Cinnamon has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years in ancient cultures and dates back to Biblical times. Cinnamon has long been believed to be an anti-inflammatory, a boost to the immune system, and an aid in longevity.
There have been modern studies that show that adding cinnamon to the body lowers blood sugar. In 2003 Diabetes Care published an article of a study of 60 people who took different amounts of cinnamon pills; all showed a decrease in blood sugar levels, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
1. Proven to lower blood sugar in diabetics
2. Lowers blood sugar and insulin levels which makes a person less hungry. Also there is some evidence that Cinnamon speeds up the metabolism.
3. Increases memory and boosts cognitive function
4. Has an anti-clotting effect
5. Eases the pain of menstrual cramps
6. Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
7. A source of manganese, fiber and iron
8. Works as an anti-inflammatory
9. Reduces the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells (found in a study by the Department of Agriculture in Maryland)
10. Increases the immune system which keeps us well.
Most commonly used Cinnamon is Cassia but Ceylon, though more expensive, may have better results. Here are three ways to add cinnamon to your health routine.
1. Add Cinnamon powder to your food. It’s especially yummy in coffee.
2. Drink Cinnamon tea with honey
3. Use Cinnamon oils in Aromatherapy
(Be sure to be careful with Cinnamon, some people are allergic to it and it is a very potent herb. If you take too much Cinnamon it can have a harmful effect. Be especially careful with the essential oil, less is more with Cinnamon.)
When it comes to being healthy inside and out we have to get real. I mean foods. We also have to get real about what processed foods are doing to our health and body. Our bodies are designed to eat food and I do mean food. That seems obvious, except for the fact that we don't do it. I am not referring to what Michael Pollan, the modern day food hero and activist, would call "tasty food-like substances,” You know, those over-processed things we love to eat that are lacking in any nutrients, vitamins and minerals that maintain a healthy body or weight. I mean let’s get real about processed foods, here are some of the consequences:
Here are some of the enemies of your health that are in processed foods that lead to many of these health problems:
Here are some benefits to consistently consuming real whole foods in our diet. The real foods I mean are those you still can recognize where they came from like fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats and, yogurt, honey, nuts, whole grains and legumes etc...
Dr. Drew Ramsey of the book Eat Complete gives us a little rhyme to remind us which foods are chock full of nutrients - seafood, greens, nuts, & beans. When we eat for health, we will find ourselves living life to the fullest. The best way to see real change in our lives is to add something in over time so it becomes a habit. So everyday we can add more real food and eliminate those “tasty food-like substances.” Of course never say never, life is best lived in moderation.
Pic by Trinette Reed
It is easy to get caught up in the negative. The reality is we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, and we could focus on that, the news stations do. There are a ton of things wrong with people but there are also a ton of things pretty right about them too.
Having traveled in developing nations, I have found that I can appreciate some of the simpler things in life such as running water, electricity, the kindness of strangers, and clean drinking water. If you live in the United States, own a car, a house or TV, you are richer than 99% of the people of the world.
There is nothing redeemable or justifiable in complaining about the trivial. It is too easy to focus on what we do not have while overlooking what we do have. When we focus and talk about the positive things in our lives, we remind ourselves of all the good in the world; and we allow gratitude in our lives.
Being positive directs our steps. If we say such things as "I'm no good at writing" or "I'll never do anything that matters," then we will probably not be good at writing and we’ll likely never do anything that matters. When we start to speak the positive possibilities into the future, we will begin to see our destiny shape.
In "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn tell a story about a woman named Tererai from Zimbabwe. Tererai grew up in a small village where mostly the boys were the only ones allowed to be educated because of limited resources. Tererai's parents did allow her to go to school for awhile, but then they arranged for her to marry a man when she turned eleven.
The husband turned out to be abusive and forbade her to educate herself anymore. Her life intersected with an organization called Heifer International, an aid organization that is based out of Arkansas that provides cows, goats, chickens, and other animals to farmers in developing nations. The president of Heifer International, Jo Luck, talked to Tererai and told her that things did not have to be the way they were.
She encouraged her to write down her goals. Tererai was a married mid-twenties woman living in Zimbabwe without a formal education, but she dared to dream and wrote down her goals. She wrote that one day she would go to the U.S., earn her bachelor's degree, masters and eventually her PhD.
Admittedly, those were pretty big goals. As the years passed she would cross off the goals she achieved. She began with correspondence classes and eventually got into Oklahoma State University where she earned her degree while working nights to support herself. She would go back home to visit her children and family and cross off her goals.
She received her Masters while living in Arkansas working for Heifer International. She returned back home to her family and crossed off her second goal. She is now in Michigan with her children earning her PhD.
We cannot allow the excuses of life to keep us from our dreams. If you’ve given up on your dreams I dare you to dream again. You are here on the planet for a purpose. If you are living the dream and you're tired and weary, I’m here to tell you don’t grow weary in doing good. You are made for this. You got this and God has you.
Dreams really do come true. They come true when we write them down, when we focus on the positive, when we focus on what we can do, and not what we cannot do. Dreams are achieved when we are content with small beginnings, and when we are patient, diligent and persistent with the little things. Then over time, and really, over some more time (longer than we would all care to admit) we will see the impossible become the possible. We will find ourselves fulfilled as we live out our calling and our destiny.
Pic by Heart Visuals
The biggest fight in soul care is the fight against stress. We are all built with this Flight or Fight instinct. It is great and essential when we are about to be eaten by an angry mama bear. Our body surveys the situation and we start running with tremendous speed and endurance, because our adrenal glands are kicked in high gear and we have cortisol running through our body.
Fight or Flight is, again, great to avoid that bear, but not so much when we are dealing with a temperamental boss, lazy employees, a computer that doesn't work, locating our phones for the fifth time of the day or dealing with our children who are acting uncharacteristically unruly.
That is when we do not need our body going into Fight or Flight. Having a ton of hormones racing through our body for hours on end does not serve us well. Stress comes in many ways, some we have no control over, and some we've pretty much created ourselves. We can't help the uncontrollable crisis, inflation, and other people's conflict driven lives, but we can take a look at some things we could do to reduce stress. Here are some thoughts on managing stress:
Manage Money: Finances can be a huge drain and tremendous stress on people's lives. One of the main reasons that some marriages end in divorce are over money issues. So let’s take control of our finances. Maybe that is easier said than done, but at minimum we can begin to learn about how to manage our money. We can get an emergency fund. Dave Ramsey who is my favorite money guru says to have at least $1000.00 in your account for emergencies even before you start paying off your debt.
We can also make out a budget each month and put the money we’ve appointed in marked envelopes so we don't over spend that month. Check out Dave Ramsey because he excels in finance which is not my forte. I practice "shopping and travel therapy" as legitimate forms of therapy, but I have adopted many Dave principles in my life and they have served me well.
Create Boundaries: This one has changed my life. There was a time in my life that I allowed people to manipulate and take advantage of me. I have actually worked so hard at having firm boundaries that I can go to the other extreme and tell people no for really no apparent reason. No was such a hard word for me. I took some advice from a wise woman in my life and I practiced in the mirror. I actually practiced saying 'No.’ It is very liberating. Give it a try. When we over commit, enable an addict or endure a manipulative person we will have a lot of stress in our lives. Try out the word "no" and see how it feels. Here are a few sentences to practice with. "No I don't want to see you anymore, I've moved on with my life," or "No, I can't add anything this season right now." Now, some of you might not have enough stress. So if you never volunteer, hang out with friends or try something new, you might try practicing the word "yes.”
Owning a planner: I know that it seems like a lot of work but it's not. It's so important to get everything out of our head and on to paper or entered electronically. I heard that Albert Einstein didn't even know his own home address because he wouldn't waste information like that in his brain. I do hope he had it written down somewhere though. Anyway the point is, if you manage your time, you are going to put an end to a lot of needless stress like missing appointments, being late for meetings and wasting a lot of time you could be spending with friends and family or serving a cause that you are passionate about.
Resolve Conflict: I used to be a person who would run from conflict as fast as my legs would carry me. I've come to learn the hard way that unresolved conflict is a stress nightmare. I just remember that whenever I go into conflict, I think about how this situation can be resolved. If we think "conflict resolution" then we are a lot more likely to see good results than a blood bath. Also, I try not to take things too personally. I give people a human moment and look for the best. We are only allowed to not forgive if we are completely perfect.
Learn to Laugh: There's a proverb that says, "Laughter is a good medicine.” When we laugh, the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and dopamine are reduced. Also, laughing increases the happy hormones such as endorphins and serotonin. When these happy hormones are increased our immune system rises countering the effects of the stress in our body. When we have a great belly laugh it's like we are getting a workout from the inside. The best thing about laughter is, it brings perspective. It probably is not really a mama bear that is chasing us. Laughing can remind us that this stress is not the end of the world.
Learn to Relax: Sometimes I have to remind myself to lighten up. I heard somebody say once, "If I've talked myself into being this stressed out, then I can talk myself down too." There are a few tricks to do if you find yourself really stressed out.
Take Care of Yourself: Eating clean, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders for fighting stress. When I find myself getting stressed out the first thing I do is go for a walk. Going for a walk is probably the best way to reduce stress and create a good sense of well being. Walking gives you time to think, smell the roses, and again raises those happy hormones in your body. In a study in 1999, the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that people who walked and did other easy to moderate exercise in their routines had lower stress levels in their lives than those who didn't. We can get out there and move when we begin to feel those stress hormones starting to shoot through our bodies. Our bodies will think that we are escaping that mama bear and will begin to relax.
Begin to Pray: Have you heard the story about the guy climbing in the mountains? The weather began to turn and clouds started to settle around him and he couldn't see. He ended up missing a step. He started to slip off the mountain and grabbed a limb. He was hanging from this limb for a while and no one was answering his screams. He decided what the heck, maybe he would pray to God for help. He yelled, "Is there anyone up there? I need some help.” He heard a peaceful voice say, ‘Let Go’. He thought about it and yelled "Is there anybody else up there?"
Letting go and trusting God is generally the complete opposite of what our natural minds want to do. The reality is that there are too many variables in life to be able to control them all. I have found when I let go and trust God, I find immediate peace. 12 step programs have a great saying "Let go, Let God.” It's short and catchy and sometimes it's just what I need to remind myself not to freak out by whatever is going on. By the way, the guy in that story was only two feet from a sturdy ledge, he just couldn't see it.
Chronic stress is truly dangerous to our bodies. Some of the effects that long term stress can lead to are: depression, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, obesity, mental health issues, ulcers, chronic illnesses.
As we learn how to stress less we will become healthier holistically and able to pursue the dreams in our hearts and soar into our future.
Pic by Lior + Lone
Stephen Covey once said "Our greatest joy and our greatest pain comes in our relationships with others.” Life can be like a journey on the high seas, we will need to navigate it well with our crewmates on board. We may have chosen some of our crew already or they have been chosen for us; but from this point forward we take responsibility for our choices in future relationships and set the tone on the ones we have now. Here are some thoughts on navigating relationships well:
As we sail on this journey we can keep our relationships healthy by communicating love to our crew in both words and actions. As John Lennon said “We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it.”
Pic by The Lovins
How do you take care of yourself? Are there some fundamental things that you do on a regular basis to tend to your soul needs? I have found that there are three areas of life that, when neglected, can be the source of a dry and weary soul. On the other hand, much can be accomplished in our lives and in the lives of others if these three categories are given mindful attention:
Our bodies need rest in order to function properly. This probably sounds obvious but, in reality, many people ignore the physical signs of unrest. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I replacing rest with other things that promise fulfillment but really only bring busy-ness?”
When we do too much, even in the name of Christian service, we can get burned out and depleted very quickly. How does your body show you when it needs a cat nap? Simple, you become achy in your bones, your brain gets a bit foggy, and your attitude is just plain cranky.
Mentally, you are not able to function well enough to complete assignments or work tasks. Emotionally, you are all over the place from one minute to the next. Physically, you don’t want to get up off the couch. Does this sound familiar? If so, do yourself a favor and take some time to rest. Turn off the television. Put down the phone. Social media will still be active when you wake up. And you just might rise and shine with a whole new perspective on life.
We need people. As the first line of John Donne’s famous poem says, “No man is an island.” No matter how strong we think we are, we need people in our lives to help us when the times are hard. And, believe me, times get hard.
Relationships are a literal lifeline when life is good and when life is bad. I’m not just talking about people to hang out with on Saturday night. I’m talking about the “real deal” people that know your junk (cause we all have junk) and love you anyways.
Do you have someone to talk to when the rug gets pulled out from beneath you? Do you have someone that will point you back to the grace of God when you are having a hard time seeing His goodness? These types of relationships are vital to a healthy, vibrant soul. Whose house can you stop by uninvited for an impromptu dinner? And whose phone number is memorized because she is the first person you call for prayer? If no names come to mind, then today is the day to make new friends or reach out to some old ones. God created us to exist in the context of community.
Now, I realize that we are not all runners. Many of us cannot run because of health issues or physical limitations. But the word “run” is important to the subject of soul care, because the focus is movement. Are you moving or just staying still? Do you have a goal to keep you on the healthy track or do you just coast through each day with your feelings as your guide? Our feelings can make us feel stuck and therefore prevent us from moving our feet. But our feet are meant to go somewhere. Moving our bodies is essential to overall health.
Running is an activity that boosts our mood and relieves our stress. It is a fantastic exercise to get our blood pumping and our body moving. But, if we are really focusing on soul care, I would say that this word could be replaced with any word that motivates you to get active. So, if you hate running, that’s ok! Just do the type of exercise that you enjoy. Zumba, kickboxing, walking, swimming and pilates are all other fun ways to get up and work out.
Why does this matter to our soul’s happiness? Because we feel better when we exercise. And when we feel better we perform at a higher level, are a little bit nicer to those in our world, and take more care of ourselves. Oh, and the healthier we are, the more capable we are of running the race that God has called us to with fervor and passion.
Let me end this soul care therapy session with one last piece of advice. The Bible talks about our body being “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) Since this is the truth, we get this great privilege to take care of ourselves. When our soul is fed through adequate rest, loving relationships, and consistent exercise, we are honoring God. And that, to me, is all that matters.
by Tania Woods
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Pic by Natasha Breen
I don’t know about y’all but once the temperatures drops I turn into a hibernating bear. I strongly dislike the cold and only venture out when it’s absolutely needed. This leads to a lot of binge watching and stuffing my face...naturally. It also leads to the spring panic - the weather gets a little warmer and you realize summer is right around the corner. Eek!
Summer is my time to shine, my time to be outside. I blossom in the summer like a Gloriosa daisy. Since I’m outside all the time this is when I’m most active. However, the bod is never where I’d prefer it to be because of my poor choices during the winter siesta. So bathing suit cover ups are my bestie. Well, “no more!” I say.
I’ve decided to really commit to my fitness plans this year during the colder months. I’ve committed myself to going to the gym at least 6 days a week and have also started little 30 day challenges that target different parts of the body.
However, as we all know and have been told by fitness experts and when I say fitness experts, I mean the internet and Oprah’s trainers - diet is key. So with that I have whipped up a delicious winter salad that lends itself to having an earthy and hearty flavor. It will leave you satisfied and not like you’ve eaten way too much. It’s also under 500 calories and if you take out the blue cheese this salad is Daniel Fast approved! So friends, below I share this recipe with you. Enjoy!
T’s Tip: place the salad in a dish that makes you feel good. We not only eat with our mouths but we also eat with our eyes so presentation is key before indulgence.
Winter Salad Recipe:
Amount per serving - 1
Calories - 305
Pic by Tigerpix Images
I am getting ready for a trip to Ireland in February and I can tell that I am already excited. I find myself packing and repacking and I am still weeks away. I am a travel junkie and I truly believe that travel is good for the soul. Vacations in general are good emotionally because it gives a person time to relax and become rejuvenated.
A study published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal said that women who vacation more were less likely to be depressed, tense and more satisfied with their marriages. I am assuming this works both ways, so if you are married you might want to show your spouse this study. The study suggested that breaks from everyday stressors can produce more enjoyment in a person's life.
When I get back from traveling I am generally rested and able to perform life's task with energy and a renewed vision. We can all be in seasons of life where we feel overwhelmed and exhausted but I find that a lot of the joy of traveling is in the planning.
As we start to plan a vacation, it will give us vision to endure the short term stresses of life; and then when we are able to get away, we can relax, replenish, restore and revitalize. So let’s make some travel plans for 2016 to see that big beautiful world out there, as Saint Augustine said - “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Pic by Jacob Lund
I for one am not making unrealistic goals for 2016, but I have decided to initiate some healthy habits that overtime will become a natural part of my life.
Since we are designed to move, I am deciding to set time each day to dedicate to exercise. The truth is, for centuries people walked up to ten miles a day, worked in the fields, and spent their lives constantly in motion. It is only in the last century that people began to move less and we have paid the price for it.
Exercise is not only good for our physical bodies but it is imperative to our emotional well being. In 1999 Duke University did a study and proved that exercise was just as effective as anti-depressants at treating depression. Exercise is fundamental to our physical and mental health. If we are not exercising then we are not really living our lives at full potential.
I happen to love to run and by run I mean jog. I put in my ears to my IPOD and jog on the treadmill or outside for at least half an hour if the weather is nice, and I actually enjoy it. Of course, it didn’t start out that way. I remember the first time I decided I wanted to be a runner and I went out for a walk. I jogged for 30 seconds, fell to the ground and seriously contemplated vomiting. However, I did not give up.
My dad who was a runner for 40 years gave me some advice. He said just run until you can't and then walk till you get your breath and run again. So several years later I can jog and I enjoy it. I also enjoy yoga and pilates and some other exercise classes as well. I have found that if I find something I enjoy then I am more likely to keep doing it. I also like to remind myself of the benefits of exercise and use that for motivation: weight loss, reduced stress, higher energy, better sleep, improved flexibility, improved balance, improved overall appearance.
Strength training is important as well. I’ve been told by health professionals that adults lose 5% of muscle every ten years. Since muscle speeds up our metabolism, we may find it's not as easy to lose weight as we did a few years ago. We have to burn more calories than we did ten years ago. However, I plan to beat this problem through weight and resistance training this year. Again for motivation I remind myself that some of the benefits of strength training are: higher metabolism, toner muscles, stronger bones, Improved balance, and Improved mood.
If I do something for a short-term goal then I know I will lose motivation at some point, so I am going to be exercising and strength training more as a way of life, so that I am a happier and healthier me in 2016, care to join me?
Pic by Oksana Kovach
I find that it's generally the middle of winter when my body begins to try to come down with a cold. There are certain tricks I will try to beat a cold with before it starts. I sprinkle cayenne pepper on my eggs in the morning, I up my Vitamin C & D intake, and I make my Mom's homemade winter veggie soup as much as possible.
Here is the recipe with her blessings!
One large Sweet Potato, cut in chunks
One large Onion, cut in chunks
Three stalks Celery, cut diagonally in about 1” pieces
Two medium Carrots, cut as you like them
One clove Garlic, minced
One large bag Spinach, or package frozen Spinach
Two cups chopped up Tomatoes
If you have these lying around the icebox, they would be good:
One Leek, carefully cleaned and sliced, white part only
One bulb Fennel (Anise), sliced in strips
Butter for sautéing
Water for boiling
Salt and pepper to taste
A little Thyme, to taste
Boil the Sweet Potato, and
if using frozen Spinach, cook it half the time the package suggests.
If using fresh spinach, just make sure it is nice and clean.
Saute the Onion, Celery, Carrots, Garlic, and Leek and Fennel if using;
When the onion is nice and yellow and the carrots have softened a bit,
Add the Tomatoes. Season well with Salt, Pepper (I prefer White Pepper), Bay leaves, Thyme
When the Sweet Potatoes are nearly the consistency you will want them in the soup, add all other ingredients and let bubble merrily until you are ready to eat it.