Category: Happenings at MUIH

Top 10 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter by Amy Riolo

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stay healthy this winter

In our recent live discussion, How to be Healthy This Winter, Sean Rose, Sarajean Rudman, and Sherryl Van Lare from the Maryland University of Integrative Health shared numerous ways to feel healthy in winter.  This blog reveals 10 easy ways to use herbal medicine, Ayurveda, and nutrition to stay in top shape all season long and beyond!  

As temperatures turn colder, strategies to stay healthy become even more critical. The global medical community is currently challenged with curing new viruses and conditions without known cures. Boosting our immunity is a powerful way to take charge of our health and prevent illnesses. Whether you are looking to stay healthy or recover from an illness, herbal medicine, Ayurveda, and good nutrition can help. 

Try making the following tips a part of your daily ritual: 

  1. According to Ayurvedic principles, consume more warm and oily foods during winter to balance the cold, windy, and dry season. It is essential to eat at the warmest time of day – at midday – when the sun is brightest.  
  1. Make meals a ritual – mindful and intentional eating will aid your body’s digestion and allow you to absorb nutrients. 
  1. Herbal Medicine tries to counteract the coldness and dryness of winter by boosting metabolism and increasing circulation to stay warm. If you often have cold hands and feet, boost your circulation by moving your body, and drink warm foods and tea or tisanes to warm yourself from the inside out.
  1. Food provides our body with the nutrients and information it needs to function. Carotenes, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin D help to stimulate our immune response in several ways. Eat foods that contain all colors of the rainbow to receive the variety of nutrients that you need to stay healthy, and consult your nutritionist or health care professional to see if supplements are right for you. 
  1. Use herbs in steams and potpourris. Simmer a mixture of cinnamon sticks, citrus peels, clove buds, and star of anise on the stove and let the scent permeate your space. Evidence shows that the volatile oils released into the air from steam could have antimicrobial effects if someone feels sick.
  1. Cinnamon and ginger are spicy and warm, and those tastes tell us they will warm us up. They can be used often in your daily winter recipes or as needed!
  1. Drink warming herbs and spices! Cardamom, black pepper, rosemary, and turmeric have warming qualities and can be blended into tisanes. Adaptogens such as holy basil, ashwagandha, and medicinal mushrooms can help the body’s immune response.
  1. Control excess mucus with cooked oatmeal, flax seed tea, cinnamon, and mullein which contain mucilage and can help reduce excess mucus.
  1. Slowing down is important in winter. Nature goes dormant in winter because there is less energy in the air. It is important for us to do the same.
  1. Eat foods that are in season. If you reside in a colder environment, these might include onions and garlic, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, winter squash, apples, and citrus. Pumpkin seeds, elderberry, citrus peel, and rose hip also provide a variety of components that help us stay healthy in winter.

Please visit for more information about our herbal medicine, nutrition, and Ayurveda programs. Be sure to access our recipes for more nutritious and delicious ideas as well.  

Why It’s So Difficult to Keep New Year’s Resolutions –and What You Should Do Instead

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Looking for ways to make and keep New Year’s Resolutions? The start of a new year is an excellent opportunity for reflection, evaluation, and recharging ourselves with the memories of all we have accomplished and learned during the last twelve months. This is also the perfect time to rethink, evaluate, and set new goals. In other words, it is the ideal time to build new habits and improve in many aspects of your life. So why do resolutions get such a bad rap?

We often struggle to keep our new year’s resolutions. Sometimes we get discouraged because setting resolutions can be easy but maintaining them and achieving them throughout the year can be tricky.  Still, setting a vision of what you want to accomplish during the new year can give us a clear map and guide us to a self-care plan. We must make time for ourselves to nurture our bodies and minds.

Why is it challenging to keep new year’s resolutions?

Often our resolutions are based on what we think we should do rather than what we really want to do or what is possible for us to do. We set goals that are impossible to achieve or that don’t align with our values. We may raise our expectations too high and wind up disappointed when we can’t meet them. Our brains are programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain, so it is difficult to modify old habits that are hardwired, fulfill a purpose, and generate satisfaction, even if they are no longer serving us. It is important to remember that change is challenging and staying motivated and disciplined can take time. 

Nowadays, there are many distractions, and maintaining a focused mindset to prioritize our goals can feel like you are swimming upstream. Some distractions generate joy and pleasure (hello, social media!). In this case, we must be strong and determined to overcome them, knowing that achieving our long-term goals is more important and meaningful.

Being organized and choosing a day of the week to plan your schedule and think about what you need to do to accomplish your resolutions can be extremely useful. 

First, we must aim to set our sights on a longing or a dream that makes us want to achieve our goals. Then, set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely or that will help us make progress towards our goal. Think about setting short-term goals and ask yourself how and when you will achieve them. Consider rewarding yourself for accomplishing small steps to keep you motivated. We must also learn to recognize our own beliefs that limit us; and for this, meeting with a counselor or a health and wellness coach can be of significant help

The best thing about a new beginning is to start again, rethink past behaviors and experiences, deepen something we already like, or try something new.

Aspects of your life that may be good places to focus a New Year’s resolution include

  • Moving your body for energy and flexibility
  • Feeling safe and comfortable in the places where you work and live
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone for personal development
  • Consumption of food and fluids for nourishment
  • Finding ways to rest and recharge
  • Relationships with family, friends, and coworkers
  • Increasing your connection to spirit and soul
  • Harnessing the power of the mind for healing

In many ways, looking back on the past helps us understand ourselves better and make positive progress forward. It also aids in identifying skills we already possess but may not be aware of. Because of this, it’s never too late to get to know yourself and determine what changes may be good for you.

MUIH’s Professional Continuing Education has designed a FREE and Ultimate Resilience Reset Journal that can help you calibrate and organize your life with different planning methods, meaningful reflections, build healthy habits, and help you succeed with your goals throughout the year.

To deepen your personal development and help others along their journeys, Maryland University of Integrative Health offers two complementary master’s degrees. Our Master of Arts in Health and Wellness Coaching prepares students to aid individuals in introspection, goal setting, behavioral change, accountability, and goal achievement. Our Master of Science in Health Promotion prepares you to design, implement, and manage community and workplace health education programs and/or identify community health barriers and advocate for community health initiatives.

Tips to Holiday Wellness – Holiday Sides Cook-A-Long

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For many, November through December is the best time of the year. During the holidays, there are many special occasions for getting together with families and friends, like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. It’s a perfect time for cooking, trying new recipes, sharing dishes, and exchanging quality time and gifts. 

Even with all there is to look forward to, this time of year brings some challenges as well. The days get shorter and shorter until the solstice on December 21. The transition of seasons, the change of weather, the fading of leaves, and the evolution of light can slightly affect your health and wellness balance. During this time, you can experience, for example, an increase in food cravings, a change in sleeping habits, mood changes, different allergies, and a lack of energy. 

Implementing self-care and learning to adapt to the time change are essential to feeling good at this time of year. Meditation and self-reflection can help you understand your body. Learning health and wellness tips can keep us active and healthy this time of year. 

Have you noticed how you perform in early spring as opposed to early winter? 

Think back to early spring. Chances are we were feeling more energetic, and more excited about going out, getting in touch with nature, and meeting some friends. But in early winter, we may be feeling more receptive and reflective. It is the perfect time to let go, end a natural cycle, and prepare for winter. We can get ready by eating locally grown vegetables, warming herbs, and feel gratitude for the warmth of family and friends during the holidays.  

To help you transition into winter, Maryland University of Integrative Health MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health student Maya Lechowick has prepared some helpful actions, tips, and recipes to keep you feeling your best during the season transition: 

  • Don’t go out with an empty tank. Before going to a party, eat something so you do not arrive famished. Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, such as apple slices with peanut butter.   
  • Be buffet savvy. At a buffet, peruse the food table before putting anything on your plate. You might be less inclined to pile on items by checking out all your options.  
  • At dinner, serve yourself the standard portions. Once you have finished eating, take a 10-minute break to realize if you are still hungry before going back for seconds. 
  • Drink to your health – a glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories.  Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. 
  • Put on your walking or dancing shoes. Dancing is a great way to get your body moving. If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert. 
  • Lower your expectations. Holidays don’t always look and feel like they do in the movies. Make it your own by doing the things that fit your lifestyle and make you happy. 
  • Cook from (and for) the heart. To show family and friends care and love, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats. Prepare turkey or fish instead of red meat. 
  • Pay attention to what matters. Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter, and joy. But, if balance and moderation are your usual guides, indulging or overeating occasionally is okay. 
  • Make time for laughter. Laughter is the best medicine. So, make time for it just as you would for a healthy meal, exercise break, or deep breathing exercises. The great news about adding a daily dose of laughter is that there are no known side effects, and so far, we have not documented any allergies to our laughing breaks. 
  • Hydrate and warm yourself with healthy beverages like green teas, infusions, cinnamon, spicy, ginger, and lemon teas.  
  • Dress in layers to keep yourself warm and regulate your body temperature.  
  • Try to be active. Indoor exercising can be beneficial if it is too cold to walk outside. 
  • Get plenty of sleep to recover from stress and work.  

During the holiday season, nourish to flourish. Maryland University of Integrative Health Nutrition Outreach team created delicious seasonal recipes for your holiday meals including health benefits: 

Lemon Broccoli with Parmesan  

Broccoli is in the family of food known as Brassicas. These foods are anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, immune-supporting, and cancer-suppressing.  

Garlic contains a phytochemical called allicin. This sulfur-containing compound boosts immunity, stabilizes blood sugar, and is suitable for your heart and brain. 

Squash with Ginger and Cranberry 

Butternut Squash is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which are excellent for skin and eye health. This starchy vegetable is versatile for both sweet and savory dishes. 

Cranberries are native to North America. These high acid fruits are rich in Vitamin C. Their red pigment is high in phenolic acid and antioxidants with anti-bacterial properties. 

Dressed Carrots & Brussel Sprouts 

Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A, which is linked to eye health. This vitamin helps to reduce the risk of night blindness. 

Rosemary has been shown to boost cognitive function and performance. Rosemary may also help improve memory and sharpen understanding.  

Squash-Sweet Brittle 

Seeds from squash and pumpkin are small and powerful bites of energy. They are high in both zinc and magnesium, two minerals that are often lacking in the Western diet and that are important for heart health. 

Ginger is a great ingredient to utilize on feast days as it stimulates healthy digestion and keeps food moving, as well as reduces uncomfortable gas and bloat. 

Change old habits, break the routine, and try new things in the kitchen. It is healthy to experiment with new recipes and ways of eating. Christina Vollbrecht, MA, MS, Cooking Lab Manager & Recipe Book Project Manager explains, “While we offer plenty of tips and recipes for health and wellness this season, we mostly want you to remember that food is not supposed to be stressful.” Vollbrecht continues, “Whether you are doing the cooking, the eating, the hosting, the travelling, or all of it – treat yourself with kindness and grace and cook and eat from a place of love and you will derive the most benefit both nutritionally and emotionally.” Learn more and check out different recipes for every occasion. 




Skerrett, P. (2019). 12 tips for holiday eating. Harvard Health.

Jones, L. (2020). 7 Simple Holiday Wellness Tips and Quotes to Lower Your Stress. Living 

MUIH Faculty Tips: Keep Your Immune System Strong This Winter

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We’ve got a few more weeks left of winter – wouldn’t it be great to stay strong and healthy during this time? We asked several faculty members from our yoga, nutrition, herbal medicine, health and wellness coaching, and acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs to answer this question: What are some of the top tips you’d give a client to help them maintain a strong immune system during this time of year?

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