March Issue 2023

Teens Mental Health Improves When Allowed to Help Others and the World

Current research shows that the physical health and mental wellbeing of the largest generation of teenagers in human history is being negatively impacted by the global climate crisis. 

Many of today's teens feel incredibly anxious about the health of the planet and what it means for their future. Published and forthcoming research involving tens of thousands of young adults (aged 16-25 years old) shows that teens feel angry, anxious, and uncertain about the sustainability of the planet. A strong correlation exists between these negative emotions and beliefs that government responses to climate change have been inadequate. 

Why are Teens Worried About Climate Change?

For teens, the climate crisis is personal. Many teens are troubled with how climate change will impact their futures beyond their formative years. They are met with concern for their livelihoods, health, enjoyment of natural resources, and their ability to access clean air, water, and fresh food. Some teens feel powerless to influence adult behavior and the actions of governments. Others, as we've seen in the media, are enacting change locally and globally but are worried they cannot make a substantial impact. 

Teens are particularly concerned about climate issues such as:

  • Sustainability of ecosystems
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Effect of climate change on food supply
  • Effect of greenhouse gasses
  • Water pollution and rising sea levels
  • Loss of open space

How Does Climate Change Affect Teen Health?

During adolescence, the brain is rapidly developing which makes teens highly vulnerable to events that affect physical and mental health, such as:

Environmental toxins released into the air, water, and soil during conventional farming can cause respiratory diseases, hormonal imbalances, and other illnesses.

Catastrophic environmental disasters destroy natural resources and uproot teens from their homes, school, and normal routines (much like the COVID-19 pandemic).

A teen's locus of control fluctuates during the teen years. Realizing that the previous generation has failed them on climate change, teens experience resentment, frustration, anger and sadness. This adds to the existing rollercoaster of emotions that are part of typical teen development.

Today's savvy teens see a long, uphill battle against industry and government that has achieved very little. Teens also have witnessed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global supply chain, the economy, the environment, and public health. Combined with the toll that the pandemic took on teen mental health, teens have collectively expressed a grim outlook and feel their futures are being stolen from them.

What Can Teens Do About Climate Change and Support Their Health?

The fact that teens are becoming more aware of the reality of climate change is an important first step. While not all teens have it in them to become an activist on a global stage, they can take small and significant steps to protect the planet and their health.

  • Get the Feelings Out. When their feelings are out in the open, it can help remove the sting and they can make sound decisions about how they want to deal with what they are feeling.
  • Find Resources. Teens can address their feelings with a trusted adult, counselor, or by joining a teen advocacy group.
  • Look for Role Models. There are many teen role models on the global stage and likely in a teen's community. They can connect with these climate change leaders and find out how to get involved.
  • Stay Informed and Involved. Nothing defeats feelings of powerlessness better than becoming educated and identifying ways to be involved. Taking action can be something simple like signing a petition, writing letters, or attending a rally.
  • Act - Small Actions Make a Difference. If getting involved with a group feels overwhelming, there are things that can be done at home to support planetary health: recycling, growing an organic garden, composting, and reducing food waste are just a few examples.

If a teen is not showing resilience over negative feelings, professional counseling is a healthy next step. Uncertainty about the future can lead to fear and one cannot thrive in that emotional state. We want to rest assured that our teenagers have the emotional fortitude they need to create a better, brighter tomorrow for themselves and for this beautiful planet. 

Friendly Reminder: offers unlimited behavioral counseling. That is a huge asset in today's uncertain times. This is for up to 7 members of your household.

A health professional is just a chat, video or phone call away! Be sure and tell a friend. Here is a link to our website for more info:
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Nurtured by Nature

As we often find ourselves planted in front of a screen for an average of 10 hours or more each day, paired with the often grim news feeds, and personal challenges, anxiety and depression have reached nearly pandemic levels.

The American Psychological Association reports that, "Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition".

It is helpful to realize that "nature" has been here and sustaining itself for eons with and without us. Getting out into nature can invigorate our mind and body and help us experience the resilience, and beauty of the earth. It has an expansive and invigorating and even inspiring affect on mind and body. 
Did you know that every state in the US has beautiful State Parks that have been set aside for us humans to go and immerse ourselves in? Check out the State Parks in your state. Best State Parks in Each State.

Wherever you are, you have at least one valuable natural resource within reach. Most states have many more!

Dead Horse Point in Utah is just one example of State Parks.

Get out there and feel the vastness, it kind of puts things into perspective! And yes, you can breathe the air.

If anxiety or depression lasts more than a few days, or recurs, it can often seem overshelming. Consulting with a counselor has been shown to be very effective in restoring balance and healing, as well as providing tools and strategies for self management and care.

The good news is that with Unity Telehealth, a consultation with a health professional is just a chat, video or phone call away! Be sure and tell a friend. Here is a link to our website for more info:
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Teens Can Boost Their Mental Health By Doing Good Deeds

Now that the restrictions of living in pandemic times are lightening, teens have the opportunity to regain their emotional resilience. One way to do this is to encourage your teen to volunteer in their community or at school. They can reap all the health benefits of doing good deeds for others while they gain experience for college or employment.

Volunteerism Health Benefits for Teens
Volunteerism helps teens to:
  • Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Strengthen social connections
  • Be physically and intellectually active
  • Reduce time in front of digital devices
  • Develop a sense of purpose by seeing the impact their actions can have

Some teens may need nutritional or other supplemental support to correct mental emotional imbalances. 

How to Encourage Teens To Volunteer

If the adults in your teen's life volunteer their time, that role modeling goes a long way in opening the discussion about getting them to also volunteer. You can start by inviting the teen to join the next volunteer event. 

  • Volunteering as a family is a great way to get teens involved. Before you start the conversation, research organizations in the community that are in need and ask your teen what causes they feel interested in or passionate about. 
  • Talk about the difference that can be made by volunteering as a family.
  • Ask your teen to help choose a charitable cause or event to support. (Give them ownership).
  • Set a date for everyone to give it a try. 

Be sure you emphasize the importance of what you will be doing for the organization or the people you will serve. Teens respond to "knowing why." They won't volunteer just because you say it's good for their health; they will volunteer when they see how their actions will make a difference and to whom. As a bonus, remind them how volunteering adds an impressive element to their college and job applications. 

If volunteering as a group/family isn't feasible, talk to your teen about opportunities at school or through organizations that specialize in placing teen volunteers. A few to consider:

  • Hospitals
  • Animal Rescues
  • YM/YWCA Teen Volunteer Programs
  • Libraries
  • Organizations at their school
  • Local chapters of womens' or mens' clubs 
  • Local event-based organizations (such as those that run arts events and 5ks)
  • Volunteer Match or Lion's Heart are nationally based teen service organizations that have local chapters/resources. 

Volunteering can have a significant effect in a teen's life. Not only can volunteering benefit their physical and emotional health now, it can also shape their future

Surprising Ways to Make Tofu Flavorful and Reap the Health Benefits

If you're new to tofu, it is a dairy-free soybean curd with a similar texture and appearance of cheese. The bland flavor provides a wonderful blank palette upon which you can layer a variety of seasonings to achieve different flavor profiles. Let's learn about the many ways to enjoy tofu and the health benefits it provides.

How is Tofu Made?

Raw, dried soybeans are soaked overnight then blended to make soymilk. A coagulant is added, which allows the liquid to curdle and become a solid. It is then drained and pressed into blocks. Tofu texture varies depending on moisture which is how we get varieties such as silken, medium, firm, or extra firm. Or you can use Pumfu, made with pumpkin seeds. 

3 Health Benefits

You may have heard about a link between soy and risk for cancers. Recent research has refuted that concern. The phytoestrogens in tofu are considered "weak estrogens" that have a negligible effect on your body's hormone levels. (Phytoestrogens found in soy supplements (e.g., capsule form) are more concentrated; these are the products that people have been cautioned not to take unless under medical supervision). 

  • Soy foods contain isoflavones. Isoflavones are a group of phytoestrogens, studied for their cancer prevention properties when you consume 2 servings per day.
  • Tofu contains antioxidants which protect our cells against damage and inflammation that can increase risk for chronic disease.
  • Tofu is also rich in calcium which is good for our bones and muscles. 

Cooking with Tofu

When cooking, you might like to use ghee, butter, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, plain or seasoned extra virgin olive oil to name a few options. A general cooking guide for tofu varieties:

  • Firm and extra-firm tofu is denser than soft or silken tofu and retains more of its shape when cooked. This makes it suitable for grilling and stir-frying.
  • Soft tofu works well in casseroles and soups.
  • Crumbled tofu is great for a skillet scramble and can replace cottage cheese in vegan lasagna.
  • Silken tofu is best for puddings and dips; it can be blended into smoothies for added protein.

Buying "naked tofu" to season with herbs of your choosing is the best bet for high quality nutrients and flavor. Tofu can be baked, broiled, or simmered and stir-fried on the stove. You can season tofu by using:

  • fresh or dried herbs such as garlic, onion, parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, cumin, and saffron
  • marinades such as honey-mustard, tamari, tomato sauce, salsa, lemon/lime

Whenever possible, buy organic tofu (or organic sprouted tofu) so you can avoid environmental toxins and GMOs. It's also a good idea to avoid buying pre-seasoned tofu which can be loaded with sodium. Be sure to read the ingredient label to see what is being used to season pre-packaged tofu. Pumfu is a new alternative tofu made from pumpkin seeds - check it out! 

Calendula: Herbal Remedy for the Skin and So Much More

The use of calendula tea, oil, extract, and tincture dates back to ancient Egyptian culture and early Christianity. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) has many health enhancing properties that can help heal inflamed skin, reduce pain and swelling, and support the renewal of skin cells.

The plant compounds found in calendula's fiery red and yellow petals contain antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Two types of compounds, saponins and flavonoids, are important for immune function and for protecting cells from free radical damage. 

Calendula is still best known for its ability to heal skin inflamed by chafing, blisters, bites and burns and to treat dermatitis, eczema, and diaper rashes. It can be found in medicinal lotions, creams, and ointments that are applied to the skin. Calendula reduces irritation and encourages new tissue growth. For women who would like to avoid taking prescription medications to treat bacterial vaginosis, calendula ointment or suppository is a viable option when used under clinical guidance.

Calendula flowers and leaves are used in capsules, oils, and tinctures. Only the petals are used to make tea, which is a beautiful orange color. Calendula tea can be served warm or cold, depending on how you intend to use it. For example, for menstrual cramps or general relaxation, warm calendula tea is best. For a refreshing boost to your inner health, iced calendula tea hits the spot. The tea has an earthy taste with a hint of pumpkin and mild spice. It's best enjoyed lightly sweetened with cinnamon and agave or your preferred natural sweetener.

There are a few precautions for using calendula: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may use calendula topically, but should not take it by mouth. Calendula may interact with other medications, resulting in drowsiness. Since it's part of the ragweed family, people sensitive to or allergic to marigold, daisy, or chrysanthemums should not use calendula products unless under a doctor's care.

Firecracker Tofu Lettuce Wraps–Your Teens Will Love These!

Teens will love the way the ingredients combine to make the tofu bits crispy and–you guessed it–fiery! Paired with savory brown rice noodles and a creamy sesame sauce, this recipe is sure to awaken your taste buds and make you a tofu fan by the end of the meal! Whether you're new to tofu and trying it out for Meatless Monday, or if you already follow a vegetarian diet, this recipe is a keeper!


For the Firecracker Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (nut butter or nut-free butter substitute option)
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp chili paste (like sambal oelek) ++ for extra fire!
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • A small knob of fresh ginger, peeled
  • A clove of fresh garlic, peeled

For the Lettuce Wraps:

  • 1 container extra firm tofu
  • 4 oz brown rice noodles
  • Lettuce leaves for wrapping
  • Peanuts, cilantro, lime for serving


Noodle Prep: Soak your noodles in a bowl of lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes while preparing the rest of the recipe. You want the noodles to be soft and flexible.

*This is important. If you don't soak the noodles long enough, they will require more liquid in the pan to cook which makes them boil into a big glob. Be sure to soak them until they are very, very soft–almost ready to eat soft.

Sauce: Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a small blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.

Tofu: Press the tofu with a few paper towels to remove moisture. Cut the tofu into small pieces. Heat a little oil in a nonstick skillet. Add your tofu. Stir-fry until golden brown. Add about half of the sauce to the pan. Stir-fry for another 3 to 5 minutes. As the sauce browns, it will form small, crispy pieces around the tofu. Transfer tofu to a bowl.

Noodles: Drain and rinse your noodles. Add another swish of oil to the pan and throw the noodles in. Add about half of the remaining sauce. Stir fry for just a minute or two until coated. Add a splash of water if it's too sticky. Remove from heat immediately and toss with the tofu.

Wrap It Up: Fill your butter lettuce leaves with the noodle/tofu mixture. Option to top with peanuts, cashews, cilantro, scallions, lime, and/or Sriracha. 


Protein Options: It's easy to swap the tofu out with your protein of choice, such as ground chicken!

A Versatile Medicinal Herb & Culinary Spice

Saffron is an exotic spice native to Southern Europe, but widely used in many cultures around the world for cooking and medicinal purposes. In the kitchen, saffron (Crocus sativus) is used to add vibrant golden color and a sweet, floral and almost nutty flavor to a wide variety of cuisine. Medicinally, saffron contains several botanical compounds that encourage healthy digestion, fight inflammation, and support cognitive function.

In medicine, extracts and tinctures of saffron have been used therapeutically to address many different health concerns, such as:

  • Balancing blood sugar
  • Calming the nervous system
  • Supporting brain health
  • Supporting cardiovascular health
  • Easing digestive distress
  • Supporting vision health

Saffron contains several nutrients known to support health, including:

  • Carotenoids
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

The carotenoids in saffron are important antioxidants that help protect the cells in the body from cancers, infections, and attacks on the immune system.

Minerals that are found in saffron are important to physiological processes that take place in the nervous, cardiovascular, muscular, immune, and digestive systems. Our bodies use the minerals manganese and copper as cofactors ("helper molecules") to facilitate the production of antioxidants. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and zinc supports a healthy immune system.

In addition to the robust mineral profile, saffron contains many vitamins including vitamin A, folate, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C–all of which support optimum health.

Because saffron is very pricey, it is a target for fraud (aka saffron adulteration). There are unethical practices in which less important parts of the saffron plant, minerals, artificial colorant, weight agents, animal substances, and artificial substances are used. Use a reliable source to obtain only the highest quality saffron.

Precaution: Saffron is not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation. Drug interactions are possible with any herb, so it is important to speak to your Health Care Professional  or your herbalist before taking herbs with other medicines or supplements.

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The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.