A Natural Approach to Treating PCOS

PCOS-min.jpeg

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine (hormone) disorders, affecting approximately 10 million women of all races and ethnic groups worldwide. It's the leading cause of infertility in women and can present at any life stage - from puberty through post-menopause. Most women with PCOS will have cysts on the ovaries, but as many as 30% of women will not have cysts. Women with PCOS experience an array of symptoms, including:

  • irregular menstrual cycles
  • obesity
  • infertility
  • pelvic pain with or without periods
  • mood swings, depression or anxiety
  • thinning hair on the head
  • excessive body hair (hirsutism)
  • fatigue and sleep problems

Because of the wide range of PCOS symptoms, fewer than 50% of women are properly diagnosed. Too often women simply accept the discomfort and don't inform their doctors until symptoms are at their worst. Even then, they are often misdiagnosed because so many of the symptoms can be attributed to other causes. Another reason for missed diagnosis is that PCOS has long been believed to be present only in obese women; we now know that it can affect women of any body weight including those who are normal or even underweight. Additionally, PCOS can present differently based on life stage, genetics, ethnicity, age and environmental and lifestyle factors such as self-care, exercise, and eating habits.

Causes of PCOS

Obesity and insulin resistance are health issues that are linked to PCOS and both affect hormonal function in the body. Insulin resistance relates to problems with regulating insulin, a hormone that allows the body to properly use glucose (blood sugar) for energy. When the body isn't as responsive to insulin as it needs to be, too much of it circulates in the blood and can cause a hormone imbalance.

Natural Solutions

Dr. Samuel Thatcher, an early pioneer in PCOS research and treatment, was among the first clinicians to advocate for a holistic approach to PCOS treatment. With the goal of enhancing a woman's quality of life, holistic health practitioners perform a thorough lifestyle assessment, blood tests, and dietary analysis. They then educate and guide women in using natural approaches to manage and heal from PCOS, such as:

  • Lifestyle Improvements. A whole foods diet, exercise, stress management, and proper rest are essential to PCOS treatment. These approaches can create a positive shift in blood sugar level, mood, and body weight. Approaches will differ based on a woman's stage of life and complexity of symptoms.
  • Supplement Support. Some of the herbs and nutrition supplements that may be used for PCOS aim to balance blood sugar level as well as hormones. These can include Nettle Root, Green Tea, Flax Seeds, Saw Palmetto, Licorice Root, Chaste Tree Extract, Trace Minerals, Vitamin D3, and Chromium.

Eating an anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic diet is also essential as it can help to balance hormones and optimize your body's detox process. Eliminate inflammatory foods including dairy, gluten, sugar, and refined "vegetable" oils (canola, soybean, peanut, safflower, anything hydrogenated) and processed foods. Increase your intake or organic non-starchy vegetables, clean proteins (organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed only, minimizing beef and avoiding pork) and healthy fats.

Many of the personal care products we use can also act as hormone disruptors, so ditch the conventional hair, skin and body products and opt for non-toxic, fragrance-free products. I've put together a list of some of my favorites here. EWG.org's Skin Deep database and the Think Dirty app are also excellent resources.

If you think you have PCOS, speak with a holistic practitioner about the approaches best suited to your symptoms and needs. It is crucial that you get a comprehensive hormone panel to determine imbalances, so be sure to ask your doctor for this.

Give Teas a Chance

HerbalTeas2.jpeg

As a Health Coach, I get asked a lot of questions about coffee and tea. So I’d like to clear up some myths, answer some commonly asked questions, and share with you the joys and benefits of TEA! I find no matter what the season, many people (including me) love the ritual of making and sipping tea. And with new studies showing the extraordinary health benefits of tea – including Matcha tea – I want to make sure you have the latest wellness information. Whether you drink it hot, iced, or at room temperature, I think you’ll find new reasons to love tea!

Now is a great time to learn about the benefits of tea and why you might want to swap out your coffee for tea, add it to your day, or continue drinking it if you’re already a tea-lover.

Tea dates back to 2700 B.C. According to an article published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chinese legend says that leaves from an Camellia sinensis plant fell into Emperor Shennong's cup of boiling water – and tea was born, brewed and boosted around the world for its soothing qualities and powerful health benefits.

In the past two years, scientists have conducted more than 30 studies on the health benefits and disease-fighting properties of tea, with nearly 1 million participants. That’s a lot of research! I’ve culled the findings below into several overall benefits. So put the kettle on and discover the health benefits of tea!

The Health and Wellness Benefits of Tea

Cancer-prevention. Tea contains powerful antioxidants that help reduce and repair free radicals in our body. Free radicals are the molecules that cause inflammation and can lead to diseases such as cancer. Herbal and green teas are less processed, and are the best choices to get your antioxidants.

Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Black tea has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, while green tea has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Green tea has the highest amount of polyphenols. Polyphenols are particularly powerful in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and osteoporosis.

Weight loss. Some studies have found that tea may help you lose weight and reduce belly fat. The most effective weight-loss tea is green tea because it is high in catechins – antioxidants that can boost your metabolism and increase your body’s ability to burn fat. Other teas that may aid in weight loss are: 

  • Black tea: High in flavones, it’s associated with weight loss and lower BMI (less fat around the middle). 
  • Oolong tea: Some studies show it improves fat burning and speeds up metabolism. 
  • White tea: Early studies show it may increase fat loss.

Multiplied benefits with Matcha. If you want to maximize the health benefits of tea, Matcha tea is the powerhouse!

  • Made from baby green tea leaves ground into a powder, Matcha tea has the nutritional equivalency of 10 cups of green tea! Matcha has more antioxidants and catechins than green tea alone, so you get more of the disease-fighting and metabolism-boosting benefits.
  • One study found that Matcha has more than 100 times the amount of polyphenols as regular green tea, and more than 60 times the antioxidants as spinach.
  • A recent study (NIH) shows that the combo of phytochemicals, L-theanine and caffeine in Matcha (and green) tea improve mood and reduce brain fog.L-theanine is an amino acid known for its calming effects.
  • Matcha also has high amounts of EGCG, a component that stimulates thermogenesis, the biochemical process our bodies use to burn fat and create energy. Studies show EGCG may speed fat burning and reduce new fat cell production.
  • Matcha is still in the scientific discovery phase, so you should continue to read studies and avoid over-drinking it. (More is not necessarily better!) The recommended amount is ½ teaspoon per brewed cup, once daily. Quality matters, so be sure to buy organic Japanese matcha as there are concerns about soil contamination with Chinese matcha.

More Tea Benefits! 

  • Reduces depression. Tea (three cups a day) can lower the risk of depression by 37 percent (NIH, NLM, NCBI) and the risk of a stroke by 21 percent (AHA).
  • Reduces risk of liver disease. Tea reduces the risk of liver disease, including liver cancer, carcinoma, and cirrhosis. (NIH, NLM, NCBI).
  • Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes. Tea (two cups) can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by nearly 5% (NIH, NLM, NCBI).
  • Reduces caffeine-related symptoms. If caffeine has a negative affect on you (contributing to anxiety or insomnia, for example) note that tea typically has 50% less caffeine. Naturally decaffeinated tea is considered healthier than the chemical process used to remove caffeine from tea (and coffee). An 8-ounce cup of tea using one tea bag, brewed for three to five minutes, has 40 mg of caffeine; a cup of brewed coffee contains 100 mg. For those who still struggle with caffeine-related symptoms even with less caffeine, there are many varieties of naturally caffeine-free tea, including hibiscus, chamomile, rooibos, and most herbal teas.

And as if all these benefits weren’t enough, the ritual of simply making a cup of tea has a calming, relaxing effect for many people. 

I’d love to hear how you enjoy tea! Please share with a comment below or post on my Instagram or Facebook page!

How to Avoid the Scary Flu

SickInBed.jpeg

You may have heard that this year’s flu is exceptionally serious. Time magazine reports that for the first time since the CDC began monitoring the flu, every area across the U.S. is affected all at the same time. And for those who get the flu vaccine, the CDC estimates that it is just 30 percent effective this year. In addition, many people are suffering from post-flu illnesses; according to health practitioners, if your immune system is weakened by the flu, you can be more susceptible to pneumonia and other infections that can be even more serious.

So what can you do to reduce your risk of getting the flu? First and foremost, keep your immune system in top shape by following the suggestions below. Also, consider incorporating more immune-boosting foods like the ones below in your everyday meals.

Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against infections and disease so I'll show you some easy ways to help your immune system function at its peak performance and stay healthy this season.

Top Tips for a Healthy Immune System

Lots of things can affect your immune system– the type of foods we eat (or don’t eat); how much water we drink, sleep we get, stress we’re under – these are just a few of the areas that we can address to boost immune function. If you pick just three of the suggestions from the immune-boosting tips below and stick with them, you can strengthen your immune system and increase your ability to stay healthy through the dreaded cold and flu season.

1. SLEEP 
If you are overly fatigued or constantly sleep-deprived, it will be harder for your immune system to fight off disease. On the other hand, regular rest and restorative sleep will support your immune system, so your body has the strength to fight off any potential invaders. (By the way, did you know my programs include helping people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Contact me if you’re tired of being tired!)

2. SUGAR 
If you do just ONE thing to boost your immune system, reduce the amount of sugar you consume – especially if you are already feeling under the weather. Sugar (which comes in many forms and has many different names) contributes to inflammation and runs down the immune system. Leaders in the health, wellness and nutrition fields, such as Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Joel Furhman, also suggest eating organic whenever possible and reducing processed foods (food that comes in a package with a lot of ingredients that you can’t pronounce etc.).

3. ALKALINE VS. ACIDIC 
Did you know that many diseases cannot exist in an alkaline state? And yet, they can thrive an acidic state. So, the key is to help your body maintain an alkaline state and keep your immune system in peak performance! This is a simple matter of choosing to “eat that not this.”

Eating alkaline foods can: 
• Detoxify the body
• Boost your Immune function
• Prevent disease by making it hard for germs and disease to survive
• Reduce inflammation
• Increase energy
• Increase your longevity

What foods are the most alkaline in the body? You guessed it, veggies, especially leafy greens and fruit. (Citrus fruits that are generally considered acidic are actually alkaline producing in the body.) Start your day with hot lemon water and be sure to include a big leafy green salad or big pile of veggies for lunch or dinner.

What “foods” are acidic in the body? 
• Sugar
• Refined and processed foods
• Meat
• Dairy
• Alcohol
• Coffee
• Soda

5. DAIRY 
Nutritional studies show that avoiding dairy can be helpful to avoiding disease, particularly during cold and flu season. Dairy can create inflammation and “mucous glue,” where bacteria and viruses can grow. It can also contribute to allergy symptoms, sinus and ear infections. And as mentioned above, dairy is one of the acid-forming foods.

6. HYDRATE 
Water is essential for ensuring that your body eliminates waste and toxins – and that can help shorten the length of your illness. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces of water every day.

So, a person who weighs 130 pounds needs approximately 65 ounces of water – more if you exercise regularly. Start as soon as you wake up, by drinking 8 ounces of water before you do anything else! And here’s a proven tip: Hot water actually penetrates your cells faster than cold or room temperature water!

I’ve listed six actions for boosting your immune system. Try choosing just three to incorporate into your daily living, and give yourself the best chance of staying healthy this season.

Top Immune-Boosting Foods and Herbs

1. Vitamin C 
If you want to help support your immune system, include plenty of natural Vitamin C, and choose organic whenever possible. This powerful antioxidant helps in the repair and regeneration of tissues, and protects cells throughout the body. Good food sources of vitamin C include: 

• Broccoli
• Brussels sprouts
• Cantaloupe
• Kiwi
• Oranges
• Lemons
• Peppers
• Pineapple
• Pink grapefruit
• Strawberries
• Mango

2. Garlic 
Used for centuries as powerful “food medicine.” It has antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits. See soup recipe below.

3. Omega 3 
Found in flax, hempseed, chia seed, salmon, mackerel, krill, cod liver oil, avocado, and almonds, just to name a few. Omega 3s boost the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells that eliminate bacteria and protect the body against damage from over-reactions to infection. Omega 3s also lessen the severity of infection.

4. Zinc 
Found in broccoli, kale, mushrooms, sesame seeds (Tahini), pumpkin seeds, beans, cashews, eggs, wheat germ, and oysters, to name a few. Zinc helps prevent illness and can lessen the severity and length of colds and flu symptoms

5. Selenium 
Found in Brazil nuts, what germ, whole grains, eggs, sunflower seeds, garlic.

6. Elderberry 
Found in cherries, red grapes, black rice, and also in natural extract, juice and pill form (at health food stores)

I've had several clients ask me what they can take if they feel like they're coming down with something. Two of my favorite immune support products are Wellness Formula Herbal Defense Complex and Super Bio-Vegetarian. Both products are formulated with a powerful combination of herbs, medicinal mushrooms, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support the immune system and boost your well-being. Locally you can find these at Pharmaca or for existing clients, you can them at 20% off from my online dispensary.

Here’s to your best health, and kicking the cold and flu season this year!

What Can Detoxing Do for You?

Abs&Smoothie.jpeg

Detoxing has become a popular way for people to restore their health, jumpstart their metabolism and kick off a weight-loss or clean-eating program. There are many reasons a detox can be beneficial, and done right, detoxing does a great job of helping you achieve those goals.

However, there are many different ways to detox, and the process you choose should be based on your individual needs, challenges, goals, and preferences. Don't just jump on the detox bandwagon without doing your research first! Beware of any program that requires extreme calorie deprivation or prolonged fasting, even juice fasting, as these extreme protocols can do more harm than good.

While healthy eating and/or detoxing should not feel like an exercise in depriving yourself, nearly all programs include refraining from one main food that may be the cause of many of the symptoms people suffer from most – fatigue, bloating, moodiness, headaches, congestion, itchiness, and stomach upset issues of one kind or another. That one food is sugar.

Consuming sugar does more than cause weight gain; it causes inflammation, belly fat storage, and spikes in your blood sugar that create a roller-coaster effect: it provides a burst of energy, but then it depletes your energy, so you crave MORE sugar. The more you eat, the more you want, and its effect on your body makes it nearly impossible to lose weight or reduce your symptoms.

Did you over-indulge over the holiday season? Have you been feeling more sluggish or achy than usual? Has your stomach been upset for days (weeks or years!)? Do you suffer from headaches, heartburn, or have trouble sleeping? Do you feel like your clothes have shrunk? Do you want to get back on track, feel and look fabulous and have more confidence? Would you love to fit into your skinny jeans? If you answered yes to any of these questions, embarking on a detox or clean-eating program for 10 to 21 days may be a great way to remedy your symptoms, increase your energy and lose the post-holiday padding. My best advice includes:

1) Recognize that there are many types of detoxes – they don’t all involve juicing, fasting, or deprivation. In fact, my program includes real, whole food at every meal – plus snacks, and a wide variety of easy, delicious recipes. Remember, a detox isn’t just about what you DON’T eat – it’s also about what you DO eat and how you nourish your body, mind and spirit.

2) Ask yourself how you feel, what you want and why you want it. Write it down. Don't rely on willpower for motivation! You need a driving purpose to keep you in the game. 

3) Get Support – Don't try to go it alone. Get a close friend or loved one to detox with you and/or talk to an expert who can help you determine the right approach for your individual goals. Prep week for my Reboot Your Bod 21-day winter detox starts Tuesday, January 2nd and the detox begins on Monday, January 8th. This is a great opportunity to reboot your system with a great group of like-minded people, and start the New Year feeling great! Read more about it here.

I’m happy to answer your questions about detoxing and help you find a program that’s right for you. YOU CAN DO IT. I can help you! Click here to schedule a free 50-minute Coffee Talk.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Jeannie Oliver Wellness 2017 Gift Guide

1. The Oura Ring - $299 - $999

Move over Fitbit! The Oura ring is the most advanced and accurate sleep and fitness tracking device available and it's a lot more attractive than a chunky plastic bracelet. This amazing little ring tracks your sleep, heart rate and heart rate variability, and body temperature and it's water resistant to 100 meters. You can even put your ring on airplane mode to avoid additional EMF exposure while sleeping. The only downside is that the Oura Ring is available for pre-order only and will ship in April of 2018.

2. The Kari Gran System - $140

You have most likely heard me rave about Kari's products before, but honestly I just love her products and they make fabulous gifts! Her Mini Kit ($48) is also a great choice for anyone on-the-go. I keep one in my gym bag and in my toiletry kit for traveling.

3. Lakrids by Johan Bülow Kalaha Box - €30 (~ $35USD) and Organic Licorice - €7 (~ $6USD)

Did someone say gluten-free licorice?! Licorice is a very polarizing flavor but those of who love it REALLY love it and it's nearly impossible to find high quality licorice that's actually gluten-free. I discovered this brand when I was in Stuttgart, Germany last year and I was instantly devoted, so I couldn't resist including this sweet treat in my gift guide. All the Lakrids products are incredibly delicious and so beautifully packaged that you almost don't want to open them up. Almost. And if you're worried about the shipping from Europe, it's very reasonable (free over €70), and surprisingly fast.

4. Beauty Heroes Gift Card or Subscription

Beauty Heroes delivers carefully curated beauty products, one Hero product at a time. Shop their curated online Beauty Store or join their monthly discovery service and receive one full-size, healthy and high-performance Hero Product, plus deluxe Sidekicks, from clean beauty brands you love.

5. Hypershpere Hi-Intensity Vibrating Massage Ball - $149

Have a love/hate relationship with the foam roller? Work out those kinks with this high-tech massage ball. Compared to other SMR/ massage balls, the Hypersphere helps to pinpoint and release trigger points faster, deeper, and less painfully using high-intensity vibration. This col fitness gadget is portable and only 5” in diameter, which helps to release tension in targeted areas better than any roller.

6. Anima Mundi Herbals Anti-Aging & Beauty Kit - $68

A potent compilation of herbs known to support skin detox + health, radiance, glow and overall anti-aging goodness. Botanicals known to support anti-aging share anti-oxidant and phytonutrient chemistry, basically bringing loads of oxygen to every corner of your body. These herbs taken daily will fully support you in achieving a natural beauty glow. 

7. Instant Pot - $79.95 - $149.95

These babies do it all. Well maybe they can't do the washing and chopping for you, but the rest is covered. Instant Pot multi-cookers combine 7 kitchen appliances in 1 - Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer, preparing dishes up to 70% faster. The insert is made of food grade stainless steel with no chemical coating so you don't have to worry about toxic crud leaching into your food.

8. Meal Delivery from The Custom Plate - $18 - $1,299

Give that busy person in your life (maybe that's you?) the gift of healthy food AND more free time. For anyone who struggles to find the time to cook, meal delivery can be a Godsend. This Mercer Island based family company makes delicious, clean food using quality ingredients and since they are small, they're able to customize the dishes according to any food restrictions or special dietary needs. Best of all, Tamara's food is delicious and made with love.

9. Svensk Skogspromenad No. 5 Candle - $38

I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Sally Honeycutt who owns the fabulous little boutique Anders at a holiday get together, and she has curated some of the most wonderful things for her shop. Among them are these gorgeous candles made with pure essential oils, no nasty synthetic or toxic ingredients! This heavenly sandalwood & bergamot scented one is perfect for the holidays and it's on my personal wish list this year.

10. Flying Bird Botanicals Teas - $9.75-$34

This local Pacific Northwest company makes their products with only organically farmed and ethically wildcrafted herbs. Any ingredients they source overseas come from fair trade certified farms and small gardens growing their tea plants with care, using heirloom traditions passed down through generations. These teas are as yummy as they are ethical!

 

Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder

SeasonalDepression.jpeg

Fall begins the onset of shorter days and longer nights – which means our bodies receive less light. We also wake up and go to sleep to cooler temperatures. Because of these seasonal changes, many people experience changes in energy, mood swings and sleep patterns, especially here in the Northwest.

These changes can be positive or negative, or a combination. Negative changes in the way we feel due to the change of seasons is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and about 10 to 20 percent of people are affected – ranging from mild to severe cases. But did you know that the foods you eat (or don’t eat) as well as maintaining other healthy lifestyle factors can help you overcome symptoms of SAD?

If you’d like to learn more about how the change of seasons may affect you, take the assessment below, designed to increase your self-awareness and understanding. While none of us can control Mother Nature, we can learn more about how we are affected by seasonal changes and what to do to overcome symptoms of SAD.

Take the Seasonal Changes Assessment 
The steps below will help you begin to assess how the change of seasons may be affecting three areas of your life: your sleep, energy and mood. Important: If your answers show a downward trend, please talk to your doctor, health coach or trusted friend about how Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be affecting you.

Sleep Assessment: This month, check in with yourself each morning: How do you feel when you wake up?

  1. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “Exhausted” and 5 being “Excellent,” how would you rate how well-rested you are? 
  2. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “Takes a Very Long Time” and 5 being “Very Easily” how would you rate how easily you fall asleep? 
  3. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “I Wake Up Very Frequently” and 5 being “I Don’t Wake Until Morning,” how would you rate how well you stayasleep? 
  4. As October marches on (and the days get shorter), is it harder for you to get out of bed? (Yes or No?)
  5. Are you hitting the snooze button more often? (Yes or No?)
  6. Or do you feel about the same, or even better, upon waking up? (Same or better?)

Physical Energy Assessment:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being “Excellent,” and 1 being “Very Low,” how would you rate your energy level mid-morning? 
  2. On the same scale, how would you rate your energy level in the late afternoon? 
  3. As the month goes on, do you find it easier or more difficult to exercise or be physically active? (Easier/More Difficult?) 
  4. As the month goes on, do you find yourself being more or less productive at work or home? (More or Less?)

Mood Assessment: Once in the morning and once in the evening, answer these questions with a simple “more” or “less:”

  1. Do you find yourself more or less interested in your work, social happenings and/or family activities? 
  2. Do you find yourself more or less patient with others and yourself? 
  3. Do you find yourself feeling more or less happiness in your relationships?

Now that you know more about seasonal affects, what can you do? 
Do your answers show a “down” trend? This may be an indication that you are sensitive to or negatively affected by seasonal changes. Following are some simple actions that can help minimize these effects.

• Get outside! Less daylight in the fall and winter months causes some people to become more lethargic, irritable, and/or depressed. This month, focus on getting more daylight by shifting your exercise or recreational activities to the outdoors, at least 15 minutes a day. Go for a walk; ride a bike; chase after your pets or kids – it doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise. A consistent combination of daylight and physical activity can significantly improve your energy and mood.

• Prep for sleep. Because nighttime comes earlier during fall and winter, it can disrupt your circadian cycle and the summer sleep rhythm you've been used to. It’s more important than ever to turn off all electronics one to two hours before you turn in. Fall is also a great time to practice sleep-specific meditation. My new favorite is Meditainment. It’s free and lasts 21 minutes. (I always fall asleep before it finishes!)

• Eat More Omega-3s. What we eat can also affect how susceptible we are to “fall blahs” and “winter blues.” Certain foods can zap our energy, our motivation to exercise, and our good mood. Omega 3 fatty acids can help combat these symptoms. Excellent food sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, and more.

Supplement with High Quality Vitamin D. According to this article from Harvard Medical School, this is especially crucial if you live in a rainy climate like Seattle or if you live at a latitude above 37 degrees North. For you here on the West coast, that's anywhere from San Francisco North. My personal favorite is Vitamin D3 Complete by Allergy Research Group since it includes the important co-factors Vitamin A and K. If you have darker skin you need more Vitamin D that someone with a pale complexion since your natural pigment makes it harder for the sun to penetrate the dermis.

• Keep a Food Diary. A recent study found that gluten and dairy may contribute to feelings of depression or mood swings in people who are allergic or sensitive to these foods. If you have increased feelings of sadness during the fall season, try reducing or eliminating dairy and gluten from your diet and see if your outlook or mood improves. This is, of course, easier said than done, but it just takes a little getting used to and I can help you with this.

• Focus on the Food Culprits. It’s certainly not NEW news that overindulging in alcohol and sugar-laden foods can make you feel sluggish the next day. But did you know they can also increase feelings of depression? If you are negatively affected by the seasonal changes, consider eliminating sugar and alcohol consumption and test how you feel. To test if alcohol and/or sugar are contributing to your seasonal symptoms, experts suggest eliminating them for 21 to 23 days. Why three weeks? Because our bodies release antibodies to fight sensitivities and allergies, and it takes 21 to 23 days for the antibody reaction to dissipate and renew.

Need some extra support this season? I can support you with a results-oriented Wellness program. Schedule a free Coffee Talk session and let's talk!

Finally! Non-Toxic Teeth Whitening

As a former coffee addict and current tea lover, my teeth are not as white as I'd like them to be. I've tried using the fancy bleaching trays from the dentist but the bleaching paste makes my teeth super sensitive and I'm sure it has all kinds of nasty chemicals that I don't want to ingest. So I went on a quest to find a non-toxic teeth whitening options and I discovered activated charcoal powder.

There are lots of brands out there, but I tried this one that uses organic activated charcoal and so far I'm impressed! I know it seems crazy to brush your teeth with black powder to make them whiter, but trust me, it works. I am kicking myself for not taking before and after pictures so I can show you the difference!

There has been some controversy as to whether or not the charcoal can damage teeth, but it doesn't bind to minerals so it shouldn't damage your enamel. That said, I wouldn't use it more than 2-3 times a week until your teeth look naturally white (we're not going for glow-in-the-dark here), and it's a good idea to use a soft or extra soft toothbrush to apply it. The powder I bought is extremely fine and I recommend steering clear any course powders to avoid excess abrasion. If you already have severe acid erosion or enamel damage you should consult with your dentist before using any type of whitening product. 

Keep in mind that the powder can stain clothing and that you'll need to brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste after using the activated charcoal to remove any black residue. I should also mention that it only removes surface stains from things like coffee, tea and red wine, and will not remove discoloration from antibiotics or other dental issues.

Do you have a natural trick for whitening your teeth or have you tried activated charcoal powder? Comment below and share.

Beating Seasonal Allergies Naturally

DandelionsFloating_small.jpeg

Do you have a love / hate relationship with spring? Many of my clients do, because while the sun may be shining more, seasonal allergies are also kicking in making many of us miserable with hay fever, itchy skin and other nasty symptoms. This year seems to be particularly rough so far so I'm sharing my favorite non-toxic, side effect free remedies with you to help you beat allergy season without harmful or habit forming drugs.

So many people have come to rely on antihistamine drugs to control their allergy symptoms, but did you know that antihistamines can cause all kinds of nasty side effects including weight gain? Yeah, no thanks!

The good news is that there are effective natural remedies that can help keep your symptoms in check so you can get outside and enjoy the nice weather without fear of being miserable. Here is my personal combination of remedies that I've found to be more effective than pharmaceuticals. Everyone is different so these may not work for you, but I encourage you to try some different combinations to see what your body responds to best.

1. Nasal Spray - A good homeopathic nasal spray works in two ways; first it helps flush particles out of your nasal passages while keeping them moist and alleviating congestion, and second it helps regulate the body's response to allergens. I love the BioAllers Sinus & Allergy Nasal Spray, but if you're someone who's skeptical of anything that isn't mainstream, you might try the Zicam Allergy Relief Nasal Gel.

2. An Herbal Antihistamine - My personal go-to is HistaEze by Designs for Health, which contains a combination of guduchi (tinospora cordifolia), nettle leaf, quercetin, sodium bicarbonate and Vitamin C. Natural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular is also an effective formula and is carried locally at Pharmaca.

3. Rooibos Tea and Stinging Nettle Tea - Fresh nettles aren't always available but at this time of year you can find them in local farmer's markets here in the Northwest and they grow plentifully in this area if you're up for doing a little foraging. I simply steep 2 tablespoons of crushed dried leaves in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, and when I can't find fresh nettles, I buy the Traditional Medicinals Nettle Leaf Tea. My stinging nettle soup is another great way to enjoy this wonderful medicinal herb.

Rooibos tea is another great option since it is rich in the bioflavonoids quercetin and ruin which block histamine release. This is also a great option if you're pregnant since nettles are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women. My favorites are the Organic Double Red Rooibos Tea by Republic of Tea and Numi Organic Rooibos Tea. Rooibos tea is delicious hot or iced and if you like it sweet, try adding a little vanilla stevia, monk fruit, or local honey which some people find helpful for pollen allergies.

Using this trifecta of natural remedies has been a life saver for me and I've found it much more effective than the Allegra or Zyrtec I used to take. And the best part is that I don't have to deal with the nasty side effects those drugs had on me. I hope you'll give these remedies a try. Just keep in mind that I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice, so you shouldn't stop or change any medications or treatments recommended by your health practitioner.

I'd love to hear from you! Did you try any of these remedies and what have yo found that works for you?

7 Top Tips for a Sound Sleep

Do you sometimes have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Are you waking up in the middle of the night or before your alarm goes off? It’s important for you to understand what’s causing your sleep struggles, and use tips like the ones below to prepare for a restful night.

Getting enough sleep has a positive domino effect on our health; our bodies are in restore and rejuvenation mode while we’re sleeping; this can help us heal from illnesses and reduce aches and pains in our joints or muscles, for example. Deep sleep also helps reduce stress and anxiety, so we have more energy the next day.

And speaking of the next day, have you ever noticed that you’re hungrier when you’re tired? Research shows our appetite can increase up to 25% when we’re feeling exhausted, and many of us often turn to caffeine or sugar (or both) to give us a boost of energy. And that begins a roller-coaster of bursts of energy followed by energy crashes. That’s right – not getting enough sleep can actually cause us to gain weight or make it harder for us to lose weight!

Tonight, why not start some of these healthy sleep rituals?

1. Give yourself a bedtime. What’s your bedtime? Just like kids, we benefit when we have a consistent sleep time, because our bodies anticipate and respond to routine.

2. Close the kitchen. Make your last meal two to three hours before bedtime, so your body has a chance to digest the food. Digestion is a lot of physical activity – not what you want to be doing while you sleep! Ideally you should give your body a 12-hour break between dinner and breakfast.

3. Shut down electronics 30 minutes before bedtime. Turn off the TV, the laptop, the tablet, the Xbox, your smartphone… did I miss anything? According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), all of these devices can hinder your ability to sleep. One reason, explains the NSF, is that these devices emit blue light, “which our brains interpret as daylight. Blue light actually suppresses melatonin, a hormone that supports circadian rhythm and that should begin to increase when you are preparing for sleep.” So when you’re on your tablet or phone at night, your brain thinks it’s daytime, making it harder to fall asleep.

4. Set your smartphone to the “do not disturb” setting. In addition to the blue light, sending nighttime emails, scrolling through Facebook or posting on Instagram right before bedtime might be stressing you out or making your mind race. You’re not alone – NSF research shows that 71 percent of people sleep either holding their smartphone (!), having it in bed with them, or having it on their nightstand. Instead, place your smartphone where it is not within arm’s reach, and set it on airplane mode or “do not disturb” for the seven to eight hours of sleep you should be getting. Note: if you don’t want to miss a call from certain people – say you have elderly parents or kids at college -- you can set your smartphone to allow calls and texts from select contacts. Everything else can wait until morning!

5. Create a relaxing ritual. Very few people fall asleep the minute their head hits the pillow. Instead, you may want to create some rituals that tell your body you’re shutting down for the night. Try soaking in a warm bath with organic lavender essential oil. You can also listen to some relaxing music or do some deep breathing, restorative yoga, and/or meditation. My favorite meditation app is Headspace, and it’s free. Try the 10-minute meditations to help you relax before bedtime.

6. Dark = Deep. How many little electronic lights are glowing in your bedroom once the lamps and overhead lights are off? The darker you can make your room, the more restorative your sleep can be, because the darkness releases the sleep hormone, melatonin. Cover up those little lights with black electric tape or turn them face down or toward the wall. You might also try light-blocking curtains if light streams in from outside.

7. Help your hormones with a sleep mask. If your room is still bright, try wearing a sleep mask. It creates the total darkness our bodies need to release melatonin and get a healthier night’s sleep. I always recommend the softest sleep mask you can find, with natural fibers. It may not be attractive, but if it helps you sleep, you will feel and look your best with more energy. And that’s a beautiful thing! 

I’d love to hear how your sleep improves with these tips, and which ones are most helpful to you. Feel free to share on my Facebook page – just not right before bedtime ;-). Sending you sweet dreams!