white breads with preservatives and dough conditioners, which are devoid of macronutrients (such as complex carbs and protein) that are destroyed in the processing, but often replaced with inferior chemical substitutes.

Opt for the following:

  • • Fresh, raw, or minimally processed vegetables and fruits. Not all processed foods are equal.
  • • Plant-based oils, especially olive and grapeseed
  • • High fiber foods. That can of chickpeas in your pantry is minimally processed, containing only valuable high-fiber beans, water, and a little salt.
  • • Lean meats, fish, and dairy
  • • Products made with whole and sprouted grains
  • • Desserts and snacks with minimal sugar

Foods and herbs that support liver and gallbladder health:

Beets Bitters!
Find formulas in your local natural foods store.
Broccoli
Burdock root
Cabbage
Chicory root
Chaga fungus
Dandelion root
Dark leafy greens, such as arugula, kale, chard, spinach, and dandelion greens, which are a time-honored spring tonic tradition
Licorice
Milk thistle seed
Nettles
Oregon grape root
Probiotics, especially foods that teem with them: yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, unpasteurized pickles, raw apple cider vinegar
Radicchio, endive, escarole (all related to chicory!)
Romaine lettuce hearts
Watercress

Special mention: Another liver-friendly food is garlic. The liver produces VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) that plays a crucial role in metabolizing fats and moderating blood pressure. Garlic is known to modulate cholesterol and triglycerides. And to keep away vampires, ha ha!

Fatty Liver Disease: Consider eating more of the recommended foods if you’re struggling with a fatty liver condition, which occurs when your liver doesn’t metabolize fat efficiently. It can be caused by a variety of factors: chronic disease, especially diabetes and pre-diabetic syndrome, obesity, side effects of certain medications, and excess alcohol intake. Foods and beverages that counteract inflammation are especially helpful in curbing the progress of fatty liver disease.

Featured Food for Spring: Beets

The deep, antioxidant strength of beetroot is particularly supportive of the liver and gallbladder. High in B vitamins, iron, calcium, and alpha lipoic acid, beets are also high in naturally occurring nitrates, which convert to nitrites that improve vasodilation – that is, efficient circulation of blood vessels, bile ducts, and pancreatic ducts. These are not the same as the sodium nitrates used to preserved cured meats such as bacon, deli meats, sausage, and hot dogs.

Raw beets can be enjoyed in many ways: shredded in slaws and sliced in salads; juiced with green apples and ginger; added to smoothies. Cooked beets take on a deeply satisfying, robust flavor, concentrating the sugars.

Roasted Beets with Garlic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
One pound or so of beets, peeled and cut into half-inch chunks
Four-five cloves of garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
Optional: 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

In a ceramic or glass roasting pan, blend the ingredients to coat with the oil. Roast for 20 minutes, stir the contents, and then roast for another 20 minutes. Check the beets for tenderness with a fork and roast a little longer if needed. The beets and garlic should be crisp and caramelized outside, tender inside, and oh so delicious!

These beets can be served as a warm side dish or served cold or at room temperature as an addition to salads. If desired, splash raw apple cider vinegar for a tangy probiotic boost.

Essential Oils for Liver Health

We’ve seen several essential botanical oils recommended for liver support. Among them are fennel, lemon, thyme, Roman or German chamomile, geranium, and rosemary.

  • • Fennel seed is suggested for digestive function and tonic effect on the liver.
  • • Chamomile is another tonic boost for liver and gallbladder.
  • • Thyme is indicated for liver congestion.
  • • Geranium may assist the liver by boosting kidney function and dilating bile ducts.
  • • Rosemary may support bile production and reduce liver enzyme levels

If you use essential oils internally, follow instructions carefully to avoid high concentrations.
Externally, remember to always dilute oils with a carrier oil.

Spring Forward

We hope you’ll benefit from many of the ideas shared in this spring newsletter. Now is the season to cut down on sitting so our clothes are better fitting!


As we continue into Spring and interactions increase, let us continue to practice safe and cautious behavior. As more of us get vaccinated, we at Rocky Gorge Wellness maintain due diligence to protect each other from the virus, which still circulates in our communities. Safety protocols remain our priority as we uphold our high standards of safety to ensure a safe and healthy exercise environment.