Monday, June 1, 2015

Everything You Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Blueberries

Bessie, Baia, Bobica, Bobule, Baie, Beere, Caor, Bacca, Baga, and Jagoda.  These are all words that mean the same thing-can you guess what they mean? Yes, that is correct they all mean Berry in different languages.  The definition of “berry” is a fleshy fruit produced from a single flower with the seeds embedded inside the fruit or on the outside in the flesh.  It is berry time and that is why I chose this topic. I will be focusing on three main berries in the next few blogs, Blueberries, Strawberries and Raspberries.  I cannot believe the health benefits of these delicious fruits.  I will also give some tips on how to buy good berries and some suggestions on how to put them into your diet on a daily basis. 


History:  These berries are the 2nd most popular berry in the world. More species of blueberries are native to North America than any other continent.  The U.S. supplies over half of the blueberries consumed on a global basis. 275 million pounds of blueberries are grown in the U.S.

How to Buy: When you buy your blueberries make sure they are firm and lively looking, uniform in color hue and if you can see the bloom it should be whitish.  Shake the container and make sure they are not clumped or sticking together.  They should not appear dull in color, watery or soft and they should be free from moisture and kept free from moisture until consumed. Blueberries will mold easily if kept wet.

Values:  1 cup of blueberries contains: 84 grams of protein, 0 grams of cholesterol,  1.1 grams of protein, 0.49 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 3.6 grams of fiber, (14% of DRV), 24% DRV Vitamin C, 5% of B6 and 36% of Vitamin K.
Blueberries further provide Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Folate, Beta-Carotene, Choline, and Vitamin A & E.
Blueberries provide antioxidants, Anthocyanins, the pigments that make blueberries blue, are potent antioxidants. Blueberries contain Phenolic Compounds such as quercitin, kaempferol, myricetin, and chlorogenic acid all of which contribute to the antioxidant capacity.
Blueberries rank high on the ANDI List, (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) due to multiple bio-active compounds.  This list is based on vitamin and mineral content, phytochemical composition and antioxidant capacity.

Blueberry Health Benefits

Helps maintain health bones.  The iron and zinc in blueberries play important roles in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints.  Low intake of Vitamin K increases risk of bone fracture.  With adequate intake of Vitamin K one improves calcium absorption and may reduce calcium loss.

Lowers Blood Pressure:  Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering the blood pressure.  Blueberries are nearly sodium free and contain calcium, potassium, and magnesium, all of which have been found to decrease blood pressure.

Managing Diabetes:  Diabetics that consume a diet high in fiber (30-38 grams for men & 21-25 grams for women) have lower glucose levels and Type II Diabetics improve their blood sugar, lipid and insulin levels by consuming 1 cup of blueberries which contributes 3.6 grams of fiber.

Heart Disease:  Blueberries are found to ward off heart disease and should be a part of one’s daily diet.  The Blueberry’s fiber content, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and phytonutrient content, coupled with its’ lack of cholesterol, all support heart health.  Vitamin B6 and folate prevent the build-up of a compound known as homocysteine.  When excessive amounts of homocysteine accumulate in the body it can damage blood vessels and lead to heart related issues. 

Cancer Prevention:   Vitamin C, A and various phytonutrients found in blueberries function as powerful antioxidants that help prevent cells against free-radical damage.  Blueberries have been found to inhibit tumor growth, decrease inflammation and help ward off several types of cancer such as esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon.  The folate found in blueberries plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair thus preventing the formation of cancer cells mutating in the DNA.

Improving Mental Health:  Population-based studies have shown that the consumption of blueberries can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as well as Parkinson’s Disease- a neurodegenerative disorder resulting from cell death in the parts of the brain.  Studies have also shown that in addition to reducing cognitive damage, blueberries can also improve short-term memory loss and co-ordination.

Healthy Digestion: Due to the fiber content, blueberries help to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Weight Loss and Satiety:  Dietary fiber is commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management functioning as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system.  High fiber foods increase satiety and appetite reduction making one feel full longer which in turn reduces caloric intake.

Fights Wrinkles:  Collagen, the skin’s support system, relies on Vitamin C as an essential nutrient that works in the body as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by pollution and smoke. Vitamin C also promotes collagen’s ability to smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.  Just one cup of berries provides 24% of your daily need for Vitamin C.  

Blueberry Consumption:  I think you can consume blueberries easiest in shakes, snacks, on cereals, in salads and baked goods.  There thousands of recipes for incorporating blueberries into you diet. For me I keep it simple, I always buy organic and buy them in quantity when the prices are low to freeze. I consume at least 1 Cup per day by using them on oatmeal or putting them in a smoothie or on a salad. Although delicious in baked goods I refrain from the sweets.

Blueberry Risk Factor:  Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin K which have an effect on blood thinners such as Coumadin and Warfarin, therefore, one should not begin to eat more or less foods containing Vitamin K, which plays a large role in blood clotting, It is better to eat a diet with a variety of foods rather than concentrating on one thing. 

Whew!  That concludes my in-depth blog on Blueberries.  If this doesn’t convince you that you should have blueberries in your diet on a daily basis then nothing will! Stay tuned, Strawberries will be next.

When someone visits Manna Vida Center for Wellbeing they are served the highest quality, organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices with love and compassion. There is only one way to support your health and that is to eat healthy foods. Please check out the Manna Vida website, we would love to have you come for a healing visit in the beautiful mountains of northern Arizona!

Many Blueberry Blessings!

Christiana, M.S.T., MlAcp. M.OM., M.Q.T,M.C.S.T.

Manna Vida Center for Wellbeing

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Five Aspects of Life

The Five Aspects of Life

Hello Everyone! Welcome to the Hierarchy of Life blog.  First off, I would like to explain the significance of the title for my blog so you will know what type of information you will be following. I value your time and want my posts to be relevant and helpful. I looked up the topic “blog lengths”, and found out that what length you make your blog pretty much depends on the subject matter. My efforts will be to keep it concise and not too lengthy. 
As a result of practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine for the past 34 years I have developed Manna Vida Center for Wellbeing in Prescott, AZ. The philosophy of the center is that mindful living is achieved by the observance and maintenance of the “Hierarchy of Life”, which consists of 5 aspects of our existence. Simply stated these aspects are Breath, Hydration, Movement, Stillness and Whole Food Nutrition. Without any one of these aspects we would cease to exist or live a much compromised life to say the least. I have found that Simplicity is the key to Wholeness, which leads to healing of the 5 aspects. Energetic balance of the mind, body and spirit is the most meaningful transformation there is for personal health and wellbeing. Sustained open-hearted awareness of the present moment is fundamental and essential to all of human nature. By cultivating mindfulness in the areas of breath, hydration, movement, stillness and whole food nutrition a synergy is created that provides a solid foundation for being well. Life is a practice so I have followed each aspect with an exercise to be practiced daily. You can do it!

Breathing may seem like a no-brainer right? Most people breathe 24/7 without giving it any thought at all, which is what I call unconscious breathing. Ask anyone who has had their breathing compromised from and illness like asthma or accidentally choking on something and you will hear a much different story about how important breathing becomes. Suddenly one’s attention is on the next breath. 1 minute without air the brain cells begin to die, 3 minutes without air, serious brain damage is likely and 10 minutes without air its usually too late. Need I say more….this is why Breathing is number 1 on the list, it is the first thing you do when you are born and it is the last thing you do before you leave your physical body.  I suggest engaging in the act of Conscious Breathing. Here is a simple lesson.
Exercise: I would like everyone to sit back in their chair and take a long               slow, deep breath in through the nose – hold for a couple seconds and then slowly release the breath out through the mouth exhaling while counting quietly, 1-2-3-4-5 trying to reach the number 20.  Don’t worry if you don’t get there, most people don’t make it until they have tried several times. Keep trying because as you do this breathing you are releasing a huge amount of endorphins into your system which are relaxing you on the spot. This is known as the Herbert Benson Relaxation Response. If you can make it to 30, which takes a bit of practice, you will initiate cellular healing! Amazing right?

Hydration is also thought to be easily understood, however once again many people forget to drink water. I know a whole day can pass and when asked how much water did you have today the answer will be “none”. Please don’t do this. Here is why. The body is made up of 60% water, the blood is 92% water and the brain & muscles are 75% water. (Children’s composition is an even greater amount of water). So without water one may last about a week. Water provides the following: helps to form saliva for digestion, keeps mucosal membranes moist, allows the body’s cells to grow, reproduce and survive, flushes body waste, mainly urine, water is the major component of most body parts, needed by the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters, regulates body temperature via sweat and respiration, acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord, converts food to components needed for survival-digestion and helps deliver oxygen all over the body. Whew! If that list doesn’t convince a person that water is essential then I don’t know what will.
Exercise: Get yourself a nice water bottle, preferably at least 8 ounces, and make a point of drinking 6 to 8 of them a day. I have heard all the excuses for why one doesn’t like to drink that much, from too many bathroom trips to feeling bloated, but believe me none of them outweigh just how essential it is to hydrate yourself. Throw in a lemon or lime slice to add some vitamin C. Try it and see what an amazing difference it makes. Usually the mind is the first to say, “thank you”.

Movement is something that begins with our creation and cell division and it truly doesn’t end until we die. Movement is going on 24/7 much the same as breathing and once again I would like to focus on conscious movement, mindful movement, movement that keeps us from becoming stagnant. One of my Qigong teachers impressed upon me that “no movement” leads to stagnation and stagnation leads to dis-ease. I suggest a daily practice, mindfully moving with intention and learning a simple Qigong form is perfect for busy lives. There are many styles of Qigong for self-healing and most of the forms can be done anywhere, anytime. Nothing special is needed, only your breath and a little space. See for yourself how this small, conscious daily practice will change you!
Exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, arms out to the sides with palms facing up, take in a deep breath and slowly lift your arms up to above your head. Exhale as you slowly bring your arms down, with the palms facing your crown, continuing down past the head and face, turn palms to face the body continuing down the body to the navel level. Let the arms break away to the sides and repeat. Inhale as your arms move up and exhale as your hands go down combing through the body with chi. This is a simple Qigong exercise (Ki No Kata) to gather Chi (energy) and has many benefits, more energy, clearer mind, relaxation and an over-all feeling of wellbeing. Who doesn’t need this?  

Stillness is probably the most challenging aspect of the 5. Of course as I stated earlier there is no total physical stillness, so in this case stillness addresses the mind/body/spirit. When there is stillness and one quiets the mind many things happen. Since the mind/body/spirit are all connected when one calms down there will be experiences on all 3 levels simultaneously. On a physical level as calmness begins to happen one can experience slower respiration, reduction of blood pressure, stress, anxiety and pain to name a few positive things. There are no negatives! Mental clarity, piece of mind and calming of ones’ thoughts are also felt. Spiritually one might be able to tune into their “higher power”, their true self connected with God/Creator. This experience of “oneness” is amazing and pulls everything together providing an inner peace like nothing else.
Exercise: This exercise couldn't be any easier and at the same time it might be very challenging for some.  Initially I ask my students to find a comfortable position, I prefer sitting as Jon Kabbot Zinn says, “with mountain like dignity”. Initially one will feel bombarded with thoughts, sounds, smells etc. that will try to occupy the mind, sit quietly and feel your breath move in and out of your body. Don’t give up, continue to sit and eventually the mind will begin to quiet down. Only try to sit for 5-7 minutes at first and gradually build on that base until you can sit 15 -20 minutes. I further suggest choosing a quiet peaceful location to begin and designate that space for your daily meditation. The profound effects from being still reach a person on every level of their being. Transformation begins when one begins to practice!

Last but not least in the Hierarchy is the importance of eating nutrient dense foods that support your body, mind and spirit.
Nutrition is in the news every day with one “diet” plan after another. It is not a secret that the U.S. has the notoriety as being the nation with the largest population of obese people in the world beginning with our children. This fact can be looked at from many different vantage points. When I see a patient that is obese but comes to me for some other issue such a back pain, digestive issues, headaches, I must look for the underlying cause(s) of the presenting imbalances. What we eat becomes us……what we eat becomes us! This is a true statement and when one increases their level of awareness and education around the foods they consume often times an Ah-Ha moment can occur. People rarely eat “bad” foods because they are hungry. Usually they are doing what is known as “emotional eating”.  This is a very unconscious and harmful way to live ones’ life. There is much to know about nutrition and nutritional supplements. This is a full one quarter of my practice, at the very least, when I work with someone desiring a life-style change for greater well-being. It is imperative that one’s level of consciousness be elevated if true health and balance are desired.
Exercise: This may not seem like an exercise but it is. First I recommend keeping a one week journal Sunday through Saturday writing down everything that is drank or consumed, secondly I recommend one reviews exactly what is eaten, how much in terms of quantity and how often eating is occurring. What time does consuming begin and when is the last time of the day consuming ends. (That is why we are called “consumers”). This will give a person a good idea how much importance is placed on the act of eating. I suggest looking at your plate of food before you begin to eat, I like to see ¼ protein, ¼ healthy carb (brown rice, wild rice, sweet potato) and ½ the plate is lightly steamed or sautéed vegetables. Never skip breakfast, eat a larger lunch and a small dinner never after 6 pm if possible. This is just a brief recommendation to start. Do try to eat organic whenever possible.

I love to work with people on reviewing and re-establishing their Hierarchy of Life points. It is not difficult to begin. I say it is a user friendly plan because it is beneficial for an entire family and the results are a given.Thank you for reading my introductory blog. Please share it and if you are interested in the on-going work at Manna Vida Center for Wellbeing please contact us at 928-308-0880 or e-mail
In Health and Wellbeing,