Cold Shower? Soak up the health benefits in 90 seconds!

Early last week, I saw a segment on the Today Show about a 90-second shower routine that will increase circulation and alertness in the morning. Since BrightLife Direct is all about healthy circulation, I thought it warranted an investigation.

The idea is simple. Follow your normal cleansing routine in the shower, but instead of jumping out after your final rinse, stay in for an extra 90 seconds and adjust your faucet to the following:

30 Seconds: COLD
30 Seconds: HOT
30 Seconds: COLD

Then get out of the shower!

Sound terrible? I have to admit the first time it was! A few of us in the office experimented with this showering technique and reported back about a screaming 30-second countdown, dancing in circles and screaming, or simply standing and screaming. The cold water is a real shock, but each of us reported feeling some immediate effects. Hearts were pounding, blood was flowing and we all reported feeling wide awake!

Personally, having lived in Russia, I know that hot-cold therapy is an ingrained part of many cultures including Nordic countries. Russians consider going to the bath house (or banya) an important part of their weekly routine. There they sit in a incredibly hot sauna, jump into a cold pool of water or snow, and then head back to the sauna.

So, why do they do it? A myriad of health benefits! Entrepreneur.com did a full analysis and found that cold showers can help reduce stress, burn fat and improve both the vascular and immune systems!

Not enough to convince you to get under the icy water?

A journalist at the New York Times also experimented with cold morning showers and found that it increased his productivity during the day. He says that turning the shower to COLD every morning is a real struggle for him, but that “…the point is that starting your morning by tackling challenges head-on will help encourage similar behavior throughout the day.” And there’s plenty of research to back that up as well! When people tackle difficult situations first thing in the morning, they’re less likely to procrastinate throughout the day.

Your last piece of trivia on cold showers? Kathryn Hepburn was a huge proponent of them!

After a week of showers, our company’s founder is a full convert! He says that the experiment is “life-changing.” While I’m not a morning shower person, I plan to keep it up on the weekends. How can I skip out on all of the potential health benefits? If you’re a bit nervous to go full throttle on the cold water, ease yourself into it by going a bit colder (in the same short spurts) every day. You can work your way up to ice cold after a few days.

Try it out and let us know what you think!

Disclaimer: Many of the articles I read warned that people with heart conditions should check with their physician before experimenting with cold water therapy! So, please check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Roasted Beet and Quinoa Salad with Pistachios

When one thinks of food in New Orleans, the word healthy rarely comes to mind.  The Crescent City has a long history of serving rich, fried, and often over-the-top food combinations.  On a recent visit, between beignets and etouffees, I ordered a beet and quinoa salad at La Petite Grocery on Magazine Street.  It was delicious, and healthy by any cities standard.  Here’s my recreation.

Ingredients

3 medium heirloom beets
Olive oil
1 cup red quinoa
1 cucumber
2 stalks celery with leaves
¼ cup shelled pistachios
Sriracha mayonnaise (see recipe below)
Salt and pepper

Dressing

3 TB lemon juice
2 TB balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Wash and dry beets.  Rub each beet with a small amount of olive oil.  Wrap in foil, and roast for 1 hour.  Cool, then peel the beets.  Cut each beet into 8 wedges and place in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add approximately 2 qt of water to a 3 qt sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water.  Drain very well, and place in a separate medium size mixing bowl.

Peel and seed the cucumber.  Dice cucumber and celery with leaves.  Add to the bowl with quinoa.

Toss beets with 4-5 tablespoons of dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Toss quinoa mixture with remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange beets in a row down the middle of a large serving bowl or plate.  Spoon quinoa mixture along each side.  Sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with sriracha mayonnaise.

Sriracha Mayonnaise:  
Mix 1 cup mayo with 4-5 tablespoons sriracha, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.

Why this recipe is good for you…

Quinoa is full of fiber.  Fiber helps prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure and diabetes.  Quinoa contains iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin and manganese.   All are essential to healthy blood and tissue cells.

Beets help to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and are packed with essential nutrients and fiber.

Pistachios have fewer calories and more potassium and vitamin K per serving than any other nut.  They also contain 1-arginine, which helps make the lining of your arteries more flexible and less likely to develop clots.

And, of course, the sriracha mayonnaise may not be the healthiest ingredient… but it sure tastes good.

What You May Not Know About Reconstructive Surgery

The main problem is using the word “feel,” said Dr. Clara Lee, an associate professor of plastic surgery at Ohio State University. Many women who undergo reconstructive surgery often face broken promises from doctors. They don’t want to give patients false hope or the wrong information, but misconceptions still occur. Dane’e McCree decided to have her breasts removed after learning she had an increased risk of breast cancer, but she didn’t feel like the doctors warned her about the full picture. Although the appearance looks natural, Ms. McCree reports that they’re completely numb, unable to feel anything. “I can’t even feel it when my kids hug me,” she said.

While the breasts may feel “natural” on the outside post-surgery, the patient is unable to feel anything, not even air blowing on the skin. This can be very dangerous! According to the New York Times, “several women interviewed recounted times when they had not realized a bra was cutting into their skin until they saw blood.” Reconstructive surgery focuses on the appearance of the female body, not how the woman feels.

As of now, roughly 25 to 60 percent of mastectomy patients experience nerve damage. The best chance for sensory restoration is to use the woman’s own body tissue instead of an implant to increase the chance the nerves regenerating, but even this results in limited feeling. Luckily, this may be about to change.

A Houston a plastic surgeon, Dr. Aldona J. Spiegel, is working to reconnect the nerves to improve sensation, but Spiegel is careful to explain that it won’t feel like it did before. There are many factors to consider, including the risk of causing chronic pain in an attempt to restore sensation. If you or someone you know is considering breast reconstruction surgery, make sure they know all the facts to make the best decision for their health.

Check out this feature in the New York Times to read more.

Additional Resources

Is Breast Reconstruction Right For You? – BreastCancer.org

Reconstructive Breast Surgery Options – Johns Hopkins

Breast Reconstruction – Susan G Komen