Choosing Sunscreen for Summer

summer sunIt’s finally the best time of year in Portland….summer. We in the Northwest are lucky to live in one of the best summer climates around, and everyone does their best to take full advantage after long rainy months. We understand the desire to be in the sunshine, but when you’re pursuing your outdoor adventures, remember to respect the strength of the sun’s powerful rays by protecting your skin and choosing the right sunscreen.

Tips for fun in the sun:

– The hours between 10am and 4pm are when the sun’s strength is highest, and UV radiation peaks at midday.  Wear sunscreen during these times, and be sure to cover up if you expect prolonged exposure to the sun.  Shade and protective clothing are your friends!

– Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s UV radiation, and can help prevent cataracts caused by UV radiation. You now have an excuse to go out and buy that new pair you have been wanting.

– Keep an eye on your kids, they are especially vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays, as well as chemical allergens found in many commercial sunscreens. Infants under 6 months old should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. They do not yet have the melanin in their skin that protects from the sun.

– Use a sunscreen between SPF 15 and SPF 50. Anything over SPF 50 gives a false sense of protection in the sun, and there is controversy that these products even offer that kind of protection.

– Choose a sunscreen with safe ingredients! The method of application also matters when it comes to sunscreen. Avoid sunscreens with the chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen. Look for sunscreens with zinc oxide and avobenzone as active ingredients.

How to choose a safe, non-toxic sunscreen? Here is a list from Environmental Working Group that highlights some of the best sunscreen products on the market.

Crossfit Athletes use Acupuncture

mailEveryone has by now heard of CrossFit, the strength and conditioning program that has taken the exercise world by storm. It’s a specific style of working out that uses a wide variety of exercises, including running, rowing, plyometrics, gymnastics, weight training and Olympic weightlifting techniques. It is a workout style well known for its pain, and also its camaraderie. Every block seems to have a CrossFit gym popping up, and we treat many patients who are in love with the sport. CrossFit gets you in great shape, but because of the intense nature of the workouts, it can also get you injured.

CrossFit coaches put enormous focus on teaching proper lifting form to their students. It is one of the cornerstones of the workouts, and key to getting good results. For people who disregard the importance of form, or do too much too fast, injury is often a common occurrence. For some, even if you power snatch and dead lift with impeccable form, old injuries and imbalances can come to the surface and demand attention.

The most common areas of injury we see in our CrossFit patients are the low back, shoulders, neck and knees. Many WODs (workout of the day) involve heavy weight or high repetition, and these areas are often affected because they involve transitional vertebrae (neck and low back) or joints with many types of range of motion (the knees and shoulders), which are more susceptible to injury. The great news it that acupuncture is an amazing tool for CrossFit athletes.

Acupuncture is one of the most effective and noninvasive ways to treat pain, and improve range of motion and functionality in a muscle group. We use traditional techniques to relieve pain and tension, as well as trigger point acupuncture to release targeted muscles. Rather then allowing an injury to linger and having to modify every workout, athletes can get treatment and correct the problem, preventing further imbalance in the muscles and overall body structure. It allows for faster recovery time, which lets you get back to doing the sport you love. We all know how much you would hate to miss a “filthy fifty”.

Whether you are a CrossFit beginner, or training for the games, acupuncture will help you get back into the box.

Lentils With Spinach

Here is a recipe that is easy and healthy! It is vegan, low fat, high in plant based protein and chlorophyl (see the benefits of chlorophyl here). This recipe is so pleasing to the  palate, I think I could eat it every day. It consists of only seven ingredients, including salt! Try experimenting with additional ingredients to add some new flavors and textures, for example, kale or roasted hazel nuts. I found the basis for this recipe in the book “Thrive Foods” by Brendan Brazier. I simply adapted the recipe a little by adding onions and substituting kale for the spinach.

(Makes about 4 – 1 cup servings)

Ingredients

1 tbsp Coconut Oil

3-5 cloves chopped garlic

1/2 lemon

1/2 onion – diced

3-4 C Chicken Broth or vegetable broth

1 C Red Lentils – well rinsed

3 C spinach or de-spined kale

Salt and/or pepper to taste

**Makes about 4 servings

Directions:

  • Add coconut oil to Dutch oven or similar high sided saute pan and place over medium to low heat.
  • Add onions and saute for about 2-4 minutes or until it begins to brown
  • Add garlic and saute for 2-4 minutes
  • Add 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth and add lentils – bring to boil
  • Back off temperature and simmer without lid for between 30 – 40 minutes, adding broth as it cooks to maintain moisture and broth base. Cook until lentils are tender
  • Add spinach and mix as you simmer for 2-4 minutes until it is wilted and mixed into lentils
  • Remove from heat and squeeze lemon over the top, add salt, mix and serve

The Power of Mint

Most everyone has heard of mint, and have likely grown it in their garden at some point. Mint is also a Chinese herb called Bo He. In Chinese medicine, it is used to expel wind-heat from the head region, and treats symptoms like fever, headaches, red eyes, cough and sore throat. It is also used to help vent rashes of the skin by bringing pathogens to the surface to speed up healing.

Because of it’s aromatic properties, mint is commonly added during the last 5 minutes of an herbal decoction. Drinking mint tea before bed can stop nightmares in their tracks. In Chinese medicine, nightmares come from heart heat. Mint helps clear heat in the body and in turn can eliminate nightmares. Breathing in vapors from mint tea can also help clear cold symptoms in the head. It is cheap, easy and is very effective. It is also safe for kids.

Peppermint essential oil and a muscle gel with menthol (we like Dynamint) are two great remedies to combat cold and flu symptoms. Body aches are a terrible symptom of a bad virus, but applying a thin layer of Dynamint over the muscles of the back and neck can reduce body aches by up to 95%! Sinus pressure is another debilitating symptom. It makes it difficult to think, eat and even sleep. Spreading a thin layer of peppermint oil over your sinuses (above the eyebrows and below the eyes) will really relieve the pain. Just be sure to avoid the eyes!