How to Work a Few Extra Steps Into Your Day

by Angie Smith

Modern day conveniences have made it easier and more efficient for people to get here and there without having to exert much effort. From cars to elevators and escalators to moving walkways, technology has allowed people the opportunity to cover more ground while physically doing less. But in the world of physical health, less is not more.

According to Intenz Athletix, makers of the Intenz Athletix pedometer, which can count the number of steps a person takes, the average person logs in only around 3,000 steps to 5,000 steps each day. But they recommend each person regularly accumulate at least 10,000 steps per day to maintain good health.

The average person of modern day is trained to reach for the convenient and forgo the extra effort, but for those who are looking to lose weight and improve their health, here are some suggestions for how to make it easier to get back on track.

  • Park at the back of the parking lot. We are all in a hurry these days, but most of us can spare a few extra minutes to walk a greater distance to the store and back. The benefits you can gain are enormous and you will have the extra bonus of rarely having to fight for a parking space.
  • Take the stairs. When given the choice always choose to take the stairs as opposed to the elevator. And this also applies if you are at the mall – find out where the staircases are and choose those over the escalators.
  • Walk the airport. Unless you are disabled in some way, always choose to walk the long corridors of the airports and avoid the temptation to catch a ride or hop on one of the moving walkways.
  • Buy a pedometer. It is a useful tool to keep track of exactly how many steps you take on average per day and will give you a way to monitor your improvement.
  • Walk to get your mail. In the afternoon or evening when you go to check the mailbox, do not stop in your car as you pull into your driveway, but choose to park and walk to check it.

These are a simple suggestions for how to add more physical activity into your day. As you begin to look for more opportunities to increase the daily steps you take, you will find countless chances to increase your health and well being.

Keeping Your Heart Healthy

by Tracy Rohland

A healthy diet is the best defense against high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body weight; the three main factors contributing to heart disease. In honor of February as Heart-Healthy month, Down To Earth brings you some tips to maintain your heart plus a few recipe ideas.

The following is based on the American Heart Association guide for healthy American Adults:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose 5 or more servings per day.
  • Eat a variety of grain products, especially whole grains and bran, which is particulary good for the heart. Choose 6 or more servings per day.
  • Include organic milk products, legumes, beans, seeds and nuts.
  • Choose healthy fats like Omega 3 fatty acids from flax, nuts, and avocados.
  • Limit your intake of foods high in calories or low in nutrition. This includes foods with a lot of added sugar like soft drinks and candy.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol (animal products such as red meat, chicken, pork and eggs are high in these fats).
  • Limit your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Maintain your ideal weight.
  • Get plenty of physical activity. Walk or do other activities for at least 30 minutes a day.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

by Tandis Bishop

At the turn of each New Year, many Americans jump on the “self-improvement” wagon. This often entails the hope of getting fit and losing weight because with spring around the corner, the motivation to improve our appearance is very high. But what is often left behind is the hope for something like a healthy heart.

Cardiovascular disease is still the No. 1 killer in America. The majority of these deaths are from coronary heart disease. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise is the number one recommendation by physicians to maintain a healthy heart, but many people still do not know what an ideal diet consists of.

According to the American Heart Association, “Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack).” Since most vegetarian diets are low in animal products, they are also usually lower than meat-eating diets in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Vegetarians suffer markedly lower mortality from coronary heart disease compared to non-vegetarians (Key et al (1999). High blood cholesterol is a primary risk factor in heart disease. In addition, studies have shown that vegetarians have significantly lower levels of low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is the type of cholesterol particularly associated with heart disease.

A vegetarian diet is also naturally high in fiber. Fiber has been proven to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood due to its fat-binding abilities. Fatty acids and cholesterol can bind to fiber and are blocked from cell entrance. Thus, fiber-bound fats are typically not absorbed in the small intestine and instead pass into the large intestine (colon) where they will be excreted in the feces or degraded by intestinal bacteria. In addition, like fiber-bound fatty acids, bile acids bound to fiber cannot be reabsorbed and re-circulated. They are also sent to the colon for fecal excretion or degradation, resulting in the use of cholesterol in the body for synthesis of new bile acids. As more cholesterol is used up to make new bile acids, less remains in the blood.

In his best-selling book, “Eat More, Weigh Less”, Dr. Dean Ornish describes how he was able to actually reverse heart disease through a vegetarian diet, exercise, and meditation. Dr. Ornish’s findings were particularly amazing because even the most aggressive medical treatment is generally only able to help stop heart disease from getting worse, not actually reverse damage as Ornish’s treatment did.


Down to Earth is here to help you on your track to a healthy heart. We have many heart-friendly vegetarian products in our stores and recipes on our website to assist you in your transition toward a plant-based diet. Check out the Health Tips section on our website for the American Heart Association’s guidelines to a healthy heart.

Gearing up to Stay Cool

by Tracy Rohland

Summer is here. That means long days at the beach, hikes in the mountains, family get-togethers, outdoor parties and plenty of fun and sun. Unfortunately, summertime can also mean sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke if you are not careful. But with a little forethought and planning before you head outdoors, you can avoid some of these common mishaps and make the most of your summer.

In hot weather, our bodies work extra hard to stay cool. Sweating is the body's way of cooling the skin. However, in humid weather, as is common in Hawaii, the surrounding air is already too saturated to evaporate your sweat efficiently. The heart must compensate by pumping harder and getting blood to the skin to release heat. This explains why you can feel tired and wiped out after a day at the beach.

One big danger from being out in the heat is the body's loss of electrolytes. Electrolytes are electrically charged ions that keep your nervous system working and your muscles contracting properly, including your heart. The primary electrolytes we are concerned with are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and calcium. Sweat contains mostly sodium and water. Sodium holds water in the cells and stabilizes blood pressure.

As the sodium levels drop in the body, you begin to feel thirsty. Unfortunately, most people then try to re-hydrate by drinking plain water. This actually makes the situation worse as it dilutes the sodium level even more. Proper amounts of fluid in the body are necessary to maintain a cool body temperature, adequate blood pressure, and normal kidney and brain function.

The first and most common symptom of dehydration is called heat cramps. This generally occurs in people who have been exercising in heat and humidity. Due to electrolyte depletion, the person's muscles begin to contract in slow and painful spasms. Someone experiencing heat cramps should cool down, rest, and hydrate with an electrolyte drink.

A more serious case of dehydration is heat stroke, also known as heat exhaustion or heat collapse. This occurs to people who have lost an immense amount of fluid and electrolytes through sweat. Symptoms include excessive thirst, nausea, headache, fatigue, dizziness, numbness and tingling in extremities, dry eyes, nose and mouth and confusion. Heat stroke can lead to loss of consciousness and even death. The victim should lie flat on a cool place and ingest electrolyte fluids, intravenously in some cases.

Now that you know the dangers of heat stroke, it is important to find out how to prevent it. First of all, know how to properly hydrate. Plain water will not sufficiently hydrate the body after sweating in the hot sun. Electrolyte drinks like Recharge are better for bringing mineral levels back to normal, but it is also a good idea to add more salt to them; about ½ to 1 tsp. of salt per one liter of fluid. If you have a family or personal history of high blood pressure, consult your doctor for the best hydration techniques.

  • Always have a water bottle with you and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Drink before you feel thirsty because by the time thirst kicks in, your body has already lost too much water and salt.
  • Incorporate your exercise program into the morning hours before the sun is at its peak.
  • Ease into the hot weather. Gradually increase your exercise program each day so your body can get used to the heat. It takes about two to four weeks for your body to get acclimated.
  • Persons over the age of 65, those on heart or blood medication, and overweight people are most susceptible to heat stroke. If you fit into any of these categories, be especially aware of how hard you work your body. Take it easy in the summer heat and discuss new exercise programs with your doctor before undertaking them.
  • If you find you are exhibiting symptoms of overheating and dehydration, get to a cool or air-conditioned environment immediately, take a cool bath, or dip in the ocean or lake.

Another common danger of the sun is, of course, sunburn. Sunburn causes your skin to itch and peel, increases the appearance of aging, and can lead to skin cancer. Sunburn also inhibits your skins ability to sweat, thus increasing the risk of heat stroke. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States . Fortunately it is also very preventable. Remember these tips when venturing outside for the day:

  • Wear sunscreen! Make sure it has a minimum SPF of 15, preferably with a quality blocker like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Reapply every 2 hours and every time you come out of the water.
  • Wear sun protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat, lightweight long sleeve shirt and pants. You might want to check out clothing that is specifically designed with an SPF to guard against the suns rays.
  • Wear sunglasses that give 100 percent UV protection. Anything less than 100 percent can actually damage your eyes more than wearing nothing at all.
    Be especially conscientious of protecting children from the sun! Their fair skin can be easily damaged and sunburn increases their chances of skin cancer later in life.

Have a Healthy and Happy Father’s Day

Photo: Father and Son on the Beach

by Manjari Fergusson

Father’s day is coming up and it’s always a nice time to reflect on dad and show him how much you appreciate him. The best way? A little quality time on the day! We get so caught up in our daily lives, and when you have to go to work, take care of children, and deal with all the other things in life, sometimes our parents get taken for granted.

Most dads love going on adventures, and Hawaii is the best place for it! Don’t bother with restaurants, noise, and crowds. Have some dad time by saving some money and enjoying some health and wellness together.

  1. Go on a hike! Hawaii has plenty to offer all over.
  2. Have a beach day; rent a kayak, or go SUP boarding for something different.
  3. Try indoor rock-climbing for a fun adventure that’s a little out of the ordinary. Your kids will love it too!
  4. Go golfing, or even mini-golfing which can be fun for the whole family.
  5. Go to the park and kick around a soccer ball or hit up the tennis courts.
  6. Spend some time at the bowling alley!
  7. Get the whole family on a bike ride together, or even rollerblading.
  8. Serve up a plant-based picnic at the beach for a delicious and nutritious meal and sunshine. Check out our recipes!

Get Fit Hawai'i: Excess Weight Can Be Controlled

by Tandis Bishop

Since 1990 Hawai'i has seen huge increases in the proportion of people who are overweight or obese. Between 1990 and 2003 Hawai'i's rate of overweight people increased 19 percent, and the rate of obesity has doubled. In 2005, 33 percent of adults were overweight, and 20 percent were obese. That means over half of the people in Hawai'i are either overweight or obese.

So what can you do to prevent obesity or lose weight if you are one of those people who struggle with weight problems?

The first thing you need to realize is that to lose fat (and keep it off) takes time and ultimately requires a change of lifestyle. You’ll need to work on developing good eating habits and regularly engage in some sort of physical activity. The key is to make this lifestyle change both gradual and enjoyable. In the beginning, don’t worry too much about what habits or foods you need to give up. Rather, focus on what healthy foods and activities you can add to your life. When you start eating healthier and engaging in more physical activity, you’ll begin to feel better, you’ll have more energy, and your desire for unhealthy foods or habits will gradually fall away.

Quick Fixes Don’t Work

Trying to change your diet drastically overnight or adding strenuous physical activity too quickly is not a good idea. Not only can it be physically unhealthy, but chances are it will be such an unpleasant experience for you, that you won’t be able to stick to it. The key is to make realistic goals and expectations and to be patient and determined. It may have taken you 20 years to put on an extra 50 pounds, so it is going to take some time to shed that unwanted weight. A 10-day fad diet isn’t going to do it. You may be able to lose some weight quickly, but in many cases, it will just come right back.

Finding the Right Balance

To begin losing weight, you will initially have to burn more calories than you eat. Later on, when you have achieved a healthful weight, you just need to try to maintain your weight by eating the same amount of calories as you burn off. It doesn’t take a math degree to figure this out, just use common sense. You simply need to eat smaller, more frequent meals, rather than giant, excessively large portions.

And Don’t Forget to be Active

Exercise is one of the most important things when it comes to preventing weight gain or losing weight. It’s simple. If you eat more calories than you burn off, then what you didn’t burn off will usually convert to fat. So the key is to EXERCISE. Do whatever it takes to move your body and sweat a little bit. Go for walks, swim, run around with your kids, have fun, and just stay active!

The following are some helpful tips on what foods you should add to your diet, and what foods you should try to cut back on: Things to eat more of:

  • Fresh veggies (a wide variety of colors, including dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, chard, etc.)
  • Fresh fruits (a wide variety)
  • Whole grains (whole wheat breads, whole wheat pastas, brown rice, etc.)
  • Plant proteins (like tofu, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, and nut butters)
  • WATER (very important to healthy weight loss because it helps flush excess out of your system and also helps your body function properly)

Things to cut back on (and eventually eliminate from your diet if possible):

  • Sugar (including foods that contain table sugar, fructose, or corn syrup, like sodas, cakes, desserts, and the like. It is important to read labels because even breads and crackers may contain sugar.)
  • Meat (including beef, pork, spam, chicken, eggs, and fish. This can be hard, so the best is to initially try to avoid red meat and then eventually try to reduce intake of the others.)
  • Refined carbohydrates (white flour, enriched flour, fortified flours, white pasta, etc.)
  • Processed foods (like spam, chips, basically all pre-packaged, manufactured foods that contain lots of preservatives and additives – i.e. big words in the ingredients list that you can’t pronounce.)

Stay Fit this Summer!

Photo: Man and Woman on Stand-Up Paddleboards

by Tandis Bishop

Summer is a great motivator to get fit and healthy as we do our best to look great in swim wear on the beach!  With the beautiful weather and the many opportunities to take advantage of both indoor and outdoor activities, it’s easy to get into shape and stay healthy. If we're not careful, however, summer can also be our ruin!  In addition to vacation parties, barbeques, ice-cream, cold sugary drinks, and other not-so healthy foods, summer's hot weather can make us reluctant to exercise.  Here are some tips to keep you and your family healthy and fit during the summer.

Enjoy indoor activities to beat the sun

Take a yoga class! Beginning Tuesday, June 3rd, Down to Earth is introducing weekly yoga classes with Danielle Tatik in our new Community Room upstairs on the 3rd floor above Down to Earth Honolulu, at 2525 S. King St. Classes are $10 and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am -11:00am. For more information, please call (808) 947-3249. View flyer HERE.

Hit the beach

What better way to stay cool and get active than to swim, surf or do other water sports? It’s free, fun, and great for the whole family! Drink lots of fluids to keep hydrated, and go before 10:00am or after 2:00pm in order to limit sun exposure and exertion in the heat.

Have fun with the kids

Backyard water activities are a childhood favorite that’s fun at any age. Water balloon fights, squirt guns and slip n’ slides are great ways to keep cool and active!

Shady hikes and waterfalls

Hawaii is famous for our beautiful hiking trails filled with shady pathways and often leading to gorgeous waterfalls. This is simply an amazing way to stay active over the summer. For refreshingly cool trails in Hawaii and how to get there, look up these trails online:

  • Oahu: Manana Trail, Nu’uanu Pali No ‘okina: Nuuanu and Judd Trails, Maunawili Falls, Manoa Falls.
  • Maui: Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls, Waihee Ridge Trail, and many trails off Hana Hwy.
  • Kauai: Hanakapi’ai No ‘okina: Hanakapiai & Na Pali coast trail, Kalalau trail.
  • Big Island: Akaka Falls State Park

Enjoy evening activities

Play tag-football with friends in the early evening while it’s still light but cooling down or take an end-of-day walk after sunset.

Go ahead! Enjoy your summer and take advantage of these opportunities to be active all summer long!

Truly Healthy: Fitness and Inner Happiness

Photo: Couple Running on the Beach

by Manjari Fergusson

Living a truly healthy lifestyle includes all aspects of a person’s life: what they consume, how active they are, how they manage stress, their mental and emotional health, and how they care for each other. This month’s Feature Article discusses the healthy-eating side of wellness, while our Health Tip focuses on the other aspects of a person’s health and wellbeing.


Fitness is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Even small amounts of consistent exercise, like 30 minutes three times a week, can work wonders on a person’s health in all aspects: emotionally, physically, and mentally. Exercise helps prevent disease, fight sickness, increase longevity, and can even improve your mood and help with depression.

Sometimes it can be discouraging to exercise when you feel you’re at a low level of physical fitness, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter; just start where you are at, and slowly but surely, with consistent effort, you will see results. It’s important to not try and do things that are too advanced. For your safety and health condition, just do what you can do.

Staying active and engaging in physical activity (which is any activity you do that involves the contraction of your muscles, from walking, to housework, to climbing the stairs, etc.) are also important aspects of health, but doing actual exercise is equally essential. Exercise is a specific, purposeful activity that you engage in for the advancement of your fitness and strength. It’s good to get in the habit of setting aside time every week for exercising. A combination of cardio and resistance training is best for well-rounded benefits and for balance.

You can start out doing simple aerobic exercises like walking or running for 20 or 30 minutes, and, according to your fitness level, you can start doing exercises that target the major muscles. Don’t choose weights that are too heavy; and don’t forget to do stretches before and after!

Managing Stress

Aside from the physical, it’s also important to know how to take care of your mental and emotional health. You can reduce your stress and your response to stressors by learning to breathe properly and calm down your mind, setting time aside to rest, finding inner peace, having empathy and compassion for those around you, and spending time with loved ones.

Things like breathing techniques to help calm the mind can be very beneficial. Take deep breaths in and slowly release, and coordinate with gentle stretches and hatha yoga asanas. Wai Lana’s Rest and Relax CD and yoga DVDs can be found at Down to Earth and are great starting points to incorporating relaxation and yoga stretches into your life.

Love and Gratitude

Kindness helps enrich a person’s wellbeing. Practice empathy and compassion on a daily basis. Begin to listen openly to others and be tolerant of those who may be fighting their own battles. It’s also a good time to practice “count your blessings” and be thankful for everything you have and grateful for your circumstances.

Just keeping a few of these tips in mind can greatly aid you in maintaining a happy and healthy life!

Staying Healthy for the Holidays

Photo: Woman Meditating on the Beach

by Tandis Bishop, Nutritionist

With the busyness that accompanies the Christmas season, it is easy to neglect your own health and well being. Between all the shopping, family gatherings, and rich foods, you may suddenly find yourself stressed-out, exhausted, and getting sick! It happens more often than you know. To avoid this predicament, consider keeping your health in check this month using these tips:

  1. Take time to de-stress… Stress from shopping, working, entertaining, and visiting family can become very overwhelming. It is especially important during these hectic weeks to make time for stress-relieving activities.
    • Yoga, Tai-chi and Chi-kung are great for releasing tension, focusing the mind and lowering blood pressure. You can take a class or get a video to follow. Even a simple 10-minute breathing exercise can do wonders for the nerves.
    • Sneaking away for a quiet walk can be very therapeutic, especially in the midst of a family gathering. If you have time for more intense exercise, go for it – sweating out toxins and working your muscles is beneficial and does wonders for releasing stress.
    • Take a soothing bath. Use essential oils like lavender, bergamot or lemon balm; put a few drops in the water or use an essential oil burner or diffuser.
    • Sip a cup of chamomile or another relaxing herbal tea in the evening.
    • Stop stress before it starts by pre-planning all your gift buying and shopping early so you are not stuck doing last minute shopping on the busiest days.
  2. Remember to rest… Lack of sleep is common this time of year due to hectic schedules, parties to attend and traveling. Sufficient sleep is essential to keeping your body healthy and your immune system strong. Take some good old-fashioned naps during the day to recharge. Even 20 minutes of rest can make a world of difference in both your energy levels and your immune system.
  3. Eat well… Most of us will naturally eat some of the rich holiday foods at Christmas parties and family get-togethers. For the most part however, try to eat a wholesome, all-vegetarian diet as much as possible, including vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and drink plenty of water between meals. This will also help your body cope with the burden of stress and lack of sleep.

Above all, be thankful for the many gifts you have and try to keep things in perspective. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, take the time needed to de-stress. Let this Christmas season be one of love and compassion to all, especially the innocent animals.

Reduce Stress with Healthy Habits

by Tandis Bishop

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the daily stressors that come our way. Pressure from work, raising a family, maintaining a home, and financial stability are some of the major stressors in life… along with all the smaller stressful situations that arise on a regular basis. Coping with stress is essential on many levels, with your health being at the top of the list.

Heart disease remains the number one killer in our country and stress plays a big role in increasing its risk. Research has shown that living a stressful life may affect factors which increase blood pressure (hypertension) and cholesterol levels, and can lead to poor habits such as smoking, heavy drinking, physical inactivity, and over- or under-eating. All of which in turn are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Studies also show that stress can alter the body’s functions, affecting the blood and nervous system and leading to negative health effects.1,2,3

Manage stress and improve your health with these healthy habits:

  1. Connect with friends and family. Call or spend time with positive people that provide a strong support system.
  2. Relax and recharge. Enjoy some kind of leisure activity that helps you relax. Work in the garden, go for a walk on the beach or spend time in nature. Hawaii’s natural environment is an excellent place to relax and recharge!
  3. Eat right. Diet and stress are closely related. Be mindful of what you eat, as well-nourished bodies are better prepared to deal with stress. Eat well-balanced meals throughout the day. We often forget to eat well when under stress and resort to unhealthy snacks high in sugars and fats. Plan ahead by packing healthy on-the-go snacks such as fresh fruit, cut veggies with dip, and nuts. Walnuts, for example, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have shown to help prevent and reduce stress!4
  4. Exercise regularly. Get moving even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day. Getting your blood flowing releases endorphins, enhancing your mood instantly! Besides, what better way to get rid of pent-up stress than with a good workout!
  5. Laugh it off. Laughter helps reduce stress by increasing those mood-enhancing endorphins and by decreasing the stress-causing hormones such as cortisol. Have a sense of humor, watch a comedy, tell a joke!
  6. Get enough sleep. Rest your body and mind with adequate sleep of 6-8 hours a night. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling irritable, irrational and stressed-out. Recent research also shows that lack of sleep can have negative impacts on our digestion, leading to cravings, overeating and potential weight gain.5
  7. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and drugs. These unhealthy habits are temporary ways to escape stress and have negative long-term effects. In fact, they often lead to increased stress!
  8. Calm the body and mind. Take deep, slow breaths to oxygenate the body and quiet your mind. Relaxing and balancing practices such as yoga, pilates, tai chi and chi gong can help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, also called the “rest and renew” nervous system.6,7
  1. Nabi H. et al., Increased risk of coronary heart disease among individuals reporting adverse impact of stress on their health: the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Eur Heart J (2013) doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/eht216
  2. World Heart Federation. Stress. Accessed on January 19, 2014 from
  3. American Heart Association. Stress and Heart Health. Accessed on January 19, 2014 from
  4. Bourre JM. Dietary omega-3 Fatty acids and psychiatry: mood, behaviour, stress, depression, dementia and aging. J Nutr Health Aging. 2005;9(1):31-8.
  5. Greer M. S., et al. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. August 2013.Nature Communications 4, Article number: 2259.
  6. Ross A and Thomas S. The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):3-12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0044.
  7. Streeter, CC., et al. Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Med Hypotheses. 2012 May;78(5):571-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.01.021. Epub 2012 Feb 24.