November 2021 Upcoming Issue
DYING WELL plus BRAIN HEALTH
Feature: Dying Well
Byline: Ronica O’Hara
Most of us want to die at home in our own beds, yet only one in five of us attain that gentle final exit. Anxiety about death often means we defer conversations and practical planning, which makes stressful “medicalization” of the dying process more likely. Although death has its own schedule, we can lower the chances of dying in the ICU by attaining clarity as to our values and desires, having discussions about our end-of-life choices, attending to necessary paperwork and opening to our spiritual process. Knowing the right words to say also eases the process of planning and being with a loved one in their final hours.
Healing Ways: Brain Health
Byline: Linda Sechrist
Functional medicine experts are helping to shift the old paradigm of inevitable aging and cognitive decline into a new one based on the brain’s neuroplasticity. Strategies they advocate to preserve cognitive skills include good nutrition, exercise, reducing inflammation and stress levels, balancing hormone levels, cultivating healthy relationships and getting restorative sleep. Eating plant-based diets, supplementing to improve gut health and insulin sensitivity, and reducing exposure to toxins are also brain-healthy steps.
Fit Body: Sacred Dance
Byline: Marlaina Donato
All dance is good for our physical and mental health, and spirit-infused dance forms from Africa and the Middle East and ecstatic and yoga-inspired kundalini dance also fortify the body’s intrinsic life force. The mostly barefoot classes draw from a deep cultural well and often include the infectious heartbeat of live music.
Healthy Kids: Mindfulness for Teens
Byline: Erin Lehn
With the pandemic, social media and political unrest as well as the normal adolescent growing pains roiling their lives, teens today are as stressed as adults. Mindfulness training, which teaches them to focus non-judgmentally on the moment, has been shown to help them become calm, centered and grounded. To teach mindfulness, schools are training individual teachers and adopting school-wide curriculums. With a sidebar on 10 simple mindfulness practices.
Wise Words: David Crow on Natural Medicine
Byline: Randy Kambic
The botanical medicine expert and author of In Search of the Medicine Buddha discusses how we need plants to survive as a human species, why people are seeking out natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs, how indigenous and shamanic use of plants for healing are woven into a culture’s spiritual practices and the importance of preparation, orientation and guidance in the use of highly potent psychoactive plants.
Conscious Eating: Food and Mental Health +Thanksgiving Recipes
Byline: Christy Ratliff
About one in five Americans are struggling with mental health issues, numbers that are rising during the pandemic among both adults and children. The good news is that the gut-brain connection makes help as close by as our own kitchen. Eating a nutrient-rich diet and making sure we have sufficient vitamin levels enables key neurotransmitter production. The best Thanksgiving dinner strategy is not to eliminate family favorites, but to add in new dishes and more vegetables to classic ones. With sidebars on brain-healthy foods and four recipes.
Byline: Marlaina Donato
Hugs have proven power to soothe and nurture us, and it’s not necessary to have another human to enjoy their benefits. Hugging a tree is encouraged by the forest service in Iceland, and 43 percent of American adults—most of them men—cuddle with stuffed animals. In a time of chaotic uncertainty, isolation and change, hugs can be medicine; they can also be a powerful metaphor and reminder to remain open, willing and beautifully human.
Green Living: Eco-Furniture
Byline: Sandra Yeyati
With a little up-front research, we can seek out and purchase non-toxic, ecologically responsible furniture that’s built to last and won’t pollute the environment. Independent certifications help us confirm that wood has been sustainably harvested and textiles have been made from organically grown, non-polluting, toxin-fee materials. Five classes of carcinogenic chemicals commonly found in furniture can be searched out and avoided. Other options include furniture made with recycled plastic or discarded wood.
Natural Pet: Pet Loss
Byline: Marlaina Donato
When a pet dies, the grief can be as great as that of losing a family member. A pet gives unconditional love and mourning its demise is also to celebrate its life. In-home euthanasia can make a heartbreaking time more bearable for both pet and owner. Pet funerals that include stories and poetry are increasingly common, and some families find solace in putting together a scrapbook of memories or putting cremated remains in specially created urns.
Eco Tip: MicroplasticsThe microparticles that result from the breakdown of plastics are contaminating waters, air, soil and even snow globally, and are showing up in the foods and beverages we consume. To avoid ingesting the particles, don’t drink plastic-bottled water, pass up microbeads in beauty products, wear clothes made of natural fabrics, wash and dry synthetic clothes differently, consume less meat and fish, drive less, and vacuum and dust regularly.