Is Sunscreen Safe?

Is Sunscreen Safe?

Are you like one of the millions of Americans who slathers sunscreen on yourself and your family? Did you know that many commercially available sunscreens may cause health issues?

Sunscreens fall into two broad categories – chemical and mineral. Most of the commercial brands that you see in stores are the chemical variety. They use chemical filters to protect your skin from the sun and they typically contain some the following chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Some products are combinations of mineral and chemical sunscreens.

According to the Environmental Working Group, studies indicate that chemical sunscreen ingredients may interfere with human hormones such as our sex (estrogen and testosterone) and thyroid hormones and that exposure to one of the chemical, oxybenzone, caused lower testosterone production in adolescent boys. Oxybenzone and other chemicals were even found secreted in mother’s milk. These sunscreens are also associated with a potential skin cancer risk. Additionally, many chemical sunscreens cause skin sensitivities and allergic reactions. Even though laboratory studies indicate that there may be health related issues with chemical hormones, the FDA hasn’t reviewed the evidence of sunscreen safety due to the grandfathering in of sunscreen ingredients in the 1970’s.

A less toxic alternative is mineral-based sunscreens. For a list of recommended mineral-based sunscreens visit: and

One final note: you can increase your body’s ability to withstand the UVA and UVB radiation through great nutrition. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which have a protective effect. Also, salmon has protective effects. Of course, this is not a substitute for proper sun protection (mineral sunscreen, hat, long-sleeves). Have an enjoyable and safe summer!

Until next time…

Are you interested in working with me to achieve peak vitality and optimal weight?

Heartburn 101 – how to get off your meds and heal yourself naturally

Heartburn 101 – how to get off your meds and heal yourself naturally

If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from heartburn, you are in good company. At least one third of Americans suffer from heartburn at least once per month. This article will cover the cause of heartburn, why you need to get off your little purple pill (or other heartburn medication) and how to treat heartburn naturally.

What is heartburn and why is potentially dangerous?

The word “heartburn” is a bit of a misnomer since heartburn is not a disease of the heart. It is due to an irritation of the esophagus caused by stomach acid. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle that divides the esophagus from the stomach and it operates like a valve – allowing food into the stomach and then closing tightly to prevent stomach acid from going back into the esophagus or refluxing. If the LES is not tight enough or it opens too frequently, stomach acids from the stomach (such as acid, pepsin, and bile) can go backwards up the esophagus causing the burning sensation we call heartburn. Refluxing acid can also cause cough or hoarseness. If reflux occurs frequently, this is referred to as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Over time, GERD can lead to esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophagus or to a more serious illness called Barrett’s Esophagus. In Barrett’s Esophagus, the presence of gastric acid in a place where it is not supposed to be (the esophagus) can cause the cells that line the esophagus to change their structure and sometimes this progresses to cancer.

A few of the more common symptoms of heartburn:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough and hoarseness
  • Burning sensation in throat and/or chest
  • Sour taste
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Burping

Certain substances can relax or trigger the LES including:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Garlic and onion
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Products containing caffeine
  • Peppermint
  • Fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomato
  • Processed foods
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications including, anticholinergic drugs (like scopolamine), iron pills, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen etc.), potassium, sedative, bisphosphonates (used to treat osteoporosis), beta blockers and calcium channel blockers (blood pressure pills)

Other potential causes

  • Eating right before bed or reclining on a full stomach
  • Overeating
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Magnesium deficiency (magnesium is necessary for relaxing the LES)
  • Food sensitivities – gluten and dairy are big offenders
  • An overgrowth of yeast (like candida) or bacteria (like H. Pylori)
  • Lack of sleep.( For more information on sleep hygiene and techniques for better sleep, check out my blog and my podcast on New Jersey Women’s Health Summit.
  • Hiatal hernia, where a portion of the stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm where the esophagus normally fits snugly
  • Celiac disease
  • Esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • History of GERD as a child
  • Lack of stomach acid

Treatment Strategies

The Little Purple Pill

Many of my patients have been using Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) to manage their symptoms of heartburn for years . In fact, across the US, approximately 15 million Americans rely on these medications daily to control the discomfort of their heartburn. Examples of PPI’s include Esomeprazole (Nexium) Omeprazole (Prilosec), Pantoprazole (Protonix) or Lansoprazole (Prevacid).

 How PPI’s work and their potential risks

These medications work by suppressing molecules responsible for the release of stomach acid. They medications may give symptomatic relief but there are problems with these drugs. As a result of long-term use, the body fights back and produces MORE acid and, suppressing the stomach acid regularly appears to weaken the LES.

Here are some of the potential risks of PPI use:

  • Risk of heart attack
  • Risk of pneumonia
  • Overgrowth of bad bugs leading to bloating
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies notably B12, magnesium and zinc. * Vitamin deficiencies themselves can cause a whole host of issues such as fatigue, neuropathies, depression, memory problems, osteoporosis and more.
  • Risk of anemia (since iron absorption is affected)
  • Risk for hip fracture in patients with osteoporosis

* This is because PPI’s deplete the stomach of acid stomach necessary for the digestion of foods and for nutrient absorbing.

Stopping your PPI

Don’t stop your PPI cold turkey as this may cause severe rebound of symptoms. Gradually begin to lower your dose and spread the dosage out over time (once ever other day, then every three days, etc.). Once you are down to the lowest dose, you can start substituting with an over-the-counter H2 blocker like Tagamet or Zantac. Then wean off the H2 blocker over the next several weeks.

Alternative ways to treat your heartburn

  • Eat real whole, unprocessed foods – lots of fruits and veggies. Eat your foods cooked, avoid a lot of raw foods for a week or so. Avoid refined sugars, white flour, junk food and alcohol.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Eat approx every 3 hours and stop eating at least 3 hours before bed.
  • Reduce or eliminate potential triggers like nicotine, tomato, coffee and spicy foods. Consider a 21 day trial of eliminating gluten and dairy.
  • Breathe before you eat. Eating while stressed is a recipe for disaster…your food might even go up instead of down. Dr. Mark Hyman suggests the “Take 5 Method.” Take five breaths before each meal. Count in for 5, count out for 5 and breathe deeply.
  • Acid Supplementation with apple cider vinegar. This may seem counterintuitive but acid replacement can be extremely effective in reducing incidence of GERD. Adding a weak acid like apple cider vinegar can help tone the LES. Try: 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (1-2 teaspoons daily –can put in warm water)
  • Take a betaine hydrochloric acid supplement. Start with 1-2 capsules prior to a meal or snack. This will help with digestion and also works to eliminate the helicobacter.
  • Try a digestive enzyme. Take 2-3 before a meal. Some come packaged with betaine hydrochloric acid.
  • Deglycerized Licorice (DGL). Chew 2-3 tablets before a meal or snack.
  • Probiotics and Prebiotic supplementation. Probiotics come in many forms. I recommend a supplement with at least a 15 billion colonies. Prebiotics are non-digestible plant fibers.
  • Vitamin D. Get your levels checked. Aim for 40-60 ng/mL
  • Other helpful supplements: 75100 grams zinc carnosine 2x per day between meals, 3-5 grams glutamine powder in water 2x per day, 400-500 mg of magnesium glycate per day.

I hope you find these suggestions useful for getting letting go of your dependence on medications and helping you feel better.

Until next time,

Jenny Kalina PA-C



The Basics of Heartburn,” WebMD, March 18, 2015, accessed May 15, 2016,

“Why You Should Get Off Prescription Acid-Reducing Drugs ASAP!” September 5, 2009. Accessed May 15, 2016.

“7 Steps To Reverse Acid Reflux – Dr. Mark Hyman.” Dr Mark Hyman. 2013. Accessed May 17, 2016.

“Slippery Elm.” 1997. Accessed May 16, 2016.

“Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease,” 1997, accessed May 17, 2016,

Douglas A Corley et al., “Proton Pump Inhibitors and Histamine-2 Receptor Antagonists Are Associated with Hip Fractures Among at-Risk Patients – Gastroenterology,” Gastroenterology 139, no. 1 (July 1, 2010), accessed May 17, 2016.

Nigam H. Shah et al., “Proton Pump Inhibitor Usage and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction in the General Population,” ed. Yiru Guo, PLOS ONE 10, no. 6 (June 10, 2015), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124653.

“Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Heart Disease in Houston Study,” July 10, 2013, accessed May 17, 2016,

“Popular Heartburn Pills Can Be Hard to Stop, and May Be Risky,” February 15, 2016, accessed May 16, 2016,

El-Serag HB, Petersen NJ, Carter J, et al. Gastroesophageal reflux among different racial groups in the United States. Gastroenterology. 2004;126:1692–1699.


Is Lack of Sleep Making us Fat and Sick?

Is Lack of Sleep Making us Fat and Sick?

Are you one of the many millions of Americans who sleep less than 8 hours per night either because of insomnia or habit? Sleep is one of the essential biological needs of the human body. Sleep deprivation is becoming more and more common worldwide as we adapt a 24/7 lifestyle including longer working hours and increased overnight shifts. Overall, there has been a significant reduction in total sleeping hours for both adults and children.

Many of us notice that even one night of poor sleep has a strong and almost immediate affect on our memory, judgment and ability to perform many of life’s daily complex tasks and many also know that sleep is an important factor in brain development, learning, memory, processing, repair on a cellular level. But, did you know that sleep deprivation, over time can also lead to some very serious issues such as obesity, diabetes, inflammation and decreased immune function?

Among the many issues connected to sleep deprivation are:

  • Obesity for kids and adults secondary to hormonal changes and increased snacking
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemias (unhealthy changes in cholesterol which put you at risk for heart disease)
  • Decreased cognitive functioning in children and adults
  • Decrease in immune function
  • Increase in overall inflammation
  • Decrease in neuro-cognitive functioning
  • Increase in traffic and other accidents (including nuclear accidents!)
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Decrease in sexual desire and sexual performance
  • Depression
  • General increase in all-cause mortality

The Optimum Amount of Sleep

Although there isn’t a consensus on the exact amount of hours for sleep, research suggest 7- 8 hours uninterrupted sleep per night is optimal. Less than that puts you at risk. Note that I say uninterrupted sleep. A vast majority of my patients who complain of insomnia are able to fall asleep but they cannot STAY asleep. This so-called broken sleep insomnia is also a risk factor for a variety of health concerns.

 How can You Improve Your Sleep?

Improving sleep takes a multi-discliplinary approach. Some techniques work for some and some for others. Try a few of the suggestions below and see which ones work for you!

  1. First and foremost, make sleep your priority. Too many of my patients put sleep to the back burner.  It is one of the most important human needs and you must prioritize it.
  2. Improve your “sleep hygiene.” Try to get into bed by 10 pm each night. The room should be very dark (try black out blinds and/or an eye mask). The room should not be too warm and it should be very quiet. Avoid all close to face screens (tablets, smart phones, laptops and computer) at least 2 hours before sleep. Avoid eating at least 2 hours before sleep. Empty your bladder fully. If you watch TV, it must be switched off before you drift off (many TV’s have a timer you can utilize). The TV should be several feet from the bed. Avoid watching violent or upsetting shows or movies or the news before bed. And, have all electronics (including smartphones, tablets, computers and digital alarm clocks) several feet from your bed while you sleep.
  3. Set the scene for successful sleep by taking a warm bath with 1-2 cups of Epson Salt, 1 cup of baking soda and a few drops of lavender oil.
  4. Exercise.  Start with 25-30 minutes per day 3-4 times per week (walking is great exercise by the way) and work up to 150 minutes per week.
  5. Try yoga. Regular yoga practice has been shown to improve the restfulness of sleep.
  6. Get tested for sleep apnea. If you are overweight, if you have been told you snore regularly, if you don’t feel rested most mornings even after a good night sleep, if you have daytime drowsiness or find that you need to nap a lot, talk to your health care provider about a sleep study. People with sleep apnea are not getting restful sleep. They may not be aware but their brains are waking them many many times during the night putting them at risk. Sleep apnea itself has been tied to heart failure and other cardiac issues, diabetes as well as weight gain. If you have been diagnosed and are struggling with your sleep machine (and it’s gathering dust), talk to your provider about an alternative type of machine that you would be more willing to use.
  7. Lose weight. Weight is associated with sleep apnea which increases your risk for sleep issues (as well as diabetes and heart disease). A weight gain of as little as 10% can be predictive of sleep-disordered breathing.
  8. Get some natural sun light every day. Try for 10 minutes twice a day. We need exposure to sunlight on a daily basis to produce the hormones we need for sleep (as well as many other processes in the body).
  9. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Avoid caffeinated beverages or foods (ex. chocolate) after 12 noon. Keep your caffeine consumption to 1-3 cups of tea or coffee per day.
  10. Reduce or eliminate sugars and refined carbohydrates from your diet which may cause blood sugar spikes associated with poor sleep.
  11. Magnesium.  400-500 mg per day before bed may help with muscle relaxation and sleep. Please note, for some people magnesium may cause loose bowel movement or diarrhea. If this occurs, reduce the dosage or stop entirely.
  12. Chamomile Tea. Consumer 1 cup an hour before bed (note, if you wake a lot to urinate, you may not want to drink liquid before bed)
  13. Try guided sleep meditation. I highly recommend the Yoga Nidra (a practice of guided deep relaxation for sleep). I particularly like Yoga Nidra recording by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati. You can get it a CD at amazon or download it from i-tunes. There are loads of other Yoga Nidra recordings you can get for free on you tube. The Monroe Institute ( also has some wonderful CD’s and MP3’s.
  14. Try the 4-7-8 breath, introduced to us by Dr. Andrew Weil.  Here’s how to do it:
  • Start by placing the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth (you will keep it there for the entirety of the exercise).
  • You will be inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth around your tongue
  • Exhale completely through your mouth making a “whoosh” sound”
  • Inhale through your nose for a count of 4
  • Hold the breath in for a count of 7
  • Exhale completely through your mouth making a “whoosh” sound for a count of 8.
  • Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
  • Dr. Weil has a video here:

Sleep Supplements

Try the suggestions above first before you try an herbal supplement or sleep aid. Below are some additional aids that may help you.

  • Melatonin 1-3 mg 1 hour before bed. Melatonin is not a panacea for sleep issues. It is a hormone that the body naturally produces but too much is not a good things. It is a great tool if your sleep pattern has been disrupted by work on travel to a different time zone. It is best for short-term use.  Stop after a few weeks.
  • L-Theanine 100 mg one hour before bedtime can provide a calming effect and also assist in helping you sleep deeper (thereby reducing the incidence of broken sleep)
  • GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid), an amino acid produced in the brain. It is a natural tranquilizer that increases the level of Human Growth Hormones (HGH). Try 500-1,000 mg about an hour before bedtime.
  • 5 HTP 100 mg 1 hour before bedtime can help with anxiety and difficulty falling asleep.

Insomnia is often the result of our daily habits. The key is working on your diet and stress relief during the day and good habits before sleep. Not only will these factors improve sleep, they will go along way to increasing your overall physical health, emotional well being and longevity.

Until next time…


JAMA, 2000 Dec 20, 284(23):3015-21, “Longitudinal study of moderate weight change and sleep-disordered breathing”

Continuous positive airway pressure treatment. Effects on growth hormone, insulin and glucose profiles in obstructive sleep apnea patients. (1993). Hormone and Metabolic Research, 25(7), 375-381. J Am Geriatr Soc, 2011, 59(1):82-90, “The Effect of Melatonin, Magnesium, and Zinc on Primary Insomnia in Long-term Care Facility Residents in Italy: A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial”

Martínez-Ceron, E., Fernández-Navarro, I., & Garcia-Rio, F. (n.d.). Effects of continuous positive airway pressure treatment on glucose metabolism in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep Medicine Reviews.

Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 4(3):207 – 214, Published Online: 19 Sep 2006, “Evaluation of sleep architecture in practitioners of Sudarshan Kriya yoga and Vipassana meditation”


What’s the Deal with Gluten?

What’s the Deal with Gluten?

Confused about gluten? You are not alone. So many of my patients tell me that they are confused about the whole gluten “issue” and why they have been advised to (or not to) avoid it entirely.

First of all…what is gluten and why are we talking about it so much? 

Gluten is a name for proteins found in several types of grains notably wheat, rye and barley (it is found in other substances as well). You are hearing more and more about gluten because the incidences of gluten sensitivity and intolerance, whether it be celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity have been growing by leaps and bounds in the past 50 years likely due to the changes in how our wheat is cultivated. For the past 50 years of so, wheat production has changed radically so that the majority of the wheat we consume today has been cultivated and manipulated to make it resistant to fungal diseases and pests. Our American breads have an even higher gluten content that in years past and, now with GMO changes more transformation is coming. Another alarming factor is the increase in use of Roundup pesticide on most of our commercial baked goods. By the way, Roundup is not only sprayed on our seeds before planting but also often sprayed again on our baked goods to prevent spoilage and sprouting.

Celiac and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity – A spectrum of sensitivity

For centuries there has been evidence of gluten intolerance in the form of celiac disease, an autoimmune disease where the consumption of gluten causes your immune system (white blood cells) to attack the lining of the small intestine. Now researchers are concluding that many individuals also suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

In a landmark study on gluten sensitivity, celiac researcher Alessio Fasano, MD and his team at University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research concluded that there is a distinct condition of gluten sensitivity that is not celiac disease. He further concluded that many who are sensitive to gluten will not develop celiac.

What are the dangers?

Celiac disease is a very serious illness with potentially devastating consequences for those who are untreated. Gone unchecked, it can lead to heart disease or cancer. But, even for those who are not celiac but who experience gut inflammation as a result of consuming gluten (non-celiac gluten sensitivity) there are long-term health risks. The New England Journal of Medicine lists multiple diseases connected gluten consumption for intolerant individuals including many gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, constipation, skin conditions, anemia, autoimmune disease such as Rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune thyroid disease as well as depression, anxiety and migraines. Even more severe associations like cancer, heart disease, Down’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, miscarriage, infertility, Diabetes Type 1 and schizophrenia are noted. All in all, the NEJM lists 55 diseases associated with eating gluten. Please note, there are many causes for these diseases and issues and gluten may not be one of them.

Should I avoid gluten?

The answer is maybe. If you suffer from any one of the multitude of symptoms or diseases described above, it might be worth considering a trial of gluten elimination. Even if you are not sure, it’s always wise to choose your foods carefully and consider a short trial of gluten elimination.

How can I found out if I am sensitive?

The easiest method is to completely eliminate all gluten from the diet for at least 4-6 weeks because it takes several weeks for the protein to leave the body. Note you must completely eliminate gluten – don’t even eat a crumb. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, some oats and is hidden in many types of prepared foods. For a complete list, go to

After the 4-6 week trial, try eating some gluten-containing food and note how you feel. If you have symptoms, best to stay away from gluten permanently.

There are also special lab tests that your medical provider can perform which may or may not show that you are sensitive or intolerant. Remember – if you cut gluten out of your diet, certain lab tests that look for the body’s reaction to the gluten protein will be negative (even if you are intolerant) because there isn’t anything for the body to fight.

Until next time…

Jenny Kalina, PA-C

Farrell RJ, Kelly CP. Celiac sprue. N Engl J Med. 2002 Jan 17;346(3):180-8.
Hyman, MD, M. (2013, February 15). Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from

Czapp, K. (2006, July 16). Against the Grain. The Case for Rejecting or Respecting the Staff of Life. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from

Sapone, A., Lammers, K. M., Casolaro, V., Cammarota, M., Giuliano, M. T., De Rosa, M., … Fasano, A. (2011). Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. BMC Medicine, 9, 23.

Glyphosate and Celiac Disease. Mercola, DO, J. (Ed.). (2015, September 14). Why the Use of Glyphosate in Wheat Has Radically Increased Celiac Disease. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from

Eat A Rainbow Every Day – A New Way to Look at Your Plate!

Eat A Rainbow Every Day – A New Way to Look at Your Plate!

Featuring the Mighty Power of Phytonutrients.

How many colors of food do you have on your plate? You probably already eat vegetables every day but are you eating a variety of colors? Certain foods, particularly plant-based foods (vegetables, legumes, spices, nuts, whole grains) contain a substance called phytonutrients – natural chemicals that help to protect that particular plant against bacteria, viruses, bugs etc. and they’ve been shown to help protect us against chronic diseases.

Phytonutrients are thought to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and cellular repair properties. Why are these qualities so important? We are virtually assaulted on a regular basis by oxidative stress and inflammation from inside our own bodies. This is a natural and healthy process but we can easily overwhelm our bodies with too much oxidative stress and inflammation because of exterior forces (foods, stress, chemicals etc.). When we eat anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant foods, we support our body’s repair on a cellular level and assist our bodies in restoring balance.

Phytonutrients come in almost all colors of the rainbow. Eat a variety every day. The Institute for Functional Medicine recommends aiming for one of two of each color per day.

Consider printing out the list below and taking it with you on your next grocery shop:


  • Benefits: anti-cancer, brain health, liver health, immune system.
  • Examples: grapes, plums, goji berries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, rhubarb, tomato, cranberries, cherries, plums. apples, blood oranges, adzuki beans, kidney beans

*note try to avoid sweetened dried foods except in small quantities


  • Benefits: anti-cancer, immune system, protection for heart disease, eye health
  • Examples: bell pepper, cantaloupe, carrots, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, pumpkin, squash (butternut, winter, acorn), sweet potato, yams, turmeric root


  • Benefits: anti cancer, vascular health, eye health, anti-inflammatory, skin health
  • Examples: banana, bell peppers, fresh corn, ginger root, lemon, pineapple, potato, summer squash, millet


  • Benefits: anti-cancer, brain health, skin, heart and liver health, hormone balance, anti-inflammatory
  • Examples: apples, green vegetables, green herbs, limes, pears

BLUE (and purple and black)

Benefits: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, brain health, heart health

Examples: blueberries, black berries, boysenberries, cabbage, red kale, black rice, purple rice, red potatoes, prunes, raisins, black olive, eggplant.

WHITE (and tan and brown)

  • Benefits: gut health, hormone balance, liver health, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, circulatory function, heart health, bone health
  • Examples: beans (chickpeas, hummus, lentils), nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashew, flax, hemp, pumpkin (pepita), sesame, sunflower), onion, sauerkraut, black or white tea, whole grains (brown rice, barley, quinoa, spelt), cauliflower

*note: to enjoy the full phytonutrient benefit of your nuts, consume them raw and unsalted as much as possible

Eating a larger spectrum of foods (especially plants) is a first and essential step to improving your health. Supplements can be useful for deficiencies but try to get as many of your nutrients from foods. Remember, there is no substitute for real food in its natural form!

Until next time…

Jenny Kalina PA-C

Diet – The Cornerstone of Health

Diet – The Cornerstone of Health

No interventions – medications or natural supplements will ever replace the power of the food that you eat and great health is nearly impossible without addressing this core issue.

What is the first step to improving my diet? 

Conscious eating is the first step to improving our diet. There are very few things we have any great degree of control over especially in daily life but diet is one that we do quite a bit of say in.

Right now…today…take note of what you are eating, when, how much and who prepared the meal or snack. This can be done as a simple observation or you can keep a food journal for a few weeks. Note how you feel before you eat (ex: stressed, starving, bored, tired…) and how you feel after (ex: craving sweets, fatigued, satisfied, bloated, gassy) and, if you are journaling, write this down too.

This is not an exercise in beating yourself up – please don’t judge yourself for the choices you make. This first step is simply one of witnessing and awareness so you can then make the changes necessary in future.

In later blog posts, I will make more specific recommendations regarding dietary choices and foods to avoid.

Until next time…

Jenny Kalina PA-C

Why meditate and how?

Why meditate and how?

Why Meditate?

Meditation is one of the quickest and simplest paths to stress reduction and improved mind and body health. Its many benefits reduction in anxiety and depression, improved cardiovascular health and improvements in immune function.

Simple Meditation

Find a quiet space. Sit in a comfortably in a chair or on the floor (or even lying down in bed) in any position that feels natural and sustainable, close your eyes and notice the feeling of your body on whatever surface you are on. Begin to notice the breath moving in and out. Now, start to say to yourself on each breath in “I am breathing in” and on each breath out “I am breathing out.” Continue with this practice for 5-30 minutes (it helps to set a timer so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of time or being late for something).

While you are practicing your mindfulness your mind might wander (this is what the mind does). Whatever thoughts come into your head, simply label them as thoughts and come back to your awareness of the breath.

The next most important step is to find a sustainable and healthy diet. My next blog entry will focus on the first steps of conscious eating.

…until next time


I’ve heard many people in their golden years say “if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything.” Any of us who have suffered from any form of injury or acute or chronic illness can attest to the fact that good health and vitality are the greatest riches we can have and when we don’t feel well, all the material possessions in the world won’t help.

Do you have chronic disease? Are you fatigued? Do you have trouble with your digesting, your sleep or with chronic headaches? Or, would you like to preserve the health you have as you age and practice prevention? I will offer some ideas and strategies to help whether you are sick with chronic disease or merely wish to stave off illness and premature aging.

Many of us are already educated about nutrition, fitness etc. and are dong an amazing job of keeping well most of the time. More of us know what to do but are still keeping with habits that we know are harmful to us. And, loads of us are misinformed or overwhelmed by the amount of information that is constantly flying around us regarding health and wellness.

My aim is to simplify wellness and give a perspective on wellness that is reasonable and doable. In my medical practice I integrate the best of what I’ve learned through personal experimentation along with what I’ve discovered through evidence based research and what my patients and yoga students tell me has worked for them.

Where does the journey to total wellness begin? What we’ve done in the past may inform our present mind and body but it is not useful to dwell on the past, to feel guilty or beat ourselves up. Start with today…what can I do today? Perhaps it’s taking a short walk or spending 5 minutes with eyes closed concentrating on the breath. Remember that today really is the first day of the rest of your life!

Until next time…