Good Natured

The Season of Love

One day is just the beginning

By Karen Frye

We think of love as we celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th but, hopefully, we focus on it the other 364 days as well, creating a lifestyle for ourselves. Start your day with feelings of love and spread it everywhere with everyone. End your day with gratitude for all the love you’ve received. Tune in to these feelings and reap the incredible benefits it brings to your life.

We are born into the world with immense love. This force within us can be nourished and grow more powerful with practice. Life can be challenging, but its lessons can be opportunities to use our hearts to find a way through obstacles and grow stronger. When we understand that love can resolve so many of the confrontations and challenges life brings, we become more loving, even in the most difficult times.

Each morning before you get out of bed, connect to your heart center. Be grateful that your heart is beating and sending feelings of compassion, empathy and love to every cell in your body. Open yourself to the good things happening to you. Sharing the love you feel with others will open their hearts as well. We must embrace, and even love, those who have hurt us.

Love has the power to change many things. It can end anger, strife, resentment and emotional pain. Everything improves with practicing love, but the person who benefits the most is you. What footprint will you leave on this world? Walk the path of love. Uplift others. You will be happier, healthier and more content with your life, and the world will be a better place.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram
Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

New Year, New You

Maintain a healthy microbiome

By Karen Frye

Your body is home to more than 100 trillion micro-organisms. They live on your skin and in every nook and cranny. It is like a community made up of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. This is your microbiome. It’s unique to you — a gumbo based on your genes, where you live, what you eat, your age, the amount of stress you have, even what you touch.

A healthy biome is critical to good overall health. The largest number of micro-organisms are found in your intestinal tract and directly impact digestive health and how your body absorbs nutrients. The bacteria that make up your microbiome also regulate your immune system — about 80 percent of your immune system is located in the gut. Keeping the microbiome healthy and functioning well not only helps to prevent everyday ailments like colds and flu, it prevents more serious issues, too: oral health, bone health, heart health, vulnerability to allergies, even mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Balance of the flora in the intestines is essential for long-term good health from head to toe.

When the microbiome becomes unbalanced (dysbiosis), it can cause intestinal inflammation, leading to leaky gut (an unhealthy intestinal lining). There are a few key players that contribute to this condition. The first, of course, is genetics. Next is what we eat. Processed foods made with little attention to what’s good for the body are a major contributor to the state of health in the microbiome. Stress is also a contributing factor. It affects everything! And some medications, like antibiotics, can disrupt the terrain of the gut that leads to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria.

You can improve your gut health by taking a good probiotic supplement — a huge category in the health world these days. You can add more fermented foods to your daily diet and increase the fiber you consume daily. Chia seeds are a personal favorite. Try to eat as many organic foods as possible to lessen the body’s exposure to chemicals used in the growing process. Avoid fast food, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Add in more good fats like olive oil. Diets that are high in sugar and low in fiber are devastating to the microbiome. Artificial sweeteners can have a toxic effect on the friendly bacteria in the gut. Exercise is very beneficial to a healthy microbiome, increasing the diversity of beneficial species. Avoid environmental toxins. Lastly, sleep well and reduce stress.

A healthy microbiome is a major part of a happy, healthy life.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Jewel of Fall

The versatile and delicious sweet potato

By Karen Frye

As the season moves from the heat of summer to the chill of fall, you will see more sweet potatoes at local markets and roadside stands. North Carolina is one of the country’s best producers, and Moore County, where some of the farms are second and third generation, is no exception.

Defining our diet for the season is a step toward better health. The sweet potato is a warming food, making it especially good to eat in the winter months. Look for foods that are grown within a 50-mile radius and incorporate these fruits and vegetables into your diet as much as possible.

The sweet potato is versatile. You can bake or steam it and serve with a little butter for a delicious side dish. Years ago, when the area was more agrarian and farmers spent much of their time outside in the fields, they would carry a baked sweet potato wrapped in a brown bag in a pocket for an energy-giving snack. I like to peel and cut a sweet potato into little cubes, roast them in the oven, toss the crispy cubes with some salt, and add them to my salad like sweet potato croutons. You can make sweet potato soup by boiling them in water, adding onions (or any favorite vegetable) and making a purée.

My family thinks of the sweet potato as a holiday food. My grandmothers were both exceptional cooks and would put out beautiful spreads of food, much of it grown in their gardens. The candied sweet potatoes, with a lot of butter and a little brown sugar, was one of the yummiest foods on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas and always the first to disappear.

There are many health benefits to eating sweet potatoes. They’re rich in vitamin A, beta carotene and lycopene — all valuable antioxidants. They are one of the few vegetables that boost the body’s production of B12, a vitamin most commonly found in red meat, significant for a plant-based diet. They have lots of vitamin C, potassium, iron and fiber. They can help reduce inflammation in the intestinal tract. And they can increase the production of dopamine, serotonin and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), allowing for sounder sleep.

Get your sweet potatoes locally, if possible, to support the farmers. Find some recipes and see how your health will improve this winter by eating one of the tastiest foods there is.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

A Healing Herb

And it tastes like licorice

By Karen Frye

We have so many wonderful healing herbs that help restore and maintain good health. Many of them can be grown easily and used in tea, in recipes, or in tinctures to be used medicinally. One that grows well in the Sandhills is fennel.

Fennel is a 6-foot perennial with feathery leaves and clusters of little yellow flowers. The tiny oval-shaped seeds are ribbed and greenish-gray. All the parts of the plant have a licorice-like fragrance.

You can grow fennel from seeds. If you plant them in the fall, they’re ready in spring. You don’t have to give fennel a lot of attention, and the plant doesn’t require a lot of water to survive.

The fennel seed is an effective digestive aid, particularly dealing with bloating, gas, and diarrhea. If you like the taste of licorice, you can chew a handful of seeds after a meal to help relieve indigestion, or you can drink a cup of fennel tea. Fennel is also available in capsules.

While a previous study suggests fennel should not be used by people who have any type of liver disease, more recent studies have found it beneficial for the heart. Nitrites derived from the seeds promote vascular function. The nitrites are reduced into nitric oxide, a compound that protects the heart.

Along with improved digestion, fennel can suppress the appetite. It’s helpful in promoting good function of the kidneys, liver and spleen. Fennel clears the lungs and helps reduce stomach acid. And it can ease the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

If you aren’t a fan of the licorice flavor, try the capsules. Either way, fennel isn’t expensive, and if you choose to grow your own, it only costs pennies. There are many helpful herbs and, while most have no side effects, I always recommend that if you are on any medications, you should talk to your doctor before taking a supplement.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Forgive and Forget

You’ll be healthier because of it

By Karen Frye

We have all experienced some form of emotional or physical pain in our lives caused by another. Some are easy to overcome, but there are times when the pain is deep and it doesn’t seem to go away, and we endure the torment for too long. In most situations, the person who caused our pain moves on, completely forgetting about what happened — or is even unaware of the pain they’ve caused. It is the victim of the experience who must do the work and let go of the past, move on and forgive.

This can be challenging if we don’t, with all our heart, forgive the person who hurt us. Holding on to unresolved feelings of anger or resentment will keep you in a mental prison of torment. This emotional state of mind can affect our physical health in dangerous ways. A mind that is in a constantly negative and unforgiving state is unhealthy, creating a more acidic body where disease can thrive. Changing your diet to include more fresh fruits and vegetables will help counter the acidic imbalance.

True forgiveness, however, is a journey that heals the body, mind and soul. Some pain can take years to forgive, but it is the first and most important step in freedom from a troubled mind. Forgiveness brings peace. All the hurt and bitterness will disappear. Forgiveness doesn’t mean your memory banks are wiped clean — you just no longer feel the pain. It frees the heart. 

When we forgive, we heal ourselves. The natural flow of love dissolves all the pain. The more you practice this, the easier it becomes. Learning how to forgive is the greatest form of unconditional love. It is the love you feel from your parents, the love you give to your children. It is the love we all yearn for, the love that allows us to be who we are.

Embrace the power to forgive easily. It is not worth another day of bitterness. Free yourself and enjoy life with a happy heart.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Her favorite book is The Game of Life for Women and How to Play It by Florence Scovel-Shinn

Good Natured

Tea Time

Refreshing, and good for you

By Karen Frye

Here in the South, drinking tea is almost a birthright. The good news for us tea (and sweet tea) lovers is that a recent study from the University of California in Irvine School of Medicine revealed that two catechin-type flavonoids found in both green and black tea activate a process in the body that relaxes the blood vessels. This discovery could be helpful in the treatment of hypertension. So, enjoy your glass of tea; just be careful of the amount of sugar you use to sweeten it — or maybe use honey or stevia instead.

There are a few other teas that can quench your thirst on these hot summer days. Yerba mate is a lovely tea with similar benefits as green and black teas. The tree where the tea leaves are found is a species of holly found deep in the rainforests of South America. The leaves are hand-harvested by farmers in indigenous communities in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Yerba mate contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee (about 85 mg), but a little more than a cup of black tea.

Just like black and green teas, yerba mate is rich in antioxidants. It also has 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and abundant polyphenols to slow down the aging process. Some of the benefits of this superfood tea are increasing energy and mental focus, boosting the immune system, and lowering blood sugar and heart disease risks. Yerba mate nourishes while it stimulates. 

Hibiscus tea is a caffeine-free tea that is as delicious as iced tea. Its lovely rosy color is reminiscent of Kool-Aid. Children will find it a delicious drink as well. Hibiscus flowers are from the hibiscus plant, but not the ornamental variety that we see blooming in the summer.

Here is a simple recipe for an energizing, cold-brewed tea on sweltering summer days:

3 tablespoons loose leaf black tea (or 5 tablespoons yerba mate or hibiscus flowers)

6 cups cool water

3 tablespoons honey or to taste

1 lemon, sliced

Add the loose leaf tea and cool water to a large jar or tea pitcher. Stir to mix well. Seal the jar or pitcher and refrigerate 12 hours. When ready to serve, strain the tea into another container and add the honey and lemon slices.

Enjoy your delicious and healthful beverage.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

An Herb for the Ages

Everything’s better with red ginseng

By Karen Frye

Ginseng has been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. It grows in the wild in China and Korea. There is an American ginseng, as well, and it grows wild in the mountains of North Carolina near Boone. It takes about 20 years for the ginseng root to mature. You can find it in tea, extracts and capsules.

There are about a dozen varieties of ginseng, and each variety has its own unique properties. One, however, has a reputation like no other — Korean red ginseng.

Among the reasons to seek out red ginseng root are extreme fatigue, exhaustion, brain fog, low libido and the inability to handle stress in a healthy way. Studies involving red ginseng root have found it useful in treating cancer, diabetes and hormonal imbalances, and in boosting energy levels.

While it does increase your energy, it’s not a stimulant, it is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help bring balance to the body’s systems. So, while ginseng is energizing, it’s also calming. A good substitute for that cup of coffee or pick-me-up, ginseng offers a boost while curbing stress, as well as preventing some of the common ailments that jeopardize our quality of life.

While ginseng frequently takes a couple of weeks to kick in, the results with red ginseng are usually immediate. Typically, you find men looking for ginseng (think Father’s Day), but there are benefits for women, too. Red ginseng is safe if taken as recommended. One possible side effect, however, is a reduction in blood glucose levels. Therefore, if you are diabetic, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking it.

Red ginseng is a wonderful energy tonic. It can help relieve fatigue and reduce the effects of long-term chronic stress by reducing levels of cortisol. It can give you relief from anxiety and depression while improving memory and brain functions. Ginseng has been relied upon for a very long time and remains one of the best herbs for better overall health and well-being.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Celebrating Mom

And a long, healthy life

By Karen Frye

Having a special day each May to honor our mothers is wonderful. The older I get the more I realize how precious my mother is to me. I want her to be around for a long time. I make sure that she and my dad take supplements to slow down the aging process and keep them as active and healthy as possible.

My parents are well into their 80s. They still live in the home they bought 65 years ago. They are self-sufficient and keep busy. I am impressed with the way they have aged. My parents have been taking nutritional supplements for about 50 years.

Here are a few supplements that I have found helpful for women of all ages to stay healthy and beautiful. They are important for the men in our lives, too!

A good probiotic. The gut is referred to as the second brain. Aging, as well as poor dietary habits, will take a toll on the digestive track. A probiotic can keep your immune system strong, the brain and heart healthy, and improve some digestive issues.

Digestive enzymes. Some digestive problems stem from a lack of enzymes that begin the digestion process and break down food. Common complaints are bloating, heartburn and acid reflux. Often taking a digestive enzyme before meals can ease these symptoms.

Collagen. I recently heard two medical doctors talk about the benefits of consuming collagen, recommending it for everyone. It is one of the most effective foods for healthy skin, hair, nails, joints and gut health. It’s easy to add powdered collagen to foods and beverages, or you can make your own bone broth and get a good dose of collagen that way.

Bone strength. Women suffer from bone loss as they age. To keep bones strong, a calcium supplement is necessary, and calcium from algae is the most absorbable form. Most calcium comes from limestone, and it is hard to break down and be absorbed. Vitamin K2 and strontium assist in getting the calcium to the bones and keeping it there.

Omega 3 and 7. Omega 3 from fish oil or flaxseed will give the brain good fat, as well as zapping inflammation in the body. Omega 7 from the berries of the sea buckthorn bush will keep the hair healthy, the skin and soft tissue moist and supple, and nourish the eyes, too.

These are a few suggestions to keep Mom healthy, beautiful and feeling good. What better gift for your mother than a gift of good health?  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.


Good Natured

Apricot Power

A little tart and a little sweet

By Karen Frye

An apricot-a-day may replace the apple-a-day theory. A little tart and a little sweet, they’re high in nutrients such as potassium and vitamins A and C. They’re also rich in fiber.

Apricots are loaded with antioxidant flavonoids. In fact, just a handful can neutralize the free radicals that damage cells in the body. Apricots contain the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin — found in the retina, macula and lens of the eye — and help keep your eyes healthy. The apricot ranks low on the glycemic index, so they’re OK for most folks with sugar imbalances.

The vitamins A and E in the apricot build collagen, keeping your skin healthy, and protecting it against sun damage.

Fresh apricots are seasonal, and the best ones come from California. Dried apricots are easier to find year-round and have all the same benefits as the fresh ones — just make sure to get the ones without sulphur.

While fresh apricots are delicious, you can also make an apricot puree by cooking them in some boiling water for 10-15 minutes, then putting them in the food processor. You can add the puree to oatmeal, yogurt, or eat a few spoonfuls a day.

Before you throw away that pit in the center of the apricot, take a second to remove the seed and eat that, too. The apricot kernel contains a very nutritious substance called amygdalin, commonly known as B17. It’s naturally occurring in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Apricot kernels contain abundant amounts of amygdalin.

The apricot kernels themselves are slightly bitter, but I find them delicious. It is possible to find some sweeter seeds, but the B17 is greatest in the bitter ones. The California variety has the highest potency and are the bitterest.

There is a small endocrine gland, the pineal gland, located in the center of the brain at about eye level. It looks like an eye and even has tissues and fluids much like our eyes. René Descartes believed the pineal gland was the “principal seat of the soul.” It produces melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. While apricots help keep the pineal gland healthy, it calcifies as we age. Some people find that taking a melatonin supplement about an hour before bedtime helps to induce sleep.

Eating apricots and their seeds may also lower blood pressure, reduce pain from inflammation, and aid the immune system. Maybe an apricot a day will keep the doctor away.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Good Natured

Spring Fever

Here comes the pollen

By Karen Frye

The best defense for seasonal allergy sufferers is prevention. Prepare for the onslaught of pollen before it arrives. Natural remedies work well alleviating symptoms like itchy eyes, stuffy or runny nose, sinus congestion and headaches, and even extreme fatigue. Some over-the-counter medications work, but the side effects can be a problem.

After the long, cold winter, we always look forward to spring. To be outside planting flowers and tending the garden, enjoying some warmer weather is our reward for the cold, gray days of winter. But for some of us, the suffering is so severe that we have to medicate to function. 

So start now, especially if you are planning on using local honey as an allergy remedy. The sooner you begin consuming local honey daily, the easier it will be for your body to develop a resistance to pollen. This is especially helpful for folks who have just moved to the area, where the pollens are of a different variety than the kind their body is used to.

Keeping your immune system strong will lessen the severity of a histamine response or may completely clear it up. Stinging nettle is a very potent antihistamine. Many people drink the tea daily with great results. There are also capsules and tinctures that are quite easy to use to lessen allergic reactions and reduce inflammation in the sinuses. Another herb that works well for sinus congestion and headaches is eyebright. And the plant extract from the frankincense tree, Boswellia, works on a cellular level to reduce inflammation and allergic reactions. It also opens and clears the bronchial passages.

A very popular combination of vitamin C, bromelain from pineapple, and quercetin (a bioflavinoid) boosts the immune system and prevents allergy systems from manifesting in the body. Xlear is another useful over-the-counter remedy. The nasal spray contains xylitol, a sugar that’s found in fruits and vegetables. This ingredient inhibits the pollens and allergens from attaching to the nasal passages, so they cannot replicate and cause discomfort. You may have heard of xylitol from your dentist. It also reduces tooth decay and can be found in toothpaste and chewing gum.

I almost forgot to mention the one that worked for me last spring — a homeopathic combination formulated by Dr. Frank King in Asheville. He developed allergy remedies for specific regions of the country. We use the Southeast formula here. After one dose of that I was fine for the rest of the allergy season.

We have such a beautiful spring, my hope is for you to enjoy it without sniffling and sneezing.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.