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An array of supplements to choose from

How to Choose A Supplement

Selecting the right supplement for your own body’s need can be as confusing as deciding between paleo and vegan, between low-fat and keto, or between gluten-free and whole grain. In the circus of marketing tactics, what claims are you to believe?

First, Do You Need to Supplement?

To begin with, I want to make it clear that no supplement, regardless of its benefits, can replace a healthy diet. There is simply no such thing as eating poorly, and expecting to make up for with with a multi-vitamin.  On the other hand, even the cleanest diet may be lacking in targeted nutrients specific to your genes, lifestyle, and environment.

Supplements can give a short-term boost to overcome an insufficiency that has accrued over time. For example, you may need extra vitamin D temporarily after spending a winter at a desk job in the northern hemisphere. Also, supplements can help with a very targeted therapy. For instance, you may need digestive enzymes and probiotics if you are struggling with Irritable Bowels. Finally, supplements can provide insurance against future illness. Since our produce today has many fewer nutrients than just 25 or 50 years ago, you may add magnesium to your regimen to help prevent tension headaches, muscle spasms, and even heart arrhythmia.

Yet overall, food provides greater nutrient density than any supplement. At most, a multi-vitamin contains around 30 vitamins and minerals. A single stalk of broccoli contains over 500 nutrients! Beyond that, a single piece of produce usually contains all of the cofactors to help metabolize it. As a case in point, a beet contains sugar, but also the minerals and vitamins your body needs to process that sugar. No supplement can give you that kind of synergy, nor are supplements always as bio-available as food.

Considerations Before Purchasing a Supplement

The “best” supplement is one you can find, afford, remember to take regularly, tolerate well, and reap some benefit from.  – Tracy Harrison, founder School of Applied Functional Medicine

  • Access: Sure, zinc picolinate is a great immune boost during a pandemic. But is it available? Can you get it locally? Do you have to order online and wait for it to be in stock?
  • Cost: If you buy a supplement, will it take money from your grocery budget that you would have spent on quality food? It may be better to eat real food and forego the liquid chlorophyll than to eat macaroni and cheese, then sip your liquid greens in a bottle.
  • Bio-availability: Is the supplement in a form you can take and absorb? Minerals in foods come attached to amino acids, but inexpensive supplements often attach minerals to salts. This is the case with calcium carbonate or magnesium oxide. Additionally, the supplement needs to be one that you personally can assimilate. In other words, is it a powder if you have trouble swallowing capsules? Is it a liquid if you have trouble digesting tablets? Is it the active form of the nutrient? Many people have trouble converting beta carotene to retinol. The latter is the form of vitamin A your body uses. Other individuals have trouble making methylfolate from folic acid. Consult with a functional practitioner if you need help deciding what form to take.
  • Tolerance: A calcium supplement containing whey from cows is not helpful if you have a dairy sensitivity. Or perhaps, the beneficial nutrient is packaged with binders or fillers. Here’s a good article to understand additives used in supplements.

How to Choose a Quality Supplement

  • Good Manufacturing Procedures: These guidelines assure that a supplement has the identity, strength, composition, quality, and purity that appear on the label. USP and NSF perform third-party testing which certifies that a supplement has been made using these guidelines.
  • Tru-ID: Some large companies perform their own quality assurance tests. These confirm that the ingredients as represented.
  • Non-GMO: This certification insures that there are no measurable GMO ingredients in the product
  • Food-based or lab-derived: Most supplements are lab-derived. This is not a bad thing. Because companies can synthesize nutrients chemically identical to those found in nature, you get a standardized quality and quantity for less money. Lab-synthesized nutrients can also be more concentrated. Therefore, if you prefer that your supplement have whole food ingredients, you will need to take a higher dose in order to get the same benefit.
  • Non-toxic ingredients: Watch out for harmful components, such as sweeteners: corn syrup, sucralose, sugar alcohols (sorbitol) Also beware of aluminum, hydrogenated oils, talc, artificial colors and artificial flavors.

Reputable Supplement Companies

There are way more supplement companies than I can list. The following are some of the most reputable:

  • Thorne
  • Pure Encapsulations
  • Metabolic Maintenance
  • Metagenics
  • Designs for Health
  • Integrative Therapeutics
  • Innate Response
  • Allergy Research
  • Life Extension
  • Vital Nutrients
  • Seeking Health
  • Jarrow
  • Xymogen
  • Synergy
  • Garden of Life
  • Dr. Mercola
  • Biotics
  • DaVinci Labs
  • Quicksilver Scientific
  • Renew Life
  • Gaia Herbs

Unfortunately, the supplement companies at the bottom of the barrel are the ones for the big box stores. That is because they incorporate cheap, inactive forms of nutrients you cannot absorb well. These companies use sweeteners and artificial colors and flavors to make the product more appealing.  They may use talc for a filler. Their products contain allergenic ingredients such as caramel color (gluten) and whey (dairy).

If you are going to put your money into supplements, choose wisely so that you don’t literally flush your nutrients down the toilet.

 

Gluten-free cookie

No Gluten? No Problem!

No gluten in your diet? No problem! There are plenty of whole foods to alleviate your cravings and satisfy your hunger!

Who Needs to Say No to Gluten?

Perhaps you have no problem because you have not got Celiac Disease? Or don’t have any severe GI symptoms? Even though you may feel great in your tummy, you may have symptoms elsewhere. This particular sensitivity is an immune response. Therefore, it can show up anywhere in your body. Simply put, when you react to gluten, your body generates inflammation that can affect your brain, joints, muscles, or heart.

You might have  gluten sensitivity if you suffer from arthritis, ADD, eczema, or frequent headaches. Further, brain fog is common with gluten sensitivity. Do you have trouble focusing or remembering? (“I feel like I’m thinking under a heavy, wet blanket.”) Do you crave breads, pastas, and other foods made with all-purpose flour? For sure, partially-digested gluten, in the form of gluteomorphins, fits opiate receptors in your brain, and gives you a “high” when you eat it.

People who may benefit from gluten elimination include those with:

  • Autoimmunity. Gluten can promote “leaky gut”, which is a precursor to autoimmunity. (See this interview with Alessio Fasano)
  • Type 2 diabetes. You need to avoid the high-glycemic load of white flour if you have insulin resistance.
  • Overt obesity. The high-glycemic load of flour products contributes to increased body fat
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Your immune response to gluten may be causing gut inflammation.
  • Chronic depression. There is increasing evidence that gluten might enact changes in your brain chemistry that promote depression.

Elimination is No Problem

While there are many gluten-free products on the market, switching from one processed food to another is not necessarily a good idea. Your optimal health depends on vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant-based) that come from nutrient-dense foods. The more colors you can get into your diet, the more you will calm your inflammation. So, using vegetables, legumes, and seeds to substitute for products made with wheat, rye, or barley is a sure win!

Sweet Potato Toast

Here’s a fuss-free solution if you like a slice a bread for breakfast. Roast a sweet potato before bedtime and refrigerate overnight. Then, in the morning, you can whack off a slice and pop it into the toaster. It will be amazing with a little mashed avocado or nut butter smeared on it when it’s brown and warm.

Plantain Tortillas

Boil equal amounts of peeled, cut ripe plantain with peeled, cut yucca root until fork-tender. Drain and chill to set the starches. Then process in a high-powered blender with a little salt and a pat of butter of coconut oil until it forms a dough. Roll out and cook on a medium-hot griddle for flavor and pliability that tops any commercial product! (Note: if your dough is sticky, you can add a little cassava flour, arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, or cornstarch.)

Plantain Waffles

Add an egg or two, enough milk to make a batter, and a teaspoon or two of baking powder to the dough above. Cook on a sprayed, hot waffle iron.

plantain waffle

More Whole Food Ideas

Seed Crackers

Although you can make your own crackers, here’s one case where you can buy it in a box and still get a whole-food product. I prefer Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Yam Pita or Pizza Crust

Microwave or bake a large yam until very soft. While it is still warm, slip the peel off with a paring knife and mash the yam in a bowl. Next, add cassava flour until you get a soft dough that will form a ball – about half the amount of the yam. On parchment paper, press the dough into one large or several smaller circles, about 1/2″ thick. Invert over a 375 degree griddle or onto a non-stick baking pan placed in a 375-degree oven. Cook until brown on one side, flip, and cook for equal time on the other side.

Nut Butter Cookies

Combine one cup nut butter (cashew or almond) with a half cup honey and 1 egg. Add a teaspoon each of vanilla and salt. If you prefer, substitute molasses for half the honey and use pumpkin pie spice in place of the vanilla. If the dough is sticky, add a little almond flour. Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Lentil Crepes

First, soak one cup red lentils in double the amount of water until the water is mostly absorbed (2-3 hours). Second, blend with a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of coconut oil until smooth like a thin pancake batter. Finally, pour by half cups into a hot, non-stick, or buttered skillet, forming a thin layer. Cook on one side until bubbly, then flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until browned on the second side.

Lentil crepe

 

Becoming suddenly diabetic takes years

Suddenly Pre-Diabetic?

Almost no one becomes pre-diabetic suddenly. The onset is progressive. But unless you know the signs, a diagnosis might blindside you. Your lab work might appear “normal” one year, then be over the limits the next.

The Pre-Diabetic Evolves Over Years

Shouldn’t the main question we ask be, ‘Why is this happening?’ instead of ‘What new drug can we find to treat it?’ – Dr. Mark Hyman

Unfortunately, when a doctor gives an unexpected or diagnosis, we want a quick fix. But there are no sudden reversals any more than there are sudden pre-diabetics. The choices that lead to a pre-diabetic outcome are decades in the making! They begin with high-stress, low-nutrient lives, deprived of sleep, and filled with numbing recreation and damaging toxins.

Today, there are probably 100 million Americans with pre-diabetes. However, 90% of them don’t realize it! Because they haven’t been diagnosed yet. But the cycle is the same.

There are pressures. Relationship woes, work deadlines, unmet expectations, and a race to be good enough. You hit the ground running when the alarm goes off. IF you grab breakfast, it’s a “muffin and a mocha.” You work through lunch – or munch on chips and coke. Then you snarf a chocolate bar or an energy drink to get you through the afternoon slump. You put in extra hours to get the job done and have a voracious appetite by the time you eat dinner at 8 p.m. After the pizza, you wrangle with the kids and their homework, the laundry, and the rest of the to-do list. Finally, after bedtime has come and gone, you slump into a recliner to watch a movie while you snack on popcorn.

The stress alone, without any of the junk food, would be enough to catapult you into pre-diabetes. Stress increases blood sugar by design! If you have to fight a saber-tooth tiger, you need quick energy. So, your body converts glycogen stores from your liver and muscle tissue into quick fuel. Next, you start craving. Can you see why? Your body wants more and more fast energy, and it needs to replenish its stores. As a result, you eat more high-glycemic foods. As stress hormones remain high, your sleep tanks! And you become more fatigued and sedentary.

Progression from “Normal” to “Sick”

If we were to put you, the “sudden pre-diabetic” under a historical microscope and examine your life, we would see several distinct stages of change happening over a period of years.

First, as characterized above, you simply have too much stress. Living the modern lifestyle, you exhibit no abnormal blood markers or indicators of inflammation… yet. But you might see the scales reflecting a 10-pound weight gain. If you characterized your diet, it would be more than 50% refined carbohydrates. In fact, you would be consuming the perfect storm of inflammatory fats, low-fiber foods, and an excess of chemical additives and preservatives.

Second, you begin to have episodes of hypoglycemia: blood sugar crashes! Why? Because at this point insulin levels are so consistently high and your cells are becoming so “deafened” to insulin’s message, the fuel cannot get into your cells. Your cellular energy crashes because you are “insulin resistant.” You have to be grazing on snacks all through the day to avoid brain fog, anxiety, irritability, shakiness, and headaches. You might even be drinking a lot of caffeine to stave off headaches and to keep the fatigue at bay. Your stress hormones spike when your blood sugars crash, which sends cravings skyrocketing. You begin to accumulate a little more belly fat, and a lab test might show triglycerides climbing.

Third, some lab markers begin to show up now. Your fasting glucose levels rise above 85 and your c-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) may be slightly over normal lab ranges. Your organs and tissues, over-exposed to high glucose, begin to show signs of oxidative stress – if you’re looking! You might start having signs of gall bladder disease, heart or kidney disease, or changes to your vision. If a doctor is very astute, he might diagnose you with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

Finally, you match the criteria for metabolic syndrome: high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity. Your arteries are forming plaque, and you may have high levels of homocysteine. Your blood sugars are at last consistently high enough to be measured in terms of a Hemoglobin A1c test over 5.7. Suddenly, you are pre-diabetic.

Suddenly Not Pre-diabetic?

Diagnosing pre-diabetes as the first sign of disease is like waiting for a raging house fire to engulf the second story before you decide to buy a smoke detector. – Tracy Harrison, founder School of Applied Functional Medicine

Your retreat from disease will be as dramatic as your lifestyle changes. If you make moderate changes, you’ll likely still end up with diabetes; it just won’t progress as quickly.

Only dramatic change brings dramatic results

So what striking approach should you use? Intermittent fasting, keto, vegan, or perhaps a combination?

What seems to make the most difference is lifestyle changes supported by low-glycemic whole foods. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. You want to choose ones that are not dense, like grains, and that are not quick-absorping, like juice. The lightest, slowest carbs are seeds and non-starchy vegetables.

Here’s a quick checklist of lifestyle considerations:

  • Choose unrefined, clean, whole foods. Remove all products made with flour.
  • Break the habit of needing foods to be sweetened.
  • Anchor your diet with vegetables, building up tolerance to fiber gradually.
  • Hydrate with pure water. Break the habit of self-medicating with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat natural fats liberally, but emphasize whole foods and unrefined olive oil.
  • Eat enough protein: at least 15 grams for breakfast and 50 for the daily total.
  • Move. Daily. Get your heart rate up doing something you enjoy at least every other day.
  • Rejuvenate. Prioritize sleep, and choose activities that increase your gratitude and joy.
  • Work with a qualified practitioner to use targeted supplements to re-sensitize your cells to insulin and increase your antioxidant capacity.

 

 

 

 

 

antioxidant berries for inflammation

Antioxidants for Inflammation

You need antioxidants for inflammation. Simply put, inflammation flares when free radicals outnumber antioxidants in your body. While this is a good thing because of surgery or an acute trauma, it’s trouble if it continues chronically. Inflammation is the sign of tissue damage. You want to stop that damage and quench the fire. That’s why you need to eat antioxidant foods AND make antioxidants within your body.

Common Triggers for Chronic Inflammation

You’ve probably heard it before. However, the textbook answers are still true. Here’s a short list of lifestyle factors that contribute to inflammation.

  • Sleep deprivation (Anything less than a consistent 8 hours per night is considered inadequate.)
  • Extreme exercise
  • Sustained elevated blood sugars
  • Eating oxidized or rancid fats (Hint: this includes transfats and vegetable oils such as canola, cottonseed, soy, safflower, and corn.)
  • Toxicity from heavy metals, chemicals, or pathogens
  • Chronic simmering infection
  • High levels of emotional or physical stress

What are Antioxidants?

If your body were a car, the antioxidants would be the steel brushes that removed the rust from your parts. While you don’t actually rust like metal, you still have natural processes at work that can damage your tissues. Without antioxidant molecules, you wouldn’t be able to reverse this damage.

Antioxidant Foods for Inflammation

Look for rich, deep natural colors in whole foods to signal high antioxidant content. For example, dark, leafy greens and bright, red berries are great choices. Interestingly, spices are among the foods highest in antoxidant content. Use both warming spices and cooling herbs in your cooking! In particular, include cumin, ginger, turmeric, parsley, mint, and cilantro.

Another category of antoxidants for inflammation is dark-fleshed fish, such as sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel. Undoubtedly, these are high in antioxidant omega-3 fatty acids.

How to Synthesize Antioxidants for Inflammation

As important as antioxidant-rich whole foods in your diet are, it’s even more critical that your body be able to make its master antioxidant, glutathione. Indeed, your ability to quell inflammation hinges on this molecule, made from three amino acids, glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. The latter requires methionine for its synthesis. Therefore, getting the essential amino acid, methionine, in your diet is imperative. Eggs, meat, fish, nuts, and seeds are the best sources of methionine.  Legumes, though protein-dense, have very little methionine. Most fruits and vegetables have almost none.

Two other substances necessary to create glutathione are sulfur compounds and vitamin B-6. When you use onions & garlic in your cooking, your are adding sulphur compounds. Also, cruciferous vegetables contain high amounts of sulfurs. This class of vegetables includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, spinach, Brussels sprouts, horseradish, and wasabi!

While prominent in many foods, Vitamin B-6 serves several essential functions besides making glutathione. If your diet and lifestyle are putting heavy demands on your body, it’s easy to be short-changed on this lifestyle. Some conditions that make it likely you have insufficient B-6 include smoking, diabetes, alcoholism, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The key to vitamin B-6 sufficiency is being able to convert it to its active form. Eating more foods high in this vitamin is not helpful if you can’t convert pyridoxine to pyroxidol 5-phosphate. You can work with a functional practitioner to remedy this problem.

 

 

Viruses provoke immune fitness

Immune Fitness for Viral Survival

What’s your immune fitness? Is your adaptive immunity robust enough to rise above an infection, stronger than before? Although you may not know your capability for viral survival, sound principles of health give you a powerful offense.

Exposure is Inevitable

Viruses are ubiquitous and everlasting. As the most numerous biological entity on the planet, they affect all lifeforms. Because there are millions of kinds of viruses, they appear in plants, insects, animals, and humans alike, transferring between hosts via sap, blood, mucus, or feces. Ironically, viruses technically aren’t a life form themselves. They don’t breathe (respirate), grow, or have their own metabolism (breakdown of food to create energy). In fact, without a host, they are inactive, inert, and non-responsive.

However, there is no such thing as life without viral exposure. Even babies face a constant challenge to their immune systems. But that’s the beauty of it! Your immune fitness requires opposition to strengthen it. Viral exposure is like athletic training. No one aggressively sprints uphill well without practice. Many hill climbs condition you to respond powerfully without collapsing. Similarly, each virus you encounter trains your immune system to recognize a threat and to launch an assertive antibody response.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Your immune fitness is a work in progress. When a viral threat confronts your body, your innate immune system – with its macrophages, T cells and killer cells – is like a crew of paramedics. These First Responders assess the situation and call appropriate back-ups. For instance, they might need a neurosurgeon, or perhaps a thoracic specialist. Likewise, the innate immune system rallies the B cells to form antibodies for the particular germ you are facing.

But here’s the clincher: You develop this adaptive immunity only after a successful first innate response. If nothing ever provoked your innate immunity, you would never develop any resistance. Thus, exposure primes your immune fitness. This is the principle behind vaccines.

Make Broad, Balanced Choices for Viral Survival

Another truth is that you cannot restore immune fitness during times of stress. Your body switches into a sympathetic response, known as fight-or-flight, when challenged. This state dilates your eyes, speeds your pulse, increases your respiration rate, raises your blood pressure, and heightens your muscle tension. However, your immune system only replenishes itself during times of rest and relaxation. It requires more nutrients than any other system in your body. But what body will prioritize digestion or sleep when running from the Boogey Man?

Therefore, immune fitness is more than minimizing infection. It is maximizing food nutrients as well as emotional, social, and other lifestyle nutrients. It is prioritizing true health, over just absence of disease.

Develop Immune Fitness

Doritos and Mountain Dew don’t contain the slew of minerals your immune system hogs. The nightly news doesn’t engage your parasympathetic, calm-and-connection nervous system response. You must make deliberate choices to gear up your nutrition and gear down your worry. You develop immune fitness that enhances your viral survival with these tactics:

  1. Chill! For real. Being in a reactive state of worry or fear activates your fight-or-flight system in the body and suppresses immunity. Deliberately stop frequently to breathe deeply, exercise faith, and know that you will get through this. Focus on hope, gratitude and laughter.
  2. Engage! Seize the moment to strengthen relationships in precious, sacred ways. Personal connections raise oxytocin, lower cortisol, and put the nervous system in a state that supports immunity.
  3. Take the Pill of Common Sense. Your body functions best with deep sleep, nutrient-dense food, and frequent movement. Freaking out, losing sleep, eating junk food, and vegging in front of a screen does not support wellness.

 

processed American comfort foods

Craving Comfort Food

Is Coronavirus making you crave comfort food? Having the munchies doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly. Real food can be more comforting than factory imitations! Read on to see our tips for making your comfort meals healthier. Then check out our round-up of 10 amazing snacks to soothe the munchies.

Tips for Making Comfort Food Healthier

  • Serve a large side dish, rather than denying yourself of that sweetened, processed meal, heavy in refined carbohydrates.  Then, the food you crave becomes almost an afterthought. For instance, offer a large salad with Cookie and Kate’s Asian Carrot-Ginger Dressing next to a small portion of pad thai.
  • Tuck vegetables in wherever you can. Child-feeding specialist Melanie Potock shows you how in this macaroni and cheese that contains parsnips and carrots. Healthy Little Foodies demonstrates how to make marinara sauce with 6 different vegetables.
  • Make substitutions. Use cauliflower for part of the cheese in this epic sauce from The Kitchn. (It makes a great dipping sauce for chicken tenders.) Try pumpkin puree to replace some of the flour and oil in pancakes or muffins. Eggplant subs well for noodles in this lasagne from Well Plated.
  • Be creative. You can make the comfort food you crave in unusual ways. Bake pizza ingredients inside of a hollowed out spaghetti squash, or make sandwiches out of toasted sweet potato slices, fried green tomatoes, halved cucumbers, or grilled portabello mushrooms.

Comforting Snacks to Crave

Here are our top 10 healthy ideas from around the web for your next snack attack. When you are craving American junk food, trust these alternatives to satisfy you.

avocado chips

Chips: You can make nearly any vegetable into a chip. Root vegetables, such as turnips, beets, sweet potatoes and parsnips are best. But even eggplant, zucchini, green beans, and radishes can be sliced thin and crisped in a hot oven with a coating of cooking fat. These novel avocado chips, are worth their salt, though!

hummus

Dips: Marinara and hummus are good whole food substitutes for store-bought dips that are full of artificial ingredients.

Fruity Frosty is a Big Fat Treat

photo credit: Mordi Photographie

Ice Cream or Popsicles: Sometimes you just want cool and creamy. With these “big fat treats,” you don’t have to worry about too much sugar.

apple "doughnuts"

Doughnuts: If you’re sight-triggered, these darling “iced” apple rings look enough like a doughnut to tickle your fancy.

cold-infused tea

Soft Drinks: If it’s the flavor you’re after, cold-infuse an herbal tea into your water. If you want fizz, try sparkling water or a probiotic drink, such as kombucha.

chocolate cake

Cake: Made with bananas, applesauce, and pumpkin – but no sugar – this chocolate cake… er, uh, takes the cake!

Whole Food Mother's Day Cookies

Photo Credit: Kristi Jo, (208)242-6148

Cookies: These no-flour, no-sugar cookies are made simply from whole foods that are quick and easy to combine.

watermelon fries

Fries: Crispy and salty is really what you’re after. But it doesn’t have to be deep-fried in oxidized oil. How about these watermelon fries for comfort food?

dark chocolate

Candy Bars: You’ll need canned coconut milk, pecans, pure maple syrup, and a 70% cacao bar for this one! Simmer 3 parts coconut milk with 1 part maple syrup until thick and caramel-like. Cool slightly. Mix in plenty of nuts. Spoon into mini-muffin cups and refrigerate. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate bar. Dips the caramel nut “turtles” in melted chocolate and return to the refrigerator.

banana s'mores

 

S’mores: As long as there’s chocolate, who really needs marshmallows? These Smore’s Banana Bites have just enough sweetness to comfort your crave! (You can leave out the marshmallow fluff.)

 

Eat broth and cruciferous vegetables for immunity

Eating for Immunity

Eating to boost your immunity may be a powerful weapon in these times of uncertainty. While scientists debate which approaches are working in the battle against pandemic viral disease, we can rest assured that nutrient-dense whole foods are never contraindicated! Further, we can start by nourishing ourselves with the primary foods of love, gratitude, laughter and faith.

Eat Cysteine for Strong Immunity

Your body makes its own master antioxidant, called glutathione. Especially in diseases that attack the lungs, you use a lot of this antioxidant to fight inflammation & congestion. However, in order to keep up with the production demand, you have to have a good supply of the amino acids glycine and cysteine. You can augment your stores with the following:

  • a good quality source of whey
  • pastured poultry
  • spinach
  • low-toxicity seafood
  • legumes
  • bone broth

In addition, eating cruciferous vegetables can support immunity. Plant compounds in this family increase glutathione formation. So, load up on kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, watercress, and horseradish!

Eating Hygiene Impacts Immunity

Your body has a mechanism to kill germs that enter through the mouth. It’s called stomach acid. But stress curtails stomach acid production. So, when you sit down to a meal, breathe deeply, express gratitude, eat slowly & chew thoroughly. It may also help your stomach pH to sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.

Furthermore, you can support healthy digestion and better immunity by feeding your gut microbiota. Did you know that 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Supporting the right kind of microbes goes a long to toward fending off the enemy. The probiotics that live in your GI tract love fiber! In particular, they feast on garlic, onions, oats, Jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus. Eating probiotic foods, such as kimchi, kefir, and kombucha supports healthy immunity.

Boost Immunity with Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin C and zinc are immunity all-stars. Vitamins A & D are vital, too. But at this point, you are advised to keep your immune system strong by eating nutrient-dense foods, rather than taking high doses of supplements. Maximum doses of Vitamin A and D supplements appear to enhance the receptors through which the corona virus is entering the body.

Top foods for vitamin C include papaya, kiwi, acerola cherries, red bell peppers, and amalaki berries. Oysters are an incredible source of zinc. Other shellfish, grass-fed beef, lentils and almonds contain fairly high levels of zinc, too. You can’t beat liver and egg yolks for their Vitamins A & D content! Sunlight, and yellow-orange-red vegetables are also important.

You might like Immunity Soup, which has a nutrient-rich profile of vitamins and minerals.

Eat Anti-Viral Foods

Not all viruses respond the same way, but a study of a virus related to the current SARS-COV-2, showed that tannic acid exhibited inhibitory activity. This acid is responsible for giving many foods a bitter or astringent taste. Black and puer teas (both caffeinated & decaffeinated) are the highest sources of tannic acid, but you will also find it in red raspberry leaf tea, pomegranates, and cranberries.

Another study found polyphenols to have anti-viral activity against the corona family of viruses. Polyphenols occur in deeply-colored produce such as berries and leafy greens. Along with their anti-microbial benefit, polyphenols serve as fodder for your gut microbes.

Besides tannic acid and polyphenols, selenium may be helpful. Eat selenium-rich foods for immunity rather than taking a supplement. It appears that supplements may enhance receptors in the body that the virus can enter through. Brazil nuts are the most common food source of selenium. Two or three nuts a day is sufficient.

Finally, raw garlic seems to be a good anti-viral food in general. However, at this point, we don’t know if it attacks SARS-COV-2. If you’re turned off at the idea of chomping on a fresh bulb of garlic (I am!), raw garlic is great in salsas, salad dressings, guacamole, mashed potatoes, and hot sauces.

Avoid Inflammatory Foods

One of the reasons people die with pandemic viruses such as the coronavirus is that the disease process sets off a “cytokine storm.” Cytokines are inflammatory messengers your body produces. Already having inflammation in your body puts you at greater risk for this kind of inflammatory storm. Curtail your use of sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils and processed meats. Whatever foods bolster your defenses, I’m sure of this: You won’t fight COV-19 eating Twinkies!

10 numerals for the 10 ways to fight diabetes

Fight Diabetes 10 Ways

How do you fight diabetes when you’re hungry, tired, and the disease runs in your family? Can you fight pre-diabetes when you haven’t got time to sit down for a decent meal? Is it possible to fight rising weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure when work and family demands are so pressing?

You have more control than you think you do. It starts one breath at a time, one bite at a time.

Fighting diabetes isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Your body got this way day by day over a decade or two. You can make in-roads with baby steps in the right direction until the balance tips. Every effort you make sends your body signals that things are different now. That’s because your body isn’t suddenly non-diabetic one moment and then diabetic the next. There is a progression that starts with increased insulin levels. So anything you do to decrease insulin output will help. Your degree of insulin resistance will creep down until normal sensitivity is again restored. Progress will be slower, but you’ll have a plan you can actually stick to.

How to Tip the Balance

Pick one of these top 4 strategies that feels attainable. Put your heart into it and do it well until it becomes a natural part of your lifestyle. Then pick a second one, and so on until you are doing all of them. When you are ready, move on to the secondary strategies. If you do everything in your power to heal, you will.

  1. Today, do something that brings you joy. Do it again tomorrow. Do it every day. Because stress raises blood sugars more dramatically than food. First, stress releases cortisol, which raises glucose in your blood supply so that your body can mobilize against your stressor. Second, stress creates sleeplessness, which increases insulin resistance. Third, stress shuts down digestion such that only quick sugars are available for immediate energy. This creates cravings for sugary foods. But when you find joy in your life, you raise oxytocin instead of cortisol. These two hormones can’t both be high at the same time. When you release stress by finding joy, you fight diabetes.
  2. Make your first meal of the day your best. Your first foods set blood sugars for the rest of the day. So, if you have juice and a granola bar, or cereal with skim milk, or coffee and a doughnut, you’re “throwing kindling on the fire.” These high-carbohydrate offerings will flare up the glucose levels in your bloodstream. Next, insulin levels with rise to protect you. Yes, insulin stows sugars away to be used later so they don’t damage organs. When insulin has finished its job, your blood sugars will plummet and you will be reaching for a candy bar to stoke them back up again. To protect yourself from this cycle, eat natural fats with your breakfast and make sure you get at least 15 grams of protein.
  3. Snack in style. While spacing food 4-5 hours apart is ideal, it’s not realistic if your blood sugars are dysregulated. But you don’t have to grab chips, crackers, or soda, either. These food-like substances don’t support your fight against diabetes in the least. But combining a fruit or a vegetable with a natural fat gives you energy and satisfies you until the next meal. Check out the 20 suggestions in this post.
  4. Drink pure water. Flavor it if you need to. Beverages in America contribute to diabetes more than anything else we put in our mouths. That includes energy drinks, sodas, juice, lattes, and purchased smoothies. Here’s a tip. Look on the nutrition label at the grams of carbohydrates. Divide by 5. Your answer will be how many teaspoons of sugar you are ingesting. If water just doesn’t taste good to you, consider dropping cut fruit into it, cold-infusing some herbal tea in it, or adding a product such as Ultima Replenisher.

Continue To Fight Diabetes

  1. Eat more vegetables. Did you know we should be eating 6-9 cups of vegetables per day? These nutrient-dense powerhouses fight diabetes by stabilizing blood sugars, providing minerals your pancreas needs, and feeding a healthy microbiome that supports better metabolism. Plus, vegetables take room on your plate that might be filled by pasta, potatoes or pie. Try to make half your plate vegetables.
  2. Sleep longer and deeper. The Sleep Doctor explains, “sleep deprivation increases production of cortisol, which can make cells more resistant to insulin. Lack of sleep also triggers changes to other hormones, including thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and testosterone, which can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity and higher blood glucose.” Try to go to bed early enough that you wake naturally without an alarm
  3. Move your body more. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to increase insulin sensitivity. It helps move sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity, which lasts 2–48 hours, depending on the exercise, according to this study. But you don’t have to go to the gym, as long as you are moving consistently throughout the day, with short intervals of increased heart rate. Make your activity enjoyable and find ways to break up your periods of sitting.
  4. Keep a 12-hour window between your last meal and your first. Intermittent fasting is greatly advantageous for reversing insulin resistance. But you don’t have to skip meals to get the benefit. Start by lengthening the time between dinner and breakfast. If you can’t go 12 hours, go 10, gradually lengthening out your fast. Research shows that a 16-hour window is very beneficial if you can work up to it.
  5. Avoid foods made with flour or sweeteners. Since these are the selections that are most likely to contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes, it only makes sense to eliminate them. Try substituting whole fruit at first, if you need more carbohydrate or miss the sweet taste.
  6. Optimize nutrients. Your body needs zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, carnitine, and many other nutrients to regulate blood sugars. How can your pancreas function optimally if you don’t give it the raw materials it needs. Real foods are your best source, as illustrated by the pictures below. But if it suits your style to use a meal replacement shake once a day to insure you are getting the nourishment you need, MediPro Plus is a great option.
Food-like substances that support diabetes

Don’t eat this!

Real foods that fight diabetes

Eat This!

High blood sugars may indicate a need to reduce insulin resistance

Reduce Insulin Resistance

There are lots of ways to reduce insulin resistance. The best ones for you are the ones you can implement and sustain with pleasure and commitment. There is no one-size-fits-all diet that is perfect for everyone. But there are some important principles that are true, regardless of what plan you choose to reduce your insulin resistance. The more of these principle you can adopt, the greater your chances for a return to healthy insulin sensitivity.

Why is it important to reduce insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a precursor to chronic illness, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and liver and kidney disease. It’s the smoke detector that signals that your body is on fire. But waiting until your lab tests show high blood sugars is like waiting until the 2nd story is engulfed in flames before you call the fire department.  Insulin is a critical wellness marker. Ask your doctor, or visit an online lab to request fasting insulin levels. Optimally, your number should be 5 or less.

Breakfast Like a King

If you choose to eat in the morning (many people prefer a fasting approach), your meal should contain at least 15 grams of high quality protein. By high quality, I mean as much wild-caught, grass-fed, free-range and organic as you can find and afford. Filling up on protein not only helps your body build new non-insulin resistant cells, it also helps satisfy your appetite without reaching for another bowl of cereal.

The debate over fats – which ones and how much – is hotly contested. However, it is clear that too many refined carbs will immediately raise blood sugar levels, followed by an increase in insulin. Fats slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Many people have success by including nuts and seeds in their morning meal, and by using olive oil or coconut oil regularly.

Are Carbs Good or Bad?

Each proponent of insulin reducing diets has his or her own guidelines on carbohydrates. Some say eliminate fruits. Others say eliminate grains. Or both. Still others say fruits and grains are acceptable as long as they are not processed or refined. Regardless of these differing opinions, individuals with insulin resistance are likely to have exaggerated responses to high glycemic foods, even unrefined ones. Therefore, in short-term, it’s a good idea to reduce carbohydrate intake in general.

More specifically, avoid sweeteners of any kind and stay away from flour initially, even gluten-free varieties, as these convert to glucose and raise blood sugars rapidly. Many people find that limiting fruits to one serving a day is helpful.

Vegetables are carbs. But non-starchy vegetables have such a low-glycemic index, are so nutrient-dense, and are high enough in fiber, that they are welcome in any dietary approach. A good rule of thumb is to fill your plate half-full with vegetables, starchy ones excluded. (Corn, potatoes, peas, and root vegetables are best minimized while you reduce your insulin resistance.)

Can a Ketogenic Diet Reduce Insulin Resistance?

The keto approach is too extreme for most people to be able to sustain for more than a month or two. Reducing insulin resistance should be a long-term lifestyle. However, you might find a keto diet is a great way to jump start your progress or get you off a plateau, provided you have the digestive capacity (and gall bladder function) to increase your proteins and fats that dramatically. If you don’t feel well doing keto, you’re just as well off to simply keep your carbs under 100 grams per day if you are moderately active or under 50 grams per day if you are largely sedentary.

Move it!

I think all researchers will agree that exercise increases insulin sensitivity. The best exercise for you is the one you will consistently engage in! Some people are inspired by using a device to count their steps. Others feel they have to sweat! Research shows that high-intensity interval training and resistance training with weights or therapy bands are both effecting in reducing insulin resistance.

Raise Your Oxytocin

Cortisol is released during stress, and cortisol raises blood sugars. When stress is chronic, blood sugars are also chronically high. Since high blood sugars damage organs, your body protects yourself with a continuously high output of insulin to stow those sugars away in various organs and tissues. But chronically elevated insulin leads to insulin resistance. Therefore, even on a clean diet with lots of exercise, stress begets insulin resistance.

The answer to high cortisol levels is to find ways to raise your oxytocin. These two hormones work like a see-saw. When one goes up, the other goes down. You can raise oxytocin by engaging your five senses:

  • Look into the eyes of a loved one.
  • Breathe deeply of diffused essential oils, or better yet, flowers, trees, leaves, and soil.
  • Listen to nature sounds or beautiful music.
  • Savor the complex flavors of a well-prepared nutrient-dense meal.
  • Snuggle with a child, a partner, or a pet.
  • Take up a hobby, such as dancing or painting.
  • Laugh.
  • Notice the clouds, individual blades of grass, the caress of a breeze, or other details of nature
  • Like a child, run your fingers through the sand, or mold a ball of clay, or play with someone’s hair.
  • Write your feelings in a gratitude journal
  • Get acupuncture or a massage
  • Eat to raise oxytocin, using strategies in this post. 

Do You Need Help Reducing Insulin Resistance?

If you have implemented as many of these strategies as you can and need help troubleshooting a lack of progress, I’m here to help! I use my functional approach to detect imbalances that may be creating roadblocks for you.

Heart Healthy Papaya Pudding

Heart Health Every Month

Heart health is vital all year long, not just during American Heart Health Month. Here are some tips to keep your cardiovascular system strong for life!

Magnify Antioxidant Power

Functional nutrition concerns itself, not with disease, but with the inflammation & imbalances that incite disease. To speak succinctly, chronic inflammation occurs in your body when free radicals outnumber antioxidants.

Heart Health is threatened by an imbalance of free radicals

Free radicals are very reactive particles that burn through most things they touch in a process called oxidation. When they damage tissues of the cardiovascular system, they threaten your heart health.

In the nutrition world, processed vegetable oils, refined sugars, and alcohol are top contributors to free radicals. Dietary sources of antioxidants are vitamins A, C, and E, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), alpha lipoic acid, and bioflavanoids – the pigments that give plant foods their rich colors.

fruits and vegetables in a balance with free radicals

In plain English, that means eat lots of brightly-colored produce. A study of 3100 different edible substances discovered that herbs and spices were among the highest sources of antioxidants.  Spices such as turmeric, cumin, and ginger; and herbs, such as cilantro, and peppermint are especially powerful.  Here’s a tip: add leafy herbs to your smoothie, and have a shaker bottle of warm spices, such as these, near the stove to sprinkle on your meats, soups, and stir-fries.

Cilantro Smoothie

cilantro smoothie

Blend together: 6 mandarin oranges, 6 oz. pineapple juice concentrate, 1 can full fat coconut milk, 1 bunch cilantro, and 1 cup ice.

Tame Inflammation

Most Americans eat too many pro-inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids. Vegetable oils made from corn, cottonseed, canola, soy, and safflower are high in Omega 6’s. Omega 3 fatty acids help re-establish balance and support heart health by managing inflammation, reducing triglycerides, and slowing plaque build-up.

However, since your body can’t make them, you have to get them from food. Fish is the best source. But if you don’t like fish, then walnuts, chia, and flax are your next best sources. To ease more fish into your diet, you can make fish patties.

Easy Fish Cakes

Fish Patty

Mix together equal parts cooked white fish and mashed potatoes. Add Old Bay Seasoning to taste. Form patties and toast on a hot griddle. Serve with lemon and dill.

Support Methylation For Heart Health

Methylation is  one of the most essential processes in the body. It detoxifies homocysteine, an amino acid that can threaten heart health by increasing inflammation and damaging blood vessels. You need folate and vitamin B-12 for methylation.

The best sources of these important B vitamins are dark leafy greens and liver! Many people detest liver, so your tip to use this nutrient powerhouse is to hide it from yourself. Mix 1 part ground liver into 4 parts liberally-seasoned taco meat.

tacos with ground beef and liver

To eat more leafy greens, try these recipes for wilted or cooked greens from traditional cultures.

Maximize Magnesium

This essential mineral is especially important to control blood pressure and prevent arrhythmias. One study suggests that up to 75% of Americans are not meeting the recommended daily allowance. Since magnesium insufficiency often manifests as muscle weakness, it is critical to get enough magnesium for your most active muscle – your heart.

Super Magnesium Trail Mix

heart healthy trail mix of cashews, almonds, pumpkins seeds and cacao nibs

Toss together raw pumpkin seeds, almonds, raw cashews, and extra dark chocolate chips. If desired, add dried cherries or dried cranberries.

Prevent Plaque Formation

According to this study, Vitamin K-2 can prevent both hardening of the arteries and plaque build-up in the arteries. You would think that if a specific vitamin had actually been shown in clinical study to be associated with a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk (yes, half!) that it would be a major news headliner, right? Unfortunately,Vitamin K2 is prevalent mostly in animal foods that many people shy away from because of nutritional myths. These foods include grass-fed butter, cheeses, fatty red meats (e.g. ribeye steak), liver, and egg yolks. The food containing the highest amount of vitamin K2 is a highly fermented soy food called natto, which very few people can tolerate due to its strong odor and flavor.

However, increasing your vitamin K-2 intake might be easier than you think. Instead of grabbing chocolate when you hit that energy “coma” in the afternoon, snack on gouda cheese and whole grain crackers instead.

Since egg yolks are also high in this critical nutrient, you can maximize your intake with this beautiful Brazilian dessert, known to Americans as Papaya Pudding.

Creme de Papaya

A light, satisfying, low-sugar version of a Brazilian classic
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Standing time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 4
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. very ripe papaya chunks
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1/4 c. lime juice
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 tsp. grated ginger root (grates best when frozen)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 egg yolks

Instructions

  • Puree the papaya, banana, lime juice, honey, coconut milk, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in the blender.
  • Transfer mixture to a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl and heat, stirring frequently, until steamy.
  • Remove from heat. Add egg yolks to the blender jar, and turn the motor on low.
  • While the blender is running, slowly pour the papaya puree into the blender jar. Process until creamy.
  • Pour into dessert dishes and let stand 10 minutes before serving or refrigerating.