Category Archives: health


Spice-Turmeric

Terrific Health Benefits Of Turmeric

Officially known as Curcuma longa, turmeric is an herb that has been used for thousands of years. You can use this incredibly tasty spice with a variety of foods and it even provides several important health benefits.

What Is Turmeric?

Native to India and related to the ginger plant, turmeric is the primary spice used in the Indian dish known as curry. Often available at ethnic grocery stores, sometimes at larger traditional grocery stores, it’s best to use turmeric when it’s fresh since the essential oils are more powerful. Fresh turmeric, however, doesn’t last long and must either be consumed quickly, frozen, or made into powder form.

Health benefits of turmeric

Turmeric provides several incredible health benefits and may play a part in preventing many diseases. The bioactive compounds, called curcuminoids, are largely responsible for the health benefits of turmeric:

  • natural anti-inflammatory properties
  • highly antioxidant
  • improves brain function
  • may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • may potentially help prevent certain cancers
  • when applied in paste form may help promote the healing of wounds and bruises

Tasty ways to use turmeric

Most often we think of turmeric as it is used in curries, but there are many ways to enjoy it. Incorporating healthy ingredients into scrambled eggs or a tasty frittata is easy when you add turmeric. It works well with nearly all types of veggies, particularly cauliflower. Rice, stews, soups, desserts, and tea are all delicious when turmeric is added to the recipe. Turmeric is even used in juices and different types of smoothies.

Turmeric is an incredible herb that can be used fresh or in powder form. It offers a rich, distinct flavor to dozens of dishes and may be instrumental in preventing many serious health conditions. Keeping fresh or powdered turmeric in the kitchen is a great way to add rich flavor to foods you enjoy while providing many potential health benefits.

 

Mushroom Curry
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup coconut milk
  2. 2 roma tomatoes, diced (keep liquid)
  3. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  5. 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  6. 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  7. 4 coves garlic, minced
  8. 1 medium onion, diced
  9. 2-4 tbsp coconut oil
  10. 2 large portobello mushrooms, diced bite size
  11. 2 zucchini, diced bite size
  12. 2 yellow squash, diced bite size
  13. 2 cups snap peas diced
  14. 1 bell pepper, diced
  15. 1 eggplant diced
  16. 1 tsp sea salt
  17. 2 tbsp cashews, divided
  18. 2 tbsp cilantro, minced
Instructions
  1. Mix together cumin, coriander, turmeric, and black pepper and set aside
  2. Place eggplant into a bowl and sprinkle with salt to sweat
  3. Set aside to sit for one hour, rinse before using
  4. Add 2 tbsp coconut oil to pan
  5. Add onion and saute until starting to soften
  6. Add garlic and ginger and cook 2 minute
  7. Add spices and stir well for 1 minute
  8. Add tomatoes and liquid
  9. Add mushrooms and stir well, cook 1-2 minutes, add more coconut oil if needed
  10. Add vegetables and cook 2-3 minutes
  11. Add coconut milk, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or so until vegetables are tender
  12. Add sea salt
  13. Serve over basmati rice
  14. Garnish with cilantro and cashews
  15. Top with quick mango pickle if desired
Adapted from Curry In A Hurry
Adapted from Curry In A Hurry
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy http://www.theingredientguru.com/

 

Quick Mango Pickle
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3 ripe but firm mangos, peeled, seeded, and diced
  2. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  3. 1/2 tsp paprika
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  6. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  7. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  8. 1/2 tsp urad dal
  9. pinch chili powder
  10. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. heat oil
  2. add mustard seed and urad dal and cook 1 minute
  3. add garlic and cook 1minute
  4. add turmeric, paprika, and chili powder, stir well
  5. reduce heat
  6. add mango and vinegar, cover and simmer on low 20 minutes or until soft and well combined
Notes
  1. keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 weeks
Adapted from India Today
Adapted from India Today
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy http://www.theingredientguru.com/

 
Sources:

Grover, A.K. and Samson, S.E. Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis: rationale and reality. Nutr J. 2016; 15: 1.nPublished online 2016 Jan 5. 

McClees, Heather. One Green Planet. How to heal cuts and wounds with turmeric. 2017 Feb 8.

Nagpal, M and Sood, S. Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidant Properties of Curcuma longa (Turmeric) Versus Zingiber officinale(Ginger) Rhizomes in Rat Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan-Jun; 4(1): 3–7.

Ramirez-Tortosa, M.C., et al. Oral administration of a turmeric extract inhibits LDL oxidation and has hypocholesterolemic effects in rabbits with experimental atherosclerosis. AtherosclerosisVolume 147, Issue 2, December 1999, Pages 371-378.

Shanmugam, M.K., et al. The Multifaceted Role of Curcumin in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. Molecules 201520(2), 2728-2769.

 

 

 


Leaky gut | intestinal permeability

What Is Leaky Gut?

You may never see the term “leaky gut” on a hospital chart, but that’s not because it isn’t real or acknowledged by the functional medical community. Leaky Gut Syndrome, sometimes referred to as Intestinal Permeability, is a colloquial term used to describe a set of symptoms that have an undiagnosed cause. It can be challenging to get your doctor on board when you have the symptoms, primarily due to the fact that there are no specific diagnostic criteria for leaky gut. In addition, identifying the cause is not always easy. That can leave you struggling to find answers, much less a solution. The good news is that there are ways to combat leaky gut syndrome.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome can have a myriad of symptoms, though all of them are a result of the digestive organs. The most common symptoms include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Aches and pains
  • Food sensitivities

In fact, the first four symptoms often point toward a food sensitivity that may be triggering the other symptoms. Many doctors fail to find the reason why. Why do you have these symptoms after eating gluten, large amounts of fat, red meat or whatever your triggering food or ingredient happens to be? Research hasn’t caught up to the symptoms, but many doctors acknowledge that there must be some underlying cause for food sensitivities. Until mainstream medical care catches up, you can still mitigate your symptoms by avoiding foods that trigger a negative response.

Identify Your Food Sensitivities

If you want to say goodbye to the worst of your leaky gut symptoms, you need to know what is causing the reaction. One common starting point is to implement an Elimination Diet. Eliminations diets usually remove the seven most common food allergens–corn, eggs, soy, wheat/gluten, nuts, fish, and dairy. You’ll also avoid added sugars and processed foods where possible and follow this dietary plan for approximately 6-8 weeks.  One issue with an elimination diet, however, is that you might not find everything. As you start adding foods back in on a weekly basis, you could be missing delayed reactions or attributing them to the wrong foods. An elimination diet also does not easily incorporation or identify additives or environmental exposures that can be contributing to the issue.

Another, often simpler, way to identify food sensitivities is through the use of an LRA by Elisa ACT. Through blood draw and analysis, the LRA test identifies all three of the different reactions to food sensitivities on as many as 505 distinct items, including foods, food additives, toxic metals, molds, and environmental chemicals. That means that even if you don’t notice a reaction, the test will. That’s really good news when you have delayed reactions that can be easily overlooked or attributed to a different cause.

Control Your Symptoms Through Diet

Once you know which foods trigger your sensitivities, you can just avoid them, right? Unfortunately, it’s not really that easy. Simply knocking food items off of your grocery list can leave you with an increased risk of developing new sensitivities. This is because you often wind up substituting something you’re sensitive to for a new food and then eating large amounts of that food.  A common example is people who choose a gluten-free diet and then start to consume large amounts of corn or rice starch.  They then find out six months down the road, when they retest, that they have now developed a sensitivity to corn or rice.

Rotation diets can help you handle this issue. Following a four day plan, you eat foods on a strictly controlled schedule. By limiting exposure to proteins so you only consume them once every four days, you reduce the likelihood of developing new sensitivities or intolerances. This is one of the biggest benefits to the rotation diet since the last thing you want is to develop an endless cycle of additional allergies.

Additionally adding in functional foods, where allowable, such as bone broth and lacto-ferments can help support good gut health. Lacto-ferments can include kombucha, kefir, and lacto-fermented vegetables such as kimchi.  Increasing collagen peptides in the diet is also supportive as this is very healing for the gut.

Get On Board With Treatment

There is no cure for leaky gut syndrome, primarily because there is no single cause. Those with celiac, Crohn’s, IBS or several other autoimmune disorders can have many of the same symptoms. Your gut is the heart of your immune system. When it isn’t working properly, you are more vulnerable to disease and other illnesses. A leaky gut can leave you feeling generally worn down, and causes can range from poor stress management to diagnosable diseases. When you can’t find the cause, you should still work toward mitigating your symptoms. Run the tests and come up with a nutrition plan and rotation diet that works for you.

Our suggestion is to run an LRA test and come up with a nutrition plan and rotation diet that works for you. It’s important to remember that the more compliant you are with your new nutrition plan, the more effective these changes are going to be when it comes to improving your gut health. Strict elimination, combined with good nutrition and gut support, can often be very helpful in reducing or removing the uncomfortable symptoms that lead you to test in the first place.

 

Coconut oil on wooden spoon

Why I’m Still Eating Coconut Oil

A recent article in USA Today on coconut oil has created a flurry of concern when it comes to what to eat. A supposedly new report from the American Heart Association (AHA) shows that coconut oil isn’t good for you, was never good for you, and you should stop eating it immediately. This has gotten picked up by several different media sources (because they love soundbytes — little news headlines that generate interest but don’t provide in depth information).  The AHA recommendation states, “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.

Given the increased number of people who are consuming coconut oil this has caused a lot of confusion. It also generated a lot of people reaching out to me wanting to know what to do. I spent a lot of time during the first two days after this article came out answering emails and responding to social media posts.  Here is my rebuttal of the article(s).  Let’s start with the short answer: Coconut oil is healthy for you, I will continue to eat it, and I continue to suggest it as a healthy fat. Now, as they say, for the rest of the story.

Switching fats

I find it somewhat odd that this “news” comes out in the same timeframe as another article reporting on an advisory from the American Heart Association, Why you should switch from butter to margarine: Simple change could be as good as statins for your heart. Margarine is a trans-fat, it’s hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated to make it solid at room temperature. Trans-fats are harmful for cardiovascular health and were removed from the FDA’s Generally Recognized As Safe list back in 2013. With regard to consumption of trans-fats the AHA clearly states, “The American Heart Association recommends cutting back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.” So I find it very curious that they appear to be once again encouraging margarine consumption while dissing a source of healthy fat.

What is coconut oil? 

Before we pick apart the headlines let’s start by identifying what coconut oil is. It’s made from the white, fleshy part of the coconut, sometimes referred to as the meat. The best quality is made from fresh coconut (as opposed to dried) which is expeller pressed. Cold pressed (instead of heat pressed) is even better because it retains more of the nutrients. Coconut oil contains caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. These medium chain fatty acids provide a number of benefits including:

  • antibiotic, antimicrobial and antifungal
  • highly effective against candida
  • highly digestible and supportive for ulcers and ulcerative colitis
  • not easily stored as fat
  • supportive for brain health
  • beneficial for skin issues such as dandruff, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis (taken internally and externally)
  • prevents bone loss 
  • helpful for weight loss
  • beneficial for cardiovascular health

Due to it’s saturated nature, coconut oil changes from liquid to solid depending on ambient temperature. There is a form of coconut oil on the market referred to as MCT, short for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which is liquid all the time. This does not have the same profile as ‘regular’ coconut oil. MCT oil is more concentrated and has different proportions for the different medium chain fatty acids.

The science

Here’s why these scare-tactic articles about coconut oil fall short for me. They are not based on new studies. In fact all the new data coming out shows the health benefits of coconut oil. If you read the recent negative articles carefully you can see that the advisory they quote is based on a review of previous data. They’ve decided, however, to rename it and call it an American Heart Association Presidential Advisory. It doesn’t matter what they call it, it’s still not new information. Not only is this old information, it’s information that has been debunked. Here’s the cliff notes version of what you need to know:

  1. Saturated fat – Dr. Ancel Keys is the man at the center of the whole heart disease/saturated fat issue. He essentially cherry picked the data to fit his theory that consumption of saturated fats increased cardiovascular disease. (In case you didn’t know, cherry picking your data is a bad thing for a researcher.) However his legacy lives on with scary articles about how bad saturated fat is for us. This continues despite newer studies showing that saturated fat is not as harmful as we have been led to believe.
  2. Hydrogenation – Many of the studies that were done examining the effect of saturated fats on cholesterol levels used hydrogenated coconut oil. That is, they added hydrogen to make it always solid, in effect turning coconut oil into a trans-fat. The cold-pressed, extra virgin, organic coconut oil that you should be buying and consuming has no trans-fats. These studies do not apply and yet they are repeatedly trotted out and cited as a reason to avoid consuming coconut oil
  3. Cholesterol – The articles claim that coconut oil increases cholesterol, especially LDL. However we can’t focus just on one factor, LDL, as a risk for cardiovascular disease. In fact studies have found cholesterol ratios and HDL levels improved by consuming coconut oil. What’s more important is the size of your lipoprotein particles. Lots of small dense particles are more harmful than a number of fewer, larger particles. To get to the true value of heart health you need to look deeper than just LDL. You need to consider the ratio of HDL to LDL, your triglycerides, and your LPP (lipoprotein particle) values.
  4. Inflammatory – Coconut oil is not an inflammatory food. In fact it has been found to be the opposite. While some saturated fats are inflammatory, coconut oil does not fall into this category. Side note: According to the National Cancer Institute the largest source of saturated fat in the American diet is cheese and pizza
  5. Fats – Fats are healthy, and a wonderful source of energy. That’s so important I’m going to say it again. Fats are healthy! We need fat. Your brain is made up of 70% fat, your vital organs are surrounded by a protective layer of fat, your hormones are made from fat, and without fat you cannot absorb and utilize the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. It’s also important to note that fat slows down how fast your body breaks down and absorbs sugar. 
  6. Heart disease – Low fat was NEVER the answer to heart disease. In fact we now know that the opposite is true. The more we shifted to low fat the more heart disease increased. Leading to more people on statin drugs with diabetes and obesity. Replacing fat with chemicals and carbohydrates is exactly the wrong answer to being healthy. And the available studies continue to support this fact.

Yes you can

Continue to eat coconut oil as part of a healthy diet. Choose cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, organic, extra virgin for optimal benefit. Coconut oil can be used for cooking or baking, it’s great in smoothies (melt it first for proper blending), and it gives a wonderful boost when you add a little to a cup of tea or coffee.

Remember that eating well to be well includes a balanced, varied, whole food/real food nutritional plan. General guidelines suggest that 30% of your daily diet should come from healthy fats. These include avocados, butter and ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, and nuts and seeds (preferably raw and soaked). 

 

References:

Cardoso, D.A., et al. A coconut extra virgin oil-rich diet increases HDL cholesterol and decreases waist circumference and body mass in coronary artery disease patients. Nutr Hosp. 2015;32(5):2144-2152 ISSN 0212-1611 • CODEN NUHOEQ S.V.R. 318. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glorimar_Rosa/publication/283576816_A_coconut_extra_virgin_oil_rich_diet_increases_HDL_cholesterol_and_decreases_waist_circumference_and_body_mass_in_coronary_artery_disease_patients/links/56434e3408aef646e6c69a5b.pdf

DiNicolantonio JJ. The cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats: Do the dietary guidelines have it wrong? Open Heart 2014;1:e000032. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2013-000032. http://openheart.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000032.full

Eyres, L, et al. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutr Rev (2016) 74 (4): 267-280. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuw002. Published: 05 March 2016. https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/74/4/267/1807413/Coconut-oil-consumption-and-cardiovascular-risk

Gavin, James E. Optimizing Diagnosis and management in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. Neurodegener Dis Manag. 2012 Jun; 2(3): 291–304. doi:  10.2217/nmt.12.21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437664/

Hayatullina Z. et al., Virgin coconut oil supplementation prevents bone loss in osteoporosis rat model. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:237236. Epub 2012 Sep 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23024690

Lei, T., et al. Medium-Chain Fatty Acids Attenuate Agonist-Stimulated Lipolysis, Mimicking the Effects of Starvation. Obesity. Volume 12, Issue 4 April 2004. Pages 599–611. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2004.69/full

Selverajah, M., et al. Anti-ulcerogenic activity of virgin coconut oil contribute to the stomach health of humankind TANG Vol.6 No.2, 2016.5, 12-18 (7 pages) http://www.dbpia.co.kr/Journal/ArticleDetail/NODE06688140

Siri-Tarino, PW, et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. March 2010 vol. 91 no. 3 535-546. doi: 10.3945/ ajcn.2009.27725. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535

 

Reduce The Juice

How to Keep Your Family Hydrated and Healthy

Do your little ones drink juice often? If so, you might want to reconsider.

Especially if there’s added sugar, flavors and dyes. But even if it’s 100% real fruit juice.

While juice may come from fruit, most commercial brands are processed under extreme conditions and striped of all nutritional benefits. Including vitamin C because it is extremely sensitive to heat and light. Thus, unless it’s freshly squeezed, the vitamin C is most likely partially or even fully degraded by the time it hits your lips.

Essentially, all you’re left with is liquid sugar. And a lot of it!

The American Heart Association recommends young children consume between 12 to 16 grams of added sugar per day. Which equates to 3 to 4 teaspoons.

Do you know how much sugar one juice box contains?

It varies by brand, but generally they contain between 10 and 20 grams of sugar (2.5 to 5 teaspoons). That means just one juice box could put your child over the recommended limit of added sugar.

Now think about how much juice your child drinks a day.

Maybe 2 to 3 cups per day? If so, this adds 5 to 10 teaspoons of sugar daily from juice alone.

Sugar Cubes

Potential Risks of Too Much Juice

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, sugar sweetened beverages (i.e., fruit juice, soda, sport drinks) account for 36% of the added sugar Americans consume.

Experimental studies show sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) lead to weight gain because they contribute a significant amount of calories. And people don’t eat less to compensate because SSBs aren’t satiating or provide lasting energy.

There’s no fiber, fat or protein present to slow the progression from liquid sugar to blood sugar. Which can lead to inflammation, insulin resistance and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

High fructose consumption (a naturally occurring sugar in fruit) has also been shown to burden the liver and increase belly fat.

Thus, now is a great time to break your family’s juice habit (or never start one).

Healthier Ways to Hydrate Your Family

Fruit Infused Water

The best source of daily hydration will always be water. And filtered tap water is ideal.

But if transitioning to plain water overnight is a hard sell, you can start by mixing juice with water. And gradually start adding more water.

To keep things interesting, here are a few other delicious options:

  • Fruit infused water: They’re easy and fun to make. My family’s favorite combinations are strawberry lemon and watermelon mint. Simply add fruit and herbs to water and let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  • Herbal tea: my son loves peppermint and ginger
  • Sparkling water
  • Coconut water

When purchasing teas, flavored sparkling water and coconut water, don’t forget to check the ingredients for added sugar or other negative ingredients.

To stay hydrated on the road and avoid the temptation to just buy a juice, bring your own containers with healthy beverage choices with you. Skip the plastic bottles in order to avoid issues with BPA (to learn more watch my interview with Lara Adler, The Environmental Toxins Nerd). Glass or stainless steel containers are your best bet. My personal favorite is Glasstic, a shatterproof plastic cylinder around a glass center cylinder. Easy to take apart and wash in the dishwasher, the company claims these are the last water bottle you’ll ever need. I bought three over a year ago and they’re still going strong. Get 10% off with this link.

To Sum It Up…

Parents ask me all the time how to create a healthier lifestyle for their family. Cutting out juice is the perfect place to start. It’s a simple change. But one that will significantly reduce the amount of sugar your little ones consume as well as foster healthier habits for years to come.

References
– “Abundance of fructose not good for the liver, heart.Harvard Health Publications (web log), September 2011. Accessed January 2017.
   http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/abundance-of-fructose-not-good-for-the-liver-heart.
– Hu, Frank B., and Vasanti S. Malik. “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: Epidemiologic evidence.Physiology & Behavior
   100, no. 1 (2010): 47-54. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.01.036.
– Johnston, Carol S., and D.l Bowling. “Stability of Ascorbic Acid in Commercially Available Orange Juices.Journal of the American Dietetic Association
   102, no. 4 (2002): 525-29. doi:10.1016/s0002-8223(02)90119-7.
– Malik, Vasanti S., and Frank B. Hu. “Sweeteners and Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: The Role of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages.Current Diabetes
   Reports
12, no. 2 (2012): 195-203. doi:10.1007/s11892-012-0259-6.
– “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in 2- to 5-Year-Old Children.Pediatrics 132, no. 3 (2013). doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0570d.

Could You Have Scurvy (even Though You’re Not An 18th-century Pirate)?

What is Scurvy?

Scurvy is a disease caused by a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency.

Without vitamin C, the body is unable to synthesize collagen necessary for wound healing and healthy skin, bones, teeth, joints, and blood vessels.

Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that effectively fights free radicals and prevents oxidative stress throughout the body.

In addition, it plays a critical role in adrenal and thyroid function.

Scurvy Symptoms

If you’re not eating fresh fruits and vegetables regularly, then you’re likely at risk of developing scurvy. This should be your first clue.

Other early warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle spasms, cramping or pain
  • Brain fog
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Bruising
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Tooth decay or tooth loss
  • Weight loss
  • Coiled hair
  • Skin rashes or red spots
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression

Resurgence of Scurvy

In the 18th century, scurvy caused the teeth of sailors to fall out due to a lack of vitamin C in their diet aboard ship. However, it appears scurvy isn’t just a disease of the past.

Based on data collected between 2003 and 2004, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 6 to 8% of the general population had a vitamin C deficiency severe enough to qualify as a scurvy diagnosis.

Between 2009 and 2014, almost 25% of patients admitted to a hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts with unexplained symptoms were diagnosed with a vitamin C deficiency.

In the United Kingdom, the rate of scurvy-related hospital admissions increased by 27% between 2009 and 2014.

And a researcher at a Diabetes Center in Australia documented more than a dozen cases in recent years as well.

Why is Scurvy Making a Comeback?

This resurgence is surprising to doctors and health officials because the amount of vitamin C needed to prevent scurvy is relatively low. For example, one large orange or one bowl of strawberries a day provides enough vitamin C to do the trick.

But the sad truth is that more and more people don’t regularly eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, if they eat these foods at all, they are either from a package or overcooked, which almost entirely diminishes the vitamin C content.

Other modern day factors may also deplete the body of vitamin C, which includes:

  • Chronic stress
  • Environmental toxins
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Synthetic hormones and birth control pills
  • Steroid medications
  • Diuretics
  • Aspirin

It’s also worth noting that a well-functioning digestive system is necessary to properly digest and absorb vitamin C (and all other nutrients) from food. Thus, with the rise of gastrointestinal diseases and dysfunction, this could also be a contributing factor.

Best Sources of Vitamin C

Uncooked, fresh fruits and veggies are the best sources of vitamin C. Those you can enjoy raw with the highest vitamin C content include:

  • Papaya
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Grapefruit
  • Raspberries
  • Tomatoes

And in the case of a vitamin C deficiency, it may be necessary to supplement with collagen until optimal levels are reached. 

In Conclusion…

Scurvy, a condition caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency, is making a comeback around the world mostly in part to our modern way of life. This means your risk may be real even though you’re not an 18th-century pirate.

Therefore, it’s important to consume fresh vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables every day to prevent a vitamin C deficiency and the development of scurvy.

References
National Institutes of Health – Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Professionals
Pelton, R. (2001). Drug-induced nutrient depletion handbook. Hudson, OH: Lexi-Comp.
Scurvy makes surprise return in Australia. (2016, November 29).
Scurvy Is a Serious Public Health Problem. (2015, November 20).
The World’s Healthiest Foods – Vitamin C

Spirulina: A Nutrition Boosting Algae

Spirulina is often referred to as blue-green algae (although it’s really a cyanobacterium). Either way, it’s also a popular health food. And one that actually lives up to its hype.

Spirulina Nutrition

Commercial varieties are grown in fresh warm waters. However, spirulina traditionally grew under extreme conditions, such as in volcanic lakes. Thus, it has developed quite the nutrient profile.

Spirulina is approximately 60% protein. And the protein is highly digestible for optimal absorption and utilization.

However, you’d have to eat roughly 3.5 tablespoons to obtain the same amount of protein as one chicken drumstick (the minimum recommended amount of protein per meal). Therefore, it’s best to be used as a protein booster as opposed to your primary source of protein.

Spirulina is often considered nature’s multi-vitamin. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, it has:

  • 180% more calcium that milk – for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, nerves and heart
  • 3100% more vitamin A (as beta-carotene) than carrots – for healthy skin and eyes
  • 5100% more iron that spinach – to produce healthy red blood cells

Other high concentration micronutrients (along with a few of their key health benefits) include:

  • Vitamin K: important for blood clotting as well as heart and bone health
  • B Vitamins: necessary to produce energy and red blood cells
  • Choline: supports liver function, metabolism, brain development and energy levels
  • Magnesium: calms nerves and anxiety and releases muscle tension
  • Phosphorus: supports healthy bones and organs and balances hormones
  • Iodine: essential for optimal thyroid function
  • Potassium: regulates fluid balance and blood pressure

Spirulina also contains anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) as well as potent antioxidants, such as zeaxanthin and various carotenoids.

Potential Health Benefits

Based on its nutrient profile, it makes sense why there are over 1,000 studies investigating spirulina’s potential benefits. A review of human and animal research suggests it may offer the following health-promoting properties:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-cancer
  • Immune-boosting
  • Promote a healthy gut flora
  • Balance lipid levels
  • Balance blood sugar
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Protect the heart
  • Relieve allergy symptoms
  • Detoxify heavy metals

Now that’s a pretty powerful list of potential advantages! Which is why I hope you’ll give it a try.

Simple Ways to Add Spirulina to Your Diet

spirulina

You can buy spirulina in either a powder or tablet form.

The easiest way to incorporate spirulina powder into your diet is by adding it to your smoothies. However, you can blend a little into many other foods as well, including:

  • Pureed soups
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Pesto
  • Salad dressing
  • No-bake treats
  • Egg dishes

And because spirulina is so nutrient dense, you only need a little to reap its rewards.

References
– Capelli, B., & Cysewski, G. R. (2010). Potential health benefits of spirulina microalgae*. Nutrafoods,9(2), 19-26. doi:10.1007/bf03223332
– Cheong, S. H., Kim, M. Y., Sok, D., Hwang, S., Kim, J. H., Kim, H. R., . . . Kim, M. R. (2010). Spirulina Prevents Atherosclerosis by Reducing  
   Hypercholesterolemia in Rabbits Fed a High-Cholesterol Diet. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology,56(1), 34-40.
   doi:10.3177/jnsv.56.34
– Ichimura, M., Kato, S., Tsuneyama, K., Matsutake, S., Kamogawa, M., Hirao, E., . . . Omagari, K. (2013).
   Phycocyanin prevents hypertension and low serum
   adiponectin level in a rat model of metabolic syndrome. Nutrition Research,33(5), 397-405. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2013.03.006
– Parikh, P., Mani, U., & Iyer, U. (2001). Role of Spirulina in the Control of Glycemia and Lipidemia in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Medicinal   Food,4(4), 193-199. doi:10.1089/10966200152744463
– Sayin, I., Cingi, C., Oghan, F., Baykal, B., & Ulusoy, S. (2013). Complementary Therapies in Allergic Rhinitis. ISRN Allergy,2013, 1-9.
   doi:10.1155/2013/938751

The Healing Powers Of Bone Broth (plus Recipe)

Have you ever been told to eat a bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick?

I bet you have. But do you know why?

It’s truly an ancient tradition. But the truth is, not all chicken soups will do the trick. Especially those found in a can.

Traditionally chicken soup was made by simmering vegetables, meat and bones to create a nutrient rich broth (a.k.a. bone broth). However, most commercial soups today simply use broth made from water and chicken “flavor.”

Bone broth has been used throughout humankind for its rich flavor and healing powers. Many cultures use it to cure illnesses, such as colds and flu. In fact, bone broth is sometimes referred to as Jewish penicillin. It’s also been prized for its ability to treat conditions related to the digestive tract, skin, joints, lungs, muscles, and blood.

And fortunately, bone broth is making a comeback.

Bone Broth Nutrition

Bone broth contains a soup (pun intended) of health promoting nutrients in highly absorbable forms. Thus, it’s much more potent (and enjoyable) than taking a variety of synthetic supplements.

Below are several key nutrients in bone broth along with their health benefits:

Minerals

Minerals are essential to life. They play many important roles in our bodies, such as nerve signaling and the initiation of most enzymatic processes in our bodies. They also impact the health of our digestive system, heart, cells, and bones.

Bone broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicone, sulfur, and a variety of trace minerals.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and have numerous responsibilities when it comes to our health. Bone broth specifically contains high concentrations of glycine and proline.

Glycine acts as an antioxidant, which protects our cells from free radical damage. It also aids in detoxification as well as wound healing, digestion, sleep, memory, and performance. It keeps our muscles strong and is used to make glutathione (another powerful antioxidant).

Proline is essential for healthy skin and joints. It also helps to repair the lining of the digestive system.

Collagen and Gelatin

Collagen is a protein found in bones as well as other connective tissues. Its name comes from the word “kolla,” which means glue. Essentially, its main role is to hold the body together.

When collagen dissolves in water, it forms gelatin. Gelatin has been studied extensively and is often used to heal and soothe the digestive tract, support bone health, overcome food allergies and sensitivities, improve digestion and detoxification, and boost the body’s natural production of collagen.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine lubricates our joints and provides a cushion within them. Expensive supplements are often used to treat conditions involving bone and joint pain, but bone broth is an all natural (and effective) alternative.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Along with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate supports healthy bones and joints. But it’s also essential for heart and skin health as well as maintaining optimal cholesterol levels.

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

Bone broth can be made using beef, poultry, lamb, pork or fish bones. There are many recipes available online. Below is an easy to make chicken bone broth recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken
    or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as carcass, necks, and wings plus gizzards
  • 2-4 chicken feet
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • 2 T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shitake mushrooms
  • 1-2 pieces kombu seaweed
  • 1” piece of turmeric root, sliced (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley

Directions

If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces.

Place other ingredients into a cheesecloth or jelly bag for easy removal later. Otherwise place carcass and parts in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all ingredients except parsley.

Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12-18 hours. The longer the stock cooks the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

If using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Delicious Ways to Add Bone Broth to Your Diet

Cup of Bone Broth
Once you have a batch of bone broth, here are several ways to enjoy it:

  • Sip it plain (or seasoned with sea salt and minced spring onions)
  • Use it in soup, stew, sauce and gravy recipes
  • Use it instead of water or other liquids to cook grains, steam vegetables, make mashed potatoes and bake casseroles

To make a “miso-style” soup, follow this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 C broth
  • 1 fresh mushroom, diced
  • 1 spring onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat broth on stovetop
  2. When broth is fully heated add remaining ingredients
  3. Heat on medium 2-3 minutes until all ingredients are warmed
  4. Enjoy!

I also encourage people to pour cooled bone broth into ice cube trays and freeze. Bone broth ice cubes are a great nutrition boosting addition to smoothies. They also give smoothies a thicker consistency.

To sum it up:

Consuming bone broth on a regular basis is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do to support your health.

  • It contains a variety of easily absorbable nutrients;
  • It warms your heart and your soul;
  • It’s easy to make; and
  • It’s absolutely delicious!

 

References:
Bergner, P. (1997). The healing power of minerals, special nutrients, and trace elements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub.
Daniel, K. (2003, June 18). Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-broth-is-beautiful-essential-roles-for-proline-glycine-and-gelatin/
Fallon, S. (2000, January 1). Broth in Beautiful [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/
Fallon, S., Enig, M. G., Murray, K., & Dearth, M. (2001). Nourishing traditions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends Pub.
Vital Proteins, Why Collagen, Retrieved March 27, 2017

The Many Health Benefits Of Collagen

The health benefits of collagen are immense, which makes sense because it’s the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen is found in:

  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Skin, hair, and nails
  • Tendons and ligaments
  • Cartilage
  • Digestive tract
  • Veins and arteries
  • Teeth (dentin)
  • Eyes (cornea and lens)

Thus, it’s essential to maintaining optimal health.

The term collagen stems from the Greek word “kolla,” which means glue. This makes sense because its key responsibility is to provide structural integrity for a variety of tissues throughout the body.

Collagen Synthesis and Natural Decline

Symptoms such as wrinkles, loose skin, joint pain, and poor wound healing occur as we age due to a natural decrease in collagen production. This natural decline also increases the risk of heart disease and digestive dysfunction if damage to the arterial walls or intestinal tract occurs.

Your diet and lifestyle can also affect collagen synthesis. For example, the body needs an adequate supply of vitamin C and silica (trace mineral) among others to produce collagen. In addition, vitamin C is quickly depleted when your body is under stress.

High sugar diets, smoking, and prolonged sun exposure have also been shown to negatively impact or damage collagen in the body.

However, there are specific foods and supplements we can add to our diet to boost our synthesis of collagen. These include vitamin C and silica rich foods as well as bone broth, and collagen peptides, which I’ll discuss in more detail shortly.

Health Benefits of Collagen

Supporting your body’s natural production of collagen has many health benefits. Some key advantages include:

Skin: Collagen promotes firm skin. Thus, it’s nature’s perfect anti-wrinkle compound. And collagen will also help to reduce sagging skin, cellulite, and stretch marks. In addition, it helps to keep skin moist and smooth.

Hair and Nails: Collagen is the key structural component of your hair and nails. Thus, it keeps them from breaking. And this study suggests collagen may even help to prevent hair loss.

Joints: Collagen is a smooth substance that covers your bones and holds them together. Thus, it allows your joints to move with ease and without pain. Athletes may also benefit from collagen stimulating supplements to protect their joints from degeneration and improve their performance. Further, this study provides support for using collagen to effectively treat osteoarthritis and other joint disorders.

Digestive Tract: The key amino acids in collagen (i.e., glycine and proline) both nourish and heal the lining of the digestive tract. Thus, those suffering from gut-related disorders (i.e., leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disorders, and reflux) may benefit significantly from consuming collagen. In fact, this study found that serum concentrations of collagen are reduced in those with inflammatory bowel disorders. It’s also worth noting that since a large portion of the immune system resides in the gut, maintaining a healthy digestive tract is essential for immune health.

Muscles: One of the key roles of glycine is to help create energy to build muscle cells. And strong muscles are necessary to effectively support your bones, especially as we age. In addition, muscle cells are effective at burning body fat.

Heart Health: Proline helps to repair arterial wall damage as well as keep your arteries free from plaque. Thus, collagen reduces your risk of developing heart disease.

Boosting Your Synthesis of Collagen

Increasing your intake of vitamin C and silica is recommended to increase collagen production. This can be accomplished by eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. Silica is also found in oats.

Bone broth is a great source of glycine and proline needed to synthesize collagen. To learn more about bone broth as well as how to make it, please refer to this article.

When it comes to supplementation, I highly recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. It’s rich in glycine and proline, and it’s made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows. Thus, it’s free from hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides.

The Ingredient Guru recommends Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides come in a powder form with virtually no smell or flavor. They are highly digestible and soluble in both hot and cold liquids. Thus, you can simply add a scoop or two a day to the following:

  • Tea or coffee
  • Fresh juice
  • Smoothies
  • Soups and stews
  • Sauces and gravies

In Conclusion

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is essential for vibrant health inside and out. Its synthesis naturally declines as we age, which is why I often recommend supplementing with Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.

Adding collagen peptides to your diet promotes youthful skin and strong hair, bones, muscles, joints, and teeth. It also protects your heart, boosts immunity, and improves digestive health.

 

Additional References:

Vital Proteins Website: Why Collagen

Medical News Today: What is Collagen? What Does Collagen Do?

Building healthy habits with food journaling

5 Key Benefits Of Keeping A Food Journal

If you’re trying to lose weight, improve your health, or prevent disease, you must to take a closer look what you’re eating (and what you’re not). And there is no better way than keeping a food journal.

In fact, I require all of my clients to keep food journal. And here are my top 5 reasons why:

Compares Perceptions to Reality

Keeping a food journal is truly the only way to determine whether or not your perceptions match reality. Many people think they’re eating healthy, but often find it eye opening when they see their food intake on paper. Because it’s not just about what you eat. It’s also about your eating habits.

Helps to Improve Your Diet

When you keep track of what you eat, you get a more detailed picture regarding your nutritional intake. For instance, are you eating enough protein? Are you eating too much sugar? Is your diet lacking sources of healthy fats?

Thus, you can use your food journal to help create a more balanced and nutrient-rich meal plan. And this will help you look and feel your best.

Helps Break Unhealthy Eating Habits

A good food journal keeps tracks of what you eat, but also how much you eat and when you eat.

You might learn that you eat more when you’re dining with others than solo. Or, maybe you’ll notice you always reach for sugar in the mid-afternoon. Seeing these patterns will help you make the necessary changes to break any bad habits.

For example, maybe you need to be more mindful when eating out with friends. Or, maybe you need a more balanced lunch to ward off your 3:00 PM sugar craving.

Identifies Potential Food Allergies, Sensitivities, & Intolerances

Even the healthiest foods can wreak havoc on some. Thus, for weight loss and optimal health, it’s really important to learn what foods work for you and what foods don’t.

Food allergies involve the immune system and reactions typically occur within two hours. On the other hand, non-immune related food sensitivities and intolerances are much more common and their reactions are usually delayed (up to 48 hours). Thus, they’re much more difficult to detect.  

However, using a food journal allows you to look back at your food intake should you start experiencing unexplained symptoms.

In some cases a food journal might help you realize that cheese causes you to bloat, which may be a sign of a dairy sensitivity or lactose intolerance.

Common symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Excess mucus
  • Nervousness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Mood swings
  • Itchy or dry skin
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Night sweats
  • Food cravings
  • Acne
  • Brain fog

Connects the Dots Between Food and Your Health

What we eat affects every aspect of our physical and mental health. We can’t expect to eat poorly and feel great. Some foods may energize you, while others drain you. And some foods may lift your spirits, while others weigh you down.

Thus, by examining your food journal, you can learn a lot about how food affects YOUR body and mind. And once you connect these dots, I guarantee reaching your health goals will be much easier.

Food Journaling Tips

Food journaling may seem time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. While you certainly can carry your journal around with you, you can also take a picture of your meals and snacks with your phone and send them to your self with notes about your energy level and mood before and you ate. Then, each night before bed you can use your photos and notes to complete the food journal.

In Conclusion…

Keeping a food journal is one of the best strategies you can implement to help improve your diet, break bad eating habits, prevent disease, and successfully achieve all your health and wellness goals.

So what are you waiting for? Download a free copy of the food journal I use with my clients and start tracking your progress today!

 

 

The Gratitude Issue

“To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.” -Albert Schweitzer

I thought I would write about gratitude.  Mostly because that’s what’s on my mind right now.  We’re at that annual cusp from old year to new.  That time when so many people make resolutions, often unrealistic and undefined.  And by doing so set themselves up to feel bad about themselves later.  There are a number of studies that show how beneficial a gratitude practice can be, mentally, emotionally, and physically, to support our overall health and wellness.  

The gratitude jar

I believe anytime is a perfect time to think about gratitude.  But I especially love this ritual that I’ve built up over time around creating an abundance of gratitude in my life.

For the past few years I’ve had a jar sitting next to my desk in my office.  When I have a moment of gratitude (and it can be for anything, not specifically for work, personal, others in my life) I write it down on a little scrap of paper and throw it in the jar.  I confess that I try to find colorful scraps of paper because it’s more fun that way.  I don’t go back through the jar throughout the year, I just keep filling it up.

Come New Year’s Eve while I’m waiting for the countdown, I open the jar and empty it out.  I unfold all those pieces of paper and savor reading them one by one.  I do this by myself, but you may choose to do it with friends or family members too.  It can be fun if it’s a group jar or if several people bring their jars and go through them together.

I find I do remember many of them, but what always strikes me is the number of things that I forgot about.  Every. Single. Year.  These are moments I was grateful for when they happened, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life they slipped into the back of my memory and got buried there.   In opening this jar and going through them, I am grateful for those moments again.  

Some people write all of their gratitudes down in a book that they keep from year to year.  I have another friend who glues down all her little scraps into a composition book of gratitude.  I don’t do any of those things, mine go into the compost bin.  But I truly love this ritual look back over the year.  This ability in spite of any challenges or low moments we may have faced to see so many wonderful things.  So many reasons to be grateful.  

Once the jar is empty it almost seems to sparkle as I set it next to my desk to begin again.  And it brings hope and a cheerful spirit as I anticipate the year ahead.  

Cultivating a habit of gratitude

Being grateful doesn’t always come easy.  For some reason we are surrounded by a culture (and a news media) that brings out the worst in us.  Often we get so overwhelmed that we allow the negative things to strongly influence how we percieve what is happening around us.  Amidst the explosions of stress, worry, and overwhelming circumstance, the little sparks of gratitude can sometimes get lost.  Just as we learn to read and write and do any of the other things we’ve learned to do in life, so too we need to learn to cultivate the habit of gratitude.  

Below are some of my favorite resources and  articles on the topic.  I am not going to lie and tell you that I live in that blissed out place that is continual gratitude.  I don’t.  I sometimes struggle to get there, to get anywhere close to being grateful.  And yet I know I have to very much to be grateful for.

Yes we can get overwhelmed, sometimes we get lost.  But I have come to believe that by remembering that concept of gratitude and by trying to pay attention to it I am happier overall.  And so I’ve collected these resources and I have my ritual of the gratitude jar.  I’m excited and looking forward to what this new year will bring.

As we transition to another year I hope that whatever the year ahead holds for you it also brings happiness, health, contentment, and peace.

Gratitude resources

How To Be Grateful To People We Don’t Like – Learning to look at negative situations and focus on the good things we have can help us achieve a transformational shift. Admittedly this is not always easy to do, but sometimes having a resource we can turn to the guide us toward this can be helpful.

Gratefulness.org – A wonderful website offering videos, audios, articles, a virtual labyrinth, and virtual candles you can light. This is one of my favorite resources.

How Gratitude Can Change Your Life – A good article about gratitude with some information about how studies showing how it can improve your life.

Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy – A few suggestions for ways to add a gratitude practice to your life.

Stumbling Toward Gratitude – The end of this article sums it up well, ” There are no miracles. … There are no long-term quick fixes for happiness, so if you become a more grateful person and you add [these] exercises to your repertoire, you’ll be different six months or a year from now.”

9 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude – Nine suggestions for ways to cultivate gratitude (and avoid focusing on criticism or complaints)

A Serving of Gratitude May Save The Day – This New York Times article has some great suggestions and offers gentle ways to get started

And here’s a video on gratitude that I found moving.  Thanks to my Aunt for sharing it just when I needed it.

How Gratitude Affects the Human Body

From Visually.