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Your Healthy Labor Day Weekend Guide:

Labor Day signals the end of the summer season, with its bounty of banquets and outdoor gatherings. Here are a few things to consider to ensure your picnics and cookouts are happy and healthy.

Natural Relief from Nature’s Sting

While you are picnicking and partying outside, get insects to bug off! Commercial insect repellents will save you from mosquito bites, but most contain dangerous chemicals. Natural substances that can keep the bugs at bay are lemongrass oil, also called Indian oil of verbena, citronella, and lavender. However, once the bugs strike, it is too late. Find relief from itching with these natural remedies:

Apply honey to a bug bite to sooth and prevent infections.

Cut 2-inch round slices from a fresh eggplant and place on top of bite to draw out toxins and sooth the irritation. Cucumber skins may also be used for itching and irritation.

Apply tea tree oil to bites every 2-3 hours to relieve itching and aid healing.

Labor Day Menu

These are some healthy foods to include in your refreshing salads, main courses, and delicious desserts.

You Say Tomato

The cancer-fighting tomato is the star of the summer salad, and it is a rich source of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, and is known to reduce heart disease and prevent cataracts.

Go Fish!

Consider this low-fat, nutrient-packed meat as the main course. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish is great for heart health.

Berry Nutritious

Berries bring a bounty of health benefits. Chock full of antioxidants and vitamins C and E, berries are a naturally sweet dessert. The blueberry has the highest level of anti-oxidant activity, as well as possessing powerful neuroprotective properties that delay the onset of aging and memory loss by shielding brain cells from damage.

Ban the Bubbles

As it heats up, it may be tempting to reach for a sudsy, refreshing drink, but soda has two serious health downfalls. One: The phosphoric acid, which makes the bubbles, diminishes bone mass and increases your risk of osteoporosis. Secondly, soda contains loads of sugar, which gets stored in your body as fat, and also elevates your risk of cancer. Artificial sweeteners are no better, with studies finding them to be carcinogenic.

Dr. Mao’s Honey Lemonade

Here’s a naturally sweet beverage that is refreshing, delicious, and nutritious!

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8 large lemons)

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey, to taste

8 to 9 cups water

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Stir together honey and lemon juice in a pitcher until honey is dissolved. Stir in water and lemon slices. Chill.

Cookout Counsel

To make the most of your food’s nutrients, they need to be treated gently. Try not to kill the health benefits of your food with too much fire. Outdoor cookouts are synonymous with grilling, but don’t make a habit of eating barbequed or grilled meat that is burnt or blackened because it can increase your risk of cancer, and it destroys many of the nutrients.

Deep-frying will give you fatty food with trans fats–the worst kind of fat–which can clog your arteries and increase your risk of cancer. The best cooking methods are lightly steaming, quickly stir-frying, stewing, baking, or broiling foods.

I hope you have a joyful and healthy Labor Day! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Maoshing Ni (Dr. Mao) is a bestselling author, professor, and Doctor of Chinese Medicine.  He directs a wellness center with a team of associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica.  For more information, go to or email at

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