3 Types of Classes To Take That Could Save A Life- Especially while living in Alaska

Living in Alaska isn’t for the weak of heart and mind, so knowing how to live comfortably in this giant playground we call home can take learning some new skills. While college may not be for everyone, some basic preparedness classes can be very valuable and useful to all Alaskans throughout their lives.

First Aid/ CPR: A basic knowledge in First Aid should be on the to do list of every Alaskan simply because of how remotely we live our lives out here. On any given day while living in Alaska you can find yourself very many miles from the nearest paved road, town or civilization in general. Knowing the basics in First Aid and CPR should be a top priority for any adventure seeking Alaskan. The classes offered through the Red Cross are well done and affordable. Encourage your teenagers to take the class, and always teach your younger kids the basics in first aid prior to outdoor remote adventures our outings. Additionally, REI offers a free Urban Emergency Preparedness class that could be very informative for the whole family.

Water Safety: Alaska is surrounded by water on three of its giant borders. Between that and the thousands of rivers and lakes that are sprinkled throughout the state, water safety should be a number one priority for every family in Alaska. From open water to river and lake safety, kids and families should all be armed with the knowledge of what to do in each situation and what to do in case of water related emergency. In addition, REI offers basic Kayaking classes as well as other classes that may be helpful for safety around the water. The ocean, rivers and lakes can have severely unpredictable currents and swells so being aware of what to do in each type of situation could save yours and many other lives.

Wilderness Safety: Being aware of the wildlife and dangers that come with entering their habitat for camping, hiking or hunting is vital for Alaskans to survive and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. REI offers a Bear Aware class and the Parks and Recreation Department offers other classes promoting wildlife and wilderness awareness and safety tips. We share our state with the many wildlife critters that have always been here. Alaskans know this to be true as we watch moose eat our Halloween pumpkins right off our front steps and bears linger by our favorite camping and fishing spots. Learning about the wildlife, their patterns and preferences can help save you and your family from dangerous and scary situations.

5 Foods to Avoid that Cause Belly Bloating

Many foods we eat every day, even the healthy ones, can cause belly bloating, digestion issues and abdominal pain. This happens not only from the occasional over eating but because of certain enzymes and sugars in certain foods making them hard to digest. Keeping track of how often and how much you eat of these five foods could help trim down that belly bloating and discomfort.

Pizza and other fatty foods: Foods such as pizza and greasy burgers are high in fat and salt which is hard for the body to digest.  Fat is the last thing for your body to digest, so a bloated belly after a pizza and beer night should not come as a surprise. In addition to the fatty foods, processed and frozen foods have similar risks, for similar reasons – too much salt and fat for the body to digest comfortably and normally.

Beans and Lentils: While we all know that beans can cause bloating and gas, even the soy beans and nuts found in protein bars have been known to cause belly bloating and trouble with digestion. If a protein bar is something you eat on the regular, try eating half at a time for less digestion problems.

Dairy: While dairy doesn’t cause bloating and discomfort in everyone, it can be a side effect for those who have a lactose intolerance.  Cutting back on dairy or switching your normal dairy items out for dairy-free items such as lactose-free milk and dairy-free sorbet instead of ice cream can help with the digestive issues caused by dairy. However, for some people, cutting dairy out completely is the only way to make their stomach happy.

Cruciferous Veggies: While vegetables are needed for a healthy, well-rounded diet, it is best to be sure to not over-eat your veggies despite how tasty they might be. Yummy greens such as kale, broccoli and cabbage have an enzyme called raffinose that humans are not equipped to break down and digest easily.  This might cause discomfort, bloating and gas as the body works harder to digest the food. Eating foods such as asparagus in moderation should help avoid belly bloat from veggies.

Carbonated Drinks: Do you like to drink soda, sparkling water or other carbonated drinks on a regular basis? If so, it could be the reason for a bit of your belly bloat as the carbonation adds bubbles to your drinks. This puts air bubbles to your GI tract causing it to expand and bloat. Limiting or eliminating carbonated drinks and replacing them with water can help trim down that extra belly fat and bloating.

Another tip to avoid belly bloating: Eating plenty of fruit, drinking more water and eating slower are all things you can do to help reduce digestive pains and bloating.

3 Ways Youth Athletics Can Benefit Development

It is important to teach kids that being active is not only fun, but also a main part of having a healthy happy life. Getting kids active on a regular basis can be easy by getting them involved in a fun and safe sport they will enjoy. In addition to learning how to set and reach goals, there are many benefits to youth athletics.

  1. Increased physical fitness decreases likelihood of injury and illness: All throughout life, even as adults, it is true that when you are physically fit, you are less prone to injury and illness. Kids are so active and always on the go without typically knowing their limits or when to quit. Teaching kids the value of physical fitness, knowing their limits and staying strong and healthy can be greatly aided by the structure of a good team sport. When your child has grown stronger and healthier via the structure of a knowledgeable coach and positive teammates, they will be less prone to common illnesses as well as injuries such as rolling an ankle while hiking with the family because they will have the strength and muscles needed to complete activities safely. Additionally, being physically fit and understanding what it takes to get and stay that way will foster a strong knowledge and understanding needed to lead a happy and healthy life into adulthood.
  2. Participating in competition improves reaction times and ability to problem solve: When working with a team in a fast-paced environment such as basketball, volleyball, or soccer you are taught to problem solve very quickly.  The need to be able change course, direction or the entire plan or play at a moments notice becomes very important. Improved reaction times and ability to problem solve is a huge benefit from youth athletics across the board. From reacting quickly to a starting whistle to knowing exactly when to swing a bat at a ball hurtling towards you, learning these skills will be helpful in the future when it comes to employment, driving and reacting in an emergency.
  3. Team sports fosters the ability to work with and understand diverse people: Being part of a team, you are forced to learn about other types of people instead of only hanging out with your closest friends and family. It teaches how to not only get along with them, but to work with them on a team towards a common goal. Exposure to new people outside of our comfort zone is important for development and readiness for adulthood and future employment. While your family and chosen friends may not differ often throughout life, the team of people you work with either in sports or a job will always be changing. Learning to work with peers you wouldn’t normally interact with or enjoy being with is an important life skill for success and happiness. Differences will arise with other teammates, but lessons are learned in order to keep playing their sport and reach their goals. These skills will be drawn upon to work with different or difficult coworkers and employers in the future.

 

4 Ways to Combat PMS Naturally

Every woman has spent more than her fair share of time struggling with mild to severe Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). While many over-the-counter options may offer relief for some women, for those looking for a more natural solution to your bodies’ natural cycle here are some ideas:

  1. Hot Water Bottle: If you are a woman who suffers from cramps, heat may help relieve some discomfort. Instead of using an electric heating pad (which most doctors will advise against) try a hot water bottle or some version of water based heat; not electric. Hot water bottles can be found at your local pharmacy. Talk to your chiropractor about other forms of healthy heat that you can use as well.
  2. Formula 303: As a natural muscle relaxer it can be used during peak discomfort to relax you and the cramps. Being known to relieve stress, anxiety and muscle spasms, Formula 303 can be a great alternative to treat many PMS symptoms at once. Talk to your chiropractor about recommended dosage and uses.
  3. Acupuncture: No woman needs to be suffering from severe PMS symptoms; they can all be alleviated with the proper treatments and supplements. Talk to your acupuncturist if you are suffering from severe PMS to see what treatment options may help. There are many ways in which acupuncture can treat PMS: from cramping, bloating, irritability to over-all body aches and pains.
  4. Natural Supplements and Herbs: If you are consulting an acupuncturist or chiropractor about your PMS discomfort, ask them about what other natural herbs and supplements could benefit you. There are herbs such as Chaste Tree and Evening Primrose Oil as well as supplements such as Iron or Vitamin B-12 that could all be helpful.

4 Aches and Pains That Could Become Debilitating if Left Untreated

 

As Alaskans, we like to be tough. Going to the doctor only takes away from our fishing and adventure time so we usually push our bodies to the max, often leading to injury. Ignoring the aches and pains within your body can only lead to worsening the problem; people suffering from these four types of aches and pains should seek treatment before the condition worsens.

  1. Neck and Back Pain: If you are suffering from moderate to severe back and neck pain, this is not the sort of pain that you should tough out or hope it heals on its own. While a back ache can feel better after a day of rest or ice, it is unlikely that the problem has actually been fixed. Instead, you’ve just temporarily calmed it down. Chronic back and neck pain could eventually lead to loss of motivation to do any sort of physical exercise, leading to the loss of range of motion and muscle mass. Additionally, your neck and back pain could be causing other problems such as digestive issues, headaches, or irritability. Lastly, your back and neck pain could be the result of something serious, such as a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease.  If you or a family member is experiencing moderate to severe continuing neck or back pain, I would urge a visit with your local chiropractor as soon as possible to avoid worsening the issue or causing new ones.
  2. Burning Nerve Pain: Experiencing chronic burning pain at the site of an already healed injury could be related to nerve damage. Often occurring after a blunt force trauma, surgery, or accident, nerve damage can quickly become totally debilitating if left untreated. Far too often people think that the pain will fade over time when in reality it only gets worse, becoming much harder to treat. If you are experiencing lasting pain, particularly burning, tingling and throbbing pain after a trauma or surgery talk to your doctor as soon as possible about the possibility of nerve damage, complex regional pain syndrome or other neuropathy disorders. Left untreated, nerve damage can spread and cause the patient to experience muscle atrophy and loss of mobility.
  3. Headaches: A healthy person shouldn’t be experiencing headaches on a regular basis. Chronic moderate to severe headaches can really cause issues in regards to daily activity and overall happiness. Migraines in particular can be very debilitating as they cause sensitivity to noise, motion and sound so severe that the only option is to lay in a quiet, dark room for hours. If you are experiencing headaches or migraines on a regular basis, talk to your doctor right away about possible causes and treatments. Your headaches could be caused by something such as an allergy to something in your home like dogs, cats, or plants. It could even be a habit, like too much screen time or stress. It could also be the indicator of a more serious problem in the brain that would require analysis by your doctor.
  4. Joint Pain: While easy to write off as exhaustion, awkward sleeping positions and cold weather, joint pain can be the sign of much more serious health problems.  Joint pain can be associated with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, infection and disease. Continuing joint pain can lead to loss of range of motion, swelling, tenderness, locking of the joints, and weakness.  While you might think your knee is chronically sore because you played sports all your life, it could lead to more problems and a loss in daily activity or be a sign of something much worse going on that needs to be treated. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor about all of your bodily aches and pains, as some could be related, or causing the other issues you can’t see or understand on your own.

 

3 Natural Supplements That Could Help Combat Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Other than being as healthy and active as possible, managing anxiety and depression can take some extra help. If anti-depressants and therapy aren’t exciting first steps for you, talk to your doctor about the possibility of these natural supplements helping ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  1. Vitamins: Such as vitamins B, C and D: It is easy to be deficient in these three vitamins, that is why people frequently turn to additional supplements to keep their body balanced and healthy. Vitamin B12 is known as the energy boosting vitamin, as well as calming and aiding with concentration. Vitamin C will not only help fight off the common cold and flu, it is also known to be great for managing stress and staying calm. Found in most uncooked fruits and vegetables, it is easy to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin C in your diet. Lastly, low Vitamin D levels have been reportedly associated with depressive and anxiety disorders. Doctors are finding that many Alaskans are Vitamin D deficient and could greatly benefit from a Vitamin D supplement. Talk to your doctor about checking your vitamin levels to assure deficiencies are not playing a role in your depression, stress, or anxiety.
  2. St. John’s Wort: Although the evidence that St. John’s Wort aides with anxiety and depression is not definitive, many people would agree that St. John’s Wort is worth trying to combat mild to moderate anxiety and depression. St. John’s Wort has been known to increase serotonin (the feel good chemical) levels in the brain in a similar way to prescription anti depressants. As always, consult your doctor when considering trying a new supplement, as St. John’s Wort is known to have adverse side effects with other prescription drugs. Additionally, do not take St. John’s Wort with, in place of, or to replace your already prescribed anti-depressants or anxiety medication as serious health problems can occur.
  3. Magnesium: An essential mineral to your body, being magnesium deficient can cause many problems related to energy, concentration and stress management. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of a Magnesium supplement helping you alleviate difficult problems such as stress and depression. People who have taken Magnesium supplements have reported decreased depression and lethargy over time.

Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety, do not try to self medicate. Consult your doctor about what treatment options will work best for you. Talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medications. Consult a doctor immediately; call 911 or a suicide hotline at 1-877- 266-4357 (HELP) if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide.  The Crisis Line Alaska website has helpful links and information as well.

4 Festivals in Alaska this Summer that Your Family Can’t Miss

 

Summer is short and sweet in Alaska, so we must make the most of our Midnight Sun by taking our families to as many of the fun annual summer festivals offered around South Central Alaska.

  1. Summer Solstice Festival Downtown Anchorage – Kick off the 2016 festival season in downtown Anchorage on June 18, 2016. Bring the whole family to an event sprawling for several blocks of 4th With a kid play zone, arts and crafts by local artists, food trucks and a beer garden, everyone is sure to have a great time celebrating summer with their friends and neighbors.
  2. 5k Color Fun Run in Anchorage – The theme for the Happiest 5k on earth this year is Tropicolor, bringing new aspects to the course and finish line with a tropical beach theme. This event, taking place on June 25, 2016 is another whole family activity that promotes healthiness and happiness so don’t miss out on the 2016 color run fun. Don’t worry about speed if you’re not an avid runner or athlete, just getting active and having fun with friends and family is what the Color Run is all about.
  3. Forest Fair in Girdwood– Hosting the 41st Annual Forest Fair Festival, Girdwood is a fantastic summer destination for the family as all on its own. With camping, hiking, and sight seeing, everyone can get active and enjoy the Alaskan summer. That being said, July 1-3 is the best time to visit Girdwood in the summer for a true Alaskan Music Festival experience. With free admission and paid camping, this event can be a cheap one-day activity for your family, or even a weekend outing. Great music, food and entertainment as well as locally crafted arts and goods. Be sure to make it there before 10:00AM on July 2nd to get a good spot for the annual parade!
  4. Bear Paw Festival in Eagle River – This annual festival is almost like a mini Alaska State Fair in the way that it has rides, games, local vendor booths, food and great entertainment. Enjoy beautiful Eagle River this July 6-10 for plenty of fun for you and your kids all while supporting the community and its businesses. The kids can enjoy rides, face painting and late sunny summer nights while you tour through the latest and greatest that Eagle River has to offer while snacking on your favorite Bear Paw Festival snack!

 

5 Plants You Can Grow With Medicinal Properties

With Alaska midnight sun upon us for the next few weeks, make the most of it by planting these five plants that have been known to have medicinal properties.

  1. Aloe Vera- This pretty plant can be grown year round in Alaska if you have a good space inside near a window that gets some sun in the summer, and maybe a small light near it during the winter. Although it is widely considered an ornamental plant, there are known medicinal properties found in Aloe Vera as well. It has been known for aiding in the healing of burns, as well as having some antioxidant properties.
  2. Basil- While it is super easy to grow, the basil plant has many medicinal properties in addition to its uses in food. Steep some basil leaves into a tea to help soothe an upset stomach, indigestion, anxiety, headache and PMS related fatigue. Basil has been known to be an anti-inflammatory and to help with blemishes because of some of its anti-bacterial properties. Used as oil or sipped in the form of hot tasty tea, basil is a great natural herb to grow in your garden and use for some of its many benefits.
  3. Peppermint- In addition to flavoring our gum, toothpaste and holiday treats – peppermint can be used for many other purposes as well. This plant can grow well during the Alaska summers, and unfortunately does not serve well as an indoor plant mainly because of its large and ever growing size. Peppermint can be used to help alleviate stress, congestion, headaches and muscle pain when either rubbed on in oil form or added to a hot bath. Additionally, peppermint is known to help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other stomach and digestion issues such as upset stomach, indigestion and more.
  4. Lavender- Pretty to look at and smell, this lovely plant can grow well in the summertime in Alaska leaving you with a large crop for all your medicinal and personal needs. It can also be easily dried and stored. From helping relieve stress, anxiety and depression to aiding with bug bites, burns and insomnia, this plant is wonderful to have on hand at all times; so why not grow your own! Turn the extras in to potpourri to help keep your linens and house smelling fresh.
  5. Echinacea- While a beautiful flower to watch grow and have in your garden, it is an even better herb to have on hand for this falls cold and flu season. Combat annual and harmful infections and illnesses by taking Echinacea supplements or adding the oils to your foods or drinks. Echinacea may have other helpful medicinal properties that will make you feel better too, such as aiding with inflammation, skin infections, bee stings and headaches.

5 Alternative Ways to Treat Your Chronic Nerve Pain

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, over 15 million people in the United States and Europe suffer from some form of neuropathic or nerve pain. While there are plenty of treatment options out there ranging from surgeries to pain medications, many people find that the regular prescribed treatments aren’t helping very much. They have turned to alternative medicine and treatment options for their chronic pain.

  1. Acupuncture- Chinese medicine is a wonderful way to treat many ailments, especially for nerve related pain. Talk with your acupuncturist about every single area of pain you have and they will know what to do to treat each specific part of your body. Acupuncturists believe in treating the whole body and any negative symptoms you might be experiencing, from anxiety to terrible menstrual cycles. Talk with your acupuncturist about natural supplements or other treatment options that might benefit you as well.
  2. Calmare Scrambler Pain Therapy- Being relatively new and unheard-of by most people and health care providers, Calmare Pain Therapy is a fantastic way to treat any type of neuropathic or nerve pain. Calmare is helping patients with varying problems including chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and drug resistant pain conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This drug-free, non-invasive treatment has been yielding long lasting results for many of its patients. For more information check the Calmare Website.
  3. Massage- People suffering from chronic pain could really benefit from some form of massage. Deep tissue and hot stone massage is great for nerve damage, as it helps deeply relieve tight and sore muscles that occur when living in chronic pain. Even if the massage isn’t helping the nerve pain directly, it can help relieve other symptoms that come with living in chronic pain and just make you feel good for an hour.
  4. Yoga- Staying loose when living in chronic pain is key to not loosing range of motion in the affected area. Yoga is great for continuing range of motion exercises, meditation for relaxation and even some easy strength training at your own pace and ability. Try out a guided yoga class and don’t be afraid to tell the teacher your needs.
  5. Chiropractic Care- Working with a chiropractor when living in chronic pain is key to keeping the spine and body as happy and comfortable as possible. When living in chronic nerve pain, you can start to hold your body tighter and in different ways when walking or sitting. This can cause long-term damage to the spine and limbs. Working with a chiropractor regularly to keep the body aligned and happy can really benefit patients living with chronic nerve pain. Talk to your chiropractor about natural supplements and other treatment options that might benefit you.