Optimal executive functioning allows the ability to process complex information/instructions, plan, organize, and complete a task. Executive Functioning takes place in the slow-to-develop frontal lobe, which explains why some kids simply can’t get organized. Seth Perler, Executive Function coach for middle, high school, and college students (see sethperler.com) states that the foundation for having optimal executive functioning (what he simply calls the ability to get things done) is restful sleep, food that nourishes the body, and adequate exercise; alternatively he notes what makes executive functioning worse. The top 3 items… processed foods, sleep problems, and lack of exercise.

Not surprisingly, a healthy diet, adequate restful sleep, and exercise are the foundations of overall well-being!

If your child could benefit from holistic support with executive functioning &/or ADHD, call to setup and appointment.

720-340-0193 or Book Now

 

There are more sunscreens on the market today than there have ever been before. If you don’t know just what you are looking for, or not looking for, the task of choosing the best sunscreen may be daunting.

About sun protection

First of all, realize that it is now widely accepted that sunscreen alone cannot afford adequate sun protection in order to prevent skin cancer or the aging-related effects of the sun. In fact, research shows that sunscreen may give a false confidence to users, especially those sunscreens with high SPFs, leading users to stay in the sun longer than they would otherwise without reapplying. SPF refers to a sunscreen’s ability to block out UVB rays, which cause sunburn. While UVA rays do not cause sunburn, they do promote skin aging and skin cancer, including melanoma. Most sunscreens in America today do not offer adequate UVA protection. The best way to protect your skin is a combination of appropriate sunscreen application and covering up.

Choose the best sunscreen

  • Chemical sunscreen or mineral sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreen goes on so easily and just the way you want it to – like a lotion. Chemicals in chemical sunscreens though (as opposed to mineral sunscreens) are unstable in sunlight, are known to contribute to skin damage and cancer, are hormone disruptors, have a shelf-life, and require strict adherence to application instructions for safety – and even then usually don’t provide the broad spectrum of protection users think they are getting (Note: Sunscreens claiming “broad spectrum protection” is misleading. Very few protect adequately from UVA rays). Chemical sunscreens are harmful to oceanic and freshwater life as well.

Mineral sunscreens offer more stable broad spectrum (UVA & UVB) protection, but historically have been much more difficult to apply and leave a chalky or white appearance on the skin and are difficult to wash off. Tinted mineral sunscreens rub off on light colored clothing and bathing suits and can leave stains. With the advent of nano-particle mineral sunscreens, some of this has changed. These sunscreens go on much more easily and don’t leave the same white layer….but lost is some of the UVA protection. (NOTE: Zinc oxide – think lifegaurds with white noses – provides the best UVA protection in sunscreen).

  • Spray or rub on application?

Spray applications, while extremely convenient, are problematic. Research shows that they do not provide adequate or even coverage – leading to further misplaced confidence in the sunscreen application. Additionally, it is inevitable that some of the sprayed sunscreen gets inhaled into the lungs becoming a respiratory irritant and increasing the risk for lung disease over time.

Rub-on application has improved some over time. Many kids (& adults!) dislike having cream applied. It can be hard to rub on evenly without making a huge mess as well. Enter the handy stick applicator. This allows dabbing and then rubbing, or with some more recent stick applicators on the market, can afford a smooth glide-on application. Then a little spreading with hands and done. These are compact and fit in a pocket,  purse, or backpack; are easy for kids at camp to independently reapply; and are far less likely to make a mess. This year, our household favorite is the MyChelle SunShield Stick SPF50. (I have no affiliation)

Wash it off!

Soap and water tend not to work so well at washing mineral sunscreen residue off. What does work though is oil. Most any oil will do: olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil all work effectively. Before bathing, apply oil all over and rub it in. Bathe as usual. BONUS: Not only will the sunscreen be washed away, but your skin will be moisturized.

Summary

Use a combination of rub-on mineral sunscreen, hats, and clothing to adequately protect yourself and your littles from the sun. For more information on sunscreen safety, visit the EWG 2018 Sunscreen Guide. Additionally, get your vitamin D checked! To learn more about vitamin D and how to strategically expose your skin to sun in order to produce more vitamin D, visit my previous blog post: Vitamin D and Sun Exposure.

Here’s to a summer of sun!

Call to set an appointment.

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What is chlorine and why do we use it?

Chlorine is a disinfectant commonly used in water treatment facilities as well as pools. The benefit of chlorine is that our drinking water is free of potentially deadly bacteria and pathogens, and our swimming pools are not the petri dish of germs they would be otherwise.

Is chlorine safe?

There is a cost to this level of sanitation. As it turns out, when chlorine reacts with pathogens and other compounds found in pool water such as urine and residues from bodycare products, volatile organic compounds are formed (VOCs). VOCs are lung and eye irritants (think about being at the indoor pool) and are thought to increase the risk of cancer. (Note: VOCs are also present in water treated with bromine and saline to different extents.) Chlorine also reacts with your skin and hair and stays with you for days despite regular bathing, further oxidizing hair and skin. Additionally, consuming chlorinated tap water is linked with an increase in reproductive risks for pregnant women.

What you can do to protect yourself and your family from the negative effects of chlorine

While a perfect solution is not available, there are many easy things you can do to protect yourself and your children from the harmful effects of chlorine:

  • Use a carbon filter or better for your drinking water. They are readily available, inexpensive, and easy to maintain. For more information, see the Environmental Working Group’s Water Filter Buying Guide.
  • Swim in fresh open water in the summer if you have access to a clean, safe watering hole.
  • Choose an outdoor pool when that feels like a good option, because the VOCs dissipate more readily outdoors.
  • Shower and use the toilet before entering the pool. The VOCs aren’t from the chlorine, but from the chlorine reacting with bodycare products and urine in the pool. Train your kids to get out of the pool to pee ;-).
  • When done swimming in any pool water, use Swim Spray, a vitamin C spray that washes away the coating of chemicals left on your skin after swimming in treated water. (Note: As with any spray products, be careful not to inhale it or get it in your eyes or mouth.)
  • Know that we are better off swimming in treated pools than in a petri dish, or even not at all. Swimming is an iconic summertime activity and can be an excellent form of exercise year-round!

Be safe and have fun!

Call to set an appointment.

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Vitamin D has gone from a little known alternative medicine subject to mainstream with lots of research supporting its functions and our need for it in the last 10 years. Vitamin D is unlike other vitamins as it actually acts like a hormone in the body. It is vital to overall wellness, and specifically is involved in bone, muscle, heart, lung, brain, and immune system health. The list of conditions with associated vitamin D deficiency is exhaustive, and includes a variety of cancers, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, impaired immune function, cognitive impairment and depression.

Where does vitamin D come from?

Your body manufactures vitamin D through a series of biochemical reactions stimulated by sun exposure. You can also get it from supplementation. You can only get very small, insignificant amounts from foods you eat, such as egg yolks and fatty fish.

But sun exposure causes skin cancer!

Yes, this can also be true, but it is really sun over-exposure that becomes problematic. Due to public health efforts, many folks cover up and use sunscreen before ever entering the sun. While this may be a good strategy to prevent sunburns and potential skin cancer, it leaves a person deficient in vitamin D. Remembering that vitamin D deficiency is linked to impaired immunity and many cancers, this might not be the safest choice.

To Use Sunscreen or Not: What should I do?

As with everything, I suggest an individualized approach. Ask yourself what your personal risk factors are: Do you have a family history of skin cancer, light skin and eyes? Do you have a family history of osteoporosis or autoimmunity? Do you experience any chronic inflammation? Think about your risks and your goals and proceed with thoughtfulness. Living in Colorado, you will likely need to supplement vitamin D, at the very least during the winter months depending on your occupation. In my opinion, a combined approach of supplementation and sun exposure is best.

Combined supplementation and sun exposure approach

I encourage my patients to get moderate sun exposure. Exposing broad areas of the body such as the front and back torso is more beneficial than simply the face and arms, for instance, due to surface area. You can intentionally sunbathe for 5-10 minutes a day, or if you are going to be outside anyway, wait 5-10 minutes before applying sunscreen and/or covering up. The key is to never get burned. Additionally, I supplement vitamin D based on test results, and retest at different times of the year in order to adjust supplementation.

For more information on vitamin D, visit The Vitamin D Council.

Check back soon for my upcoming post on Sunscreens.

If you would like to make an appointment, please call.

720-340-0193 or Book Now

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Despite being a beautiful time of year (check out this picture of my crabapple tree!), this time of year many people suffer with seasonal allergies. A few common-sense approaches can help.

  1. REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE: If you can minimize exposure to the substances you are allergic to, then you can minimize symptoms, including your histamine levels. Allergy sufferers should consider these household strategies:
    • IN THE BEDROOM:
      • Keep windows closed
      • Keep bedroom especially clean & door closed
      • Do not allow pets in room
      • Use a HEPA air filter in the bedroom
    • Frequent damp dusting throughout the house & vacuuming with a vacuum that uses a HEPA filter
    • Keep windows closed during high pollen times
    • Use the highest filtration HVAC filter
    • Bathe (including washing hair) before bed
    • Remove shoes when entering home
    • Plan outdoor/exercise time around high pollen predictions. Check pollen.com.
    • Change clothes and wash face immediately after outdoor exercise or activity
    • Nasal irrigation with a neti pot (or other method) helps to wash away dust and pollen that have accumulated in your sinuses throughout the day, reducing symptoms of allergic rhinitis, the stuffed up nose that comes with many allergies.
  2. MINIMIZE OTHER SOURCES OF INFLAMMATION
    • Eliminate known food allergies or sensitivities
    • Eliminate sugar & dairy during the allergy season, as these are the two most common inflammatory foods.
  3. SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOLS to moderate the immune system and reduce inflammation can be helpful as well. Some common supplements I use with my patients include:
    • Probiotics – Some unhealthy microbes in your gut can produce histamine. Support healthy diversity in your gut microbiome.
    • Quercitin
    • Vitamin C
    • Stinging nettles
    • Fish oil

Over the counter medications may help but are notorious for not working as well as advertised and leave many people feeling groggy.

For the latest information on how seasonal allergies affect mental health, keep an eye out for my upcoming post on the Postpartum Wellness Center/Boulder’s blog.

Call to set an appointment with me.

720-340-0193 or Book Now

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During Well-Woman Visits, The Woman (That’s You) Has the Voice

Along with general health support and treatment for illnesses, I offer flexible, patient-centered, well-woman care including postpartum checks, pelvic exams, and pap smears.  I practice with a commitment to individualized care and I take time with each patient. As a postpartum mom, this is not your typical “clear to resume sex” visit. During any pelvic exam, the women who I see are in control and have choices. I use a trauma-informed approach for the entire well-woman visit. I do everything I can to make this visit as comfortable as possible for my patients. And I am always open to feedback.

Sound like you need to learn more or make an appointment? Call me: 720-340-0193

Join me for a fun, informative, and inspiring class!

What: FOOD AS MEDICINE FOR THE HOLIDAYS AND BEYOND

Where: The Birth Center of Boulder, 2800 Folsom Street
When: Friday, November 18, 12-1:30pm
Why: You don’t have to be a fabulous chef to feed yourself or your family nourishing food. Keep it simple and eat well this holiday season and beyond.

 

There will be fermented food samples to share, a crockpot of chicken vegetable soup, and printed recipe cards for the dish that we will talk about preparing.

$5/adult, if you RSVP to bring a friend, you both can come for free!

Children welcome.

Space is limited, so RSVP today!

Please RSVP to:
720-340-0193 or meghan@harmonyfamilymed.com

 

 

Humans evolved to move. Movement was literally survival. Our ancestors did not need to think unless they were moving. We have known for some time how beneficial exercise is with regard to weight, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. But did you know that our brains’ biochemistry functions optimally if movement is a lifestyle? Did you know exercise creates neurons? We can grow our brains! Sparking Life, an organization founded by Dr. John Ratey, MD, is on a mission to transform America’s sedentary lifestyle. To bring movement back into our lives – to improve our children’s learning capacity, to reduce the negative effects of stress, to manage mental health issues such as ADD, anxiety, depression, and to maintain our cognitive abilities as we age.

It is never too late. Some is good; more is better.

Struggling with an elusive healthy weight? Confused about what to eat and what not to eat? Stop. Don’t overthink this anymore. Eat real food. Not too much. Every meal, every day. Read what Michael Pollan has to say in his book, In Defense of Food.

Do you already eat real food, but struggle with weight, digestive disturbances, gas, bloating? Dealing with inflammatory conditions such as allergies, autoimmunity, or compromised immunity? You should consider trying the Whole30. It is a whole food diet minus any grains and dairy, which trigger an inflammatory cascade in many people. If you cringe at the thought of giving up dairy or grains, realize it is not a forever thing, just long enough for you to learn about you.

Need help with beginning or maintaining a whole foods regimen that is right for you? Make an appointment and let me help you. Want group support? Gather your friends and meet with me as a group.

Done all of the above and still struggling with digestive disturbances? Let’s work together and figure out where your root disturbance is. Don’t be uncomfortable any longer. Make an appointment today.

Psychoneuroimmunology investigates the interactions between the brain and the body. Just like exercise turns out to be equally beneficial to the brain as it is to any other system in the body, a mindfulness or meditative practice is as good for the body as it is for the mind. Afterall, a person is a whole being rather than simply the sum of its parts. If you do not have a meditative practice, religious, spiritual, or otherwise, I encourage you to seek one out. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center offers free downloadable short (3-19 minutes duration) guided meditations to get you started.

Looking for mindfulness resources for your young person? Check out Cosmic Kids’ free video resources at www.cosmickids.com.