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Welcome to Start Somewhere, your home for a whole-body approach to vibrance, resilience, and a longer healthspan.  Dr. Debbie Ozment’s thirty-plus years in clinical practice has given her keen insights to health and wellness from a unique vantage point.  Enjoy her fresh perspectives on creating a balanced and healthy environment. Add energy and vibrancy to your life!  Start Somewhere will enable you to create your own environment of sustainable strategies to nurture your mind, body and spirit. Staying healthy need not be stressful or difficult. Dr. Debbie will provide you with scientific insights and practical techniques to guide you on your adventure. 

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Be Nice to your Brain: Embrace the Goodness of Hugging


Be nice to your brain: Embrace the goodness of hugging. Thank you for your nice “verbal hugs” regarding last Friday’s quote on the benefits of hugging! You’ve made my immune system more resilient! Let’s explore the science behind the many advantages of a simple hug. In researching today, I found that psychotherapist, Virginia Satir, is the probable author of this inspiring quote. Here’s an excerpt from last week:


“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”


Hugging can decrease cortisol, the stress hormone. Sustained levels of cortisol damage the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in the consolidation of short-term memories to long-term memory. Additionally, chronic stress has been proven to accelerate brain aging. Hugging also boosts levels of oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone.” This naturally-occurring neuropeptide is released by the pituitary gland and has powerful vitality-giving properties of enhanced physical and emotional health.


According to a study published in the Journal of Comprehensive Psychology, the “positive emotional experience of hugging gives rise to biochemical and physiological reactions.” Wouldn’t it be fun to be a “hug researcher?” It has been shown that just ten seconds of hugging can:


Lower blood pressure and heart disease risk

Decrease cortisol

Boost immunity

Dampen depression

Combat fatigue

Fight infection

Enhance self-esteem, especially in children


Many people are deprived of touch and real social connectedness. Regardless of how many friends are on FaceBook, we need more real interaction with friends and family who decrease anxiety. Even a pat on the back or a friendly handshake are processed through the reward centre of the central nervous system and can have a positive impact on the human psyche. We are designed to physically interact and connect with others, even on small levels. Cuddling with your pet can offer overall health and wellbeing benefits too!


Be nice to your brain! Manage cortisol naturally by embracing the biochemical effects of hugging. NOURISH LIFE with simple strategies for more vitality and joy. You can do it. I will help you.


#AskDrDebbie: “How can I tell if I have a leaky gut?” -Vicki P.


Thank you, Vicki, for this excellent question. It is obvious from your inquiry that you understand that health really does start in the gut and that it is important to intentionally notice what is happening – or not happening. “Leaky Gut Syndrome,” also known as “Permeable Bowel Syndrome,” is a condition that definitely affects the vitality of many people. Robynne Chutkan, M.D., microbiome expert at the Digestive Center for Wellness and part of the Georgetown University faculty, said that leaky gut syndrome “is likely to emerge as one of the most significant medical concepts of our time.”


Intestinal permeability describes a condition in which the inner cells that line the small intestine become damaged. Because of this damage, undigested food particles, toxic waste products, and bacteria essentially “leak” through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. The immune system senses these substances as foreign and attacks them, causing an “autoimmune response” that can include inflammatory and allergic reactions such as eczema, chronic fatigue, migraines, irritable bowel, rheumatoid arthritis, and more problems. Also, when the lining isn’t functioning properly, it doesn’t produce the necessary digestive enzymes to absorb essential nutrients from food. This can lead to a weakened immune system, slow healing, and hormone imbalances. According to Leo Galland, M.D., Director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine, signs of leaky gut may include:


Chronic constipation, diarrhea, gas, or bloating

Nutritional deficiencies

Poor immunity

Headaches, brain fog, memory loss

Excessive fatigue

Skin rashes or problems such as acne, eczema, or rosacea

Cravings for sugar or carbs

Joint pain

Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

The key to healing leaky gut is to eliminate the foods that your body is treating as toxic. I would recommend removing gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol for 60 to 90 days and seeing how you feel. Chances are, you will feel better and enjoy enhanced energy and restorative sleep. If you still have challenges, visit a physician or nutritionist who is trained in functional medicine for further help. Getting educated on the options is the best START SOMEWHERE!


Holiday Stuffed Squash (Amy Myers)



You will need:


2 Acorn Squash or other Winter Squash

1 lb ground Turkey

1/2 sweet Onion chopped

2 Celery stalks

1 Apple chopped

1/2 cup dried Cranberries

2 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Rosemary

1 tsp Thyme

1 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 tsp Sea Salt

Here’s the drill:


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Half each squash and scoop out seeds to create 4 bowls. Place squash face down on baking sheet and bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, or until soft.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and apples; saute until cooked through. Add in ground turkey and seasonings. Cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Take off of heat and add in dried cranberries.

Place filling in squash and return into oven for about 10 more minutes, then serve.


Savor this quote with me: “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. (by Tecumseh)



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