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Our Kabalagala are a modern remake of an ancient Ugandan bread.

Kabalagala: Modern Remake of an Ancient Bread

In Uganda, cooks have been frying Kabalagala for centuries. Here we present an easy modern remake of this ancient bread.

Kabalagala– also known as kabas – are traditional Ugandan pancakes. A popular deep-fried street food, they are a cross between doughnuts and banana scones. They are simple to make, requiring only two ingredients. The recipe whips up quickly and is a satisfying replacement for contemporary bread. Watch a video of their preparation here.

How to Use and Store Kabalagala

Kabalagala are gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free, ideal for anyone on the Autoimmune Protocol. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Excellent paired with meats, you can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You might enjoy these filling fried pancakes with African Spinach Stew (Efo Riro).

Uneaten Kabalagala may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or wrapped tightly and frozen for a few months. Reheat them by placing them in a dry skillet or griddle over medium low heat until warm to the touch.

Recipe Adaptations and Ingredients

We are using plantain flour instead of the traditional cassava flour, which is reported to impair thyroid function if consumed heavily in individuals with pre-existing hypothyroidism. You can buy plantain flour from local African markets or online African shops, such as Nittemon Foods on Etsy.

Making your own plantain flour is as easy as slicing peeled green plantains to 1/8″ thickness, then laying the slices on a baking sheet and placing them in a preheated oven at the lowest temperature setting possible. Dry them in the oven for 2-3 hours until they curl and are brittle. Powder the plantain slices in a food processor or blender until no large particles remain. Flour should be stored in a cool, dry place, preferably in an airtight container. It lasts several months. Extend its life by storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.


Comforting, satisfying fried bread made with just two ingredients.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Keyword: banana, plantain
Servings: 5


  • 2 cups ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2-3 cups green plantain flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda optional
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar optional
  • coconut oil for frying


  • In a large mixing bowl, add flour to the mashed bananas one-half cup at a time, mixing well, until a soft, non-sticky dough is formed.
  • Preheat 2-3" of cooking oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.
  • Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to 1/4" thick, dusting with additional flour if needed to keep it from sticking to the paper. Cut into 3" circles with a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, or jar ring.
  • Slide the discs into the hot oil and cook until they are puffed and golden, turning if needed to brown both sides evenly.
  • Remove to a plate lined with absorbent paper towels. Serve as soon as cool enough to touch. May be refrigerated for several days.



Nutritionist Carol Jensen holds up dried mushrooms for immunity soup

Immunity Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms

Immunity Soup is comfort food during the cold and flu season. Thick and savory with a rich umami flavor, this mushroom soup features ingredients that have a long tradition in supporting immune health.

In this video, I demonstrate how to make this soup from start to finish. I include an explanation of special ingredients and where to buy them. If you want the “Cliff’s Notes” version, skip to the text below.

Here is our list of immune-boosting ingredients. If you can’t obtain them all, just use what you have available to you. It will still be a delicious immunity soup!


Medicinal mushrooms are said to reduce inflammation, fight free radicals, increase Natural killer cells, and regulate the immune system. Look for these types that have special qualities to support your immune system. Add them to immunity soups, smoothies, and teas during the winter months when your body is more vulnerable to infection.

  • Chaga
  • Cordyceps
  • Lion’s Mane
  • Maitake
  • Oyster
  • Reishi
  • Shiitake
  • Turkey Tail

Typically, grocery stores only carry oyster and shiitake mushrooms. The other types can be ordered online in dehydrated form. Note that medicinal mushrooms may be more bitter than culinary ones. But to get the benefit, you only need a teaspoon of mushroom powder.


Plain old garlic is actually quite beneficial against illness. It is esteemed as a natural antibiotic. This study reports it may ward off and reduce the severity of the flu and common cold. Use fresh garlic where possible. Dehydrated garlic flakes are a convenient alternative in immunity soup. Use 1/2teaspoon of dried minced garlic for every garlic clove in your recipe.


Ginger has long been used in traditional and alternative medicine to bring down inflammation. One laboratory study found it effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Buy whole roots that are not shriveled. You can find them in the produce department of your grocery store. Store them in the freezer for ease of grating when you make immunity soup.


Astragalus is the dried root of the milkvetch plant. It has a pleasant, sweet taste. Astragalus may increase your body’s production of white blood cells, according to this study. You may be able to find strips or shreds of astragalus in an herb shop or health food store in your community. I found mine online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Hearts of Palm

These tender centers of certain types of palm trees are surprisingly high in zinc, which, of course, is critical to immune health. Hearts of Palm are also high in other crucial minerals and in antioxidants. You can find them on the canned vegetable aisle of your grocery store.

If you can’t locate them, use dairy cream or coconut cream for the base of your immunity soup. Then for extra zinc, add oysters to the soup, or garnish with pumpkin seeds. Another idea is to substitute artichoke hearts for the hearts of palm. You will still want to add a food that is high in zinc.

Egg Yolk

Vitamin A is an unsung hero of immune health. Purportedly, pastured egg yolks contain 38% more Vitamin A than conventional eggs, and overall contribute a modest amount to your RDA of Vitamin A. You won’t even know the egg yolk is in the soup because you blend it with broth before cooking.


Everyone knows Vitamin C helps fight a cold, and citrus fruits contains lots of Vitamin C. But did you know that bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, cauliflower, and kale are also high in vitamin C? If you don’t like kale, you can substitute spinach for a lower vitamin C content.

Here is my trick to chopping my leafy greens very fine: I don’t! When I bring my greens home from the grocery store, I tear off the thick stems, then stuff them in a sealable bag. I put them in the deep freezer (-10 degrees centigrade or lower) until I need them. When they are well-frozen, I squish and massage the bag. The leaves crack and crumble. Then I can measure out what I need for immunity soup. The frozen leaves are also good in stews, marinara, and stir-fries.

Nigella Sativa (Black Seed, Black Cumin)

This pungent, onion-like seed, found in Egyptian tombs, may have been used in mummification because of its antibacterial properties. Today, many people use to boost immunity & reduce inflammation. You may find it in an herb shop or online. Although it comes in capsule form, you will want a packet of whole seeds for this immunity soup recipe.

Now, you are ready to cook.

Shiitake Immunity Soup Recipe

  • 1 Tb. coconut oil or tallow
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tb. grated fresh ginger root
  • 10-12 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 3 c. bone broth or stock
  • 1 14-oz. can of hearts of palm, drained
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tb. low-sodium soy sauce or soy substitute
  • ½ oz. of dried mushroom powder (about 2 Tb.)
  • ½ oz. dried astragalus root (1/4 c. shredded or 12-15 two-inch strips)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • Nigella sativa for garnish – optional

In a skillet, heat the cooking fat, then sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until softened. Add the minced garlic, grated ginger and sliced shiitakes with a splash of water to keep them from sticking to the pan. Continue sautéing until mushrooms release their liquid and change color.

Meanwhile, blend the broth, hearts of palm, egg yolk, soy sauce, and mushroom powder until smooth. Pour into a 1.5-quart soup pot and bring to a simmer. Wrap the astragalus in a bit of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and drop into the pot. Continue simmering 5-10 minutes.

Remove the astragalus from the pot. Stir in the sauteed vegetables and the kale. Adjust seasonings. Heat just until the kale wilts and turns bright green.

Serve with Nigella sativa seeds if desired. Makes 6 one-cup servings.

Tip: If you ever have a batch of soup that seems bitter, think, “salt, fat, acid, and heat.”   Increase salt and cooking oil, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, then cook a little longer.  Dark leafy greens can be very bitter if not cooked adequately.



Food Reactions 101

Food reactions can be physiological or psychological. Physiological food reactions include allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. This post is not about psychological responses. It’s important to know the difference between various types of physiological reactions so that you apply the right therapy.

Food Reaction #1: Allergy

If you have a food allergy, you probably know it! It may only take a molecule of your offending food to trigger you, and you usually know within minutes that you’ve had an exposure. The symptoms of a true food allergy are either naso-respiratory (such as constricted airway, runny nose and watery eyes), or skin manifestations (swollen lips or tongue, hives). Food allergies can be life threatening. An allergist can test this type of food reaction by a skin scratch test. You make IgE type antibodies to your triggering foods.

For adults, the solution for this type of reaction is strict avoidance of your allergen. Sometimes allergy shots are helpful in training your body to accept your triggers.

Food Reaction #2: Sensitivity

Common symptoms of food sensitivities

Food sensitivities are more difficult to detect. They may take up to 3 days to triggers symptoms. You may not react to small amounts of offending foods but will respond when you cross a certain threshold. Symptoms can be wide and varied. Some common symptoms include:

  • insomnia
  • joint pain
  • headaches, including migraines
  • fatigue and/or brain fog
  • teeth grinding
  • moodiness, including anger
  • cravings for the food that is making your unwell
  • chronic post-nasal drip
  • skin irritations (eczema or acne)
  • weight gain or stubborn weight loss
  • GI distress (gas, bloat, heartburn, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, etc.)

Your body is making IgG, or possibly IgA antibodies if you have a food sensitivity. An IgG blood test is helpful in analyzing which foods are problematic, although no food sensitivity test is perfect. The gold standard for detecting a food sensitivity is to remove the suspected food 100% for at least 30 days, then challenge the food to see if you react.

You challenge the food by eating a full serving of that food twice a day for 3 days. Watch to see if old symptoms reappear or if new symptoms crop up. You may start noticing symptoms on the first day, in which case, you do not need to continue the challenge.

The 30-day elimination is crucial because the half-life of IgG antibodies is 21-days. You have to avoid your trigger long enough that antibodies begin to diminish. In this way, you can tell a difference when you test the food.

Food sensitivities become complicated when you cross-react to foods with similar protein structures. For example, when you are gluten sensitive, you may still have symptoms if you remove gluten, but not coffee or chocolate. These foods are cross-reactive to gluten.

While you are not likely to overcome a food allergy in adulthood, many people do overcome their sensitivities. The key is to do gut-healing protocols for several months while you eliminate the foods you are sensitive to.

Food Reaction #3: Intolerance

Types of digestive enzymes

You are intolerant to a food when you lack the enzymes to digest it. For example, if you are lactose intolerant, you don’t make lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar lactose. You may be able to eat some forms of the food, but not others. In the case of dairy, you may fare okay with cheese because it is low in lactose. But you may feel bloated after eating ice cream, which is high in lactose.

Symptoms of intolerances are almost always gastrointestinal: gas, bloat, cramps, diarrhea, irritable bowel, etc. You do not make antibodies to a food when you are intolerant. However, you may have food reactions to food components, such as sulfur, or lectins.

An easy test to check intolerances is to use digestive enzymes. When you eat your triggering food with the right kind of enzymes, you will have reduced or absent symptoms. In this case, you do not need to eliminate the food. But if using enzymes makes no difference in your symptoms, it is likely that you are having an immune response to your food.

While there are just 3 main groups of digestive enzymes (for the 3 macronutrients in food: carbohydrate, protein, and fat), there are many subtypes. Lactase is a very specific amylase that digests milk sugar. It is the active ingredient in Lactaid. Another specific amylase is alpha galactosidase. This enzyme helps you break down the starch in legumes and is the active ingredient in Beano.

Getting Help

Do you need help selecting the right type of enzyme for your intolerance? Or do you have symptoms of food sensitivity? Food sensitivities do not improve without treatment. Contact me for an at-home test-kit to pinpoint your troublesome foods so you can begin healing now.

LDL myths and truths

LDL Myths and Truths

LDL myths abound, but what are the LDL truths you need to know? First let’s discuss what this substance is.

What is LDL?

The first LDL myth is that it is a type of cholesterol. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is actually a carrier of cholesterol. Physicians use it as way of estimating cholesterol in the body because it represents the total cholesterol being transported from the liver to the rest of the body.

Here is the truth: LDL is essential to health because it is the one resource to deliver cholesterol to tissues for healing and repair. Cholesterol, as part of your immune system, becomes a kind of internal scab wherever there is tissue damage.

But cholesterol not only repairs tissue. It helps create the outer membrane of every cell in the body. Cholesterol is also the raw material for sex hormones.

Your body makes cholesterol in the liver abundantly! (Diet only accounts for 25% or less of your total cholesterol.) But if your LDL is too low, you cannot get that cholesterol to the cells for membrane synthesis or repair. Also, without LDL to move cholesterol from the liver to your gonads, you could not generate sex hormones.

What is LDL’s significance?

If LDL is so vital, then why do doctors become concerned when it rises? LDL is like water on a fire. If your LDL is high, it may be indicator of great oxidative damage in your body. Ask yourself this. Who needs more water: a person cooking dinner, or a person whose house is burning down?

So, LDL is a red flag. But there is an assumption (LDL myth #2) that the higher your LDL, the greater your risk of cardiovascular disease. In reality, research shows that total amount of LDL does not correlate well with incidence of cardiovascular disease. What seems to matter more is the type of LDL particles, rather than the overall number.

LDL is like a bag of apples. You want a sack of big, healthy apples, not a sack of little, insidious crab apples. The truth is that small, dense LDL – like crab apples – can be included in arterial plaque. This is known as pattern B LDL. It is more atherogenic, meaning it tends to promote fatty plaques in the arteries. Light & fluffy LDL, called pattern A, is less atherogenic because it is too large to be incorporated into arterial plaques.

Cardio IQ is one test that can evaluate the particle size of your LDL.

It is fiction that LDL is the only marker to be concerned about when it comes to heart health (LDL myth #3). LDL typically only becomes a red flag when your arteries are inflamed and attracting an immune response. Conditions that raise this flag include pre-diabetes, diabetes, chronic simmering infections, and toxicity.

Looking beyond LDL myths to other factors

HDLs (high-density lipoproteins) & triglycerides are extremely important disease markers, especially among women. In fact, if you are female, the more your triglyceride to HDL ratio rises above 2:1, the greater your cardiovascular disease risk. Besides that, high triglyceride to HDL ratios tend to correlate with Pattern B (small and dense) LDL’s.

HDLs are protective against atherosclerosis and are optimal at 65-85 mg/dL for women. Low levels may be an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis.

You can increase your HDLs with exercise, omega 3 fatty acids, and a low-carb diet. On the other hand, high-sugar intake, a high-carb diet, trans-fats, high fructose corn syrup, and smoking decrease HDLs.

If your doctor is concerned about plaque deposits, ask what damage your body might be trying to repair. What conditions might be causing enough oxidative damage that LDL is being transported at a higher rate?

Why LDL may be elevated

You might suppose that your LDLs are high because you have too much fat in your diet (LDL myth #4). There are actually several primary reasons why LDLs rise, particularly in women. These are:

• High blood sugars. Since high blood sugars create oxidize blood vessels, it is not surprising that LDLs increase to bring cholesterol to patch up these sites. This is why high LDLs can be a red flag for pre-diabetes and diabetes. So, the reality is that sugar, not fat, has a greater impact on blood lipids.

• Hypothyroidism. Elevated LDL where there is poor thyroid function is common, especially in women. Studies consistently demonstrate elevated levels of total cholesterol and LDL in individuals with hypothyroidism according to this review. If your triglycerides are low, but your LDL is high, you can suspect hypothyroidism is at play.

• Chronic stress. First of all, stress can increase blood sugars more than food can. By this mechanism, stress can increase LDLs. But there’s more. Stress also increases cortisol. Since cholesterol rises with cortisol, it makes sense that more LDL would be needed to transport that cholesterol. Finally, stress promotes hypothyroidism. So, stress increases LDL via low thyroid function.

• Estrogen dominance: Estrogen causes hypersecretion of cholesterol into bile. Since your body recycles 95% of its bile, this means you have higher serum levels of total cholesterol and cholesterol-transporting LDL.

Treating the truth, not the LDL myth

Here is another LDL myth: If you have high LDL, you should always be prescribed a statin.

The obvious answer to elevated LDLs is to address the root issue (blood sugars, hypothyroidism, chronic stress, etc.). It is true that statins reduce LDL cholesterol, but they are toxic to your cellular energy factories, the mitochondria. Statins are capable of preventing you from making coQ10, vital to energy production.

If you need help keeping LDL in check while you work on root causes, you can take a supplement that helps bind LDL away from bile in the GI tract before it gets recycled. One such supplement is CholestePure Plus II, a non-soy blend of phytosterols with berberine for healthy lipid function.

As always, work with a qualified practitioner to address your root causes.

Selenium and zinc are essential thyroid nutrients

Essential Thyroid Nutrients

You need essential thyroid nutrients like a car needs gas in order to run. Selenium, zinc, iron, iodine, tyrosine, and Vitamin A are crucial to thyroid health.

Your Thyroid Drives Your Physical Functioning

Your thyroid is like a car. Because it drives every function in your body, you will get the most mileage out of your body if you have a “sporty” model.

The thyroid is like a sports car

But what if you have one that doesn’t accelerate well and won’t keep up with the flow of life?

The thyroid can function poorly like an old car

Then your digestion is sluggish, your detoxification is torpid, your thinking is lackluster, healing bogs down, weight loss is lethargic, and so on.

Essential Thyroid Nutrients to Fuel Your Tank

Just because you have a car, it doesn’t mean that it is driving anywhere at all! In order for your car to go anywhere, it has to have gas.

Now, the gas in the tank is called T4 hormone. Gas, or T4 hormone, has to be manufactured. Just as crude oil is required to make gasoline, iodine and tyrosine are required to made T4 hormone. Your body can’t invent them. So, you extract have to them from the food you eat, just as oil is extracted from reserves by drilling.

A great source of iodine is kelp flakes. The easiest way to use kelp is to mix it 50/50 with your Himalayan pink salt or Redmond Real Salt in your shaker. Tyrosine comes from animal products. Good sources are beef steak, pork chop, salmon, and chicken breast.

Turning Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy

So, now you’ve got gas in the tank. But still, the car won’t go if you’re not pressing on the gas pedal. You have to have some kind of action to power the engine. T3 thyroid hormone is what presses the gas pedal.

Essential thyroid nutrients to convert T4 to T3 are iron, zinc, Vitamin A and selenium. Your best source for iron and vitamin A is liver! For selenium, Brazil nuts are an excellent source, and for zinc, seafood and pumpkin seeds are supreme.

Please note that it doesn’t do any good to keep pouring gas in the tank (taking T4 hormone, usually in the form of prescription levothyroxine) if the tank is already full. Overflowing gas does not make the car move better. First, you need to address why the gas pedal is not working. Mineral deficiencies are common.

Another Essential Thyroid Nutrient

Regardless of how much potential there is to race down the freeway, the car simply will not get you there if you’re pressing on the brake instead. Reverse T3 hormone is like a brake pedal. It keeps the gas from doing its work.

Stress is a brake pedal. No matter how many nutrients eat, too much physiological or psychological stress just slows the car down!

If you want your thyroid to work, you have to prioritize essential primary nutrients such as sleeping 8-9 hours, deep breathing at mealtimes, meditating morning and night, laughing often and deeply, and finding joy every day through some form of play.

Food Inspiration for Essential Thyroid Nutrients

The next time you make pesto, use Brazil nuts instead of pine nuts to help supply selenium to your thyroid. When you brown some ground beef, mix in some pureed or grated liver to supply iron and Vitamin A.

Believe it or not, you can even add liver to muffins! Here is a delightfully delicious muffin recipe designed for skeptics of organ meat. You won’t be able to detect the liver, and you will love the sweet blueberry flavor!


Mystery Muffins

Sweet and delicious, you would never guess they contain thyroid-nourishing chicken livers!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: banana, blueberries, oat flour
Servings: 12
Author: Adapted from Healing Family Eats


  • 6 oz. fresh chicken livers
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 Tb. arrowroot, tapioca, or corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries


  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • Blend the liver and banana in a high-powered blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Add the oil, syrup, and eggs and process again until smooth.
  • Transfer batter to a bowl and mix in the flour, starch, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
  • Fold in the blueberries.
  • Scoop the batter into the muffin tin, filling 2/3 full.
  • Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly brown on top. Place on a cooling rack to cool.


Makes one dozen.
The thyroid is the heart of the endocrine system

Thyroid Matters

Your thyroid matters! Sluggish digestion, lethargic immunity, stagnant detoxification, languid metabolism, lackluster moods, and torpid libido are all related to reduced thyroid function. This brief primer covers thyroid matters ranging from symptoms and lab testing to diet do’s and don’ts.

Why thyroid matters

Beyond regulating your energy and weight, your thyroid is an early indicator for deteriorating health – a sort of canary in a coal mine. Because this small gland is so sensitive to stress, toxins, and nutrient-poor food, it tends to begin lagging before other disease is detected.

Further, as much as 90% of thyroid dysfunction is due to autoimmunity. Left unchecked, it provides a pathway to other autoimmune conditions. Thyroid disease is therefore considered a gateway to further disease.

Tell-tale thyroid symptoms of low thyroid

Most people understand that weight gain and tiredness can be signs of hypothyroidism. You might even be aware that loss of the outer third of your eyebrow is another symptom of this condition. But did you know that feeling cold all over most of the time also may indicate low thyroid function? Other symptoms may include:

  • Blaise emotions
  • Chronic constipation
  • Thinning hair
  • Morning headaches that wear off as the day goes on
  • Stiffness or all-over achiness
  • Foggy brain
  • Brittle nails and dry skin

What lab tests do and don’t tell you

The typical TSH test will tell you if your brain is stimulating your thyroid to make more thyroxine, also known as T4. In other words, does your brain perceive that you need more thyroid action? According to WebMD, a TSH higher than 4 mU/L is considered insufficient. Medline Plus says a TSH of 5 µU/mL indicates deficiency. Let’s take that a step further. To be optimal, your TSH probably needs to be closer to 2.5 mU/L.

Unfortunately, your brain may be satisfied with the amount of thyroid hormone long before other organs, such as your liver. Not only that, a TSH test does NOT tell you how much of that T4 is unbound, or free for use in the body. Nor will it tell you how much thyroxine you are actually converting to the active form of the hormone, known as T3, or triiodothyronine.

Further, a TSH test doesn’t measure how much T3 is being inactivated into Reverse T3, or whether you are making antibodies to your thyroid tissue. Thyroid antibodies are a clue to autoimmune thyroiditis.

To get all these measures, you need a full thyroid panel.

Foods that help or hurt

Creating thyroid hormone requires ample protein. Therefore, a high-carb diet can be detrimental. Beyond that, you need minerals to serve as “spark plugs” in the process of thyroid hormone synthesis. Critical minerals include iron, iodine, zinc, and selenium. A diet low in processed foods will serve you best here. Select nutrient-dense organ meats and seafood to optimize zinc, iodine, and iron. For selenium, you can try regular daily intake of a few Brazil nuts.

But that’s not all. Vitamins are critical, too, especially fully formed Vitamin A, or retinol. Although plant foods are rich in the beta carotene form of Vitamin A, organ meats and egg yolks are much better choices for retinol.

Because bromine, fluoride, and chlorine fill the thyroid’s iodine receptors, avoid baked goods with wheat flour, which is often “brominated”. Drink spring or filtered water that hasn’t been treated fluoridated or chlorinated.

Avoid soy unless it’s in a fermented form, such as miso, and also avoid high amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables. These foods or goitrogenic, meaning they can decrease the production or activation of thyroid hormone.

More thyroid matters

If you feel this primer describes your struggles, contact me to discuss how I can help you.
Being in nature - a primary rule for better health

10 Rules for Better Health

What are your rules for better health? Do they include calorie counting? Or going to the gym? Or eating a salad every day for lunch? Do you eat a low-fat diet, limit your sodium intake and practice intermittent fasting? Perhaps you stress over emotional eating and fight cravings, so you deprive yourself through willpower.

While these tools may help you in the short term, my rules for lasting, vibrant health start with getting enough primary food – nourishment for the soul. Then I focus on secondary food – what you put on your plate.

In my view, the #1 rule for better health is balance. This includes mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Then, I have 10 more rules to help you achieve that balance.

Two Crucial Rules for Better Health Through Primary Foods

  1. Breathe. Deeply. With gratitude. The air you breathe and the thoughts you think have a much more significant impact on your health than the food you eat. Why? Because they are more pervasive. Your nervous system is always eavesdropping on your thoughts – so you can’t hide your stress! By regulating steady, deep inhales and long exhales, you reset your nervous system. Practicing gratitude improves both physical and mental health.
  2. Drink heavy draughts of beauty, grace, joy… and pure water each day. Humans simply do not thrive in isolation. Covid taught us that. Connection is like life-giving water to us. Connect with art, music and nature. Connect with humans and animals. Connect with the divine. And don’t forget to stay hydrated. (Caffeinated beverages and fruit juices don’t count)

Two More Essential Ways to Get Your Primary Foods

  1. Go to bed with the sun. Greet the new day with sunlight in your eyes. Sleep is perhaps the most under-rated instrument of better health. A fundamental way to improve the quality of your sleep is to sync your sleep with the natural light and dark cycles of the earth. Scientists have found that light to the eyes in the morning is key in regulating your circadian rhythms.
  2. Move more than you sit. Be in nature more than you eat. Many of us think that exercise is something we do during a work-out at the gym. I propose that exercise is continuity of movement throughout the day, especially outside. The outdoors is where we find light, fresh air, and contact with other life forms. Weed or water a flower garden. Swing or splash in a stream. Go to a playground or do yoga in the back yard. Plant a tree. Jump in the leaves. Catch a snowflake on your tongue. These are just a few of the ideas from this blog.

A Vital Rule for Better Health Through Eating

Eat earth’s food. Not man’s food.

As much as possible, eat real, whole foods in their natural state. Not stripped through processing. Not adulterated with additives. Eat them as nature designed them, fresh, and without nutrition labels. For animal products, this means grass-fed, pastured, wild-caught, and organic.

Our biggest food enemies are industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, canola, soy, and safflower), high fructose corn syrup, and non-caloric sweeteners. These are man-made and toxic. Butter and olive oil, honey and pure maple syrup are earth’s foods.

More Rules about Eating

  1. Make half your plate vegetables. Serve them with salt, fat & acid (lemon, vinegar, tomato, etc.) to help absorb their nutrients. While it is necessary to be aware of the amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in the diet, micronutrients matter! Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants come from plants. Fruit is good, too, but most of us don’t need added fruit sugars. It is imperative for gut health to eat the compounds that give vegetables their color. Eat at least one serving of dark leafy greens every day and a sulfur-containing vegetable, such as an onion, mushroom, or cruciferous vegetable.
  2. Front-load your meals. Eating 70% of your calories in the first 2/3 of your day helps regulate your circadian rhythm for better sleep. When you eat your dinner 3 hours before bedtime, you burn instead of store most of those nutrients. It is important to have plenty of protein and fat in your first meal of the day to help stabilize blood sugars.
  3. Feed your microbiome. You are eating for two, er rather, two trillion or more! At least two pounds of your weight is your gut bugs. They help digest your food, manufacture vitamins, regulate inflammation, and even affect your mood. The happier they are, the happier you are. Eating probiotic-rich food (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other traditionally pickled vegetables) helps support your native colonies. But that’s not enough. You need fibrous food, known as prebiotics, to keep them vibrant. These include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, jicama, apples, chicory, and other plant foods.

The Last Two Rules for Better Health

  1. Spare the meat. By this, I don’t mean skimp on your protein! But by all means incorporate other sources of amino acids. This includes organs and bones. Every cup of bone broth you use in cooking provides roughly 10 grams of amino acids that you don’t have to digest by eating beef, chicken, pork, or fish. Dairy products, legumes, nuts and seeds also provide important protein.
  2. Balance your macros. It’s not wise to focus your diet on just one of the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat, or protein. We need them all. If your diet is either 80% protein, or 80% refined carbohydrates, take another look at how you can better balance it.
woman consulting with functional practitioner

A Functional Approach to Autoimmunity

The functional approach to autoimmunity could reduce the number and intensities of your flares. Further, it might stall the development of new autoimmune diseases. The functional approach goes beyond only treating the symptoms of your disease. Its primary goal is to find and reverse the imbalances that cause autoimmunity in the first place.

How Did I Get Autoimmunity?

The current research points to 4 common causes that crop up repeatedly. These seem create a perfect storm for disease in most cases of autoimmunity.

First, there is a genetic or familial predisposition. In other words, there is a tendency toward factors such as poor detoxification, higher sensitivity to allergens, greater inflammatory response, or more exaggerated stress reactions. This vulnerability might be from inherited genes or from family culture.

Second, you develop enhanced intestinal permeability. Everyone has a “porous” digestive system that lets nutrients into the bloodstream while keeping dangerous substances out. Those with autoimmunity just have “bigger holes in their strainer.”

Third, the immune system becomes weak or dysregulated. Since the immune system is a nutrient hog, it becomes feebler when it doesn’t have enough micronutrients to keep it buff. Then, enhanced intestinal permeability overexposes the whole body to things that should stay in the gut. So, the immune system gets hypervigilant. It stops tolerating what it should tolerate.

Finally, a trigger starts the cascade. The trigger can be anything inflammatory – toxins, trauma, infection, allergens, stress. These aggressively activate the immune system. Now, the body attacks itself. It does so because unwanted molecules (from the gut) are embedded in your tissue. Or because your tissue looks like the threat that crossed out of the gut into your bloodstream.

Why Do I Have More Than 1 Autoimmune Disease?

When you take the functional approach to autoimmunity, you understand that your disease isn’t so much about your thyroid or skin, or colon. It’s about a pervasive environment in your body. That environment could allow your immune system to attack any organ or tissue. If the conditions above go unaddressed, the environment is ripe for more autoimmunity of any kind. Thus, once you develop a single autoimmunity, you are more susceptible to another.

How Does the Functional Approach to Autoimmunity Differ from the Conventional Approach?

Functional practitioners take to heart the words of Dr. Alesio Fasano that the autoimmune process can be arrested. How? By preventing the interplay between your genes and your triggers. You stop this interplay by re-establishing barrier function. That is, you close the gate between your gut and the rest of your body.

Your practitioner may rely on medication to provide rapid relief from runaway inflammation. But he doesn’t stop there. He will take steps to keep inflammation from happening in the first place, rather than trying to quell it after the fact. He will also fortify your immune system with nutrients. Additionally, he will work with you to remove or reduce triggers.

Where Do I Begin?

The functional approach to autoimmunity is actually simpler than it sounds. Maximize the raw materials for thriving health. Minimize factors that are destructive to your health, including toxins, trauma, stress, allergen, and infections. Prioritize an environment for healing. That’s it! Your body does the rest.

You can start today with lifestyle choices within your control.

  • Maximize hydration and oxygenation. Drink clean, pure water and take deep, long breaths. Eat nutrient-dense whole food to maximize vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and essential fatty acids. Maintain positive beliefs.
  • Minimize stress and automatic negative thoughts. Minimize doubts and fears. Take care to limit exposure to toxins through cleaning products and personal hygiene products.
  • Prioritize sleep, recreation and movement. Seek joy, laughter, connection and mindfulness daily. Nurture wholesome relationships. Spend time in nature.

Then, begin working with a functional practitioner to assess where your unique imbalances lie. Contact me if you’d like a free discovery call to find out how I can help you regain your health.

toddler taking tiny steps up a staircase

Tiny Steps to Decrease Your Stress

You only need to take tiny steps to decrease your stress! So, don’t stress about de-stressing! Dissipating a build-up of frustration and pressure doesn’t take an hour of yoga, or a vacation to the Bahamas. It only takes 30 to 90 seconds when you use rituals that you can ingrain into your routines every day.

Pick behaviors that you can do in the time it takes you to sing the alphabet song. Make them actions that you can easily do on the spur of the moment. Then attach them to something that is already part of your daily life, such as eating, grooming, or driving.

Decrease your stress with tiny steps, literally

You might typically blow off some pressure by going for a run or hitting the gym. But what if you could take small exercise snacks throughout the day, each being less than 100 steps? The opportunity to expand your lungs and walk away from a demanding situation could be all you need to re-set your nervous system. Here are some suggestions:

  • Do push-ups during TV commercials.
  • Run a flight of stairs or two before a meal.
  • Rebound for two minutes at the top of each hour.
  • Squat while you brush your teeth or use the toilet.
  • Walk around the block when you collect your mail.
  • Race a family member to the corner.
  • Do press-ups against the counter while you wait for the kettle to boil or the microwave to beep.

Tiny bites to decrease your stress

Eating on the run is physiologically stressful. You keep your body in fight-or-flight, and don’t allow it to switch into rest-and-digest when you grab and dash with your meals. But you can take tiny steps in your eating hygiene that will change your stress, at least at mealtimes. Try these ideas:

  • Use toddler utensils to remind yourself to take smaller bites and chew more thoroughly.
  • Deeply inhale the fragrances of the meals before you take a bite, then breathe out through a straw to encourage a slow exhale.
  • Set the table and spread a napkin in your lap to encourage yourself to sit at a table. This distracts you from eating mindlessly in front of the TV or snarfing snacks while you drive.
  • Use a small mug for your beverage so that you don’t dilute your meal and add unnecessary calories.
  • Verbalize appreciation or reflect on your good fortune every time you sip your beverage.

Practice instant stress hacks throughout your day

Stress hacks either change your breathing to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, stimulate your vagus nerve, release oxytocin, or downregulate stress hormones. If you do them consistently, you can proactively keep your stress level from rising out of control.

Scribble post-it notes to remind you to engage in one or several of these hacks regularly:

  • Stretch into 2 or 3 sun salutations when your feet hit the floor in the morning.
  • Listen to binaural beats while you get ready for the day.
  • Sing in the shower.
  • Blow your breath out fully every time your wash your face or your hands.
  • Hum while your drive.
  • Gargle long and loud every time you take a bathroom break.
  • Take 3 deep breaths every time you reach for your water bottle.
  • Massage your occipital ridge when you face conflict.
  • Give a 20-second hug when you meet a cherished friend or companion.
  • Suck on an l-theanine lozenge while you work on reports or presentations.
  • Practice a 1-minute meditation at the end of your workday.
  • Snuggle with a pet after dinner.
  • Write a 2-minute “gratitude dump” in your journal after your put on your pajamas.

If the idea of tiny steps to decrease your stress resonates with you, check out my post, Change Your Diet with Micro Habits. To learn more about small changes guaranteed to improve your lifestyle, read Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg.


apple & banana to change your diet

Change Your Diet with Micro Habits

To change your diet may seem intimidating. Perhaps you know you need to eat better, but you don’t have time to cook. Or maybe you have food sensitivities and crave the foods you react to. It’s possible you believe that the whole idea of planning, shopping, and controlling intake is utterly overwhelming.

No problem! Micro habits are attainable because they are easy, usually something you can do in the next 30 seconds. Not only that, but micro-habits help you change your diet because your motivation to accomplish them is going to be much higher than it would be for something that’s causing you stress. Micro habits fit into your schedule seamlessly. You can remember to accomplish them because you attach them to something you are already doing.

Start with hydration

You probably read that heading and had a nagging feeling of guilt. You know you are supposed to drink more water. It doesn’t taste good, or you forget, or you’re simply addicted to your caffeine. That’s okay! Keep your routine for now and add some micro habits.  Here are six suggestions you can implement immediately to galvanize your ability to change your diet.

  • Drink a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning while your coffee brews. You can even set it out on your nightstand or your kitchen counter the night before, so you don’t forget.
  • Fill several water bottles to carry with you throughout your day. Do this when you feed the dogs/cats/kids in the morning. You can even drop in an herbal tea bag to cold infuse so that your water has some flavor.
  • Supercharge your water glass or water bottle with a sugar-free powdered electrolyte mix, such as Ultima Replenisher or LMNT.
  • Sip from your water bottle every time you enter or exit a building.
  • Grab a drink every time you use the restroom.
  • Request herbal tea or water instead of soda or coffee at restaurant and convenience stores.

Change your beverages before your change your diet

I believe that before the industrial age, people mostly drank water, except for a morning coffee or an afternoon tea. To the detriment of our health, many of us now only drink soda, or rely on multiple cups – or even pots – of coffee to keep going throughout the day. Then we need a nightcap in order to calm down at night. Micro-habits to the rescue! You can frontload your diet changes by taking tiny steps that keep the ritual but change the nutrition of your beverages.

Downregulate your coffee intake with any of these swaps:

  • Swiss water process de-caffeinated coffee. Also called the Water-Only process, this method uses water no chemicals to remove the caffeine from coffee beans. As a result, you don’t get harmful chemical residues for your body to detoxify, and the product tastes better.
  • Organic matcha. Much less caffeinated that straight coffee, a matcha latte with milk, stevia, vanilla & cinnamon might be satisfying to you in the morning.
  • Green tea. Served with honey, this serves as an afternoon pick-me-up that contains a small amount of caffeine along with l-theanine to increase focus and calm your nervous system.
  • Sip a coffee alternative. Many brands have been developed to support the coffee habit without the caffeine. A few of these are Dandy Blend, MUD/WTR, Rasa, Four Sigmatic, and Harmonic Arts Elixirs.

You can wean yourself from soda by switching to Zevia first. Later, you can try kombucha or mineral water before graduating to plain water.

To reduce your alcohol intake, search the internet for mocktail recipes to enjoy, or try virgin Wilderton, distilled from botanicals and 100% alcohol free.

Change your dietary habits with substitutions

Unfortunately, many of us want results yesterday. So, we try to make big changes all at once. When we don’t implement them perfectly, we get frustrated, lose our motivation and give up.

The beauty of a micro habit is that it allows you to make a small movement that doesn’t disrupt your rhythm. Soon, you are able to take on even more healthy changes to your diet. Like the tortoise who beat the hare, you reach your goal by slow and steady progress rather than intermittent spurts.

Below are some trades you can make to increase the nutrient density of your food.

  • Olive oil or coconut oil for vegetable oil (canola, corn, soy, safflower, cottonseed).
  • Rutabaga for potato (try it mashed or air-fried).
  • Cassava crackers for potato chips
  • Organ-based seaasoning for table salt
  • Zoodles (zucchini spirals) or Miracle Noodles for pasta
  • Grilled chicken for fried chicken

Additionally, you can boost your meals by slipping in extra protein, natural fat, or vegetables. Sneak in some of these:

  • Avocado, coconut milk, or flax seeds in your smoothie
  • Collagen in your yogurt, juice, oatmeal, salad dressing, or tea
  • Bits of frozen spinach or kale in your soup, marinara, pizza, scrambled egg, or rice
  • Simple sauces on your vegetables to make them taste better.

If you like the idea of micro habits, check out my post on Tiny Steps to Decrease Your Stress. To learn more about small changes guaranteed to improve your lifestyle, read Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg.