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Our gastrointestinal, or gut, health is very near to our hearts—both physically and emotionally. It’s difficult to enjoy life to the fullest on an upset stomach. Even more important is the role that the biome, or beneficial bacteria, plays in keeping our system in equilibrium and free of serious disease.

 

Dr. Lida Aghdam, M.D., advises, “Avoid eating acidic food like gluten, dairy, red meat, caffeine that causes leaky gut and lowers your immune system. Take supplements good for healing gut like vitamin D, high-quality fish oil, high-quality curcumin and ginger. Stress releases cortisol that causes damage to patency of colon and worsens leaky gut, so try yoga, meditation or dancing to decrease stress levels. Minimize medication, especially antibiotics, that damages your gut health. Good normal daily bowel movements is important to keep your gut healthy.”

 

Natural Balance Clinic is located at 4819 State Hwy. 121, Ste. 14, in The Colony. For more information, call 817-488-7878.

 

Constantine Kotsanis, M.D., recommends the five R’s of gut healing and restored health.

 

“Remove: Antagonistic factors can inhibit proper digestion, absorption and utilization of nutrients, as well as elimination of waste products. Removing these is the first step in optimizing health and wellness—food triggers: sensitivities, allergies, FODMAPs infections: bacteria, virus, fungal, parasite stress: physical, emotional, environmental, hernia, fast eating, eating late and unnecessary meds (NSAID, PPI).

 

“Replace: There are many essential elements required for proper digestion and absorption. Adequate levels of these can be compromised by drugs, disease, aging and/or diet, and must be replaced for optimal digestion—digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, bile acids and nutrient deficiencies.

 

“Repair: The gut lining can be severely compromised during periods of inflammation, stress, disease and exposure to allergens over time. Repairing the gut lining is essential to ensure proper absorption of nutrients. Nutrients that may help are zinc carnosine, vitamins A, D and C, amino acids, particularly L-glutamine, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) and serum-derived immunoglobulins (delivered orally).

 

“Reinoculate: A healthy gut flora population can help reduce inflammation. Beneficial bacteria can flourish by taking in food naturally rich in probiotics, as well as supplements that contain the so-called “good” bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species. It’s also essential to consume foods high in soluble fiber called prebiotics. This helps feed the beneficial bacteria.

 

“Rebalance: This is where lifestyle comes into play. Pay attention to lifestyle choices that affect the GI tract—sleep hygiene, type and amount of exercise, stress management, mastication(chew for one to two minutes), avoid excessive fluid intake at mealtime, parasympathetic tone (external stressors can increase sympathetic drive and reduce and parasympathetic drive). With practices like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, good sleep and other mindfulness-based practices, you can help restore hormone balance that will protect your gut and subsequently, your entire body.”

 

Kotsanis Institute is located at 2260 Pool Rd., in Grapevine. For more information, call 817-481-6342.

 

Betty Murray, a functional medicine certified practitioner and certified nutritionist specializing in gastrointestinal disorders and autoimmune conditions, believes that good fences makes good neighbors. She says, “Protect your gut lining, and your microbes will protect your immune health. Here are the top five steps you can take to create a healthy gut. Eat a whole foods-based diet with lots of fiber. Modern life and foods may actually be the primary driver of gut inflammation.

 

“There is evidence that the standard American diet, low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fats, may initiate a leaky gut. A diet high in fiber feeds our good bacteria and keeps our bowels regular. Eat Probiotic-rich foods, which are live probiotic foods. Natural, bacterial fermented foods like pickles, chutney, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir provide probiotics to your digestive tract. These can be found in the cold section of your grocery store. Or take a full-spectrum probiotic. Lower your stress levels. Chronic stress is hard on the body and can kill some of your most helpful probiotics and shut down one of the immune responses called immunoglobulin A that protects you from viruses and pathogens.

 

“Check for food intolerances or get your microbiome tested. Digestive issues, heartburn, bloating, gas, fatigue or sudden weight changes can be signs of a gut out of balance. Testing for food sensitivities and stool testing can help indicate imbalances in the gut microbes and digestive function. Limit medications that may damage the gut lining. Common medications may hurt your gut lining, including pain relievers such as NSAIDs, antibiotics and laxatives, and proton pump inhibitors.”

 

Living Well Dallas Functional Medicine Center is located at 17000 Preston Rd., Ste. 400, in Dallas. For more information, call 972-930-0260.

 

 

For more stories like this read Natural Awakenings Dallas-Ft Worth magazine at NADallas.com

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National Trails Day, on June 28, recognizes all the benefits federal, state and local trails provide for recreation and exposure to nature. Events held throughout the country encourage people to discover their local trials, become active concerning trail issues and share their excitement for the outdoors. National Trails Day is also an opportunity to thank the many environmentally friendly volunteers, land agencies, trail developers, park employees, rangers and legislators that help to develop and maintain the trails.

 

Although hiking may be the first activity to come to mind, especially during this time of COVID -19 physical distancing, trails also provide access to waterways for canoeing and paddle trips. Birders find excellent opportunities for birdwatching and those seeking to test their abilities to observe and study geolocation enjoy geocaching. Others learn land navigation or use the trails for biking, and all create opportunities to spend time outdoors and generate a cardiovascular workout.

 

Visit local trails and pack them out, safely of course.  Show appreciation for those that make the trail system possible on social media at #NationalTrailsDay.

 

Tell a congressperson or other legislator why trails and access to natural spaces are important and ask them to pass bills that support trails, public lands and access for all.

 

Register to vote and request an absentee ballot. Before November 3, become educated about public lands and access issues

 

Once it’s safe to do so without fear of viral transmission, commit to taking a trash bag on hikes and walks. Collect trash at a local natural space or trail or along your neighborhood sidewalk.

 

Make a gift to a local trail nonprofit and join the American Hiking Society to help build an inclusive hiking community to protect trails and fight for access today and for future generations.

 

For more information, visit AmericanHiking.org.

 

 

For more stories like this read Natural Awakenings Dallas-Ft Worth magazine at NADallas.com

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Jun 19 @ 12:00 pm
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Plano has been ranked 17th on The Trust for Public Lands annual ranking in their ParkScore index, an in-depth analysis of city park systems in the nation's 100 largest cities. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that close-to-home parks are crucial to a community's quality of life. During the coronavirus pandemic, access to the outdoors has taken on a whole new importance. Emerging data confirm that in North Texas, people have turned to parks in record-breaking numbers seeking relief from anxiety, grief and isolation.

 

At the same time, officials have had to make difficult decisions to close some parks or change the way they are used in a bid to slow the virus' spread; meaning more people have grappled with the challenges of not having easy access to the outdoors. 

 

A special report, Parks and the Pandemic, from The Trust for Public Land, addresses the challenges and changes that the pandemic poses to America's parks and open spaces. For more information visit tpl.org.

 

 

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Each year, the nonprofit Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler program recognizes six innovative conservation projects for their science-based and results driven approach to conservation and their ability to positively impact people, prosperity and natural resources. This year’s winners will receive 12 to 18 months of dedicated program support and tailored resources.

 

This diverse set of projects impacts land, water, habitat, and more, spanning all 254 counties and all 12 ecological regions of the Lone Star State. The 2020 Conservation Wranglers will be recognized on October 27 at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, in Dallas.

 

Former first lady and founder of Texan by Nature Laura Bush says, “The Conservation Wrangler program proves that collaborative partnerships in conservation yield great benefits for Texas and its people. Congratulations to the six 2020 Conservation Wranglers and thank you for the terrific example you’ve set for the rest of us.” The six selected 2020 Conservation Wranglers include:

 

Respect Big Bend: To balance energy development with the need to conserve West Texas’ unique cultural and natural resources, the Respect Big Bend coalition was formed to bring together government, business, philanthropy, communities, landowners and industry leaders in a regional planning process focused on responsible energy development. The goals of RBB are to educate, inform, and provide resources to all stakeholders, develop a robust conservation plan and garner support and acceptance of the plan.

 

Trinity Park Conservancy - Trinity River Conservation Corps: Trinity Park Conservancy and Groundwork Dallas have partnered to develop a youth employment program, Trinity River Conservation Corps, to enhance conservation efforts along the Trinity River Corridor while providing education, service, and leadership opportunities to the next generation, with a focus on engaging youth from historically marginalized areas. 

 

Paso del Norte Trail: The Paso del Norte Trail will provide greater opportunities for walking, hiking and biking for users of all abilities to connect in the ecologically and culturally diverse border region of Texas. The goal of Norte is to create a regionally significant landmark that promotes active transportation, preserves the history and culture of the region, highlights the Rio Grande river, supports economic development and ecotourism, provides educational and volunteer opportunities and makes healthy living the easy choice for the community of El Paso.

 

Texas Brigades: With a vision of creating conservation leaders in every community, Texas Brigades educates and empowers youth with leadership skills and knowledge in wildlife, fisheries and land stewardship to become conservation ambassadors for a sustained natural resource legacy.

 

Exploration Green: Exploration Green, a recreation area and nature preserve housed in a storm water detention area in southeast Houston, will provide detention for 500 million gallons of water, protecting more than 2,000 nearby homes from seasonal flooding. This conservation area plans to include native grasses, 5,000 native trees, 150,000 wetland plants, 40 acres of lakes and six miles of high-quality trails for area residents.

 

Texas Children in Nature: In 2010, the Texas Children in Nature Network was created to address the growing concern of the lack of nature in children’s lives with a mission of connecting children with nature through regional collaboratives across the state with more than 500 local and state partners in the health, education, community development and conservation fields.

 

For more information, visit 

 

 

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One morning we woke up and our reality had been turned upside-down while we slept. Our job, family, shopping, dining and other familiar routines were now menacingly dangerous for who knows how long. Thankfully, nightmares don’t last forever, and neither will the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective and apply some self-healing practices to stay on an even keel.  Here, North Texas Brain health experts give us some tips and strategies.

 

Stress-Related Burnout

Nearly half the workforce reports burnout, and parenting, too, is a high-stakes job. Chronic stress increases the size of the amygdala (involved in the fight-or-flight response), causes premature aging and reduces connections necessary for memory, learning, critical thinking, attention and emotional regulation. Self-care is crucial to mitigate the damage of toxic stress. Here are some strategies to help:

 

Be mindful and mindless: Burnout is an accumulation of inconspicuous disappointments. Thus, mindfulness, or being present in the moment, is central to gathering an internal, nonjudgmental weather report. Doing so while moving the body in rhythm with our breath adjusts neurological chemistry and boosts oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Exercise enhances attention, motivation, learning, memory and mood, and provides sensorimotor input that improves the body-brain communication. Conversely, sometimes it is essential to stop thinking. Research demonstrates this is when we maximize creativity and enjoy “Aha!” perspectives.

 

Nurture relationships: Laugh, have fun, and share emotions to deactivate the amygdala.

 

Journal: Celebrate victories, reframe setbacks as growth opportunities and practice gratitude to reduce stress and resolve conflicts. As a bonus, this fine motor task bolsters self-regulation.

 

Reconnect with a purpose: Write down commitment dates for engaging in hobbies or causes that set our heart on fire but have been sacrificed.

 

“I am overwhelmed and don’t know if I can even begin,” is a warning that our well-being is at stake. Take baby steps. We are significant and deserve to find wholeness again.

 

 For more information, call 682-400-4930 or emailBHWells@BrainBalance.com

 

 

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EarthxOcean is live streaming a virtual conference, Protecting the Life Support Systems of the Ocean, from June 9 through 11 in observance of World Oceans Day on June 8. The conference is designed to increase awareness of the important role that oceans play in our daily lives. About 97 percent of all water on Earth is in our oceans; they influence climate and play a critical role in Earth's habitability. The goal of the conference is to stimulate greater corporate, government and inland support for oceans. 2020 World Oceans Day is growing the global movement to call on world leaders to protect 30 percent of our blue planet by 2030 (30x30).

 

June 9, 1 to 5:30 p.m.: Protecting the Life Support Systems of the Ocean High Seas Protection Coral Reef Conservation & Restoration

 

June 10, 1 to 4:30 p.m.: Ocean Plastic Solutions Sustainable Fisheries Celebrating Our Ocean Planet

 

June 11: EarthxOcean Australia Ridge Reef to Great Barrier Reef  Conservation & Restoration  &Shark Conservation.

 

For more information, to register and to watch the conference, visit Earthx.org.

 

 

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are physical distancing, staying home and unable to dine out at restaurants. It can be easy to slip into unhealthy eating habits during this stay-at-home period, but maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t have to be a chore. As well, eating healthy is one of the main pillars for maintaining a strong and healthy immune system.  What to do? Prepare a shopping list that will cover everyone in the household for two weeks and resist the urge to buy in larger quantities. With fresh foods, buy a variety of fresh, frozen and shelf-stable foods. Eat fresh food first, and stock the freezer and pantry with items to eat in the second week and beyond.

 

Having food delivered is another option, as is curbside pickup, which most local supermarkets are offering. Look for community supported agriculture systems where small farmers sell directly to consumers delivered to homes.

 

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, nuts and healthy fats to support the immune system. Many foods such as mac and cheese, pizza, and burgers and fries are high in fat, sugar and salt. Read food labels to be informed about the nutritional value of foods. Staying well hydrated also helps the immune system. Alcoholic beverages have little nutritional value and are often high in calories.

 

For more information, visit AgrilifeExtension.tamu.edu/coronavirus#nutrition.

 

 

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Nutrition professionals have the education and experience to advise clients on many aspects of general health and disease prevention in particular. Here, some of our local experts express their firsthand experiences in their own words, along with advice and wisdom for us all.

 

Patricia Thomson says, “ At the age of 59, my dad underwent a quadruple bypass. Eleven years later, he would succumb to heart disease, leaving a wake of grief behind. Around the time of his death or shortly thereafter during an annual medical exam, my doctor diagnosed me with high cholesterol. They convinced me that I was following in my father’s footsteps and that I was destined by my genetics to have heart disease. At 41, I was fairly active, ate what I thought was a very healthy diet, consumed very little fast food and included fruits and vegetables in my food choices. I walked out of there stunned. I went on cholesterol-lowering medicine and went on my way until I came across a radio broadcast by a doctor talking about how food can determine your susceptibility to lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease and even cancer. The bottom line was that a whole food, plant-based diet could help prevent and reverse most lifestyle related diseases, and that we did not have to be victims of our genetics.

 

“Fast forward 10 years later, and I have lost weight and gained wonderful health. I admit I do spend more time in the kitchen cooking, but I have learned fast and easy ways to prepare healthy and delicious foods. I do meal preps so that I have meals in the refrigerator and freezer at all times. I have saved money eating this way since I am not buying expensive meats, cheeses, processed foods and fast foods. I created TS Wellness and have now dedicated my life to helping others transition to a healthier way of eating and living their lives. I conduct cooking and nutrition classes and created the Food as Medicine Summit & EXPO as a way to bring the experts together to share this information with the general public.”

 

Patricia R. Thomson, Ph.D., is the founder and president of TS Wellness and the Food as Medicine Summit & Expo, held Aug. 28 and 29, at the Richardson Civic Center. For more information visit TSWellness.com and FoodAsMedicineSummittTX.com

 

Brooke Ali states, “Friends invited me to an event at a mansion in Beverly Hills. The last thing I expected was to be sitting on a beautifully manicured lawn listening to testimonials from people from a food bank that participated in a documentary about going plant-based. One after another, these participants shared how they lost eight to 32 pounds over the course of two months. They went off of their medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression and Type 2 diabetes. I was in awe. I had no idea that food could actually be healing. Nor did I know that the standard American diet was the main source of typical diseases we suffer from in the West. How did I not know about this magic? It has been 11 years, and the only thing I wish was that I learned about this well-kept secret sooner. I also vowed to help people eat more plant based if they asked.

 

“Here’s my advice on transitioning into a plant based lifestyle: take it at your own pace and take it as far as you feel comfortable; go cold to-furkey or gradually reduce the amount of dairy and animal products you consume; start with breakfast until you are comfortable and move on from there—for example, replace the milk in your cereal with oat milk or any plant based milk you prefer—other ideas for breakfast could be avocado toast, a smoothie, tofu scramble or oatmeal—once you are comfortable with breakfast, move to lunch, then dinner; watch documentaries such as What the Health, Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy and Game Changers to help you to transition; and Google any recipe you want to make by just adding vegan in front, such as ‘vegan mac and cheese’.” Her recipes are posted on Instagram at BrookeAliatVK.

 

Brooke Ali is founder and co-owner of Viridescent Kitchen, in Plano. For more information, visit ViridescentKitchen.com

 

Katherine Lawrence shares, “I grew up Cajun—delicious food, but not synonymous with healthy. I ate this way growing up, through my time in the military, and it eventually caught up to me in my late 20s. At 27 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis, ovarian cysts and complete infertility. At the time, I had excess body weight, high cholesterol and very little understanding of the connection between my food and my health. I was told I needed a full hysterectomy, because I was too high-risk for endometrial cancer, and that I would never have children! Rather than take such an aggressive approach, I began working with a nutritionist. She helped me change my diet, my cookware and my life. I remember her telling me I needed to remove meat and dairy from my diet and my first thought was, ‘Umm… all that's left is sugar!

 

“With her help, I transitioned to a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB) and my life was forever changed. It took about six months, but we reversed all of my reproductive issues. I also lost 55 pounds, reduced my cholesterol naturally and experienced many other benefits along the way. Eventually, I went on to have three healthy boys! They are a daily reminder of the importance of our food choices and the power we have over our health. Since healing, I’ve gone to school for nutrition and taught over 8,000. In that experience, I’ve concluded that there are two necessities for an effective transition to WFPB. The first, is we must have a ‘why’; a compelling reason to change your diet, whether it is to reverse disease, prevent disease, reduce your carbon footprint, protect animals, etc. The second necessity is to find recipes that you truly enjoy eating. These two things will sustain you on this journey. Plug in, find a community, experiment in the kitchen, educate yourself and reap the many benefits that come along with this way of eating!”

 

Katherine Lawrence is the owner of Food Saved Me online Nutrition & Cooking Classes. She specializes in disease prevention and reversal through food and has been empowering people for more than 12 years. For more information visit FoodSavedMe.com.

 

 

For more stories like this read Natural Awakenings Dallas-Ft Worth magazine at NADallas.com

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In Plano, small to medium-sized businesses from offices to restaurants are making a positive impact on the environment such as reducing waste, using water and energy efficiently, avoiding using Styrofoam at restaurants and educating the public about green businesses as part of the city of Plano’s Green Business Certification (GBC)  program.

 

The GBC has initially offered certification to offices, retail outlets, restaurants, grocery stores and multifamily communities. As the program progresses, additional industry categories may be included in the certification process.

 

The (GBC) program is managed by the city’s Commercial Recycling Division. It verifies that businesses are upholding a commitment to conduct their daily practices to reduce the impact on our environment and focuses on a checklist of green operational practices designed for consumer businesses with walk-in clientele. The city intends to ensure certified businesses maintain environmental integrity and are authentic in their actions and results. Residents will be able to tell whether the business is considered green because of the decal that will be displayed in front of the establishment.

 

Not only do green business practices benefit the environment, they make good economic sense. Candidates for the GBC program must provide evidence of completion of specific green initiatives in the areas of general education, waste reduction, energy efficiency, water efficiency, pollution prevention and sustainable purchasing.

 

There is also an elective category of innovation for those businesses that wish to elevate their sustainability efforts. Some initiatives vary by industry, but all have core requirements which must be fulfilled for certification.

 

See map of certified Green Businesses at Plano.gov/2733/Find-a-Green-Business. For more information, call 972-769-4393  or email ahernandez@plano.gov.

 

 

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Ninth- grader Amber Li, a student at the Hockaday School, in Dallas, is the best in show winner in the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) annual student art contest.

Her work, based on the theme "Paint the town _______. ride DART" was selected from 1,174 entries from students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

 

She received a $1,000 cash prize and her winning art is being displayed on the side of a DART bus traveling across the agency's 13-city service area. The DART student art contest is a 22-year tradition that helps promote the use of public transportation.

 

See all the winning entries at DART.org/artcontest.

 

 

For more stories like this read Natural Awakenings Dallas-Ft Worth magazine at NADallas.com