Give Teas a Chance

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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

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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!

Beating Seasonal Allergies Naturally

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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?

Fat Was Never the Bad Guy

The Secret’s Out on the Sugar Industry

Having grown up int he 80's and 90's I was one of those who fell prey to the high carb low fat diet craze and it took me years to reverse the damage it did to my health and my waistline. Luckily we now know better and the truth is finally coming out.

A report published in the JAMA Internal Medicine on Sep. 12, 2016 revealed that the sugar industry paid scientists in the ’60s to shift the focus from sugar as a link to heart disease and blame saturated fat instead.

The New York Times reported the discovery of internal sugar documents. The documents suggest that many of today’s dietary recommendations were influenced by the sugar industry.

According to the NYT, “A trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation paid three Harvard scientists … to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies … minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.”

Sounds similar to the decades-long cover-up of the health hazards of nicotine, doesn’t it? The NYT article also cites the previous revelation of soft-drink companies covering up the link between sugary drinks and obesity. 

Why do wellness coaches and health practitioners care so much about the recent report? As the NYT cites, “For many decades, health officials encouraged Americans to reduce their fat intake, which led many people to consume low-fat, high-sugar foods that some experts now blame for fueling the obesity crisis.” 

Just one more reason to recognize that sugar is addicting and harmful to our health; the better choices we can make, the better we can influence our health and longevity, and the health of our kids. Read the entire article, with links to the research, here.

Green Up Your Diet

One of the healthiest habits you can incorporate into your daily life is to eat lots of leafy greens. It’s hard not to notice how mainstream “green drinks” are at your local health food store, and healthy boutique restaurants and juice bars are popping up all over the country. Today it’s easier than ever to eat, drink and slurp your greens, but buyer beware! Most commercial juices and smoothies are loaded with sugar so be sure to read the label and make them at home as often as possible. 

Leafy greens are delicious eaten raw, steamed or sautéed, mixed into a pureed soup, or blended in a variety of smoothies and juices. We all know greens are good for us, but do you know why? According to the CDC, 90% of Americans don’t eat enough vegetables to reap the ongoing health benefits. So as my friend Dr. Nicol Giandomenico tells her patients, "Green up your diet!" Here are just a few reasons to go green:

·       Greens are powerful immune boosters packed with a unique blend of vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy, including calcium (that’s right, greens have calcium!), magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc; and vitamins A, C, E, and K

·       Greens are a great source of natural fiber to help you stay “regular” and feel full longer, which helps control hunger and reduces cravings!

·       Leafy greens are high-alkaline foods, which help fight free radicals (which can contribute to aging and disease). And because greens are also a natural source of folic acid, chlorophyll and other micronutrients, they help strengthen the blood and respiratory systems.

·       Greens can lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

·       Greens promote a healthy gut by increasing healthy intestinal flora (the good bacteria!)

·       Also, according to traditional Chinese medicine, green nutrients are related to liver health, emotional stability and creativity. How many foods can say that?!?

And if you think greens means a boring head of iceberg lettuce, think again! The best greens are the dark, leafy kind, and here are just a few of my favorites. Serve them raw as a side or main salad; steam or stir-fry – greens are truly versatile.

Leafy Green Favorites: 

  • Arugula
  • Kale (massage and tear the leaves for more tender salad servings) 
  • Collard greens
  • Spinach (baby spinach is super tender!) 
  • Chard
  • Escarole
  • Cabbage
  • Bok Choy

A few of the more unusual greens that can take things to a whole new level are: 

  • Mustard greens
  • Endive
  • Chicory

Small steps lead to big changes, so if you feel like you need to ease into greens, try these 4 tips to sneaking them in:

1.    Add spinach, kale or chard to your smoothie. You might not even notice it's in there, and if the green color isn't appealing to you or your kiddos, add blueberries to turn it purple!

2.    Sneak some spinach or arugula into your grass-fed burger or veggie burger.

3.    Use a collard green to wrap your "sandwich" or "taco."

4.    While pizza's not an everyday meal for those on a healthy eating track, when you do indulge, do so happily and healthfully! Try topping off your pizza with fresh arugula drizzled with organic extra virgin olive oil to create a "salad pizza."

Overcoming Systemic Candida - Could The Body Ecology Diet™ Be The Answer?

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I recently completed a 4-month therapeutic diet to address systemic candida, or candidiasis, a condition I’ve dealt with for years after taking copious amounts of antibiotics and eating a high sugar diet as a young girl. Only in recent years have I learned how to address this condition with diet and for a while I seemed to have things under control. But after a few months of being slightly more liberal with my intake of fruit, red wine and dark chocolate, I could feel that it was time to get serious and I started the anti-candida protocol that I’ve created for my clients.

My protocol is fairly simple – no sugar, alcohol, fruit, grains or starchy foods and lots of organic vegetables with a little clean protein and small amounts of nuts and seeds combined with broths, probiotic foods like sauerkraut, and a few specific supplements. But even as a nutrition expert I found myself wanting to better understand why I was eliminating certain foods and what benefits I was getting from what I was eating, so I turned to the industry expert in candida diets, Donna Gates and her book the Body Ecology Diet™.  Donna Gates developed this protocol to combat yeast overgrowth and help restore the body’s “inner ecology” and her book turned out to be a great resource for me. While the protocol was developed specifically to treat candidiasis, it has also been found to benefit the immune system as a whole.

Candidiasis is a systemic fungal infection of candida albicans and it can wreak havoc on the body by overwhelming the immune system and leaving the patient vulnerable to other types of illness and infection such as HIV, herpes, Epstein Barr, chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer. According to The Body Ecology Diet™, we can boost the body’s ability to fight off or prevent these illnesses if we can eradicate any existing candidiasis.

The Body Ecology Diet™ was designed to support the immune system, organs and digestion, starve the yeast, and restore balance to the body’s internal chemistry and microbiome by applying 7 key principles. These principles draw on the wisdom of both ancient and modern medicine and nutrition, including Chinese medicine Ayurveda, macrobiotics, traditional fermented foods and food combining.

The first of these 7 principles is that of expansion and contraction, also known as the Chinese concept of yin and yang. Certain foods are considered yang/contracting while others are yin/expanding. Yin foods are cool and tend to moisten the body, while yang foods are more warm and dry. If one consumes too many yang or contracting foods, the body may become too tight leading to poor circulation, detoxification and elimination. On the other hand, if too many yin or expanding foods are consumed it can make one feel spacey, confused and lacking focus. The goal is to consume a balance of both yin and yang foods and to eat mostly foods that are more balanced in nature.

Maintaining the acid/alkaline pH of the body is the basis of the 2nd principle. This concept has become somewhat controversial in light of recent studies disproving the theory that diet can alter the pH of the blood (1, 2, 3). The Body Ecology Diet™ is based in the belief that our diet determines the pH of all of our bodily fluids and that by eating more alkaline-forming foods we can ensure the ideal, slightly alkaline pH (about 7.4) within the body. These alkaline-forming foods include most vegetables, sea vegetables, herbs, raw seeds (except for sesame), almonds (soaked & sprouted), fermented/cultured vegetables, raw kefir, raw apple cider vinegar, filtered water, lemon, lime, cranberries and blackcurrants (both unsweetened). A few acid-forming foods are also permitted on the diet, including eggs, fish, poultry, beef, buckwheat and unrefined oils (all organic).

Principle 3 of The Body Ecology Diet™ is Uniqueness, meaning that we are all unique individuals and will respond differently to diets, treatments, etc. depending on our individual needs, health, physiology, background and preferences. The importance of listening to one’s body and intuition is emphasized in this principle.

Cleansing is the 4th principle and possibly the most important since this process is the body’s way of ridding itself of toxins, impurities, aging cells and tissues, and waste. Our organs of detoxification (liver, kidneys, lungs, colon), our skin, our urinary tract and even bodily fluids like tears also help to carry away impurities. Disease occurs when those channels of elimination are overwhelmed and the body cannot cleanse itself effectively. During the first 3 months of following The Body Ecology Diet™ people may feel worse before they feel better. This is because the candida produces toxic substances when it dies off which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, flu symptoms, skin rashes, headaches, depression, aches and pains. While this may be unpleasant, it is a sign that your body is eliminating those nasty toxins. It may be tempting to abandon the diet when this happens but this is the most important time to stay the course, and it is necessary to go through this stage in order to heal and feel better. Simple practices like drinking lots of pure water, sweating in a sauna, and colon hydrotherapy can be extremely helpful in alleviating die off symptoms. 

The 5th principle is proper food combining. This theory is based on the belief that eating compatible foods at each meal can promote proper digestion, promote fat loss, and increase overall health. This practice is often bypassed in traditional candida diets but it can be extremely effective since it can prevent undigested food from rotting and fermenting in the gut. When food ferments in the gut it produces sugars that provide food for yeast and parasites, thereby worsening the problem and putting additional stress on the immune and digestive systems (I explored this concept in more detail in this article). The basic rules of food combining as outlined in The Body Ecology Diet™ are: 1. Eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach, 2. Always eat protein with non-starchy vegetables and sea vegetables, and 3. Always eat grains or grain-like seeds (amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet) and starchy vegetables with non-starchy and/or sea vegetables.

The 80/20 Principle is #6 and it is two-fold. Rule number one of the 80/20 Principle is to eat until your stomach is 80% full, leaving the remaining 20% to do the work of digesting your meal. This can take some time to get dialed in, especially if you’re not particularly in touch with your body’s signals, but once you learn to identify that point at which you are 80% full you will appreciate the benefits of this step. Rule number two is to fill 80% of your plate with vegetables, and the remaining 20% with protein or grains and starchy vegetables. By practicing the 80/20 Principle you will feel less bloated and will most likely enjoy healthier digestion and elimination.

Last but not certainly not least is #7 - the principle of Step by Step. One’s health doesn’t just suddenly deteriorate, it happens step by step in small increments over time in ways that we are often unaware of. The healing process works the same way. If we don’t follow each necessary step to heal and restore our inner ecosystem, we cannot achieve true health and vitality.

The Body Ecology Diet™ first steps to healing are:

  • Create a hearty inner ecosystem in the gut and intestines
  • Create energy by supporting and nourishing the adrenals and the thyroid
  • Eliminate any existing infections, especially fungal infections like candida
  • Cleanse.

In addition, we can help speed the healing process by:

  • Be gentle and patient with yourself
  • Eliminating stress in every way possible
  • Follow the diet exactly
  • Eat cleansing foods such as lemons, limes, cultured vegetables, coconut kefir, and raw apple cider vinegar.
  • Avoid medications that inhibit the cleansing process
  • Make colon cleansing a priority
  • Rest during times of cleansing / detoxification
  • Use probiotics to increase beneficial bacteria in the gut

Another concept that Donna Gates refers to in The Body Ecology Diet™ is that of the Blood Type Diet, pioneered by Dr. James L. D'Adamo. Dr. Adamo believed he discovered a connection between blood types and dietary requirements, and although there is some research that suggests there is no such connection (4), there are many others who report that eating according to their blood type has been positively life changing. I believe this is a prime example of bio-individuality – what works wonders for one person may have no effect or a negative effect on another. Body Ecology believes that while the blood type theory may help you better understand your body, it is still a work in progress and needs further research and study to prove it’s validity.

In conclusion, The Body Ecology Diet™ can be a very effective way of restoring balance and health to your “inner ecosystem”. But as with any dietary protocol it is important to keep in mind that there is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition and healing. For example, some people thrive by including certain grain-like seeds in their diet, while others (like me) have more success following a completely grain-free autoimmune paleo style diet. Listen to your instincts, consult your health practitioner, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Chances are with a little guidance, detective work and flexibility you can discover the best approach for your body. As you heal and your body becomes stronger you can enjoy a wider variety of healthful, whole foods but in the meantime, approach any dietary protocol as a fun experiment and do your best to enjoy the process.

 

References:

The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz © 2011 Donna Gates

The Body Ecology Diet by Tess Masters, The Blender Girl

Yin and Yang Healing by Lawrence Wilson, MD

Yin Yang Nutrition by The Healthline Editorial Team, Published on May 1, 2013

The Acid-Alkaline Myth: Part 1 - June 21, 2013 by Chris Kresser

The Acid-Alkaline Myth: Part 2 - June 28, 2013 by Chris Kresser

Nutritional disturbance in acid–base balance and osteoporosis: a hypothesis that disregards the essential homeostatic role of the kidney. Jean-Philippe Bonjour (2013).  British Journal of Nutrition, 110, pp 1168-1177.

The Kidney and Acid-Base Regulation by Bruce M. Koeppen - Advances in Physiology Education Published 1 December 2009 Vol. 33 no. 4, 275-281

Examining the Relationship Between Diet-induced Acidosis and Cancer by Ian Forrest Robey - Nutrition & Metabolism 2012, 9:72

Phosphate decreases urine calcium and increases calcium balance: a meta-analysis of the osteoporosis acid-ash diet hypothesis. By Fenton TR1, Lyon AW, Eliasziw M, Tough SC, Hanley DA. Nutr J. 2009 Sep 15; 8:41.

Blood type diets lack supporting evidence: a systematic review by Leila Cusack, et al. First published May 22, 2013, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2013 - vol. 98, no. 1 99-104

 

Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs): What You Need To Know

If you've paid even a little attention to food industry news, you know there's huge concern over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in our food supply. It's estimated that more than half of America's processed grocery products contain GM ingredients. Since at least the 1990's we've been consuming genetically modified ingredients primarily in breads, cheeses, sodas, and beers. Today, the primary genetically modified foods are corn, soybeans, potatoes and canola oil.

What does all of this really mean? Is there really a threat to our health? Won't GM crops help us feed a planet with dwindling resources?

It's easy to get confused by arguments from both sides of the proverbial fence. I hope this basic, 5-point primer on GM foods helps you become a more informed consumer:

GE or GMO: What's the Difference?

"Genetically Engineered" (GE) and GMO are used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Confusion arises because the USDA defines a GMO as an organism produced through any type of genetic modification.

Genetically engineering food is different from the way plant breeders make selections for plant traits between two cultivars. When a plant breeder (organic or conventional) selects a trait like disease resistance found in one plant and uses that trait to enhance another plant, that creates a hybrid. In this case, the plant breeder has encouraged the same kind of selections that might occur in nature. Breeders also monitor the plants for effects on specific characteristics including quality, nutrient density, and productivity. This is the true application of the term "genetically modifying organisms".

A Genetically Engineered crop is one in which a single gene or combinations of genes from one organism are artificially forced into the DNA of another organism. Essentially, the natural boundary between two species is broken in order to create a new life form (i.e., foods) with more desirable traits.

For example, to get cold-weather hardy tomatoes, scientists spliced the DNA from salmon, which has those genetic features and transferred it into tomatoes. This yields a larger crop when the weather is less than favorable. The problem? Tomatoes would never naturally contain those fishy genes.

But far more than fish genes are being spliced into crops. According to Jeffrey Smith, President of the Institute for Responsible Technology, "GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola, have had foreign genes, such as bacteria and viruses forced into their DNA. These have never been in the human food supply."

Therein lies the problem with food that has been genetically modified outside of nature's boundaries: The genetics of a plant, not only affect its color, taste, yield and nutrient quality, they likely affect the way that food goes to work in the human body.

In the interest of larger crop yields, profits for big biotech companies, and claims that GM foods will 'feed the world,' we have no proof that these foods are safe and no data to indicate the long-term effects on human health. And, people are still starving around the world.

"Even if the transgene itself is not dangerous or toxic, it could upset complex biochemical networks and create new bioactive compounds or change the concentrations of those normally present. In addition, the properties in proteins may change in a new chemical environment because they may fold in new ways. Further, the potential toxic or carcinogenic effects could have substantial latency periods."

- The Need for Greater Regulation and Control of Genetic Engineering: A Statement by Scientists Concerned About Trends in the New Biotechnology (1995)

What are the Health Concerns of GMO Food?

GM foods do not undergo regulated testing in the United States. Much of what we know comes from independent scientists conducting animal studies (and the so-called unbiased studies from big biotech). However, scientists and politicians in other countries believe the threat to health is real-GE/GM crop cultivation is now banned by 38 countries worldwide (28 in Europe).

Medical professionals claim there are health effects potentially linked to eating these foods. In her article for the Chicago Tribune, Dr. Martha R. Herbert, a pediatric neurologist wrote: "Today the vast majority of foods in supermarkets contain genetically modified substances whose effects on our health are unknown. As a medical doctor, I can assure you that no one in the medical profession would attempt to perform experiments on human subjects without their consent... Yet manufacturers of genetically altered foods are exposing us to one of the largest uncontrolled experiments in modern history."

Potential Health Effects:

  • Introduction of new allergens into crops could result in increased rates of allergies and allergy-related health conditions.
  • Pathogenic bacteria in our guts could pick up antibiotic-resistant genes found in many GM foods that have been spliced with antibiotics.
  • Animal studies indicate GM foods may cause toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, pancreas or reproductive system.
  • Animal studies show that DNA in food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus.
  • The risks to children and fetuses may be greater because their digestive and neurological systems are not fully developed.

Why are food genetics being manipulated?

There are two primary traits that have been added to crops: herbicide tolerance, which lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it, and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These outcomes have no proven health benefit to humans, There is, however, economic benefit for biotech companies such as Monsanto, which develops (and owns the patent to) Roundup, the most commonly used weed-killer that farmers use on crops and we use in gardens. The company has been accused of everything from hiding research on the real health effects of glyphosate (the main active ingredient in Roundup) used on crops around the world to knowingly producing products that threaten biodiversity and cause cancer.

To date, six bio-tech giants are actively lobbying against the U.S. public's demand for GMO labeling on foods. And yet, legislators continue to protect citizens as demonstrated by California's recent decision requiring Monsanto to label Roundup as carcinogenic.

Personally I do my absolute best to avoid GMOs in both my food and anything that goes on my skin and I recommend you do the same. It's just not worth gambling on the health of you and your family.

Stay Informed!

Resources for learning more about GMOs:

References:

  • Endelman, R. “The Difference between GE and GMO.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://thedelicioustruth.blogspot.com/2012/03/difference-between-terms-ge-and-gmo.html
  • Herbert, Martha. "Feasting on the Unknown: Being Exposed To One Of The Largest Uncontrolled Experiments In History." Chicago Tribune (Sep 3, 2000). http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-09-03/news/0009030374_1_genetically-modified-new-proteins
  • Institute of Functional Medicine online. “Genetically Modified Foods 20 Years On: Still No Labeling and Minimal Safety Testing.” https://www.functionalmedicine.org/home/Focus_On/Genetically_Modified_Foods/
  • Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia (1995) p.18. Quoted in "Why the Genetic Engineering of Our Food Offends Principles of Most Religions." In reference to the quote form A Statement by Scientists Concerned About Trends in the New Biotechnology, As cited at PBS.org “Should we Grow GM Crops?” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/exist/arguments.html
  • SustainablePulse. “GM Crops Now Banned in 38 Countries Worldwide.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/10/22/gm-crops-now-banned-in-36-countries-worldwide-sustainable-pulse-research/#.Vq-sA8cwfL8
  • InstituteforResponsibleTechnology.org. “Health Risks of GMO Foods.” Accessed on Feb 7, 2016. http://responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education/health-risks/
  • Artemis, D. & Arvanitoyannis, I. “Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods.” Crit Rev Health Sci & Nutrition. (2002) 49:2, 164-175. DOI:10.1080/10408390701855993. Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390701855993
  • PBS.org. “Genetically Modified Foods.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://www.pbs.org/pov/hybrid/genetically-modified-foods/
  • Medicine Talk Blog. “What You Really Need to Know About GMOs: Interview with Jeffrey Smith.” http://medicinetalk.org/blog/what-you-really-need-to-know-about-gmos-interview-with-jeffrey-smi th/
  • Environmental Working Group. “EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GMO Food.” Accessed on Feb 2, 2016. http://www.ewg.org/research/shoppers-guide-to-avoiding-gmos
  • GMO Free-Europe. Map of GMO-free Regions Worldwide. Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/gmo-free-regions.html
  • Food Matters. “6 Easy Ways to Avoid GMO Products.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/6-easy-ways-to-avoid-gmos

Supporting Detoxification with Massage

I am going through some detoxification protocols right now and I was feeling pretty darn cruddy last week. My digestion was off, my body was achey and I just wasn't myself. Luckily I had a massage scheduled with the wonderful and gifted Molly Lampi, LMP after work on Friday, and although I was feeling guilty about spending money on what may be considered a luxury, I knew that I desperately needed it. And let me tell you, it was a Godsend! I left feeling like a new woman. My gut felt better, my aches and pains were gone and I felt more relaxed than I have for weeks.

After that massage I felt compelled to share with you the importance of supporting your body's detox pathways, and massage is a wonderful way to do this. Our body's innate detox system can get sluggish for a variety of reasons such as lack of regular exercise, too little fluids or fiber in the diet, inflammatory foods, infections, or high stress. A massage can rev-up your body's natural detox process by promoting proper digestion, lymphatic drainage and supporting our organs of detoxifcation.

During massage therapy, the rhythmic strokes and pressure applied to muscles, tissues, and organs stimulate your circulatory system. When pressure is applied to body tissues, toxins are released from in between the muscle fibers and cells. Toxins are carried into circulation throughout the body and are then eliminated in a variety of ways. This is why it's so important to drink A LOT of water after a massage - you want to give those toxins an exit from the body!

This increase in circulation during massage positively affects other systems and organs in your body as well. Massage helps move oxygen-rich blood and nutrients into your organs, especially your organs of detoxification - your kidneys and liver. Massage also facilitates relaxed, deep breathing - another important way in which the body naturally detoxifies.

Working in tandem with your circulatory system is the lymphatic system, which carries immune cells throughout the body to help defend against infection. The lymph system doesn't have a big central pump like the heart to keep things moving. Instead, it relies on gravity, exercise, breathing and massage to work efficiently.

If you're not feeling your best or haven't been as good about your diet and exercise routine lately, a massage can help you detox, and get back in balance-naturally. Check out my Recommended Natural Practitioners page for recommended Licensed Massage Practitioners. They are all highly skilled professionals who are amazing at what they do. I hope you will treat yourself to a massage soon!

Boost Your Brain Health With Meditation and Prayer

Amazing changes happen to your mind and body when you meditate or pray. During meditation and prayer, there is a physiological shift that takes place called the "relaxation response" (RR). This response is exactly the opposite of the stress response that so many of us chronically experience in our daily lives. You may think you have lots of ways to relax - sleeping, watching TV, reading - but these activities don't have the same physiological effects as meditation and prayer.

In addition to changes in brain waves, heart rate and respiration rate, meditation allows you to disengage from the thinking process. You become a detached observer of the clutter that fills your mind and learn to let go of it all, one breath, one moment at time. Your troubles won't magically disappear, but your perspective about them will shift, even if you meditate just a few days a week. Prayer has been shown to have similar effects.

So how does Meditation work?

When you are stressed (and let's face it, who isn't?), your body releases hormones that have a negative impact on your health. Research shows that having stress hormones (e.g., cortisol) circulating through your body for prolonged periods is associated with certain diseases. Meditation and prayer bring about the Relaxation Response and reduce the levels of stress hormones your body produces. Now, your immune system is better able protect you from illness, recover quickly, and restore optimal wellbeing.

What can Meditation and Prayer Do For You? Alot!

  • Reduce tension-related pain
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Strengthen neural pathways
  • Improve emotional stability
  • Enhance creativity
  • Boost brain chemicals associated with mood, memory and learning

Start a Meditation Practice

Begin with 5 minutes a day and progress to 20 minutes at least 3-4 times a week. Use sounds of nature, music, a candle, or a guided imagery to help you get started. Meditation is often done seated or lying down. Use cushions or a chair to support your posture. Eyes closed or open is up to you.

When you pray, begin with expressing gratitude to your higher power for all of the good things in your life. Then give all of your concerns over and ask for help and direction with all of your concerns. Visualize placing all of your worries, hopes and dreams in the hands of your higher power and allowing them to carry any burdens and bless you with your heart's desires. 

You'll soon discover that meditation and/or prayer is a state of mind involving awareness and acceptance, that you can do in the midst of any activity. Namaste!

My 2015 Holiday Gift Guide - Fabulous Goodies to Give and Get

Jeannie Oliver Wellness Gift Guide 2015

Here are a few of my favorite wellness and beauty products to give and receive this holiday season. Happy Shopping!

  1. Wellness Journal by Moleskine $19.95 - Keep track of your body and mind. Informative pages: seasonal food calendars, food facts, measurements and conversions. 6 theme-based sections to fill in: Diet, Exercise Log, Personal Goals, General Health, Games, Inspirations. 6 tabbed sections to personalize and 16 blank pages in which to unleash your passion's creativity.
  2. Tata Harper You Are Loved Natural Lip Treatment Set $75 - A 100% Natural & Nontoxic exclusive set of antiaging lip treatments to help volumize the lips, reduce the look of lip lines. Softening and conditioning for healthy, beautiful lips.
  3. Aromaflage Wild Combo $90 - Aromaflage is a fine fragrance that also repels insects. Aromaflage is comprised of aromatic essential oils from the Southeast Asian jungle, with notes of spicy cardamom, warm cedar wood, and snappy spruce. Free of DEET, paragons and sulfates.
  4. Animamundi Herbals Rainforest Immunity superfood $24 - This powerful mix of herbs exhibits strong immune enhancing properties, high levels of antioxidants, and string anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. A deeply therapeutic herbal supplement full of phytonutrients that slow the aging process and strengthen the blood, immune system and nervous system.
  5. S'well 17 oz Water Bottle in Sparkling Champagne $35 - Drinks stay cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 without any condensation on the outside, ever. Ice stays in your bottle and steam stays trapped with a cap that prevents leakage. 
  6. The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Over 300 Delicious Whole Foods Recipes, Including Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Egg-Free Dishes $15 - This is my favorite cookbook! It makes a great gift for anyone who has dietary restrictions or who just wants to improve their overall health and still enjoy great food. And don't let the missing ingredients deter you - the recipes are delicious!
  7. Animamundi Apothecary Passionfruit Seed and Cacao Sugar Scrub $22 - An invigorating blend of firming, exfoliating & antioxidizing ingredients for smooth & supple skin. They source organic brown sugar, biodynamically grown vanilla and passionfruit seeds, organic rose petals, all from small farmers in Costa Rica. An exquisite and healthy way to maintain lymph health.
  8. Tory Burch for Fitbit Fret Pendant Necklace $175An exclusive collaboration between Tory Burch and Fitbit. Transform your Fitbit Flex (sold separately) into a super-chic accessory for work or weekend, day or evening, with the Fret Pendant Necklace. Made of stainless steel, it’s based on the decorative, open fretwork that’s a signature of Tory Burch design — complete with a secure, easy-access latch on the back. Suspended from a thin link chain, it looks polished while keeping the device comfortably close.
  9. Beauty counter Face Oil Collection $175Three luxurious face oils with unique scents to incorporate into your beauty regimen. All Lustro Face Oils promote the appearance of beautiful, healthy-looking skin.
  10. Beautycounter Sheer Shimmer Collection $58 - Hit the party circuit with this duo, designed to give you that holiday sparkle. Our new Lustro Shimmer Oil in Rose Neroli delivers a head-to-toe glow, while our versatile Lip Sheer in Twig complements any beauty look.

Boosting Glutathione with Nutrition

Glutathione is a simple molecule made up of three amino acids - cysteine, glycine and glutamine. But don’t be fooled by its simplicity. This little molecule packs a seriously healing punch and is essential for proper immune function, detoxification, and controlling inflammation in the body.

For patients struggling with fatigue and chronic illness, maximizing glutathione is a top priority. Insufficient glutathione prevents the mitochondria (the power house of the cell) from producing ATP which is the primary source of energy for all living cells. Without the ability to make sufficient ATP, we feel exhausted and our body’s ability to heal is greatly reduced.

Not only is glutathione is our body’s main antioxidant, protecting our cells from oxidative stress and facilitating energy production, but it is the most critical component in our bodies’ detoxification system. It acts like a magnet to grab toxins and free radicals, delivering them into the bile and stool for safe removal from the body. Normally glutathione is recycled in the body, providing continuous protection from oxidative stress or toxicity, but when our bodies accumulate too high a toxic load, this process is inhibited.

Thankfully there are practical ways in which we can use good food and healthy lifestyle practices to increase glutathione production in our bodies.

1.    Eat more cruciferous vegetables.

Exposure to toxins and inflammatory foods causes oxidative stress in the body which causes our bodies to produce free radicals faster than we can neutralize them with antioxidants. Antioxidant foods, especially those high in a compound called sulforaphane, give the body the nutrient precursors necessary for the production of glutathione. Cruciferous veggies are the best source of sulforaphane, acting as powerful antioxidants to help spare our cells from damage and reduce oxidative stress. According to a study at Johns Hopkins University, sulforaphane is the most protective antioxidant substance on the planet.

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale, and in addition to providing sulforaphane, they are some of the richest food sources of glutathione. Brussels sprouts are the richest in glutathione, followed by cauliflower, broccoli (particularly the flowers, not the stem), cabbage, kale, bok choy, cress, mustard, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas, and kohlrabi. Brussels sprouts have also been shown to rejuvenate liver cell function.

Ideally these veggies should be lightly steamed for 3-5 minutes to maximize their antioxidant effects. Growing your own organic broccoli sprouts is also a great and affordable way to get major bang for your antioxidant buck.

2.   Increase your methylation nutrients.

Vitamins B6, B12 and Folate (also known as B9) are some of the most critical nutrients in glutathione production.

The best food sources of these B vitamins are meat, fish, poultry, eggs, organ meats, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, avocado, sunflower seeds, dark leafy greens, papaya, oranges, cantaloupe, and legumes.

3.   Raw milk and non-denatured whey.

For those who tolerate dairy well, raw organic milk and raw non-denatured whey protein may be helpful in supplying cysteine, which is considered the most important of the three building blocks of glutathione. I generally encourage our patients to avoid dairy, but in certain cases, the benefits may outweigh the risks when it comes to glutathione production.

Cysteine must come from food since our bodies cannot produce it and the two best sources are raw milk and bioactive, non-denatured whey protein. Since heat and cooking destroy the cysteine, it is important that the source is raw and from a quality source of organic, grass-fed milk.

4.   Get more glutamine.

Glutamine is plentiful in plants and meats but is easily destroyed by heat. Your best bets are fresh, raw parsley, spinach and sashimi, although I don’t recommend eating raw fish if your digestion or immunity are even slightly compromised (if you are producing sufficient stomach acid and the fish is from a reputable and high-quality restaurant, sashimi may be ok for you, but proceed with caution).

5.   Say yes to selenium.

Selenium plays an important role in helping the body both produce and recycle glutathione. The best food sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, oatmeal (gluten-free), tuna, turkey, beef, chicken breast, eggs and brown rice.

6.   Spice things up.

Turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom are three spices that are helpful for restoring glutathione levels. Be sure to get high quality, organic spices which are additive free and as fresh as possible.

7.   Rest, relax and move your body.

Minimizing stress is key in preventing depletion of glutathione. Practice stress-reducing activities like deep breathing, meditation, yoga and leisure walking as often as possible. Sometimes a few minutes of stretching and deep breathing before bed can help you wind down, reduce stress hormone production, and contribute to a more restful nights’ sleep.

Sleep is a crucial component in the body’s ability to heal and produce sufficient glutathione.  Studies show that glutathione levels were significantly reduced in the brains of sleep-deprived animals, so try to get as much quality sleep as possible and take naps when necessary. Melatonin is a hormone that is released at night time and acts to regulate sleep. It is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to increase glutathione levels in the brain, liver, muscle tissue and blood. Sour cherries, especially Montmorency cherries are a great food source of melatonin.

Exercise also boosts glutathione production and improves the body’s ability to detoxify. Start slowly by doing gentle exercise and work your way up to 30 minutes a day of sports or more vigorous exercise such as hiking or biking. Resistance training for 20-40 minutes is also effective and will help increase and maintain lean muscle mass.

 Other glutathione boosting foods:

  • Garlic
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Raw red beets
  • Okra
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tomato
  • Carrot
  • Dill
  • Mushrooms
  • Shellfish
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Zucchini
  • Strawberry
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Spirulina

Incorporating these lifestyle tips and delicious foods can help you boost your body’s glutathione production, increase immunity and antioxidant function, and enjoy a healthier, more vital life. Bon apetit!

References:

Deitrich Klinghardt, PhD/MD - The Use of Pharmax Nutriceuticals in the Treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease

Vesce, S et al. Acute Glutathione Depletion Restricts Mitochondrial ATP Export in Cerebellar Granule Neurons

Phytochemicals - Sulforaphane

Hayes, JD, McLelland LI. - Glutathione and glutathione-dependent enzymes represent a co-ordinately regulated defence against oxidative stress.

Hyman, M. - Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants

ImmuneHealthScience.com - Glutathione Foods

ImmuneHealthScience.com - How to Raise Glutathione Levels

D'Almeida, Vânia, et al. - Sleep deprivation induces brain regionspecific decreases in glutathione levels

Mandal, A. - What is Oxidative Stress?

Vitamin B12 on Nutri-Facts.org

Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source - Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12

Biswas, SK, et al. – Curcumin Induces Glutathione Biosynthesis

 *All articles and information on this website are for educational purposes only. They are not to be regarded or relied upon as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. Results may vary per person. Consult your health practitioner if you have health problems.