Preparing for Springtime

Spring is upon us, although it seems the chilly air still needs to get the memo. As the weather warms up, blossoming trees and flowers might trigger allergies; clothing becomes lighter in weight, fabric and color; and awareness of winter pounds might set off a stress response. Not to worry. Healing is upon you.

At this time of year, we in the Northeast become more aware of the need for skin protection from the sun, while still permitting enough exposure to manufacture the Vitamin D so necessary for total mind/body/spirit wellness. Dark, tightly woven synthetic fibers tend to block more rays than do lighter colored, loosely woven cotton fibers.

Appropriate sun exposure is defined uniquely for each individual – so ask your healthcare provider about how best to meet your body’s needs. The healing properties of sun’s rays include boosting the immune system and elevating mood. Accumulation of just the right amount of melanin to beam forth a healthy glow is a cosmetic “plus” for some and a “minus” for others (particularly those who have been diagnosed by their dermatologist with any type of skin cancer). This article touches on how to use diet, supplements, and exercise to protect the skin, shed a few pounds, and create total body wellness.

Can diet also impact hair, skin and nails? Yes. Read on!

Hair, Skin, and Nails: As you might already know, biotin is a key water-soluble B vitamin that does many things in the body, including improving the look and feel of hair, skin, and nails. It is found in foods such as liver, egg yolks, and almonds. It also comes in supplement form. Ask your healthcare provider what might work well for you.

Footcare is especially necessary for people living with diabetes, and becomes very important for anyone – with or without a health condition – particularly during the summer months. The heels of bare feet (even if you wear flip-flops) tend to form callouses, and the soles of the feet may be subjected to trauma from temperature (hot sand or asphalt). Aloe vera gel can be used to soothe burned skin on the torso, arms, and legs as well as on the soles and tops of feet. Feel free to reach out via email to find out how to safely address callouses.

Toenails: Thick, yellow or opaque white toenails might reflect a curable digestive issue. If your doctor labeled your thickened nail(s) “onychomycosis,” part of your cure would include elimination of sugar, white flour, and a few other foods while adding particular supplements and probiotic-rich foods. Ask your doctor, or reach out over email for recommendations.

Skin: Protection for skin may include topical preparations such as zinc oxide cream (by day), and non-petroleum products (ideally, from beeswax and Vitamin E) at night, as well as internal (nutritional) interventions to nourish your organ systems, including your gut. Interestingly, the dietary approach for protecting the skin also works to protect your vision. Ask your doctor about the health benefits of lutein, an antioxidant that is a yellow pigment – a carotenoid found in egg yolk, dark leafy greens, and other vegetables. Lutein also comes in supplement form. It protects the skin from the damaging effects of certain UV rays, protects vision by nourishing the macula and retina, and is safe, in the right amounts, to eat/take on a daily basis. Ask your provider how much is right for you. All fruits and vegetables should be USDA Organic since these provide the enzymes necessary to help the body break down the foods and absorb the nutrients. This is particularly essential for you to know if you suffer with gas or bloating. Details upon request – call or email.

Weight loss begins with understanding that food is a conversation you have with your body. Certain foods ask to be stored as fat. Other foods ask to be used as energy. There are general principles and then unique situations. For example, thick chocolate cake made with flour generally says, “Please store me as fat and give the body gas,” while soft-boiled eggs from organically and humanely raised hens generally say, “Please use me as energy and to help burn fat already in place.”

Similarly, probiotics (either in supplement form – or in foods such as water-fermented sauerkraut), as well as herbs, vitamins, and minerals, also communicate with the body. They may induce or calm inflammation, create or help dissolve gas, bring pain or comfort to joints, interfere or assist with fat metabolism, and so on. The “permanent weight-loss adventure” begins with using your energy and mood to help you understand your internal dialogue with food. Start keeping a food/energy/mood journal. Jot down your observations of your mood and physical comfort before and after you eat something. Hints: whatever (1) makes you drowsy is asking to be stored; (2) gives you gas is not permitting you to absorb nutrition; (3) gives you energy and lifts your mood, is likely boosting your metabolism. To learn more about how to communicate effectively with your body using foods and supplements, consult with your registered dietician, nutritionist, health provider, or reach out to me over email or call directly.

Exercise: Gentle stretches and easing into cardiovascular exercises may help boost your metabolism and lift your spirit. Begin by stretching your arms and legs while still in bed – before you get out from under the covers. Then, once out of bed, stretch up and take a deep breath. If you notice stiffness in your shoulders or other joints, discuss these observations with your healthcare provider. There are natural supplements that might help address this. Limber joints can be protective during daily activity; stiff joints may set you up for injury. Mindfully walking, active range-of-motion, and climbing steps are simple ways to prepare your mind, body and spirit for the longer, warmer days ahead.

This is your life and your body. Each step you take – and avoid – along your journey, is your choice. Here’s to your best health and wellness.

Important Note: All information provided in this article is to be shared with your primary healthcare provider before you decide to follow recommendations. Always check with your provider before incorporating new foods, supplements, and even exercises into your routine. Prescription and over-the-counter medications taken on a daily basis, as well as living with certain health conditions such as an auto-immune disorder, require that you specifically check with your wellness team before making lifestyle changes such as those mentioned in this article.

Dr. Nancy Iankowitz is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and Director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC. She is also host of “Marcy’s World,” which streams live on the Marcy’s World Facebook page. Email your questions to: For more information, call (917) 716-6802, or visit online.