The Many Benefits of a Daily Yoga Routine

Medicine and Health

You don’t need to be a yoga master to know that practicing yoga offers various health benefits. We read posts on social media, we see ads at the gym, and we hear people talk about it all of time. In the fast-paced society we have all become subjected to, staying behind your breathe is hard. It’s why so many of us are anxious and depressed. We are feeding our bodies junk on the daily and taking no time to reconnect with nature or our health. I get it, you might be a science person and you may harbor some skepticism about the benefits of yoga practice. If that’s you, I have good news: modern research is available to solidify and back-up everything I’m about to tell you. Seriously, look it up! Although a lot of research costs money, there are free research articles on google or at a University library. Don’t take this from me, look it up, or better yet, practice yoga and see the benefits for yourself.

Before adopting a daily yoga routine, you need to understand the amazing things yoga can provide you. The benefits aren’t only physical, they are psychological as well. You will become more confident/motivated and less anxious/depressed. Here is a list provided by Susan Hollister in her book “The Top 100 Best Yoga Poses” regarding some of many (and I really mean many) benefits that yoga can offer you:

  • Improves flexibility.
  • Opposes food cravings.
  • Promotes better blood circulation.
  • Enhances fertility.
  • Decreases blood pressure.
  • Enhances mood.
  • Boosts your immune system.
  • Supports heart health.
  • Eases chronic back pain.
  • Speeds hangover recovery.
  • Eases asthma symptoms.
  • Decreases blood sugar.
  • Boosts your memory.
  • Encourages focus.
  • Delays signs of aging.
  • Relaxes your nervous system.
  • Boosts your energy levels.
  • Enhances your balance.
  • Reduces your body’s sodium levels.
  • Releases tension.
  • Increases your red blood cell count.
  • Facilitates sleep.
  • Increases and maintains hand-eye coordination skills.
  • Promotes proper breathing techniques.
  • Protects your digestive system.
  • Boosts self-esteem.

If you are still not sold on yoga and are not motivated to start RIGHT NOW… here are some fast facts that may help you decide:

  • People have been practicing yoga for over 5,000 years. Seriously, 5,000 years!
  • There are more than 100 different yoga poses that range from slow and gentle to fast and intense. This means that anyone can practice yoga. Don’t be intimidated from starting. We all have to start somewhere and the sooner you start, the sooner you will become your best self.
  • Yoga can target nearly every muscle and part of your body. It stimulates and massages internal organs that aren’t accessible through traditional massage.
  • If you need to start taking on some cardiovascular exercise, yoga can help. Research suggests that it can provide as much of a cardiovascular workout as aerobic exercise.
  • It’s fun for team-bonding and group activities. Schedule a weekly yoga session with your friends instead of the usual coffee house hangout.
  • You can practice yoga anywhere. You don’t need to have a gym membership or any fancy equipment. You can do it from home, outside at a park or during your lunch break at work.

Yoga is easy to learn and master. It can be practiced alone or with friends. It’s easily accessible and doesn’t cost any money. The health benefits mentioned are some of many and there’s research out there to back it up. If you work long hours and don’t want to invest in a gym membership, consider buying Susan Hollister’s “100 Top Best Yoga Poses” book and giving this thing a try. I promise, you won’t regret it, neither will you look back! From my home to yours, namaste.

Follow the link below to purchase Hollister’s book and start practicing yoga!

Foods Your Daily Smoothie is Lacking

Medicine and Health

If you are anything like me, you don’t have a large appetite in the morning. In fact, I have a hard time getting any solid food down until at least 10 am. For years, I simply skipped breakfast and went about my day, having my first meal at or after lunch. Recently, I decided to try the breakfast smoothie lifestyle and I LOVE IT! It fills me up, tastes amazing and I feel energized throughout my morning. If you are always on-the-go or don’t feel hungry in the morning, blend yourself a liquid breakfast and drop the processed protein bar aka Frankenfood. Super food smoothies are delicious and can help you improve your health. The basis behind liquid nutrition is that the nutrients are made available for complete absorption without decreasing the nutrient level (which happens when you heat or process it). Also, your body doesn’t have to spend any extra time and energy breaking it down. It’s fast, convenient and efficient!

Before we start, understand that non-organic fruits and veggies lack essential nutrients because the are sprayed with toxic pesticides and are grown in soil that is overused. Not only are GMOs harmful to your health, they make the fruits and vegetables you’re buying useless! For starters, buy organic. Second, learn about super foods. These are foods made and grown in other parts of the world that are studied for their health benefits. So, what foods and nutrients are a must in your to-go breakfast? To give you the best answer, I turned to Dr. Alan Gruning, author of “Prescription For Health” and a CIRS specialist in Southwest Florida.

HEMP (4 tablespoons)

Did you know that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers? Hemp is widely grown all over the world and hemp products used for consumption (free of THC) are available is various forms. You can buy hemp powder, seeds and oils. Hemp seeds are abundant in protein, fiber, chlorophyll, iron, omega 6 and 3 fatty acids and other nutrients. Hemp is one of the only complete proteins in the plant kingdom. Dr. Gruning recommends the Hi-fiber Nutivia for organic hemp protein powder. 4 tablespoons of hemp powder is plenty for your morning smoothie.

Bone Broth (2.5-3 tablespoons)

Bone broth is an anti-inflammatory source of omega 3 and protein. It can aid in correcting Leaky Gut and reduces joint and other inflammation. Use organic bone broth made directly from U.S grass fed cows. A good company to consider is Pure Protein Organics. Pure Protein Organics make their broth from scratch and it’s delicious.

Chia and Flax Seeds (1 tablespoon of each)

Chia seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, iron, easily digestible protein and other nutrients. They were commonly used amongst the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. Flax seeds are a good source of healthy omega 3 fats, fiber and protein. You can buy both in powder or seed form but make sure to opt for organic. If you purchase the seed form of chia seeds, soak them for 5-10 minutes to allow them to turn into a gel and not get stuck in your teeth.

Cacao (1-2 tablespoons)

Cacao beans are the highest antioxidant containing food on earth! It’s a vegetable and contains compounds that neutralize free radicals. It has fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium and protein. The high nutrient levels in cacao are only retained when it is cold pressed. Heating it destroys many beneficial nutrients. Unfortunately, most of the chocolate you see in store today contains cacao, but they are heated, killed and combined with sugar and fat. So drop the Hershey’s chocolate and pick up some organic cacao chocolate powder. Dr. Gruning recommends Viva Naturals Organic Cacao Powder. It is made from Criollo beans grown in the Andes Mountains, which are highly prized, and it has a very rich, dark color.


Açaí berry is one of the highest antioxidant fruits on earth. It is grown in the Amazon rain forest and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, and other health promoting nutrients. Use only organic Açaí powder in your smoothie. If you don’t want to purchase the organic powder, a small amount of the juice (available at Costco) will also suffice.

Pomegranate (1 tablespoon)

Pomegranate is frequently mentioned in the Bible. It is high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. You can eat the seeds raw or they can be freeze dried into powder.

Maca (1 tablespoon)

Maca is a root grown in the Andes Mountains. It helps balance Adrenal function during stress and is rich in nutrients and fiber. Dr. Gruning recommends Food to Live Organic gelatinized Maca because it removes some substances that can upset your gut.

Wheatgrass (1 teaspoon)

Wheatgrass has lots of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It is great as an alkalizing and detoxifying agent as well as an energy source. When purchasing wheatgrass powder, avoid any products from China due to quality concerns. Stick with organic and U.S made.

Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)

Turmeric is an orange spice that is loaded with antioxidants and is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It can help your immune system and joints. The great thing about turmeric is that if you use a small amount, you won’t taste it in your smoothie.

Aloe Vera (2 ounces)

Aloe Vera can help in healing your gut lining. The biggest con with aloe vera juice is that it’s often bitter. Dr. Gruning recommends George’s Aloe, which is made from the Aloe plant and isn’t as bitter as other options.

Alan Gruning, D.O

Dr.Gruning is a Christian physician in Southwest Florida who seeks to heal the whole person-body, mind and spirit-because that is what provides the greatest long term success for patients.  He is the author of Prescription for Health, a comprehensive guide to living a balanced life in a toxic world, and was the host of his own TV program of the same name, still visible on his YouTube channel.  He is the founder, Executive and Medical Director of the Southwest Florida Free Pain Clinic, the only free medical clinic in the US specializing in the comprehensive treatment of low income, uninsured patients with acute and chronic pain.  Dr. Gruning speaks frequently about numerous topics to many different groups around SW Florida.  

Dr. Gruning’s smoothie recipe:

1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk or almond milk + 1/2 cup George’s Aloe + 1 cup water
4 tbsp organic Hi-Fiber Hemp protein powder or 2.5-3 tbsp organic grass fed bone broth protein
1 tbsp organic Flax powder
1 tbsp organic Chia Seeds (soak for 5-10 minutes before blending to make a gel)
2 tbsp organic Cacao powder
1 tbsp organic Baobab powder or 1 tsp Açaí or Pomegranate powder or 1-2 ozs Açaí juice
1 tbsp Maca powder
1/2 tsp organic Turmeric powder
1/2 Banana
1/2-1 cup frozen organic berries

Combine in blender or Ninja. Add a little organic cane sugar or stevia if it is not sweet enough. Add less Cacao if you like less chocolate. Use a frozen banana if you want it colder. This provides about 16 ozs.

Total nutrition:

24+g protein
37g fiber
450 calories (if no sugar added)
8,000+mg Omega 3 (converted to EPA/DHA at 20-25% in the body)

This smoothie has so many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in their raw form that one a day will improve your overall health! In-between meals, eat organic nuts, dried organic berries, and raw cacao nibs. Eat more raw organic fruits and vegetables and watch the new you come to life!

Do I Retake a Course or Take an Upper Level One?


I hear this question all of the time scrolling through medical forums, facebook groups or even between my own friends. The “Retake failed classes or take an upper level one?” conundrum is common. The answer isn’t simple. The truth is, schools really do take a holistic approach when reviewing your application, so it truly depends! I know, not the answer you came here for, but hear me out.

C in a pre-requisite course

If you earned a C (not C-) in a pre-requisite course, and are considering retaking it to make yourself more competitive, it might not be the best idea to retake it. Considering you didn’t actually fail the course, taking classes that are at a Junior or Senior level and within the same subject will show the admissions committee that you have mastered the material and are ready to take on medical school! For example, if you took General Chemistry 1 freshman year and finished with a C. Don’t panic and sign up for the same class again. Take General Chemistry 2 and crush it! Most of the success in Chemistry 2 will come from a good foundation in Chemistry 1, so getting an A in the second half of the course, will prove that you mastered the material and are ready to move on.

Below a C- in a pre-requisite course

Now, if you completely failed pre-requisite course, you will absolutely have to retake the class. Unfortunately, most schools have a cut off for pre-requisite/cumulative GPA as well as individual pre-requisite grades. Many will require a minimum of a C (not a C-), so if we’re talking pre-requisites, you’re looking at sitting through another semester of that course.

Failed a course that is not a pre-requisite

If you failed a course that wasn’t a pre-requisite, you may be okay taking a course above that class level in the same subject and killing it! For example, let’s say you failed Human Biology freshman year. Human Biology is not a pre-requisite for medical school, but Biology 1 and 2 are. If you have the extra time and money, retake that Human Biology course, but if you are on a budget and ready to get on with your life (like most of us), make sure you excel in Biology 1, 2 and Microbiology. Take upper level biology courses as well such as Histology, Genetics, Cell Biology, Immunology, Embryology, and Pathophysiology. These classes require a well-rounded biology foundation in order for you to succeed in them. Doing well in them will help you learn material that will help you out in medical school and it will show admissions that your failed Human Biology days are far behind you.

Make sure you can get an A in your retake

The most important thing to consider is your ability to ace the retake. Do not sign up to retake a course if you feel that your schedule or other obligations will hinder your ability to get an A in the class. If you got a C- in a pre-requisite course and you earn a B- in the retake, you didn’t improve your stats very much. If you have to take a semester off or wait until your schedule calms down to retake the class, do so. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Balance is important and being realistic with your time, efforts and abilities is crucial. Making yourself more competitive goes beyond basic stats. You want to show that you not only were able to master the material in the course, but you also have developed better studying skills and have learned a valuable lesson.

Addressing your failed courses

If you don’t retake a course because you earned a C or because it wasn’t a pre-requisite, that’s okay as well. Depending on your stats and how well rounded you are, you can still get plenty of interviews and accepted into a program. You can explain circumstances that were outside of your control in your personal statement or interview. We are all human and well… s**t happens! It’s important you don’t focus all of your time on it though. Failed courses and any supporting information relating to why you failed should be addressed in a few sentences or less. You want your personal statement to make you shine. It’s your time to show off, so don’t spend a chunk of your characters on explaining why you failed. Instead, explain what you learned and how you have grown from your experiences, failures and challenges.

Embrace failure

The admissions committee understands that we are all human. Failure is nothing to be ashamed of. Most people only succeed after they first failed. There is a lot of opportunity for self development and growth in failure. The admissions committee wants to see that you failed at something and got right back up after. You learned from your mistakes and improved yourself. That is the most important thing to show. Your D in freshman English does not define if you will be a good health care provider or not. What you did after that D, does!

Will AMCAS only count my higher score?

No, unfortunately AMCAS will average out your failed course with your retake grade. Even though your home University may consider grade replacement, AMCAS will not. Keep this in mind when calculating your GPAs. There are so many students who don’t get interviews their first cycle because they didn’t calculate their GPA correctly.

What about outside factors?

We all go through difficult times in our lives. Sometimes, circumstances hinder our ability to succeed in a course. Whether it’s an illness or a loss in the family, we are human and the admissions committee will understand that. If you can ask for a leave from your University during a difficult time, do so. Especially if you feel like you will not pass your classes. Most Universities have policies that allow you to receive an incomplete grade for a course and retake it the following semester without affecting your GPA. If you have already failed and were not able to ask for a leave, you can explain some of these circumstances in your personal statement or interview.

“And when you can’t go back, you have to worry about the best way of moving forward”

– Paulo Coelho