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The Art of Balanced Living

Regina Meredith ABL photo

The Art of Balanced Living (ABL)

This is where I will put articles and other thoughts about living a balanced life.

From recipes to health tips, life hacks and my own spin on the Art of Balanced Living.


How to brine a Thanksgiving Turkey

Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 in ABL | Comments Off on How to brine a Thanksgiving Turkey


It’s a classic Thanksgiving scene: A beautiful showpiece of a turkey graces the center of a Dwell-worthy tablescape, with its blistered golden skin glowing brightly like a first-place trophy. The sharpest of knives is drawn, the bird’s aroma amping up the anticipation of that first bite. And, finally, when that bite happens… wait, what the #%!&? It’s stringy, flavorless, dry, and not even gravy can save it.

Many of us have fallen victim to the dry turkey plague. The cure: brining.

Not sure how? We ask the experts for tips and techniques on how to brine like a pro.

Brine basics
At the most basic level, brining refers to presalting protein before it gets cooked. Think pork shoulderchicken legs, and even fish. Salt loves water, and when it’s sprinkled onto the skin of these proteins, it draws out the water and then fills that empty space with salty brine. While the salt is creeping inward, it is simultaneously breaking down the meat, tenderizing, and allowing it to retain moisture. When the poultry is cooked, proteins coagulate and prevent the absorbed liquid from escaping, ensuring juicy and flavorful meat. This is never more necessary than with a Thanksgiving bird.

Read more….

And Happy Thanksgiving!



17 Reasons to Walk More This Year

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in ABL | Comments Off on 17 Reasons to Walk More This Year

beach, wave and footsteps at sunset time

There are a few main reasons why I’m so fond of walking, also known as moving frequently at a slow pace. First, it’s all-inclusive. Absent debilitating injury or infirmity, everyone can walk. No excuses (unless you have one).

Second, the necessary equipment is right down there. See those bizarre appendages underneath you? That’s what you walk with. See that horizontal surface stretching into the horizon? That’s what you walk on.

Third, it’s the foundation for good health and makes life better. It’s this last point that brings me to the meat of today’s post: all the ways in which walking enhances our life.


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Mark Sissons is a former elite endurance athlete who has made health and fitness his life’s work. In his younger days, he was on the track toward medical school for a while (BA in Biology from Williams College), but got detoured by a different track – literally – and a dream of making the US Olympic team for the marathon. As the decades passed, he realized that his calling was as an independent researcher, critical thinker, motivator, and communicator – to get people to take responsibility for their health and fitness (often in the face of flawed conventional wisdom that can lead even the best-intentioned astray), and to inspire people to be open-minded, passionate, and enthusiastic about leading a healthy, happy, fit, balanced, active lifestyle, with the least amount of pain, suffering and sacrifice possible.

“Even though some of you may be tired of me saying this, it needs saying. I say this a lot because it’s important: you need to walk more. In fact, if there’s one New Year’s resolution I think everyone should make, it would be to walk more. Many of you made this the centerpiece for your 2014 plans, many did not, figuring you already do enough. Nope. No one really walks as much as they should, though. That small subset of my readers who do walk enough should still read this post if only to fortify their resolve.” – Mark Sissons
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Magnesium Deficiency

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in ABL | Comments Off on Magnesium Deficiency


Signs of magnesium deficiency are everywhere in the United States, if you know what to look for. Unfortunately, the symptoms are so incredibly common that they constantly slip under the radar! Hardly anyone, especially doctors notice that the ailments we suffer from on a daily basis are actually magnesium deficiency symptoms… and we’re all paying for it. Just about every single person you come into contact with – especially those with a health problem, but even those with only minor complaints – are suffering in some way from this nationwide deficiency. Including you!


What exactly is magnesium?

Magnesium is life.

It is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, right next to sulfur (which is JUST as important).

Along with being a mineral, magnesium is also an electrolyte. “Sports drinks” (aka sugar-filled scams) claim to contain electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium because these important nutrients are sweat out during exercise, and their deficiency is what leads to the common problems athletes face such as muscle cramping! But believe me – electrolytes (especially magnesium) do so much more than treat and prevent muscle cramps.

First off, electrolytes are what allow us to be living, electrical beings. They are responsible for all electrical activity (and thus brain conductivity) in the body. Without electrolytes like magnesium, muscles can’t fire, your heart cannot beat, and your brain doesn’t receive any signals. We need magnesium to stay alive, point blank. As soon as we don’t have enough of it, we start to loose the energy and conductivity that keeps us going. Technically, as soon as we become deficient, we slowly begin to die, getting more aches and pains day by day, feeling worse year after year. I can’t stress it enough… signs of magnesium deficiency are everywhere, if you just look.

Magnesium is a cofactor in over three hundred reactions in the body, necessary for transmission of nerve impulses, temperature regulations, detoxification in the liver and formation of bones and teeth. However, magnesium shows its true power in cardiovascular health. The Weston A. Price foundation writes, “Magnesium alone can fulfill the role of many common cardiac medications: magnesium inhibits blood clots (like aspirin), thins the blood (like Coumadin), blocks calcium uptake (like calcium channel-blocking drugs such as Procardia) and relaxes blood vessels (like ACE inhibitors such as Vasotec) (Pelton, 2001).”



Make your own Colloidal Silver

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in ABL | Comments Off on Make your own Colloidal Silver


The EZ-2 is a portable, convenient plug-in unit. This 27-volt colloidal silver generator will make 32 oz of fresh 5 ppm colloidal silver in 32 minutes and makes a more potent, highly charged product than 9 volt colloidal silver generators, which take 4 to 5 hours to make the same amount.

No need for meters, laser pointers or TDS meters. Included in the package is a fully-tested timing chart, so you can accurately make 5 ppm to 40 ppm colloidal silver. Also included are DETAILED, PHOTOGRAPHIC INSTRUCTIONS.

Just plug into any 120 volt AC household outlet and you’re ready to make fresh, highly charged colloidal silver.

No fumbling with cords and clips to attach to silver wires dangling on the lip of a container: the silver wires are held firmly in the push-button ports.

Clamp the silver wires in the ports and rest the case on top of the container of water. It automatically turns ON when the silver wires are immersed and turns OFF when they are withdrawn.

The Rise of Functional Medicine

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in ABL | Comments Off on The Rise of Functional Medicine


The Rise of Functional Medicine & How It Will Radically Change Your Life

doc-728x400Modern medicine is in crisis. The reason: it’s just not working.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, and allergies are increasing with no letup in sight and account for seven of the top ten causes of death as of 2010. Heart disease and cancer accounted for forty eight percent of all deaths. Modern medicine may be great at dealing with infectious disease and traumatic injuries, but has failed to stem the tide of chronic disease.

In addition, surveys indicate that two-thirds of patients feel disrespected by their physicians, forty-four percent feel doctors don’t spend enough time with them and a quarter believe physicians don’t answer questions and don’t adequately involve them in treatment decisions, and use medical terms with no explanation.

Numerous health systems have gained prominence in the West as alternatives to what is known as mainstream or biomedicine. Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Massage Therapy and Reiki have arisen as popular alternative healing methods. The most recent National Health Interview Survey estimates that up to forty percent of Americans have tried one or more of these alternatives and are spending $34 billion annually on them.

Reform From Within

Change is also occurring within the medical profession itself. Functional Medicine (FM) is a relatively new approach that has arisen from within mainstream medicine and challenges its reductionism and method of care. FM is not an alternative to biomedicine. Rather, it is a reform movement that is calling for a paradigm shift toward a holistic model of disease prevention and treatment based on the new scientific field of systems biology. Systems biology holds that the sum is greater than its parts. Living organisms are complex, whole and interactive systems and not a conglomeration of separate parts. Systems biology provides an elegant and accurate understanding of who we are and how chronic disease needs to be treated and prevented. FM embraces this position.

What is Functional Medicine?

The idea of FM was created in 1990 by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, known as the father of FM, to meet the growing challenge of chronic diseases with advances in modern medical science and systems biology. In 1991, he and his wife Susan created the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) to implement FM within the health care sector of society.

FM addresses the underlying causes of disease, not only its symptoms as mainstream medicine is prone to do. FM is a clinical application of systems biology that sees each person as an integration of mind, body and environment, a bio/psycho/social entity, if you will. FM is health rather than illness oriented. It treats the whole person and seeks to establish a dynamic equilibrium and resilience within each patient. In this way, it is holistic. A primary goal of FM is to promote each patient’s health and vitality. An FM practitioner is a medical doctor with special training through the FMI and typically looks at each patient’s:

  • Personal lifestyle
  • Unique biochemistry
  • Genetic predispositions
  • Environmental factors and toxicities

In the FM model, a disease may have multiple causes that include: sedentary and indoor lifestyle, chronic stress, genetics, poverty and lack of medical insurance, aging, fragmented families and community dysfunction, environmental toxicities, and nutritional deficiencies.

Disease Matrix

Regina Druz, MD, a practicing integrative cardiologist and FM practitioner in Mineola, NY, describes FM in very practical terms: “FM is root cause medicine. It relates disease symptoms and conditions to biochemical and genetic processes that govern states of health and disease.”

Practitioners often use the analogy of a tree and its roots to describe the FM model:

disease tree

The roots of the tree are the multiple causes out of which grow the myriad chronic diseases that are now at epidemic proportions. Mainstream medicine treats the leaves (symptoms) whereas FM treats the roots (causes). See the full comparison here. 

In the words of Mark Hyman, MDchairman of the board of IFMfounder and CEO of the UltraWellnes Center, and NY Times bestselling author:

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE is the future of conventional medicine–available now. It seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms.

Dr. Hyman’s video offers a clear explanation of the differences between functional and conventional medicine.

Disease Prevention

As stated by the IFM:

A major premise of Functional Medicine is that, with science, clinical wisdom, and innovative tools, we can identify many of the underlying causes of chronic disease and intervene to remediate the clinical imbalances, even before overt disease is present.

Emphasis is placed on ascertaining individual biochemistry, lifestyle factors, toxicology, using advanced laboratory and genetic testing coupled with treatment plans of diet, exercise, herbal treatments, supplements, detoxification, stress management, and appropriate use of pharmaceuticals.

Public Health

Since disease prevention is a high priority for FM, efforts are made to partner with individuals and communities to advocate for social change. As Dr. Druz explains: “Public health plays a prominent role in the Functional Medicine domain as it focuses on prevention and early intervention of chronic diseases.”

The systems approach highlights the social origins of disease and demands moving beyond a purely in-the-clinic model and advocates for changes in such things as food policy (GMOs, industrial food production, etc.), poverty, and environmental degradation while supporting stable families. To be an effective medicine for the 21st century “Future clinicians, if they are to be integrative healers, need to be out where the people are and to participate in social and environmental policy change.”

The FM Treatment Plan

Forging bonds with individual patents entails FM practitioners spend much more time with patients than conventional physicians. It is typical to take a full patient history while including the patient in determining treatment options. The GOTOIT approach is fundamental to accomplishing this. Jones and Quinn identify the GOTOIT process as a logical way of “eliciting the patent’s whole story and ensuring that assessment and treatment are in accord with that story.”

G = Gather Information

O = Organize Information

T = Tell the Complete Story Back to the Patient

O = Order and Prioritize

I = Initiate Treatment

T = Track Outcomes

The FM practitioner enters all of this information into a Functional Medicine Matrix which allows for all pertinent info to be followed and changed as need be over time. This process demands consistent interaction between patient and physician.

The Future 

Many in the field of FM believe it is the future of medicine. Regina Druz asserts that FM “…is the way of the future. My prediction is that we will come to full force within the next 5-10 years.” She adds that FM will allow the “…prevention of chronic disease and cancer to start in-utero and continue throughout one’s lifetime…Our children and grandchildren will be the beneficiaries.” Druz believes this is possible as genomics, epigenetics, toxicology and biochemistry expand our capacities to understand how the body/mind works and contemplate new clinical interventions.

How to Find a Functional Medicine Physician

The best approach is to connect with a FM practitioner is through the Institute of Functional Medicine website. Click on Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner on the home page. Your life may change dramatically if you do.

 About the Author: Dr. Robert M. Oliva is a New York State licensed Master Social Worker, a traditional Naturopath, a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and a health and fitness writer. He is a member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and the National Association of Social Workers. Dr. Oliva lives with his wife, has two adult children and two wonderful grandsons. Follow him on Twitter @mroliva7092.
See all of Dr. Oliva’s articles on C-R here: