Good Natured

What’s Your pH?

Finding balance in the body

By Karen Frye

There has been much study and information published about the importance of balancing our body’s pH level. The term pH (potential of hydrogen) refers to the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. If you have a fish tank or a swimming pool, you understand that maintaining the proper pH balance is very important. The theory is relevant to the human body as a way to reduce the risk of many diseases. When the clear fluids like saliva remain in the healing pH range of 7.1 to 7.5, a slightly alkaline condition, the body is able to perform cellular repair and maintain good health.

Lack of pH balance can lead to poor health. A few of the conditions of an over-acidic body are arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis, asthma and fibromyalgia. Nearly all degenerative, chronic disease thrives in an over-acidic state of health. One way back to better health is finding that acid/alkaline balance your body works hard to maintain.

Our body is designed to be self-healing. When there is a balance of alkaline and acid, the body can repair itself. The food we eat directly influences the state of our health. Changing your diet is one of the tools to balance pH and maintain the proper balance of the bodily fluids that impact every cell in the body.

Sometimes the change can be a radical one, especially if you eat the standard American diet. A diet of highly processed and refined food, lacking enzymes and nutrients, can, over time, create major stress on the body because of over-acidity. An acidic condition wreaks havoc on the major organs, glands, bones and teeth.

It is also important to know that you do not want to be too alkaline, as the vital organs and muscles need to remain in the slightly acidic pH range. The blood seeks to stay in the constant pH of 7.365 to 7.425 to maintain homeostasis.

What should you eat, and what should you avoid? There are many books that contain vast amounts of information about the foods you need to include in your diet. Vegetables are at the top of the list; they contain the most alkaline-forming nutrients. Red, yellow, purple, and especially the greens; almonds, Brazil nuts, raisins, dates, and fruits are the way to go (citrus fruits are thought of as being acid-forming, but actually have an alkalizing effect in the body).

Another item you can add to the list is raw apple cider vinegar. The acid-forming foods include all refined and processed foods, flour-based food and grains, dairy, most nuts and seeds, sugar and food with added sugar, along with most drugs including aspirin, coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol. You can find a complete list in books, and online.

Checking your pH is easy. You can find the litmus paper at most natural foods stores (like Nature’s Own) or a pharmacy. You use the paper to test the saliva and urine. There is a color strip included to measure your readings. Usually once a week is enough. There are pH balancing drops available that you can add to your water daily to help you achieve your “perfect health” balance. The long-term results are worth all your efforts as you gradually see and feel your health conditions improve.  PS

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

Good Natured

Turning a New Leaf

Boosting your health with olive leaf extract

By Karen Frye

The Bible mentions the olive tree and olive leaf many times. Ezekiel tells us “olive fruit is food and its leaves are medicine.” We know that using olive oil has many heart-healthy benefits, but perhaps you’ve not heard about the power of the olive leaves. Thousands of years ago, the leaves were used medicinally to treat many health issues, including colds and fevers, even malaria.

From modern studies of olive leaf, we have a vast amount of information regarding its powerful properties. Olive leaf helps reduce cholesterol and keeps the arteries and veins flexible. It has demonstrated impressive results in lowering high blood pressure, and reducing blood sugar and inflammation.

It’s a wonderful immune system booster, is great at killing germs, viruses and bacteria, and is a warrior inside the body, seeking out these invading toxins and destroying them. It’s also good for neurological problems, joint and connective tissue/bone health. If you happen to be concerned about the effects of ever-present electromagnetic fields, olive leaf — the richest source of oleuropein — can help with that, too.

There are many sources for olive leaf extract. Barleans makes the best on the market, with the full spectrum of polyphenals, and a total antioxidant capacity beyond others. Barleans olive leaf had more total ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) than many superfoods, as well as high amounts of vitamins C and E. There are many herbs and foods with healing benefits and immune building properties, but few have the reputation of the olive leaf.

I’m constantly amazed by the plants that we’ve discovered to be beneficial for healing and the prevention of the many maladies we confront throughout life. Our health is so precious, and the plant kingdom, with all its diversity, can assist us on our journey to have the healthiest, happiest lives we can imagine.

This February, you can make your heart — and practically every other system in your body — healthier simply by turning a new leaf.  PS

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

Good Natured

Power of Thought

We are what we think

By Karen Frye

A New Year is always looked upon as an opportunity to change things that can improve the quality of the life we live. Do you often wonder why certain people seem to consistently have the best outcomes, maintaining happiness and that easygoing spirit? Could there be a secret that only those folks know? The answer is . . . you get what you think about.

We are living in difficult times — stress and worry conflict with happiness, undermine our health, and create disharmony, mentally and physically. Your way of thinking can be a valuable weapon against anything that challenges your success and happiness.

In Hamlet Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

There are many quotes reminding us of the power of our thoughts, such as, “What we think about, we bring about.” The Book of Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” I’m sure you get the point.

Emmet Fox was an advocate for educating people about the power of their thoughts. Born in Ireland in 1886, he was an electrical engineer by profession, but he’s better know for a book he published in 1943 titled The Mental Equivalent based on two lectures he delivered in Kansas City, Missouri.

People think this is a material world but, in reality, it’s a mental world. Whatever you want in your life — good health, self-fulfilling work, the right friends, abundance in every form — you acquire the mental equivalent first. We are the creators of our destiny. The secret is to develop the thoughts of what you want, and rid yourself of the thoughts of what you do not want. Focus daily on the things that will improve every aspect of your life.

There are techniques for mastering the task. Build your mental equivalents by thinking quietly, constantly, and persistently. Form the mental equivalent of what you want for your life, think about it a great deal — with clarity and interest.

Fox’s The Mental Equivalent and his other books are more popular today than ever, as we yearn to know more about the power of the mind. Understanding simple techniques to control your thoughts can change your life in so many positive ways.

May this be the year that everything you desire is yours. PS

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

Good Natured

Gifts of Love

Finding the meaning of the season

By Karen Frye

December is always a busy time. The year is ending and the holiday season is on! The hustle and bustle, the shopping, the wrapping, the preparation for get-togethers with family and friends can be overwhelming and disguise what this time of the year truly represents.

The theme of the season is gifts — not just tangible gifts wrapped in pretty paper — but also gifts of our hearts . . . gifts of love. This year, remind yourself it’s a spiritual time, a celebration of love for each other. It’s about understanding what is really important and meaningful to each of us.

Giving gifts of love can mean more than that sweater or watch we may not need. The feeling one receives from a gift of love goes deeper and touches our heart. It brings us hope and the contagious desire to spread our love to others.

These gifts don’t have to cost a thing. The commercialism in December can create an emotional meltdown, and the stress of spending (too much) money can ruin the true meaning of the season. Adopt a meaningful tradition — kind words of appreciation and gratitude to someone who has been of service to you in some way; or spending time with someone who may be alone for the holidays. Consider what would be most beneficial to those in your life.

Some other ways to make this holiday more meaningful:

• Find a family that may be struggling financially and buy their groceries
   for a week, or even a meal.

• Go to a nursing home and spend time with someone who may be alone.

• Adopt a rescue pet.

• Treat the person in line behind you at the coffee shop.

• Smile more at the people you meet on the street. Even a smile can
   brighten someone’s day and make a difference in their lives.

Remember the saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It all begins with one person, and that person is you.

Give gifts of the heart, gifts of love, joy and peace. It’s the true meaning of this very special time. PS

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

Good Natured

The Original Red Meat

A bit of bison for the holidays

By Karen Frye

The image of buffalo roaming across the prairie is an iconic symbol of the American landscape in the 1800s before the pioneers moved in. Bison meat was good for people back then, and it is in demand even more in recent years because of its high nutritional value.

Ranchers today are committed to raising their herds naturally and work hard to accommodate the natural behaviors of the bison, allowing them to roam freely. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow bison to be raised using growth hormones. The National Bison Association’s code of ethics prohibits the feeding of antibiotics, crossbreeding, in-vitro fertilization or other artificial practices. This code of ethics requires ranchers to respect and conserve the natural and cultural heritage while striving to improve the quality of the buffalos’ lives.

These naturally raised bison interact with their environment as nature intended — promoting healthy ecosystems and animals. This is a far cry from the standards of the commercial factory farming methods.

Bison meat is naturally flavorful, tender, nutrient dense, high in minerals, and lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, chicken and even salmon. It’s also higher in protein, iron and B12, and a very good source of healthy fatty acids, like omega 3.

Sales of bison meat have steadily increased as people discover that it is not only healthy and delicious, but also environmentally friendly. You can substitute it for beef in recipes, but beware — it is lower in fat, so be careful not to overcook it.

The popularity of Keto and Paleo diets have increased the demand for ways to get the healthy protein people need on these diets. Bison is a great choice when planning the menu for the holidays. There are many recipes available using ground bison, bison steaks and roasts. I have been using bison for years and find it delicious and easy to prepare.

Here is a great recipe that would be perfect for your holiday party:

Oven-Roasted Bison Meatballs


1 pound ground bison

1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1 egg, beaten

2 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix until well blended. Form into 24 meatballs, about the size of a walnut. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil. Place the meatballs on the pan and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce:

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons chopped green onions

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, stir to blend. Makes 1 cup.

Give it a try this holiday. Surprise your family and friends with this delicious, healthy alternative.  PS

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

Good Natured

Know the Source

Where do your supplements come from?

By Karen Frye

Many years ago, when I first opened my natural food store, there were a handful of companies that produced vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements. It is amazing how many are in the industry today. There’s so much on the shelves to choose from that it can be confusing if you aren’t up on the background and standards of the manufacturers.

With the exploding popularity of supplements, some companies jumped into the business with dollar signs in mind — but that’s not true of everyone. A wonderful example is Gaia Herbs, located in the western part of North Carolina just outside Brevard.

Gaia Herbs is a Certified B Corporation. The B Corporation certification is a private certification issued to for-profit companies by B Lab, a global nonprofit. The “B” stands for benefit. To become a B Corp the company must be totally transparent. The standard represents a company’s dedication to sustainability and social impact, with transparency in every aspect of production, accountability, and social and environmental performance. B Corps have elevated the standards in the supplement industry by redefining success with a focus beyond profit.

Every year Gaia Herbs hosts a farm tour, and this past August I had the chance to attend the event. It was a real learning experience to see the great lengths they go to in the production of their herbal supplements. The business started about 32 years ago. The farm is over 300 acres in the mountain hills. I was able to walk through the fields of herbs they use to produce a lot of extracts and formulas. There were acres of gingko and hawthorne trees; they handpick the leaves at peak harvest to ensure the most potent product. There were fields of nettles, echinacea flowers, astragalus and over 22 other species. They had over 200 beehives and monarch butterfly stations ensuring pollination. The farm team consists of dedicated folks committed to lessening the environmental impact and reducing the carbon footprint. They don’t allow any plastics on the farm.

After the farm tour and a delicious lunch of vegetables grown organically on the farm, we were invited to tour the laboratory and manufacturing facility. Gaia’s commitment to stringent manufacturing procedures is another reason they are respected by consumers who look for all the right things in their herbal support.

We talked with the scientists and engineers who rigorously test the raw materials grown (organically, of course) on-site, and also informed us which materials are sourced elsewhere. They screen for trace amounts of heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins, microbes and residual solvents, using only the cleanest materials in the formulations.

The manufacturing of the extracts and capsules uses clean extraction methods: water ethanol or CO2 supercritical extraction — never any hexane or solvents. Also, the herbs go through batch tests to ensure that the potency and quality meet Gaia’s high standards. In fact, you can trace the origin of the plants used in the purchased product by scanning a code on the label, giving you the background of the herb.

All supplements are not created equal. It may be in your best interest to get to know more about the company that’s producing them for you. It might make all the difference in your health.  PS

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

Good Natured


Bring Your Own Bag

By Karen Frye

Forget the bottle, just bring your bag — your reusable shopping bag. It would be a great habit to adopt now if you haven’t already. Let’s do our part to take care of our environment so our families have a safe and less toxic world to live in.

New York was one of the first states to enforce a ban on the use of plastic shopping bags. Other states, maybe even North Carolina, could one day follow that lead. Lawmakers in New York approved the ban on these single-use shopping bags and gave local governments the option to charge extra for paper bags. New York City recently put that into effect, adding a nickel for each paper carry-out bag a customer uses at retail and grocery stores. The goal is not to make money but rather to encourage people to bring their reusable bags. New York City alone collects 30,000 tons of paper bags each year, and more counties are following suit.

Paper bags have their own set of issues. They cost stores quadruple what plastic bags cost, and it takes more energy to make a paper bag. The manufacturing involves the use of chemicals released into the atmosphere at the same rate as plastic bags.

Plastic bags are made from oil and natural gas. It takes 12 million barrels of petroleum to produce the plastic bags that our country uses yearly. The bags have a lifetime of 500 to 1,000 years, slowly breaking down into small toxic particles.

Plastics are collecting in our oceans at an alarming rate. They travel from city storm drains to creeks, rivers and streams and, finally, to the oceans with harmful consequences for our marine and coastal wildlife. It’s estimated that 1 million birds, 100,000 turtles and countless other forms of sea life die each year from ingesting plastic. The animals and birds confuse floating plastic bags (and other pieces of plastic) with plankton or jellyfish. Once ingested, it blocks their digestive tract and they starve to death.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been collecting statistics on plastic bag use for more than a decade. About 2 percent of plastic bags actually get recycled in the U.S. The rest live on for hundreds of years in landfills or the oceans, where they destroy wildlife and leach toxins. Plastic bags have been found as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as the Falkland Islands.

Sustainability starts with each one of us. Get reusable bags and keep them in your car. Make them a staple in your everyday shopping routine. One person using reusable bags over his or her lifetime can remove over 22,000 plastic bags from the environment. What’s a better incentive than that?  PS

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

Good Natured

Liver Helper

Artichokes to the rescue

By Karen Frye

One of the hardest working organs in our body is the liver. It’s at the center of every metabolic process. Everything, from what you eat and drink, the medications and supplements you take, even the body care products you apply to your skin and hair, gets filtered by the liver. Consuming certain foods on a regular basis or adding effective supplements will help keep the liver working properly.

Artichokes are one of the best liver-friendly foods to add to your diet. In fact, you will often find artichoke extract in many of the liver-detoxifying supplements. The artichoke is high in many antioxidants and a great source of silymarin (also abundant in milk thistle). Silymarin helps to protect and nourish your liver.

Fresh artichokes may be a little intimidating to prepare, although once you get the hang of it they may be on your plate more often. Artichokes are relatively easy to prepare by trimming the base, and steaming them till tender. Dip the leaves in a bit of warm butter and lemon juice — it makes a nice appetizer to share, and you might find your new favorite food!

Here is a simple recipe for summer meals that includes artichokes. The lentils are also good to eat on a regular basis. They are a high source of fiber, especially soluble fiber, which helps to control blood sugar. The microbiome (the microbes that live in our bodies) loves fiber, feeding on it and promoting a healthier gut. Tomatoes are an important ingredient in this recipe as well, as they are rich in lycopene — a potent antioxidant especially helpful for prostate health.

Easy Artichoke Lentils

2 teaspoons avocado or olive oil

2 large shallots, diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 large zucchini, diced

2 teaspoons Italian spice blend (in the summer substitute fresh basil and parsley)

1 15-ounce can lentils, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté shallots, pepper and zucchini until just tender. Stir in spice blend, lentils, artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Cook until hot. Stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper just before serving. You can serve this hot or chilled. Add a green salad with all the good things from your garden and you have a delicious healthy meal.

P.S.  Remember to drink your chilled hibiscus tea through these hot summer months.  PS

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

Good Natured


More than Alfalfa’s Little Rascals friend

By Karen Frye

Many folks think of buckwheat as a grain — especially because it has “wheat” in the word — but it’s actually a seed. Buckwheat groats (often called kasha) are seeds from a plant related to rhubarb and have been used throughout the world as a regular part of the diet. It can be ground into flour (the pancakes are delicious), eaten as a pasta (soba noodles), a porridge or as buckwheat sprouts.

The nutrients in buckwheat are amazing, making it clearly one of nature’s superfoods. It is gluten-free with few calories and a unique amino acid profile, containing substantial amounts of easily digestible protein. The antioxidant content is impressive with a good amount of rutin, quercetin, magnesium and other important minerals. It is also high in insoluble fiber — almost 5 grams per cup.

You may find you want to ditch your morning bowl of oatmeal or cereal for a bowl of buckwheat groats. You can prepare them easily, and add a little maple syrup or fresh berries to create a superfood breakfast. There is a delicious, easy-to-prepare creamy hot cereal made of buckwheat available at Nature’s Own.

Maybe you or someone you know could use the nutritional perks of buckwheat.  It helps:

— Lower inflammation and increases good cholesterol;

— Balance the blood sugar, reducing the risk of diabetes;

— Lower high blood pressure;

— Prevent gallstones;

— Slow the progression of hardening of the arteries;

— Protect against breast cancer; and

— Relieve constipation.

How about that? A little seed with a powerful punch. Here’s a delicious recipe, great for a summer lunch, and easy to prepare.

Buckwheat Wraps

Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup diced onion

3 1/4 cups water

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 bay leaf

1 1/4 cups buckwheat groats

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 cup shredded carrot

Pinch of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

6 large collard (tender) leaves, chard or cabbage, washed, patted dry and large vein removed

Sauté the onions with 1/4 cup of water for about 3 minutes. Add miso, bay leaf and the remaining 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add the buckwheat and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the buckwheat is soft (but not mushy). Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the celery, carrot, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and mix well.

Stuff the leaves by adding the mixture (the amount depends on the size of the leaves) toward the wide end of the leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling and stem, and roll the leaf up, compressing the mixture a bit (like when wrapping a burrito). Use a toothpick or skewer if necessary to keep it together.

Serve with avocado, hummus, tomatoes, spinach leaves, sprouts or whatever you might enjoy! 

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

Good Natured

Here’s to the Bs

A supplement for a healthy life

By Karen Frye

Author and nutritionist Adelle Davis believed that through a healthy diet and taking the right supplements for your body, you could achieve a long life. In the 1950s she was one of the most highly respected authorities on healthy food and vitamins. One of her best-selling books, Let’s Have Healthy Children, would be a wonderful read for anyone today.

One of her most highly recommended vitamins is the B-complex — a combination of all the B vitamins in one tablet. Each B vitamin (there are a lot of them) has an extremely important function in the body. Taken together they give you the proper proportions to address any deficiencies. The food that contains the richest of all the B vitamins is brewers yeast or nutritional yeast. It’s easy to add to foods, juices or smoothies and is an excellent food for vegan and vegetarian diets. Before we had processed food (and white flour), when we relied on more natural whole grains, we could get adequate nutrients in our foods. Today, however, the food isn’t enough and a supplement can make a huge difference.

The B vitamins are very important in the function of a healthy nervous system. If you are plagued with fatigue, B vitamins can increase your energy and stamina. B deficiencies can be the root cause of many skin and gastrointestinal issues. Adequate amounts of B vitamins can help alleviate anxiety and depression. There are many other advantages to keeping enough B in your diet. Deficiencies are common especially in the elderly. Even Alzheimer’s disease can be improved by adding B complex to the diet.

Though the Bs work especially well as a team, they also have specific benefits individually. It is very common for folks to have low B12. This can be found in a routine blood test with your doctor. Folate, needed to make red and white blood cells, is another B vitamin prone to being low.

And, while not scientifically proven, there have been personal testimonials of people using B1 to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects effectively. It’s been used with success among hikers, gardeners, athletes and, of course, those of us who just like to sit outside and enjoy nature. I’m sure you or someone you know can be outdoorsy and not be affected by annoying insects. They may have enough Bs in their system to emit an odor mosquitoes don’t like. On the other hand, perhaps you’re the one the bugs have decided to feast on and get covered in nasty bites. Just add B vitamins (or B1 alone) and you will be amazed. It’s a safer alternative to repellents containing DEET.

Some of the richest food sources of B1 thiamine are egg yolks, brown rice, most nuts, legumes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, plums, prunes, and nutritional yeast. If you decide that you want to take a supplement of B1, you can get it in a B complex or take it alone. Just make sure you get enough to effectively repel the bugs. The recommended amount of B1 to use is 25-50 milligrams several times a day.

I have been adding nutritional yeast to my dog’s food for years as a natural flea repellent, too. Dogs love the taste, and it even slows down the aging process — for us and our pets.  PS

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