Life began in a garden and spending time enjoying nature is a great way to LIVE YOUNGER.  Science repeatedly proves what the Bible said first and what most of us intuitively know.  The tangible benefits of getting outdoors include making us healthier, happier, and more creative.  We thrive when spending maximum time in what current research often terms a “restorative environment.

A large mass of scientific analysis is documenting the positive impact of nature on every aspect of our life.  Being out in nature benefits our physical, mental, and spiritual well being, which benefits our relationships. Humans flourish in beautiful, natural spaces, and we were created to soak in the sights, smells, sounds and ambience of the fresh air in green, outdoor spaces. Even isolated pockets of green, with just a patch of grass and a bare tree make a difference.

The U.S. Forest Service started researching this area in the 1970’s.  After creating an outdoor challenge program in a wilderness setting in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, they began observing the positive effects on the people there.  Fortunately, people don’t have to live in the woods to enjoy its restorative effects.  It has been proven that even viewing nature from a window, in paintings, or in videos can have a positive impact on our brains, bodies, emotions, and even speed of healing.  In turn, this calming influence helps our bodies heal and cultivates resilience.  These positive emotions have beneficial effects on us socially too, such as increasing trust, cooperation and closeness to others.

The benefits of nature on health have been robustly documented across cultures.  The awe-inspiring wonders of the great outdoors is not only good for our physical health, it’s also essential for our social and emotional wellbeing.  START SOMEWHERE today to intentionally give yourself of gift of being outdoors.  Life began in a garden!  Enhance yours by enjoying one!

#AskDrDebbie: “Last week you talked about high fructose corn sugar and how it affects the liver.  Does this mean that we should also be careful about fructose, the sugar in fruit?” -Heather C.  

I can totally understand the confusion!  Fructose as it occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables is not the same as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a human-made molecule.  Linked to the increase in liver failure (as I wrote about last week), obesity, heart disease, dementia, and cancer, HFCS can be found in all types of food, including “health food” since it is much cheaper than real sugar.  People have begun to wise up!  Consequently, in 2010, the Corn Refiners Association began a campaign to try to convince people that HFCS is “natural” and have changed its name on packaging to conceal its identity.  Also, they have changed the molecule just enough to legally call it “fructose” and to be able to put “Contains no high fructose corn syrup” on the label although it may contain HFCS-90, which is another form of it.

The important thing to remember is that the fructose in fruits and vegetables is truly natural and comes alongside fiber, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.  Our bodies are designed to need all of these, working synergistically together.  My recommendation is to enjoy whole food.  When you need something sweet, keep it real by eating whole fruit.  When you need sweeteners, use maple syrup, honey, or genuine cane sugar.  Avoid, or at least minimize, packaged foods in your life and keep asking great questions like this one.  Thanks Heather!  

Loaded Lentil Salad (Hummusapien)

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, diced into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 16oz brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup French lentils*
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup pepitas
  • ½ tsp salt + pepper to taste

Here’s the drill:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Combine sweet potatoes, Herbs de Provence, maple or honey, 1 tbsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a medium boil. Spread onto prepared baking sheet and roast for about 11-13 minutes. Toss and roast until golden, another 11-13 minutes.
  3. Heat ½ tbsp olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add lentils and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Season with another pinch of salt and drain any excess water. Return to pot.
  4. Heat ½ tbsp olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add balsamic vinegar and remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to pot with lentils. Add Brussels, roasted sweet potatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Top with pepitas and serve!

I’m going to Art Journal this quote:  “Your body is your most priceless possession.  You go take care of it!”  – Jack LaLanne

Life Began in a Garden

Life Began in a Garden