Spring into Wellness

Spring into Wellness
by Ilyse Streim, Massage Therapist, Center for Integrative Medicine at Good Samaritan


Good Samaritan Medical Center hosted an informative and enjoyable “Lymphedema* Awareness Day 2016” on March 5.  The featured speaker, Dr. Nasha Winters, ND (Naturopathic Doctor), LAc, Dipl.OM gave an inspiring talk on “Cultivating Lifelong Wellness”.  Of course, many of the attendees at Lymphedema Day are living with lymphedema*.  The talk was geared toward what these folks can do to best enhance their daily health.  However, I was so moved and encouraged by Dr. Winters’ simple and profound reminders that I wanted to bring her ideas and guidance to our blog to inspire all of our readers whether you are healthy or living with an illness. What better time than budding springtime to spark our inner physician!

Dr. Winters began her talk by defining wellness:

“Modern doctors often define health as ‘the absence of illness’; Hippocrates defined health as ‘the perfect balance between man and his environment’.”
–Francisco Contreras, MD

“Diseases are cries of purification, of toxic elimination.”

She then asked the audience “Do you see YOURSELF as well?”  Many people raised their hands.  She then gently educated the audience, explaining that disease is a process, not an event, i.e. it can be developing in the body many years before symptoms arise.  Wellness goes beyond a lack of symptoms.

Dr. Winters spoke to why there is more chronic illness now than ever.  She discussed three major factors that have interfered with our internal and external environment over the last 50 years.

  1. Addition of large quantities of highly refined sugar to our diet.
  2. Changes in methods of farming and raising animals.
  3. Exposure to a large number of chemical products that didn’t exist before 1940 (over 200,000 new chemicals and less than 200 of them tested for public consumption).

She Also spoke to our hectic Western lifestyle and how difficult it is to slow down and take pristine care of ourselves and our families.  With her infectious optimism, she encouraged us to “toss aside any excuses and become proactive” (in our self care).  “Even small steps go a long way in helping you create an individual health plan that fits your lifestyle.  Consider the 80/20 rule…80% of the time you make healthy choices, and you can bend the rules 20% of the time.


How to cultivate wellness:

  • Sleeping at ideal times (11pm-3am is our body’s reset time)
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing stress effectively
  • Using non-toxic household and body products
  • Eating organic plant-based diet
  • Using food as medicine
  • Taking protective dietary supplements
  • Getting our blood sugar under control
  • Optimizing our vitamin D levels

Let’s just look at the issue of blood sugar.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year.  Less than 100 years ago, the average intake of sugar was only about 4 pounds per person per year.  Sugar is hidden in so much of what we consume every day.  Too much sugar is harmful to the body and promotes inflammation and disease.  Dr. Winters’ optimal eating plan recommends avoiding processed food, and eating food with no added sugar or very minimal amounts.  She suggests stevia or chicory root as a sugar substitute.  She advocates a food pyramid that is vegetable based:  leafy greens (kale, collards, chard, spinach, etc.), colorful vegies (leeks, asparagus, beets, artichokes, etc.), and cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.).


She encouraged the audience to “Do your soul work and re-prioritize your life.  Find what brings you joy, hope, and purpose!”

I think we can never hear these gems repeated too many times.  Let yourself be inspired by the beauty and wonder of springtime.  Choose one area of your life that needs attention and calibration.  Be compassionate and gentle with yourself and remember the 80%/20% rule.

Dr. Nasha Winter’s reading list and web resources:

Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton, PhD

Grain Brain and Brain Maker, David Perlmutter, MD

Nourishing Traditions, and Nourishing Broth, Sally Fallon, MD

Earthing, Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, Martin Zucker

Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, T.S. Wiley

Pottenger’s Prophecy: How Food Resets Genes for Wellness

or Illness, Gray Graham, NTP, Deborah Kesten, MPH, Larry

Scherwitz, PhD

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW

The Symbiont Factor: How the Gut Bacteria Microbiome

Redefines Health, Disease and Humanity, Richard Matthews, DC

Fat Chance, Robert Lustig, MD

Full Catastrophe Living, John Kabat-Zinn









*Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part caused by an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich lymph fluid.  It results from a blockage in the lymphatic system, which prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling. This swelling usually occurs in the arm or leg, but may also occur in the trunk of the body, the head, neck, or genitals.  In ‘primary lymphedema’ swelling can result when lymphatic vessels are impaired due to a hereditary condition.  ‘Secondary lymphedema’ occurs when lymph pathways are damaged, most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment.


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