Health News

by Liz Robins

DO YOUR FASCIA A FAVOR

“Fascia” is the Latin word for “band,” an apt descriptor of this elastic, multilayer, connective-tissue sheath beneath the skin. Made primarily of collagen, fascia wraps around all of our muscles, organs, nerves, joints and more—and healthy fascia plays an essential role in good health.

“It’s the matrix that sustains all other systems of the body,” explains Michele Loew, an international yoga teacher and founder and director of The Yoga Space in Portland, Oregon.

“It’s the web of connectivity and support, affecting our organs and their positions, our posture, our breath, nervous system and overall health.” When fascia is restricted, says Loew, disease and fatigue can set in and our overall vital energy seems restricted.

“Yoga recognizes that the body is an integrated whole, and thus focuses on opening this webbing,” Loew explains. For instance, she says, the soles of your feet are myofascially continuous up the back of the body all the way to the top of your head ending at your brow. So if your feet are tight, your hamstrings might be tight, your low back, upper back, neck, forehead and so on. “Yoga poses were designed to work at opening these fascial lines in the body.”

Side stretching, forward folds, backbends and twists all affect one of the deep or superficial fascial lines, says Loew. Yin yoga, a popular daily offering at The Yoga Space (theyogaspace.com), targets the fascia with long, meditative holds from three to five minutes. Settle in, breathe deeply and do your fascia a favor.

OAT MILK ON THE MENU

You know a new product has reached critical mass when Starbucks starts to offer it on the menu. That’s what happened with oat milk in January of this year, when the world’s largest coffee chain added the popular nondairy option at 1,300 Midwest locations.

It’s easy to understand oat milk’s mass appeal. Thanks to its creamy consistency and slightly sweet taste, it blends especially well with coffee. Plus, oats are a relatively easy-to-grow cover crop that contributes to healthy soil and doesn’t rely heavily on irrigation—unlike almonds.

Keep in mind, though, that even unsweetened oat milk can be higher in sugar than other nondairy milks as a result of the way the oats are processed—but it’s still lower in sugar than cow’s milk. Seek out organic or additive-free varieties and sip in moderation. Try: Oatly!, Oatsome, Silk Oat Yeah Oat Milk

RECOMMENDED READ

Kid Food by Bettina Elias Siegel

Nearly one in three kids in the U.S. are now overweight or obese, and, according to projections by Harvard researchers, nearly 60 percent of those who are children now will be obese by the time they reach age 35. These are just a couple of the many eye-opening stats that writer and food advocate Bettina Elias Siegel shares in her excellent new book, Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World (Oxford University Press).

Siegel’s in-depth reporting covers the sizable challenges and obstacles to getting kids to eat healthfully: school meals that are virtually fast food, intentionally confusing product claims, stealthy junk-food marketing and children’s menus that send the wrong message, for starters. But it’s not all doom and gloom; she also offers practical advice and solutions, from how to instill healthy eating habits at home to advocating with like-minded parents for policy change in schools and beyond.

In other words, it’s the call to action we need right now.

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