Caroline’s Musings

 

Tasting 25 Year Old Vintage Teeccino

 

Teeccino is 25 years old! Seems like ancient times to look back at it now. No cell phones, no internet, no social media, photographs on film that had to be developed and printed. We actually did business by making phone calls, writing and mailing letters!

 

Teeccino was started in my garage like all great entrepreneurial start-ups in America. At the time, I worked for Odwalla Juice Company selling their dried orange peel from their newly built juice plant in Dinuba, CA. We had a big blender and that’s where the very first batches of Teeccino were made in August of 1994.

 

This summer I made a discovery while cleaning my garage. Ok, I have cupboards that are deep and full of herbs and other ingredients I use in my product development. Way back in the recesses of the bottom shelf, I found a box marked Teeccino. Inside were ziplock baggies holding the retained samples from that very first production run. Yes, 25 year old Teeccino!

 

Watch my son, Galen, our VP of Sales who was 6 years old in 1994, join me in tasting vintage Teeccino 25 years later. It was a lot of fun and we lived to tell the story!

 

Happy Holidays to you and your families,

 

Pausing to Feel Grateful

It takes just a moment, only a second or two. It requires simply pausing. It can happen in the middle of anything you’re doing and if you’re like me during the holiday season, that’s an overwhelming amount of tasks.

Pause to take an in-breath. Pause to center yourself. Pause to feel gratefulness well up from the heart. Pause to exhale gratitude into the world.

It’s pretty simple and yet it’s probably the most profound thing we can do to shift our mood, change the atmosphere, and generate goodness. Feeling grateful is something we humans are uniquely capable of emanating. It benefits both ourselves, our health and it positively affects everyone around us.

 

When we radiate gratitude, when we give thanks for our beautiful planet that supports our wellbeing, when we are grateful for each other and the worldwide community that we depend upon, we shift away from fear and anxiety and renew our deepest sense of connection.

Here’s my Thanksgiving wish for all of our wonderful customers – you!

When you take a cup of Teeccino into your hands, remember how grateful we are for you. Take a sip and know that the brewed liquid we call Teeccino is just a symbol of that gratefulness.

Sipping Teeccino or any other hot beverage this holiday season is the perfect moment in which to pause and feel grateful. We will be sipping our Teeccino and sending our gratitude to you. You are our community. We strive to bring you the best possible herbs full of health benefits to enhance your optimal wellbeing.

Join us in sipping and being grateful this holiday season and throughout the coming year!

                                                    Fasting Tips To Reap Healthy Results!

Have you ever fasted or does the idea make you immediately feel starving? There was a time not long ago when fasting was out of fashion with claims that it slowed down the metabolism, wasted muscle and made blood sugar unstable. Now there’s a surge in fasting popularity as new science has proven its many health benefits that have been touted throughout the ages.

If you haven’t yet experimented with fasting, allow me to give you some tips that will help you get started. Over many years, I’ve tried every type of fast from juice fasting to water fasting, from fasting for weeks to fasting a day at a time. As my body has aged, I’ve learned how to fast differently than I fasted in my twenties and yet still get great results.

This summer, I decided to lose some weight (the age weight creep is the worst, isn’t it?). I turned to fasting when nothing else was moving the scale downwards. Having successfully lost 8 lbs or 6.5% of my body weight, I’d like to share with you how to fast and reap the health rewards!

Continue reading

When herbal tea was introduced to the American market in the early 1970’s, tea drinkers complained that herbal tea wasn’t really tea at all. Herbal tea doesn’t contain Camellia sinensis, the caffeine-containing plant known as “tea” from which we get black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea, matcha and many other varieties of tea depending on where tea is grown and how the leaf is fermented and dried.

British tea connoisseurs think that herbal tea should be called an “infusion” while the French call herbal tea a “tisane”. But Americans are more practical. If it brews and looks like tea, but it’s caffeine-free and made from herbs, it’s simply called “herbal tea”.

When the 1990’s came along and coffee bars were being opened everywhere, Caroline was inspired to create Teeccino, a whole new concept for an herbal beverage that brews, looks and tastes like coffee but is made from naturally caffeine-free herbs. In the beginning, she called Teeccino an “herbal espresso” because she began brewing it in an espresso machine to make caffeine-free cappuccinos. After hearing from enthusiastic customers who wanted to brew Teeccino any way they brew coffee, it finally dawned on her that she has created “herbal coffee”! It was one of those things that after you say it, it’s so obvious, you wonder, what took you so long?

Herbal beverages offer a wide variety of healthful properties without any caffeine or acidity. Both tea and coffee contain caffeine, a drug that triggers the body’s stress response called the “flight or fight” syndrome. Too much caffeine can aggravate stress by elevating cortisol and keep you awake at night. There are many health conditions whose symptoms are made worse from too much caffeine. Naturally caffeine-free herbal teas and herbal coffees can be drunk any time of the day or night and they can help promote a good night’s sleep.

Both herbal teas and herbal coffees are made from herbs with a long tradition of being enjoyed throughout the world for many millennia. Herbs are valued for their health and wellness properties with age-old reputations for promoting optimal health. Herbal teas and herbal coffees are made from herbs that are safe to drink on a daily basis. Rest assured that pharmaceutical botanicals that shouldn’t be consumed regularly are not used in herbal beverages or wellness teas.

We hope you enjoy the many herbal beverages Caroline has developed for your tasting pleasure and to promote optimal health.

Regenerative Agriculture: Soil Can Save The Planet

If you tune in to conversations about state-of-the-art organic agriculture these days, you’re sure to hear the use of the term, “regenerative”. Every mission-driven, natural foods company is scrambling to make sure its organic ingredients are grown with regenerative agricultural practices in place. At Teeccino, we’re taking this movement just as seriously as we take the organic certification of our herbal ingredients. Here’s why:


Rich, fertile topsoil with deep humus has the ability to store millions of tons of carbon right under our feet. Plants pull carbon out of the atmosphere via photosynthesis and sink it into the ground. Humus, the organic matter in healthy soil, acts like a sponge, absorbing both water and carbon while supporting the life of plants and the trillions of microorganisms that live in the soil.


It’s called the carbon cycle. If we humans use it to rebuild and regenerate our topsoil, it can save life as we know it from the disastrous warming trend that is accelerating extinction of so many life forms from mammals to insects. And it can be done relatively quickly. Farmers using regenerative practices to build topsoil are finding they can build multiple inches of topsoil in a season.


Here’s an interesting fact that surprised me: Agriculture since the mid-1800’s has been responsible for losing twice as much carbon into the atmosphere than burning fossil fuels! Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Especially since the 1970’s, modern agricultural practices are releasing carbon at a greatly accelerated rate and at the same time, farmers are losing topsoil at alarming volumes. No topsoil, no plants to eat!


For Earth Day 2019, we’d like to share some things we at Teeccino are doing to ensure that our herbal ingredients are grown with regenerative soil practices. We’d also like to give you ways that you can support the regenerative agricultural movement. Together, we can join forces to regenerate the planet’s topsoil, draw carbon out of our atmosphere and store it in our soil. We can reverse this global warming trend in our lifetime while improving the health of the plants we eat and thus our own health as well.



Regenerative agriculture and Teeccino’s herbal ingredients:


The majority of Teeccino’s ingredients come from tree crops. This is fortuitous because trees are permanent plants that continue to draw down carbon from the atmosphere year after year without disturbing the soil. When soil is tilled, a tremendous amount of carbon gets released into the atmosphere.


But we can go one step further. Many orchards leave the soil bare between trees so that weeds don’t compete with the trees for nutrients. Cover crops are a tried-and-true organic agricultural technique of improving soil health. Cover crops that are legumes sink nitrogen into the soil to provide this essential nutrient to the trees. If the plants are turned into the soil, they become “green manure” that builds the humus content.


We are checking with our date, fig and almond farmers to see if they are employing cover crops between the trees so that topsoil is regenerated. We hope that providing information about regenerative soil techniques can help upgrade practices to improve soil health.


By the way, carob is a leguminous tree and thus farmers plant it in their organic fields to help nourish the crops they grow. Wild carob trees that grow in the mountains surrounding the Mediterranean are also a significant source of organic carob pods. In the wild, trees like carob and the ramón tree in Guatemala are part of a permanent forest cover that regenerates the soil as part of nature’s carbon cycle.


Two of our main ingredients are organic crops planted annually: barley and chicory roots. Once again, we’re lucky in that barley is often used as a cover crop as it has thick roots, crowds out weeds, and recycles more nitrogen back into the soil when its remains are turned into the fields after harvest. Barley can be a “no-till” crop.


Our organic barley is grown in Germany by family farmers. We are inquiring if it is planted without tilling and if the stalks are turned back into the soil. Knowing the Germans, I suspect they use every bit of the barley plant to their advantage!


Chicory is a root crop that needs the field tilled before planting. The young seedlings can’t compete with weeds and organic agriculture doesn’t use herbicides. Our organic chicory is grown in India by smallholder family farmers who weed by hand. Chicory is rotated with other crops grown to feed the family. We work with a team of organic agricultural specialists in India to advise and teach best organic practices to the farmers in order to increase their yields and the health of their soil.



Here’s what you can do:

  1. Buy food from organic farmers who care for their soil. How do you know if they do? If you frequent your local Farmer’s Market, you’ll find organic family farmers who build their topsoil as part of their farm’s regime. Organic agriculture is designed to grow healthy plants by building healthy soil. However, big business has entered the organic market too. Although we welcome more farmland being converted to organic practices, it’s the family farms that are at the vanguard of the regenerative agricultural movement.
  2. Read about regenerative agriculture and spread the word. I highly recommend this informative and interesting book, “Cows Save The Planet” by the investigative journalist, Judith Schwartz. The book should have been entitled, Soil Can Save The Planet, but I guess the publishers thought cows were more appealing. You’ll be amazed reading her tales of the scientists, ranchers and farmers all over the planet who are working to regenerate our soil. Don’t have time to read the book? Here’s an article by Judith in a Yale University publication that sums up the latest soil science: https://e360.yale.edu/features/soil_as_carbon_storehouse_new_weapon_in_climate_fight
  3. Do you have some land? Even a small plot can help save the planet. Grow trees that give food. Sacrifice your lawn for herbs, flowers, and any perennial plants with deep roots. Grow legumes. Keep your soil covered with mulch. As one organic farmer advised me twenty years ago while regarding my heavy clay soil with thin topsoil, “Just keep covering the ground with more and more mulch very year. Eventually you’ll have good topsoil.” I took his advice and I can say now that my land has many inches of topsoil!
  4. Support organizations teaching farmers, ranchers, and other thought leaders about carbon sequestration in the soil. Here are a few I recommend:


Some more interesting facts:

  • There are 2500 billion tons of carbon stored in the planet’s soil whereas plants and animals only store 560 billion tons. That’s why there is more carbon in the soil than there is in forests!
  • Carbon rich soil stores water like a sponge and then releases it down into ground water storage. It can protect land from floods and replenish our clean water supply. Too much fresh water now runs off of our asphalt-covered cities and our conventional farmland taking with it toxins and topsoil, polluting our rivers and oceans. If instead, systems to retain water in our farmlands and by creating soil our own homes helps restore the rain cycle too!
  • World Wildlife Fund estimates that we are losing 30-37 million acres of forest every year. Think 36 football fields every minute! Loss of forest cover is creating drought as forest respiration produces vapor that later becomes rain.
  • Desertification is rapidly growing as rain cycles are disturbed through loss of forests and increasing land covered by asphalt and or left bare. A single tree can transmit 26 gallons of water on a sunny day which adds to the cooling of the atmosphere as well as contributing to the rain cycle.

It keeps the beat of life flowing through our veins. It doesn’t ask for much from us, but it’s essential to our every breath. It’s thought of as the “body’s engine room” and the center of our life force. It’s the super muscle that counts out every second of our lives to keep us vibrant and healthy. Yes, I’m talking about our hearts.

Sadly, the heart has become one of the most disease-ridden organs globally, particularly in the United States. Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death nationally, though healthy lifestyle habits can dramatically reduce such unfortunate prospects. One in four women die from heart disease yet women’s heart problems are often overlooked and undiagnosed until it is too late.

Maybe it’s because we women are so good at focusing on others and ignoring our own needs. Our sensitivity can even cause us to suffer heart attacks from the “Broken Heart Syndrome” without any prior heart diseaseThis month, I’ve been observing what nurtures my heart while balancing its desires with the necessities of a busy life. Here’s 4 surprising discoveries that are easy to do on a daily basis to keep your heart healthy!

Continue reading

We’re one month into 2019. How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

Even though at any time of the year, we could set our good intentions for goals or changes we want to make in our lives, New Year’s eve or New Year’s day is the trigger for many of us to reflect and resolve to do better.

Of course, life speeds up again after the holidays and despite our firm commitment to conquering the challenges, our best intentions fall by the wayside. The official statistic from US News is that 80% of people fail to keep their resolutions by the 2nd week in February.

Wait! Don’t lose hope! Here are 7 ways to help you keep your goals in the forefront of your mind and actions:

1. Set reminders where you’ll see them.

I like posting little stickies in prominent places that I look at daily.

Nothing like starting the day seeing a note to self on my bathroom mirror. If you commute by car, put another one on the dashboard. Or on the door, at work on your computer, or on the refrigerator or cupboard.

Buy a colorful sticky pad to make your notes to self even more noticeable. I love the pink hearts! Refresh your notes frequently so they don’t fade into oblivion.

Make them encouraging. Stay positive. “Remember to take your vitamins” versus “Don’t forget to take your vitamins” is a better affirmation that doesn’t sound like you’re nagging yourself. Writing affirmations is a highly successful way to train your mind and body to stay committed.

2. Use your smart phone to schedule appointments with self.

Want to exercise more frequently? Schedule intentions for walks, going to the gym or yoga classes right into your calendar. Set reminders to pop up an hour or two in advance so you can start to get ready in time to get there.

3. Take a class that supports your goals.

There are so many online classes, it won’t be hard to find one that is relevant to your goals. Get more proficient in a 2nd language, manage your money better, learn to meditate. There’s a class for everything you can think of and best of all, you can take them anytime of day. Once you have more skills to fulfill your goals, you’ll find it easier to keep your forward motion.

4. Line out the steps to your goal and take one at a time

The best way to accomplish a goal is to avoid overwhelm. Breaking down goals to incremental steps gives you the tools to get started.

Here’s an example. You want to lose weight. Analyze your diet and what changes you can make without too much pain. Decide on your first step. Maybe it’s to rid your cupboard and refrigerator of sugary snacks that aren’t supporting your goals. As part of this step, cut up apples and celery to keep them handy for when you feel the urge for a snack.

Keep that intention for at least a week before you make any more changes. Then in the second week, take the next step to eliminate and replace a food or beverage that will help you lose more weight. Gradual lifestyle changes like these are more successful in the long run than going on a strict diet.

If you’re ready for the next step, tackle it in the same way. Let’s say your goal is to save money. This is actually the #1 goal over 50% of people make for their New Year’s resolution.

Commit to a small but significant goal of dollars to save in your first month. Decide how and where to save it. Maybe you decide to save money eating out by making your meals at home and bringing lunch to work. Or you decide to brew Teeccino instead of spending money at Starbucks!

Calculate how much you’ve been spending and put aside that amount from every paycheck. When you’ve successfully saved money for the first month, set an incremental increase for the second month.

Keep going as you take each step until you reach your goal. Being successful on one thing will allow you move on to the next thing with confidence.

5. Join a support group!

Talking about your resolutions with others helps!

Keep yourself pumped by sharing progress and receiving encouragement.

There are lots of support groups online for all kinds of goals. Or create an informal support group with friends and check in with each other once a week on how you’re all doing. A group text or email is an easy way to stay informed with everyone’s progress. Be a good cheerleader for others and ask for the same back!

6. Bribe and reward yourself!

Make a deal with self. If I don’t eat any sugar this week, I’ll allow myself to have one (fill in the blank) this weekend after my exercise class. If I save X amount of money, I’ll treat myself to a (fill in the blank). If I exercise X times this week, I’ll reward myself with (fill in the blank).

You get the idea. Keep yourself motivated by giving yourself a reward for accomplishing your commitment over a relatively short period of time. Maybe it’s just a day without sugar. Then reward yourself with something you love to do that feels satisfying but doesn’t compromise your goal.

7. Get back on track as quickly as you can.

Don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Just start again. The path to success is filled with failures but successful people learn from their mistakes and start again.

Same goes for New Year’s Resolutions. Ok, so you didn’t keep your commitment today. Tomorrow is a new day so get on with it! Figure out what happened that caused the slip and decide how you’re going to get past that hurdle the next time it appears.

Here’s how I’m keeping my New Year’s Resolutions:

Personally, I committed to taking my vitamins every day. I used to be so good about taking vitamins but life has sped up so much, my good habit has fallen by the wayside.

I decided to commit to drinking my morning smoothie sitting down at my breakfast table rather than gulping it in the car on the way to work. If I sit down to drink my smoothie, I’ll take my vitamins too. If I don’t, I rarely take them any other time of the day. However, as a back-up plan, I’m keeping a stack of my daily vitamins at work. I’ve set a reminder on my phone for 1 PM, the time I usually take lunch. If I didn’t eat them in the AM, I’m reminded to do so at lunch. It’s working!

I also committed to spending more time in nature. I live near a wonderful hiking trail and yet it can be embarrassing how long I can go without hiking it. I’ve set aside Sunday mornings for a weekly hike up the mountains. To help me keep my promise to myself, I’ve scheduled hikes with friends each Sunday.

What a wonderful way to reward myself for climbing 54 flights of ‘stairs’ and walking 3 miles. That’s the statistic that my iPhone tells me I’ve accomplished after my hike. The real reward though is spending time in the beauty of nature with people I love!

I’d love to hear from all of you about how you’re doing on your New Year’s resolutions. Share with us ways you’re keeping yourself on goal!

Look at the importance of ginger root in every Asian country from its supreme role in their daily cuisine to its revered status in their traditional medicine, including both China’s and India’s herbal healing systems.  Let’s understand why you too should include ginger in something you eat or drink daily.

In fact, I believe the best way to start your day is with a brimming cup of a spicy tea full of ginger. Here’s why: when we wake up, our organs need a nudge to kick into gear for the day. They also need a stimulus to clear out the toxins that have accumulated while we’re sleeping in order to activate our elimination to sweep our bodies clean.

Most people rely on caffeine to provide their morning stimulation by kicking their adrenal glands into producing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Get enough rest though and your adrenal glands can do their job just fine without whipping them with caffeine. It’s your other organs like your intestines, liver, kidneys, gall bladder, and your metabolism that benefit from stimulating spices like ginger.

Not so long ago, when I was growing up, the only time Americans used ginger was at Christmas in their gingerbread cookies. Now fresh ginger is available in every grocery store and a zillion recipes rely on its pungent flavor. Let’s look at 7 ways you can easily include ginger in your daily regime and get all of ginger’s wonderful health benefits.

#1: Drink a spicy tea with ginger first thing after awakening to jumpstart your body’s elimination

I really have to say, though you may not want to hear it, a spicy ginger tea beats a cup of coffee hands down for the healthiest way to get your body ready for the day.

During your deep sleep cycles, your organs have been busy repairing and rebuilding damaged tissues while also detoxing from the previous day’s toxin accumulation. The #1 thing your body needs first thing in the morning is a stimulating cleanse that will speed elimination and jumpstart your organs of digestion. That job is done best by pungent spices and foremost among them is ginger.

I start my day with a caffeine free chai tea like Teeccino’s Dandelion Red ChaiOrganic India’s Tulsi Red Chai or Yogi Tea’s Chai Rooibos. Ok, I confess. I designed all three of these teas so I favor my own chais! The potent spices warm up the body and provide diverse antioxidants from polyphenols plus anti-inflammatory compounds that protect your health as you move through your day.

#2: Grate fresh ginger into your morning smoothie, yogurt or bowl of cereal to rev up your metabolism

Ginger, like cayenne, has been shown to increase thermogenesis, which is your body’s process of heat production. You’ll actually feel warmer after eating ginger which is the result of this effect. It also increases your caloric burn-rate which is a great benefit from a ginger smoothie.

Since ginger also has been shown to reduce the appetite and increase satiety, you’ll find that adding ginger to your smoothie helps to keep you full longer while it revs up your metabolism. Let’s not forget that ginger will also add delicious flavor to cover up some of those less flavorful ingredients in your smoothie!

#3: Drink ginger tea after lunch to stimulate your digestion and avoid an afternoon slump

Many people experience an afternoon slump after lunch. The body would love to take a nap at this time to digest our midday meal, but most of us are unable to take the time to do so.

Ginger has been shown to speed the emptying of the stomach which helps you feel less full and lethargic. It’s known to be a carminative, which means it helps prevent flatulence and reduce bloating by relaxing the intestines to release gas. A freshly brewed cup of ginger or chai tea will refresh and stimulate your senses so you can enjoy a productive afternoon.

#4 Add ginger to a bowl of hot soup for a spicy hit to fortify your body against catching whatever cold or flu is going around

I discovered that when I feel like I could be coming down with something, that scratchy throat or oppressive sensation in the chest can be quickly alleviated if I treat myself to a hot ginger soup from a Thai or Indian restaurant. The spicier the better!

It turns out that spices act against bacteria to protect our health. They are anti-microbial and between their detoxing effect and their ability to fight bacterial infections, ginger and its fellow spices can help your immune system fight off invading pathogens. Ginger is also anti-fungal so it can protect the microbiome in both your digestive system and your mouth from candida and other fungi that cause health problems.

#5 Drink a fresh juice made with extra ginger after yoga or an exercise workout to help reduce inflammation in your joints

Enhance your green drink with extra fresh ginger root juice while helping your joints recover from the stress you just put them through in your yoga class or gym. Ginger’s polyphenols, gingerol and its metabolites, shogaol, paradol and zingerone, suppress the body’s production of various pro-inflammatory instigators like cytokines, proteins and enzymes.

#6 No time to eat or drink? Take ginger capsules to ameliorate a number of health conditions

It is quite effective and at the same time easy to take ginger in capsules. After all, you might not be in the mood for a gingery flavor at every meal or snack. Many women find ginger capsules make for easier menstruation cycles. Others use ginger capsules to ameliorate nausea. Studies suggest that ginger can be effective in promoting good cardiovascular health, balanced blood sugar and lower cholesterol. Ginger is even being studied for is its potential to slow the aging of the brain!

#7 End your day with hot ginger tea to speed digestion and protect your body during sleep

All the good health benefits of ginger make for a great way to end your day and begin your sleep cycle. Its antioxidants will be put to good use fighting off the day’s free radicals while its anti-inflammatory action will help restore flexible joints. Your digestion will be efficient and smooth while any menacing bacteria is fought off.

My recommendation: A cup of Teeccino Dandelion Red Chai will satisfy you instead of a dessert especially if you heat some milk and give it a little froth before pouring it into your cup. Sip its spicy goodness and relax. You’ve earned it!

We all experience stress in our daily lives, but hopefully in between stressful moments, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium. As we age though, it becomes harder to bounce back from stress. One of the main reasons why we’re more resilient in our youth than when we hit middle age is due to the fact that our adrenal glands naturally start to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone, and less DHEA, the repair, rebuild and recovery hormone.

Chronic stress from elevated cortisol levels wreaks havoc on our immune system, our digestion and our sleep, all of which are crucial to optimal health. If you’re worried about the effects of stress on your health, I’d like to share with you 8 health tips that can reduce your cortisol levels and help your body cope with stress.

1. ELIMINATE CAFFEINE

We all experience stress in our daily lives, but hopefully in between stressful moments, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium. As we age though, it becomes harder to bounce back from stress. One of the main reasons why we’re more resilient in our youth than when we hit middle age is due to the fact that our adrenal glands naturally start to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone, and less DHEA, the repair, rebuild and recovery hormone.

Chronic stress from elevated cortisol levels wreaks havoc on our immune system, our digestion and our sleep, all of which are crucial to optimal health. If you’re worried about the effects of stress on your health, I’d like to share with you 8 health tips that can reduce your cortisol levels and help your body cope with stress.

2. SLEEP DEEPER AND LONGER.

The average 50 year old has nighttime cortisol levels more than 30 times higher than the average 30 year old. Getting a good night’s sleep becomes harder as we age due the changes in our hormone production.There are many techniques for increasing both the length of time we sleep and the depth of our sleep. The goal is to reach a prolonged stage of deep sleep, officially called N3 sleep. This sleep stage is essential to clear and reset our brains and repair our bodies with human growth hormone that is released during this stage of sleep.Some good inducers of deep sleep include taking a hot bath before bed, going to sleep at the same time every night optimally before 11PM, and supplementing with melatonin, a natural hormone produced at night that helps regulate sleep/wake cycles. You may not need it every night, but if you are waking up in the middle of the night or too early in the morning, melatonin can help you sleep deeper and lengthen your sleep cycle. If you get sleepy during the day even though you had plenty of rest, back off the melatonin for a while. It’s a sign you are getting too much.

3. EXERCISE REGULARLY.

Exercise regularly to build muscle mass and increase brain output of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that reduce anxiety and depression. Exercise has been proven to reduce the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, while it promotes the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers that produce an exhilarating high. Watch how easy it is to sleep deeper and longer after a healthy workout too!

4. KEEP YOUR BLOOD SUGAR STABLE.

Avoid sugar in the diet and refined carbohydrates to keep from spiking your insulin production. Eat frequent small meals balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats like olive oil and flax seed oil. Diets rich in complex carbohydrates keep cortisol levels lower than low carbohydrate diets. Keep well hydrated – dehydration puts the body in stress and raises cortisol levels. Keep pure water by your bed and drink it when you first wake up and before you go to sleep.

5. TAKE ADAPTOGEN HERBS.

Herbs that are classified as “adaptogens” help the body adapt to stress, including both physical and emotional stressors. They reduce the body’s production of cortisol and adrenaline, increase endurance and energy production, while strengthening the immune system. Take adaptogens on a daily basis for best results as they act over time to normalize the body’s metabolic and functional systems. Here’s a list of the top adaptogens: ashwagandha, ginseng, astragalus, eleuthero, schizandra, Tulsi (holy basil) rhodiola and maca. You can find them in teas and beverages as well as in pills. Aaptogens have been around for decades since they were first identified in the ‘40’s but now they are the new hot trend in stress reduction!

6. MEDITATE OR LISTEN TO RELAXATION TAPES.

Meditate or listen to relaxation tapes that promote the production of alpha (focused alertness) and theta (relaxed) brain waves. Avoid jolting alarm clocks that take you from delta waves (deep sleep) to beta waves (agitated and anxious) and stimulants like caffeine that promote beta waves while suppressing alpha and theta waves.

Meditation has been proven to calm the sympathetic nervous system that is responsible for the “fight or flight syndrome”, our body’s stress response that helps us in times of danger. Meditation slows down our breath and heart beat while it activates the parasympathetic nervous system to calm and soothe our sympathetic nervous system. Numerous studies prove that meditation is highly successful in producing a calmer, more focused state of mind with many beneficial long term effects on your health!

7. LAUGH!

It’s true, laughter is the best medicine. Studies show that laughter reduces cortisol while it helps us reset our mental frame of mind. Feeling stressed? Watch some ridiculously funny movie that produces those deep belly laughs that make tears roll down your cheeks. You’re sure to feel less stressed afterwards!

8. SNUGGLE WITH YOUR PET OR LOVED ONE.

It’s all about opening our hearts, isn’t it? A dog that greets us at the end of a stressful day with a wagging tail and joyful licks helps us immediately feel better as our hearts open to receive their love. 

We can do the same for each other. Let’s remember how important it is to hug, tell someone how much they mean to us and take a moment to give each other appreciations. When we feel appreciated and when we think of all of our blessings, stress is naturally reduced and a warm glow takes its place!

Exotic spices. Wars were fought over them in distant lands where untold lives were lost or enslaved in the quest to control the trade of these extraordinary botanicals that could turn food into sublime taste adventures. Once revered for legendary healing properties and sold for over 50 times the annual wage of a common laborer, spices are now simply thought of as culinary condiments to be found in everyone’s spice drawer.

But a deeper look into recent science reveals that the ancients may not have been so very wrong in their belief that spices were the font of health. I’d like to share why a morning brew of a spicy tea is my preferred way to start the day.

Let’s begin with looking at cinnamon, foremost among spices for its sweet and pungent flavor that transforms anything going into your mouth while it has unexpected effects on your body. A recent accidental discovery has pushed cinnamon into the limelight for its effect on reducing blood sugar, the holy grail for people suffering from pre-diabetic and diabetic conditions.

Perhaps you want to stabilize your blood sugar to help lose weight or like me, you’re looking for a caffeine-free stimulant in your morning brew. Adding cinnamon to your daily diet is a delicious way to lower your blood sugar and reduce both your cholesterol and blood pressure while you naturally boost your metabolism. Here are the top 5 health benefits of cinnamon!

1) CINNAMON LOWERS BLOOD SUGAR

It’s not that scientist set out to study cinnamon. The US Department of Agriculture was conducting experiments on foods to see how fast they raise blood sugar. Oddly enough, America’s favorite apple pie had just the opposite effect. It helped reduce blood sugar!

Apple pie, high in both cane and fruit sugars, should have raised blood sugar, not lowered it. When researchers at the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland discovered this phenomenon, they delved into finding what caused it. Richard Anderson, the scientist in charge of the study, found that cinnamon in the apple pie was responsible for making fat cells more receptive to insulin. One of his postdoctoral students, Alam Khan, decided to conduct a test in Pakistan to see what effect cinnamon would have on diabetics.

60 participants with type 2 diabetes were given between 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder a day, for 40 days, in capsules after meals. Within a short period of time, their blood sugar levels dropped an average of 20% lower than the control group of diabetics who were only taking a placebo. Cinnamon helped some of the diabetics even reduce their blood sugar to normal levels during the course of the study. The effects of the cinnamon were not permanent however. When the diabetics stopped taking the cinnamon, their blood sugar levels rose again.

The active principle in cinnamon that makes fat cells more receptive to insulin is a water soluble, polyphenol compound called MHCP. MHCP activates an enzyme that causes insulin to bind to cells and inhibits the enzyme that blocks this process. MHCP mimics insulin by activating its cellular receptors and it works synergistically with insulin in the cells.

Cinnamon oil, commonly used as a natural flavoring, won’t help though. You have to eat or drink ground cinnamon just like you buy in the spice rack at your grocery store to get the beneficial effects of MHCP. If you don’t want to eat cinnamon at every meal, you can take cinnamon in capsules like the diabetics did in the study. But if you love the flavor of cinnamon, you can add it to your meals or drink teas high in cinnamon like Chai teas. One of the researchers found that even just placing a cinnamon stick in his tea cup lowered his blood sugar although he wasn’t diabetic.

2) CINNAMON INCREASES YOUR METABOLISM

Pungent spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom increase the body’s metabolic rate. The heat you experience when you eat a spicy meal, or drink spice teas like Teeccino Dandelion Red Chai and Maya Chai, is generated by the stimulating effect of spices that raise your metabolism by burning up calories. Spices are natural stimulants that will wake up your system without adrenal-stimulating drugs such as caffeine that elevate stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

3) CINNAMON’S POLYPHENOLS ARE POTENT ANTIOXIDANTS

I’m sure you’ve heard that many fruits like berries are high in polyphenols and have strong antioxidant properties. What you may not know is that spices are packed with polyphenols too which activate antioxidants to fight free radicals. Even the little bit of spice that you add to flavor your dishes or drink in your tea can have a major impact on your body’s ability to quench those damaging free radicals.

Although cinnamon ranks in the top 100 foods with high polyphenol content, it’s near the bottom of the list. However, when studied for its effectiveness as an antioxidant using a test method called ORAC, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, cinnamon ranks among the top 5 spices for fighting free radicals. It’s not necessarily the quantity of polyphenols that counts; it’s the type of polyphenol that makes the difference.

Just so you get the idea of the antioxidant potency of spices versus fruits, cinnamon has an ORAC score of 131,420 whereas blueberries have an ORAC score of 4,449. Now to be fair, you may eat a lot more blueberries than you will cinnamon, but nevertheless, that potency means that even a little bit can have a big impact.

If you’re curious about what the other spices are in the top 5, here’s the list in order of potency:

  1. Cloves
  2. Oregano
  3. Rosemary
  4. Thyme
  5. Cinnamon

4) CINNAMON HELPS DIGESTION

Cinnamon enhances digestion and can relieve gas and bloating. A recent study in Britain revealed that by including cinnamon in the diet of pigs, it lowered the CO2 in their stomachs and thus cooled their digestion by decreasing the release of gastric acid and pepsin. No wonder it’s been popular for centuries to relieve acid indigestion!

Cinnamon oil has anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-biotic properties like many essential oils from spices and other medicinal plants. After all, plants developed their essential oils to defend themselves from insects and diseases. Ground cinnamon has shown effectiveness against the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which is associated with the development of intestinal ulcers. It also fights candida, the yeast that can invade in your intestines causing both digestive and autoimmune problems.

One of the ways cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar levels is by also slowing down your digestion so that food moves more slowly from your stomach into your small intestines. That means that if your dessert contains cinnamon, the sugar in it will be absorbed more slowly and thus it won’t spike your blood sugar as rapidly as a dessert without cinnamon.

5) CINNAMON BOOST YOUR BRAIN POWER WHILE PROTECTING YOUR HEART

Cinnamon was found in the diabetics study to significantly lower blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. It also helps prevent blood clots which makes eating cinnamon daily beneficial for heart health.

Cinnamon’s antioxidants have shown effectiveness in preventing the formation of various chemicals that contribute to the development of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They also inhibit the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) that contribute to the aging of the brain.

EAT AND DRINK CINNAMON DAILY

Cooking with cinnamon makes taking your daily dose a real pleasure. Cinnamon is included in all kinds of Indian curries and you’ll find lots of tropical recipes that depend on cinnamon where spices in general were thought to preserve food from spoilage. Cinnamon is used to spice up both meat and fish recipes and you can find Middle Eastern savory lamb and chicken recipes using cinnamon. Cinnamon flavors exotic rice dishes combined with nuts and raisins.

My favorite breakfast meal with cinnamon is TeeChia Cranberry Apple where the soluble fiber plus cinnamon makes a real heart healthy meal. I add even more cinnamon to my bowl to give me a bigger dose because I love its flavor and want the biggest impact from its health benefits too.

Like I said before, a spicy herbal chai is the way I start my day for a natural stimulant that wakes up my senses and sends a cascade of health benefits to my whole body!