Wellness vs. Illness

By: Gretchen Fox Schempp,Wellness Manager
Many of our customers in the Wellness section become so out of illness. The classic coughing and sniffling customer comes to us asking, “what do you have to make me feel better?” And of course we are happy to show you items from our vast array of nutritional supplements and topical treatments to help you on your way to wellness.
But what about when you are well? How does one maintain this wellness? What can we do to stay well? This is an especially good subject as we are now well into the school year and into the cold and flu season. This is something I want to suggest, the conscious movement towards wellness and away from a focus on illness. Rather than “treating” a symptom, let’s talk about preventative medicine and intention. These are some of the things I like to use and do as I focus on maintaining my wellness throughout the year.

The Daily Multivitamin
Ideally we would all be eating a diet full of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber and other essential nutrients. The fact of the matter is most of us aren’t getting all the nutrients we need from our food. A quality whole food multivitamin can provide you with many of the vitamins and minerals you may be missing in your diet. Whole food multivitamins are not the same as synthetic vitamins. They are actually made from foods rich in the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The advantage to taking a whole food supplement vs. synthetic is that your body recognizes the nutrients as it would if you were eating the foods containing these nutrients. Not into popping a pill? Try one of our liquid multivitamins or better yet, make your own juice from whole foods and herbs. This way you also receive plenty of freshly activated enzymes and tons of other nutrients.

Good Old Vitamin C
Called the king of antioxidants and the most powerful one in the body, vitamin C is required for at least 300 metabolic functions in the body – including tissue repair, adrenal gland function and healthy gums. The body cannot manufacture vitamin C so it must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that cannot be stored in the organs or fatty tissues as fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A,D and E can. So don’t worry about overdosing on vitamin C. What happens is you will reach a “bowel tolerance” and you will get a slight case of diarrhea. At this point just reduce your intake by 1,000mg a day. Most people have no trouble with 3000 to 6000 mg a day, whereas many people can tolerate up to 20,000 mg a day. The body needs to be recharged with vitamin C in six hour intervals because it is quickly used and eliminated from the body. The popular Emergen-C, Ener-C or Oxylent packets are a great way to get this boost throughout your day. If you smoke, you may need extra vitamin C as the vitamin metabolizes more quickly in smokers and second hand smokers. Each cigarette depletes the body of at least 25 mg of vitamin C. Some common signs of vitamin C deficiency include bleeding gums, increased susceptibility to infection – particularly colds and bronchial infections, joint pains, lack of energy, poor digestion, prolonged wound healing time, bruising easily and tooth loss.

The Sunshine Vitamin (D)
Vitamin D has been getting a lot of attention for the past 5 years and rightfully so. This fat soluble vitamin has properties of both vitamin and hormone and is required for the absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorus. It is necessary for growth, especially for bones and teeth in children. It is important in the prevention and treatment of breast and colon cancer, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. It enhances immunity and is necessary for thyroid function and normal blood clotting. In a study reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, there are indications that vitamin D deficiency is much more widespread than previously thought, especially in older adults. The benefits of vitamin D include reduction in the risk of colon polyps and prostate cancer, less coronary artery disease, decreased chance of developing type 1 diabetes, increased muscle strength and coordination along with higher bone strength. Since this vitamin is fat soluble and is not flushed out of the body as water soluble vitamins are, it is advisable to get a vitamin D blood test from your doctor to find the correct dosing for yourself.

Get Fungal with Cordyceps
Cordyceps sinensis is a type of fungus that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. The Chinese have long used this fungus to promote overall good health and modern research indicates that cordyceps does indeed support liver, kidney, heart and immune system function. It acts as an antioxidant as well, protecting the body from free radical damage. Cordyceps is a popular supplement among athletes because it is thought to increase lung function and energy levels. Cordyceps is also among a group of herbs called adaptogens. Adaptogenic herbs are nontoxic and cause little or no side effects, produce a nonspecific resistance in the body to all types of stressors (physical, chemical and biological) and produce a normalizing influence on the body. Cordyceps is also known for its ability to increase sex drive. Which leads us to our next section: breaking a sweat.

Get Moving: The Healing Power of Sweat
Ever notice how great you feel after a brisk walk? Whenever I get to feeling bluesy or brain foggy I get up and move. A nice walk in the fresh air can change my mind about a lot of things.
Routine physical activity plays an important part in overall wellness. Individuals should include both aerobic activity and strength training to get well rounded exercise. Aerobic activity strengthens the heart and lungs. Examples include brisk walking, dancing, jogging, bike riding, swimming and skiing. For healthy adults, 30 minutes of cardio is recommended most days of the week. In addition to aerobic activity individuals should participate in strength training exercises at least 2 days a week. Some strength training exercises include weight lifting, yoga and pilates. Routine exercise improves the physical body but also has a positive mental effect. Anxiety, stress and mild to moderate depression can often be remedied with regular physical activity, studies say.
Getting outside to walk the dog, do yardwork or shovel snow are great ways to get some exercise too. And that fresh air is not just good for the body but the mind as well.

Think Positive
Studies have found that people who suffer from depression are at higher risk for heart disease and other illnesses. People under stress are found to be more susceptible to colds and flu and to have more severe symptoms when they do fall ill. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are reporting that the activation of brain regions associated with negative emotions appear to weaken the immune response to the flu vaccine. So what does this mean to us and our wellness? That our thoughts have the potential to influence our overall health is what I’m thinking.
Pure positive thought is achieved by transforming negative thoughts into positive ones. It is about consistently assuming a mental posture of appreciation. Be grateful. I find it helpful to jot down as many things as possible each day that I am grateful for. The food from my garden, my family, my friends, my pets, my community, that I have a job….anything to keep that positive light shining. Even simple thoughts of appreciation create a positive vibration and help heal.

Get Rubbed
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays you can come into the Co-op between 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm (12:30 – 2:30 pm on Wednesdays) and get a chair massage with one of 3 licensed experienced massage therapists for a dollar a minute. Why would you want to do this unless you were racked up in pain from some overexertion or injury? Not just because it feels amazing and is a nice treat for yourself, but also because massage moves toxins out of the body, helps to prevent injuries, increases flexibility, increases metabolism, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, increases circulation, heals muscle related injuries, relaxes, and boosts immune function. Need I say more? Get rubbed.

To sum it up…
Often we don’t think of our wellness until we are feeling unwell or ill. This season I encourage you to think positive and to embrace your personal wellness. Take time for yourself, take that walk on your lunch break, have that nice cup of tea in the afternoon, breath deep and relax. You can’t take care of everyone and everything else unless you take care of yourself.
In wellness. Take care.