Today is World Sjogren’s Day

In light of World Sjogren’s Day, I would like to dedicate this post to educating suffers from Sjogren’s Syndrome and their friends and family about the moisture-producing-gland-attacking disorder.

What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?

According to WebMD, “Sjögren’s syndrome is a disorder in which the immune system attacks the body’s moisture-producing glands, such as the tear glands and the saliva glands, causing extreme dryness in the eyes and mouth.”

What are the symptoms of Sjogren’s?

The most common and aggravating symptoms are extreme dry eyes and mouth. “Other symptoms include eye itching and burning, fatigue, and joint pain. Sjogren’s sometimes develops in people with other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma,” according to WebMD.

What are the causes of Sjogren’s?

Sjogren’s possibly has a genetic link. While there is no known cause, there is suspicion that a bacterial or viral infection could cause a defective gene to turn on and cause the immune system to go “haywire”. In other words, the immune system becomes confused and instead of fighting foreign invaders, it attacks healthy cells. Specifically, in Sjogren’s the immune system attacks moisture-producing glands.

According to some scientific articles, it may take a person on average 4.7 years to be diagnosed. After learning that you have Sjogren’s you may feel relieved to know exactly the disorder you suffer from so that you can be better guided with your health.

Is there is a cure for Sjogren’s?

While there is no cure for many autoimmune disorders, there is treatment that your doctor can prescribe to help manage the disorder.

What are some over-the-counter treatments?

For the Eyes

Daily use of artificial tears will help relieve dryness. Artificial tears come in varying levels of viscosity. Since extreme dry eyes are a common symptom, you may find yourself using eye drops several types a day. Choose preservative-free eye drops, like Clear Eyes® or Thera Tears (Here is a $2.00 off coupon). You may find that some brands work better for you than others. For some people, chemical/hexane-free 100% organic Castor oil has provided greater nighttime relief.

At night, turn off ceiling fans or aim any fans in the room away from your face. Use eye masks or eye goggles, if that helps. Some people mention using humidifiers to help add moisture in the room. You may also find some relief putting a cooling mask over your eyes.

For the Mouth

Dry mouth is common in Sjogren’s due to reduced saliva production. Reduced saliva production can lead to cavities. Avoid drinking soda and eating sticky sugary foods like dried fruits, taffy, and other candies. Biotene mouthwash and moisturizing spray can help relieve dry mouth symptoms. Chewing sugar-free gum can also assist the glands in producing saliva and prevent cavities. Sip water throughout the day. It is generally recommended to drink half of your weight in ounces, or until the color of your urine becomes noticeably clear.

For the Skin and Hair

Some people with Sjogren’s may notice dry skin and hair. Before a shower or bath, use coconut oil on your hair and skin. It will provide moisture to your roots and avoid breakage. After a shower or bath, within an hour – while your pores are still open, lather on lotion or oil on your skin and a leave-in conditioner for your hair. Your hair and skin will thank you for it later.

For the Diet

While there is no “Sjogren’s Diet” per se, any diet that promotes anti-inflammation may help lower the immune system’s reaction and thus, provide relief.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods over time may provide some relief from Sjogren’s symptoms. Dr. David Seaman has done over 30 years of research on the link between inflammation and autoimmune diseases, which he attributes prolonged inflammation to the rise of autoimmune diseases in people. He recommends the “Deflame Diet”, which is similar to the Paleo diet. The main difference is that dairy is OK from time to time since he did not find conclusive evidence that dairy causes inflammation. Dr. Terry Wahl’s recommend a similar diet in her book The Wahls Protocol, that combines “Paleo principles and functional medicine.”

In general, avoid refined grains, oils, and sugar. Eat plenty of vegetables and low-glycemic fruits, like berries, citrus, or apples.

For those interested in natural remedies, you may seek advice from a homeopathic or naturopathic doctor. Studies are ongoing in regard to the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine. One randomized control trial suggests that “the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine is promising for relieving symptoms [by] improving lacrimal and salivary function in primary Sjogren’s Syndrome.” More studies are needed to provide strong evidence.

For the Mind

Stress can elicit an immune response. With Sjogren’s, stress can do a number on your body and you will notice it through your symptoms. Therefore, you must find ways to manage stress. Get 7-9 hours of sleep daily. Try other anti-stress techniques such as aromatherapy, massages, meditation and learning time management skills.

If you suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome, you have my sincerest sympathy. I know it can feel like torture at times. Functioning with Sjogren’s Syndrome day to day can feel debilitating, but there is still hope when you understand what can trigger an immune response and what therapeutic measures you can use to provide relief. As always, when symptoms become intractable be sure to seek advice from a doctor.

I hope the moisture-seeking friends out there will find this post helpful. If you have Sjogren’s, leave me a comment below on how you find ways to manage Sjogren’s.

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Long Time No Sleep

It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged. Life has certainly gotten in the way – mainly I’ve centered my life around growing my career. While working full-time at a supplement company, I have also been attending a full-time MBA program. Most of my hours are spent in front of the computer, writing papers or studying for exams. My goal is to marry my two passions, nutrition and business, and develop a product that helps people.

As I pursue my dreams, I still keep health a priority. Without good health, my performance is affected drastically. My brain becomes foggy and my body feels drained. For the most part, I have been keeping up with my health by really getting more sleep.

Sleep is so important to our daily function and metabolism. In the last two years, I have been having terrible sleep issues, getting anywhere from 3-4 hours of sleep for months at a time.  The combination of stress, depression and hormonal imbalance first led to trouble falling asleep to trouble staying asleep and then both. No matter how healthy I ate, without good sleep, none of what I was eating mattered. I have finally been able to get on a better, in fact, regular sleep pattern.

After hearing from people who have also faced the same sleep challenges, I wanted to share strategies I have been using that has helped me tremendously.

  • Balanced my hormones by taking a daily Vitamin D supplement and eating. testosterone-boosting foods, like salmon, milk, eggs, and beans.
  • Eat meals at regular times (within 2 hours of waking up and no meals 3 hours before bedtime).
  • Turn off electronics an hour before bedtime to avoid blue light. Schedule a do not disturb on my phone, so phone calls or text messages do not tempt me from reaching for my phone.
  • Hang up black out curtains in the room.
  • Keep the dog off the bed or out of the room.
  • Turn on relaxing music or listen to a guided meditation with headphones.
  • Buy a white noise machine. The white noise helps drown out any outside noise that can disrupt your sleep.
  • Take a magnesium supplement daily to help with relaxation.
  • Take a warm bath at night to help cool my body down. It might sound counterintuitive, but the change in temperature after getting out of the bath can help cool your body.
  • Turn down the air temperature to as low as 70 degrees.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
  • Get rid of any unnecessary stress. We have more control over our stresses than you may think. For me, managing my time better during the day and surrounding myself with a healthy support system of family and friends helps reduce stress.

From getting an average of 3-4 hours of sleep to now 6-7 hours of sleep has been a drastic improvement. My mood and concentration have been much better and I feel so much happier. I know many people out there have these same issues, so I encourage you to first try some of the strategies that I tried and to really avoid coffee and alcohol, which can further disturb sleep.  If your sleep issues become chronic, speak to a doctor. For ladies, get your hormones and thyroid levels checked on the regular.

Now, I am working towards getting 7-8 hours a night. In the future, I’ll aim for 9 – which would surely be a dream come true.

Will you goal out with me?

Starting tomorrow, I’m dedicating myself to a strict 28-day program of clean eating, regular exercise, and quality sleep.

Most of my friends will ask “You live healthy already, what more can you do?” Compared to most people, I probably do, but being the honest person that I am, I admit my lifestyle has been terribly off lately. I’ve lost my health bearings and have indulged in almost everything, from sweets to social media to Netflix.

To reclaim my health, I’m putting myself through this 28-day program of fresh foods and some serious Pilates. Thanks to my blog and fitness star crush, Cassey Ho, she’s pre-designed a whole 28 days’ worth of workouts and recipes to help take thinking out of the diet equation. All I have to do is follow the instructions.

Sure, as a Nutritionist, I could have easily come up with a program of my own, but with the start of B-School and settling into a new place, time is of the essence, and I’m not about reinventing the wheel. Plus, this PIIT program (Pilates Intensity Interval Training) and 28-Day Reset, not only seems like fun but also challenging enough for me to stay engaged and disciplined. And, as of right now, it’s the discipline I need to get back in shape.

Also, I could use the motivation. So I welcome anyone who wants a metabolism reset and a killer body by summer to join me! I’m asking,

“Will you GOAL out with me?” Check yes or no. Tweet This!

If you check yes, follow my blog and insta @thebeautyofwellness to cheer me on as I undergo this incredible wellness transformation, and I’ll do the same in return. Also, sign up for the PIIT program here. There is a small price to pay, but I’ve done my homework, and I can assure you that the benefits outweigh the cost.

Join me tomorrow! And wish me luck!

the PIIT to your peach,

Jamie

 

How to Choose the Right Diet

Women choosing between apple and corisant

If you’ve struggled with weight loss before, then you know that in order to lose weight you not only need to watch what you eat, but also how you eat and why you eat. Many diet programs on the market today are designed to help take thinking out of the equation by offering comprehensive meal plans. But with so many diet programs available, how do you decide on the best one for you? Here’s a checklist for choosing the right weight loss plan.

  1. Does the diet program help you cut calories? Choose a diet plan that will help you reduce 500-750 calories daily by removing high-carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods from your diet. This reduction in calories will generally result in a healthy weight loss of one to two pounds each week.
  2. Does the diet program help meet your protein needs? Not only is it important for a diet program to help you reduce calories, but also help you meet your protein needs. Consuming 0.8 g of protein per 2.2 lbs of bodyweight per day will support muscle maintenance and the metabolism while in a reduced-calorie state. For most individuals protein intake ranges from 46-56 g of protein per day. Also, protein has a higher satiety factor, which will help you stay full longer. The fewer hunger pangs that occur, the easier it will be for you to stick to a diet. Remember, consistency is the key to weight loss success.
  3. Does the diet program offer a meal replacement option? If you feel overwhelmed selecting your own meals or have trouble with portion control, then meal replacements are an excellent option. Replacing one or two meals daily with meal replacements while following a comprehensive weight management program, where you can receive guidance from a nutritionist or health coach, can help you achieve your weight loss goal successfully.
  4. Does the diet program help you limit your sodium intake to 2,300 mg daily? The average American consumes an excess amount of sodium daily, at roughly 3,400 mg per day. A high sodium diet can contribute to increased water retention and lead to health risks, such as high blood pressure. When choosing a diet program, make sure the amount of sodium you will consume each day is 2,300 mg per day or below. By cutting down your sodium intake, you will be reducing water weight as well.
  5. Does the diet program recommend exercise? Physical activity has been shown to contribute to weight loss and decrease belly fat. A good diet plan would include all of above criteria as well as recommend physical activity for at least 30 minutes or more on most, and preferably all days of the week at a moderate- to high-intensity level.
  6. Does the diet program have a health care practitioner available to contact? At the start of your diet program as well as during, you may need a diet assessment or have questions about your progress. Having the accessibility to speak or collaborate with a nutritionist or health coach may lead to a more successful weight loss journey.

A diet program that meets the criteria on this checklist will help set you up for success. Then all you will need to do to carry out your diet program successfully is to set specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely goals that will help you stay motivated and disciplined on the diet.

I hope this post helps you in finding the right diet that works for you. If you have any questions about your current diet or a diet you might be interested in, feel free to contact me by leaving your question(s) in the comment section.

Goodluck, Jamie

 

Holiday Gift Guide

2015-12 Holiday Gift Guide

Hi Everyone,

I put together a short list of seven great holiday gifts that your family or friends will love. These are all items that I own and have had great experiences using. They have either helped me improve my wellness or enjoy the things I love much more.

1. Clarisonic Mia 2® $149.00

The Clarisonic Mia 2 helps clean your face by removing impurities effectively, leaving your skin clean and bright. I use it twice a day, morning and night and have noticed my skin looking much smoother and brighter than ever before. Check out Jacklyn Hill‘s video, she does a very thorough review on the Clarisonic Mia 2.

2. Grid Foam Roller $39.99

If you have troublesome spots or sore muscles after workouts, this Grid Foam Roller does an excellent job in breaking up knots and loosening tight muscles. I like to use it on my back and shoulders, as well as my glutes.

3. Waterpik Flosser $54.99

Flossing is essential to the health of our teeth and gums. This cordless Waterpik Flosser does a great job in removing yucky food particles from your teeth. What I love about this Waterpik Flosser is that it is cordless. You can take it with you when you travel, and the charge will last for several uses.

4. Fitbit Charge $129.95

The Fitbit, I believe, is one of the best gifts you can give someone on this list. It helps motivate you to be active and in turn help you achieve your weight loss or fitness goals. Plus, if your friends or family have Fitbit, you can help each other become or stay fit. For me, I use the Fitbit to measure my sleep activity to help me obtain better sleep quality.

5. TaoElectornics Elune LED Dimmable Desk Lamp $26.39

In the evenings, I enjoy snuggling up to a good book, but some lights are too bright and can strain the eyes. I love that this desk lamp has dimmable options and even a night light, as well as a timer.

6. HelloFresh gift card starting at $69.00

I love HelloFresh.com. If you do not have time to prepare meals or are just learning to cook, HelloFresh.com can help you get started. You select your meals for the week; they deliver fresh local ingredients to your door that are already portioned out, and all you have to do is follow the recipe given. You do not have to spend time grocery shopping and calculating how much you need, especially when you’re already leaving work late, and feeling too hungry to shop patiently for groceries. HelloFresh.com makes cooking quick, easy and fun.

7. Spotify gift card starting at $10.00

I have been a Spotify user for a few years now and have never been disappointed by all the playlists and artists they have available. You can listen to playlists based on your mood, activity, or your favorite artists. Also, you can customize a playlist and share it with your friends to listen to or add some of their favorite tunes.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season!

What You’ll Learn from NOT Wearing Makeup

It all started when I was 13. I applied black eyeliner for the first time, looked in the mirror and saw a different person. My eyes looked more defined, fierce, and noticeable. It made me feel confident, and since then, eyeliner became my best friend.

It followed me throughout high school and into college. After many sleepless nights from pulling all-nighters, wearing eyeliner made me feel invincible to remarks like “you look tired”, “what’s wrong?” or “are you ok?”

Then after college, I began to experiment with more cosmetics and added more makeup to my collection. Eventually, I perfected my look with the use of concealer, foundation, blush, bronzer, brow pencil…etc., all with the help of spending one year at a beauty school and watching popular makeup tutorials on YouTube video. It is amazing how makeup can easily cover up imperfections.

Fast forward five years. I realize that I’ve relied too much on makeup. It almost has become a crutch to feel and look good. So I challenged myself to stop relying on beauty products and instead concentrate on enhancing my natural beauty.

If you ever feel like beauty products have been your tower of strength to help you look and feel good but doubt that not wearing makeup can make a difference in your life, challenge yourself to go makeup free for a period.

Here is what you’ll learn from NOT wearing makeup:
1. You’ll appreciate your uniqueness and natural beauty. I don’t consider makeup an enemy, but wearing it every day hides your natural beauty, such as the real color of your lips, cheeks, and freckles.

2. Your face can tell you a lot about your health status. Dry skin and baggy eyes indicate dehydration. Uneven skin tone could mean a lack of nutrients. A lack of sleep could attribute to dark circles under your eyes. Acne can be a result of stress and hormones. Swollen eyelids or bloated cheeks could be a sign of a high-sodium diet. Not wearing makeup allows you to see what your body needs or is lacking then you can alter your lifestyle accordingly.

3. You’ll save time in the morning. Not wearing makeup can help you save time in the morning and instead you can sleep in a little bit more or have more time preparing breakfast.

4. You can improve your focus. Rather than spending time applying makeup or shopping for it, not wearing makeup gives you the opportunity to change your focus and concentrate on healthy ways that bring about true beauty naturally. Remember, beauty comes from the inside out, and it starts with good nutrition and doing what’s good for the soul. Make it a habit each day to do the following:

  • Eat 5-7 cups of colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water
  • Sleeping 7-9 hours
  • Exercising at least 30 minutes
  • Journal by writing down three positive thoughts about your life and three things you are grateful for each day.
  • Meditate at least 10 minutes

5. You’ll learn that confidence comes from within and not from makeup. No amount of makeup can give you the confidence you want. It all comes from the positive thoughts you tell yourself. Work on building that mindset.

I challenge you to go makeup free for seven days. It won’t be easy at first, but after a day or so you’ll start to feel empowered when you begin to take more control over your health!

After writing this blog, I found this article “This is what I learned going make-up free for a week” on BuzzFeed written by Erin La Rosa. It’s a great reflection of what she learned from going makeup free, and it’s exactly the perspective that I gained too. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

How do you feel about going makeup-free? How do you think you could benefit? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment below.

Go Off the Wall, Nuts!

Picture of Walnuts

While I was munching on Diamond of California’s glazed walnuts at my desk this afternoon, an e-mail from California Walnuts coincidentally showed up in my inbox, alerting me about the newest study on Walnuts and Cognitive Function. In the study, people who ate walnuts each day – even as little as half an ounce, performed cognitively better than those who did not eat any. Those who ate higher amounts of walnuts performed even better. What great news! So, for a healthy brainy cognitive boost, find it in Walnuts. Walnuts are also higher in antioxidants than other nuts out there, which can help with immunity and aging. If you ever feel like quite the snacker at your work desk like me today, snack on a handful of wholesome walnuts; but just like everything else, don’t over do it!

Check out the study here.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich…

what about shrimp fried rice?

Today I want to share with you a recipe that my mom showed me how to make that eventually became my go-to comfort food for many many years: Fried Rice made with what Bubba called “fruit of the sea”, Shrimp.

Shrimp, the fruit of the sea

This shrimp fried rice recipe is not only delicious and full of flavor, but also quick and easy to make. It serves for a perfect dinner after a long day of work.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice

Yields 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 Tbsp plain vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 12-15 pieces Tiger shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 3 cups cold cooked jasmine rice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce, lite sodium
  • 2 tsp black soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp green scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Fried Rice by Chef Yoko

Directions

Heat a large heavy-bottomed non-stick wok over high heat. When hot add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add eggs and season with salt. Stir the eggs constantly and cook until almost set but still moist, then transfer cooked egg to a bowl.

Return the wok to the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add onions into the wok, season with salt and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until onion is lightly cooked and fragrant. Then add shrimp and butter. Cook until shrimp is medium rare then transfer contents to a bowl on the side.

Return the wok to the heat and add remaining oil. Add the rice to the wok and use a spatula to break up any clumps. Then add soy sauce and black soy sauce into the rice, mix together until the rice is evenly coated with the oil and color of the sauces. Then pour in shrimp and egg contents back into the wok. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Then add in green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper and green scallions; stir-fry all ingredients together for 1 minute. Add a dash of salt and pepper for taste. Serve.

Cooking Tips

  • The best way to cook fried rice is on high heat
  • You can use a variety of veggies when cooking fried rice. Choose veggies with low water content, such as carrot, peas, snow peas, or corn. This will prevent the fried rice from getting too moist. If veggies with high water content is preferred, wait until the last minute to add in the veggies
  • For additional flavor, use mushroom soy sauce instead of black soy sauce
  • To preparation time, use cold left over rice from the night before. In fact, using day-old rice creates better texture for fried rice.

What I love about fried rice is its versatility, you can exchanged the ingredients as you like; just by using other veggies or types of protein, such as tofu or chicken, you’ll have your very own customized fried rice recipe.

If you tried and liked my shrimp fried rice recipe, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear how it turned out.

Makeover Your Fridge

Spring cleaning is a great way to freshen up our homes and liven up our spirits partway into the year. It is an opportunity for us to get rid of old closet items and clean up around our living space. By doing so, we brighten up our rooms and can make way for the new things we want in life.

Besides tidying up around the house, one area that we often leave behind is the inside of our fridge. Cleaning and reorganizing our fridge is a must, because it will not only help make our food safe, but also last longer.

Here’s what you can do once you start tackling “clean fridge” on your spring cleaning checklist.

First things first: Do a temp check on your fridge. If your fridge does not come with a thermometer, make sure you buy one that can attach to the inside of your fridge. The inside of your fridge should be at a consistent temperature of 35 – 40o F (2 – 4o C). Any temperature greater than that can cause food spoilage, and temperatures below that range can cause freezing issues. Doing temp checks often is one of the best preventative ways to help keep food safe and lasting longer.

Next, get rid of expired items and leftovers that are more than three to four days old. Expired items and leftovers are lower in nutrition compared to fresh foods and can increase your chances of food poisoning, so it is a good idea to check dates and get rid of old foods. Plus it helps free up space in your fridge, allowing air to circulate better which can help keep the temperature in your fridge more stable, helping it run on less energy.

Then, reorganize food items to help lengthen the life of your perishable items in your fridge and keep them safe.

  • Condiments that contain preservatives and beverages can go on the top shelf or in the door of the fridge, areas that are least temperature stable.
  • The coldest part of your fridge is the bottom back shelf, which is the best place to put any leftover foods, fresh-squeezed juices such as unpasteurized orange juice and dairy items such as milk, yogurt and cheeses.
  • Eggs can go on your middle shelf, where the temperature is the most stable. Make sure to keep your eggs in the carton that it was purchased in. Eggs are porous and can absorb the odor from surrounding foods. The cartons will help protect your eggs.
  • If you have any packaged raw meats, place them on the bottom shelf, in a large bowl or plate to keep any juices from the meat from leaking onto other foods.
  • Place your sandwich meats or cold cuts in the deli drawer, which is slightly colder than the rest of the fridge. If you do not have a deli drawer, use your bottom shelf instead.
  • Veggies like to stay moist; store them in the drawer with the highest humidity. Fruits on the other hand like to stay drier, so keep them in the drawer with the lowest humidity and keep them separate from your vegetables. Also, it is a good idea to leave your fruits and veggies unwashed until you use them. Water can promote mold and cause bacteria to grow.

Once you have an idea of how your fridge is organized, consider getting a turntable for your fridge’s shelves to easily find items and keep them accessible as well as expiration dates visible. Also, if you do not have these handy already, get clear stackable containers for leftovers; this will help keep your fridge neat and organized. Lastly, keep a permanent marker close to your fridge to label items with the date that it was opened as a reminder for how long it has been open and when to eat it by before it needs to get tossed out.

Lastly, make sure to clean your fridge often. You can repeat the steps above when going through your fridge. In addition, empty and clean each drawer, wipe up spills right away before they dry up and store an open box of baking powder in your fridge or freezer to help eliminate odors – replace every three months. When your fridge is neat and clean, it will not only help you stay within a budget by knowing what you already have before making a run to the store, but also keep your family safe from foodborne illnesses.

Good luck spring cleaning your fridge!

If you found this blog helpful, I would love to hear your comments, just leave me a message in the comment box below. Also, if you’ve done some rearranging send me a before and after picture of your fridge, I would love to see what you’ve done!