How Simple Nutritional Changes Can Radically Improve Your Pet's Health

Rascal at Williams Lake2As a nutritionist, it should have seemed obvious to me that I could heal my dog by changing his food. But honestly it took me a little while to realize just how radically important it was. I've always bought high quality food for my dog, but even organic, all natural pet food may cause problems if your pet is sensitive for some reason or another. Here's some very interesting facts I learned with my dog Rascal. If your pet has any health issues, consider our story and perhaps you can also heal them by switching their food!

A year ago, my 2 year-old Doberman, Rascal, developed a wart above his eye. It grew very quickly and was nearing his eyelid, so I scheduled him with the vet to have the wart removed. Three months post-op, the wart began to grow again. A repeat surgery was out of the question because his heart didn't do well under anesthesia. I had to think of another treatment. At that time, I was feeding him Whole Foods brand dry dog food with salmon oil drizzled on top. I thought that perhaps switching him to the more expensive grain-free dog food might make a difference. Sure enough, within a few days, the wart started to shrink. Within a few weeks, it was gone.

Fast forward to a few months later, Rascal started to seem stiff when he'd get up out of his armchair or off of his pillow. The stiffness appeared to progress into pain, to the point that he would rarely get up. Once he was up and running around, he seemed ok. But the pain and stiffness seemed to get worse and worse. I really didn't think it could be arthritis in such a young dog, but we tried glucosamine supplements, different fish oils, and probiotics. Nothing really seemed to help. Then I thought, maybe I should buy the very best raw meat dog food. The one I bought was called VitaEssentials, and contained the organ meats as well. Amazingly, within a week or so, we noticed that he was perkier and got up more easily. As the weeks went on, he just got better and better. I couldn't believe it, and at the same time, I thought "Of course!" I see good nutrition make such a huge difference for people on a daily basis. Why wouldn't it be exactly the same for my dog?

Eventually we decided to start to make the raw meat (and our cash!) go farther by combining the dry grain-free food with the raw meat. He did really well with that for a long time. Last week, however, we noticed a fast-growing wart on his nose. So... Rascal is back to all raw food. Now he's getting Steve's which combines raw meat with veggies and coconut oil. I'll post an update when the wart goes away, which I'm guessing it will!

Moral of the story: Good nutrition makes a radical difference with our pets just like it does for us humans. If your pet has any health issues, such as allergies, pain, skin conditions, or digestive trouble, consider paying more at the pet food or grocery store than at the veterinarian's. It's very likely that your pet will improve radically given the right food. Perhaps try grain-free to start, and then progress to all raw if that's not enough. You can buy it or make your own. My guess is that if you're reading this article, you care a lot about what goes into your mouth and will want the best for your pet as well.

Please share your story below if you've also healed your pet with food. I'd love to hear more stories like this!

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What is Ayurveda?

ancient ayurvedaAyurveda literally means "Science of Life" and it truly is. Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India and is a complete system encompassing diet, lifestyle, herbal medicine, meditation and yoga. Because it is a science founded on simple, natural principles, this ancient system can easily be applied to modern life.


Ayurveda is the Science of Life


Ayurveda is said to be 5000 years old and is more relevant today than ever. Ayurveda is holistic, comprehensive and simple to understand, although the science behind it is rich and complex. You'll see that anyone can apply basic Ayurvedic principles to their life and enjoy natural health and optimal wellness.

We'll start with Ayurveda's definition of the Five Elements. Ayurveda teaches that the entire universe is made up of the following five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. All matter is composed of these elements - our bodies, food, the environment.

Everything has its own particular proportion of these elements, including us. When we know which elements are primary for us, we can make choices that allow us to live a life of balance. Our particular elemental make-up dictates what balance looks like on an individual level, as is detailed below.

We are born with a very specific elemental composition called our constitution, or Prakruti. Many factors influence which constitution we are born with: heredity, our parents' health at our conception, our in utero environment, astrology, and our past life karma.

Our constitution is with us from birth and never changes.

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5 Tips for Keeping Vata in Check This Autumn

abhyangaAutumn is upon us, and so is the cold and flu season. In Ayurveda, this is known as Vata season. Vata is translated as Wind in Tibetan medicine, and in many climates we are likely to see some windy weather and some "windy" nervous systems as well!

There are many easy steps you can take to keep your nervous system grounded and your immunity strong during this transitional time.

If you find yourself having any of the following typical Vata symptoms then you will definitely want to take preventative measures.
*lack of concentration, distractibility
*dry skin, hair, and sinuses
*thirst, gas and bloating
*stiff, achey muscles and joints


Prevention Tips:
1. One of the best Vata pacifying therapies is abhyanga = warm sesame oil self-massage. This is best done before a hot shower. This therapy not only moisturizes the skin, but more importantly it nourishes the muscles and joints, grounds the nervous system, promotes restful sleep, and strengthens immunity.

2.  Nasya = Herbal oil nasal drops. Again, this therapy calms Vata at its point of entry, and also lubricates the sinuses so that the dryness of autumn doesn't cause inflammation and reactivity to dust, smoke and pollens.
If you suffer from nasal congestion, sinusitis, or respiratory infections, this is the number one preventative therapy for you.

3.  Superfood tonics. My favorites are Maca root, Chinese 5 Mushroom Formula, and Blue-Green Algae. All of these strengthen your immunity in different ways. Taken regularly, these superfoods prevent illness and provide maximum nutrition on a cellular level. They are also adrenal tonics, which helps to combat the effects of stress and fatigue.

4. Seasonal Foods = If you shop at the farmers' markets, you see winter squashes, sweet potatoes, beets, and kale.  These foods are perfect to balance Vata and keep the body warm and well nourished. It is best to transition away from raw foods and fruit smoothies and move into warm soups and stews as the weather gets colder. This keeps your digestion in peak health.

5. Regular acupuncture treatments. My patients that receive weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly treatments get sick the least. It is most effective to get regular acupuncture even when you don't have an acute issue. When we address subtle imbalances before they become full-blown illness, it is much easier to treat.

I hope the tips in this article help you to stay in balance with the seasons and our natural environment. This time of year is so glorious, I want you feel great so you can be out enjoying it!

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The Root Cause of All Disease According to Ayurveda

stomachacheAccording to Ayurveda, the root cause of all disease is improper digestion. Why exactly? Because when we don't fully break down food and assimilate nutrients, we accumulate this undigested, toxic material that in Sanskrit is called ama.  When we have ama, our pipes get clogged.  All kinds of pipes. Physical and mental.  This is a big deal, because any number of bodily functions may be compromised. The bad news is there are many, many causes of ama.  The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do about it.  Here we go.

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Magical Vata Digestive Spice Mix

morterandpestleOne of the most beautiful things about Ayurveda is the way spices are used not only to make food more delicious, but also to heal and balance your body.  Autumn is the season dominated by Vata, otherwise known as Wind. You can easily keep your body, mind, and spirit in balance with the Vata season by including Ayurvedic spices in your cooking. Here's a recipe for a Vata spice mixture that you can carry with you when you eat out, or add to your meals at home.  You can also take 1/2 tsp. of this mixture with warm water in between meals any time you're experiencing gas and bloating.

Vata Digestive Spice Powder

Grind the following spices and combine in decreasing quantities:

Cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, dry ginger powder, turmeric, sucanat, mineral salt, hing (aka asafoetida). 

Benefits of Vata Spices

Vata is cold and dry.  In autumn when it's also cold and dry, it's important to keep your body warm with good circulation.  Warming, pungent spices accomplish this by keeping your digestive fire stoked.  Ayurveda also teaches that for optimal digestion, all 6 tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) should be present in a meal. This spice mixture has all tastes except sour, so just squirt a little lemon or lime on your meal to round it out.

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