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A walk in the park with the dog

Not Just A Walk in the Park

Trying to get up off the floor alone by crawling to a chair and then slowly grasping and pulling upward was the greatest athletic feat  I could accomplish then. Arthritic pain inflamed every joint. Now here I am, taking a walk in the park with the dog. Differently: straight, strong, and enjoying the exertion.

The following is a guest post from Lisa Jorgensen, a counselor who has lived with Lupus for more than 15 years. This is a glimpse of her return to health through diet and lifestyle.

Hitting Rock Bottom

At age 30, trying to get up off the floor alone by crawling to a chair and then slowly grasping and pulling upward was the greatest athletic feat as I could accomplish. Inflammation in every single joint in my body made any movement miserable.  Not moving was, of course, out of the question.  I was the mother of a 5-year-old and one-year-old twins. It was an excruciating time for all of us as we struggled to adjust. I kept asking why this was happening to me.

I didn’t know at the time that Lupus was rearing its ugly head. The next 15 years of my life would be extremely challenging.

Getting Ready to Walk

My healing journey began a few years ago when I started treating the actual disease and not just the symptoms. With the help of my doctor and a new medication, I tapered off of Prednisone. As the pain in my joints lessened, I realized I had at least a modest amount of control over my symptoms.

I was so overjoyed to be able to move without pain!  For months during this period, I would make a discovery and shout, “Look!  I can ______________!” (raise my arm overhead, or bend down onto one knee, or some other ordinary movement). Riding the wave of better health, I sought out nutritional, stress management, and exercise therapies that worked for me. Today I depend on them to help me feel my best. I have so much more control over my physical symptoms as well as my outlook and mental state. Although I still have Lupus, I am miles ahead in terms of coping with this difficult disease.  

A Walk in the Park

It is July 30, 1016. Here I am, walking the dog.  Differently: straight, strong, and enjoying the exertion. Yes, the exertion it takes to keep my body upright and lifted. I’m aware of these challenges in my body. But now I experience them in a new way. My spine is relaxed but striving to lengthen. Oh WOW! That feels good! The crown of my head reaches up to the sky. I am reaching heavenward in body and spirit.

A year ago, and more than 100 pounds ago, I led with my head, my back rounded downward. I bent forward at the waist with my bottom sticking out—I hated it but couldn’t move forward any other way.  I felt doomed to that state for the rest of my life, so I actually quit making plans to travel or to see and experience new things. Yet, I persisted.

“I will not give up on myself. Whatever sorry state I may be in, I will find some small thing to improve each day. One small success leads to another.  I will find I can set my sights higher as I start to feel better.”

So today I am walking in the park. “This walking is hard, I’m not used to it, I feel so weak,” says my other self.

“You’re okay. Just be in the moment,” I answer.

Being in the Moment

Honestly I have to give some credit to the dog here.  He teaches me mindfulness.  He is so attuned to his environment that there is hardly an ant on the sidewalk that he misses.  His ears perk up at the slightest sound and his eyes intently scan the surroundings as he trots along. Do I even need to mention the keenness of that nose of his? All his senses are working. He is loving his existence on this walk; he’s not thinking about the past or about the future.

“The prize is in the process,” I tell myself.  “There is freedom in the NOW.”  I no longer watch my feet as they plod along.  I stop thinking, “I’m almost home and then I can check this off the list and hurry to the next task.”

Instead, I take in. I absorb. I acknowledge. From here I can even look forward. Not just seeing what is up ahead of me, but actually hoping, dreaming, imagining. In yoga practice, I learned, “Your body will follow your gaze.” I dare to look up.

Skipping Ahead

I know that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence each other. Change one, and it changes the others. So, I invite change by simply behaving differently. I keep walking, even though it’s hard.

“I am going to skip,” I say to myself as I bring my enlightening walk to a close.

“What!?,” says my rational mind.  “You don’t know how anymore. And besides, what if someone is watching??”

“Aw, shut up. My body wants to skip, and I am shaking off the shackles!

So I skip the last 20 or 30 yards to home. Entering the house with a rush of endorphins, I let loose with a happy cry. Not a yell, or a cheer, but an actual cry, with tears.  It’s kind of a prayer…“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!” Feelings of freedom, of renewed hope and confidence fill me. My sobs clear out storage units of despair, anger and fear.

I have turned a corner, and with acceptance and empowerment, I find the capacity to heal.

Vegetables are vital to an addition diet

Addition Diet

Dieters and health-seekers talk freely about food elimination diets. They report leaving grains, or dairy, or meats out of their diets. Then, they debate which foods should be removed from your menu. But have you ever considered a food addition diet? The focus of our conversations should be on how we can broaden our food plans to include more nutrition, not less.

Whether you are concerned about blood sugars, inflammation, or immune function, loading your body with nutrients will be healing. While no diet is perfect and each person is unique in his needs, food scientists agree that you can increase your consumption of vegetables, high quality protein, minerals, healthful fats, and prebiotic foods.

Adding Vegetables to Your Diet

Antioxidant, mineral-rich, anti-inflammatory, high-vitamin vegetables are the basis of an optimal diet. Up to 2/3 of your plate can be vegetables. How many servings of vegetables do you eat per day?

Regardless of where you are, you can do a little better each day, adding more quantity, quality, or diversity. If you eat mostly salads, you can add cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and cauliflower. On the other hand, if you eat a lot of steamed vegetables, try more dark leafy greens, including kale, spinach, and chard. Consider also brightly-colored vegetables, which rich plant pigments of red, purple, and orange that lend powerful nutrients to your body. Examples of colored vegetables are eggplant, beets, and pumpkin. As a base for all meals, remember sulphur-rich vegetables that help the liver detoxify your body. These include mushrooms and plants in the onion family.

Not sure you can prepare anything more than corn and peas? This post contains recipes for 70 distinctive vegetables. Challenge yourself to try a new one each week!

Protein on an Addition Diet

The human body cannot live without protein. It forms the building blocks that create blood cells, hormones, enzyme, and antibodies. Protein shapes bones, muscles, skin, hair, and organs. Meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and even tempeh (traditionally-fermented soy) contribute to a well-rounded diet, as long as they are raised on their natural diet.

Already eating a Goldilocks portion of protein that is just right? Then you could replace some of your muscle meats with offal, which is much higher in nutrients. Concerned that you’re getting too much protein? Switch some of your sources for amino-acid rich broths, made from the bones of animals. The proteins in bone broth are more bio-available, meaning your body absorbs and uses them more easily than proteins it must break down from meat sources.

Boosting Your Mineral Intake

Would you drive your car on a cross-country trip with 50% of the spark plugs not working? Minerals are the spark plugs of your body, setting off almost all the the chemical reactions that have to occur each second for you to function. If you are eating a rainbow diet by including lots of produce on your plate, and if you are incorporating bone broths and organ meats into your meal plans, then you are already augmenting your mineral stores.

But there are always ways to do even better. One way is to use an unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt to season your food. Another way is to drink herbal teas throughout the day. Plants grown in mineral-rich soils take these minerals into their roots and leaves. Nettle, alfalfa, and horsetail are famously strong in mineral content, with nettle boasting four times the amount of calcium as kale.

Incorporating Healthful Fats

No addition diet is complete without the inclusion of both unsaturated and saturated fats. Your brain is largely made up of saturated fat. But your cell membranes require unsaturated fat. So, both plant and animal fats are beneficial. But, stay away from man-made fats.

For generations, Americans have eaten a low-fat diet. The results have been rather disappointing. Instead of reducing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, low-fat diets seemed to have contributed even more to the epidemic. While going to extremes in fat consumption is not necessarily desirable, you can saute, grill, fry, and dress with the kinds of fats that occur in nature. Additionally, snacking on olives, avocados, whole-fat dairy products, raw nuts, and seeds definitely trumps eating potato chips, cookies, and other commercial snack foods.

You can learn more about which fats to use in this post.

Increasing Prebiotics

Maybe you’ve been adding vegetables to your diet. Perhaps you’re conscientious about getting adequate protein. You might even be using adequate fats to maintain your health. The next step, then, is to add foods to feed your microbiome. That’s the trillions of beneficial bacteria inside your gut that help manufacture vitamins, break down fiber, signal the immune system, and a thousand other jobs for your health.

It’s not enough to take probiotic supplements. Your microbes need food everyday for them to grow and multiply. They need the insoluble fibers that you do not digest well. They break these down, making butyric acid to feel your colon cells. Foods that support your healthy gut bacterial colonies include onions, asparagus, and artichokes. Beans and legumes are important, too.

Not only that, but food containing live cultures can augment your microbial populations. Fermented vegetables, miso, natto, kefir, and kombucha are just a few to choose from. I found that I could add a tablespoon of sauerkraut or sauerkraut juice to just about any dish to enhance its nutrition without affecting taste. This book has some great ideas.

Add Before You Subtract

It may be discouraging to think about removing sugar or processed foods from your diet. Yet, by the time you add the bounty of options nature has provided, you will not have room for artificial and refined products! Truly, an addition diet is an abundant way to eat!

Protein PB&J Cookies are healthy travel food

5 Foods For Healthy Travel

Whether you’re going by plane or by car, you’re more susceptible to illness, digestive upset, and weight gain when you’re on the road. Insure you eat the right foods for healthy travel by following these five tips!

Hydrate Correctly

Water is the first food for healthy travel. Fatigue, cramps, and headaches are all early signs of dehydration. While it’s tempting to grab pop, coffee, or tea, you will have to drink extra water if you do. Your body has to dilute sweetened beverages. In addition, caffeinated drinks are diuretic, so your water ends up in the toilet.

But water is not enough. Electrolytes – traces of potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium – are important, too. So, an easy solution is to carry herbal tea bags. After you have passed security with your empty water bottle, you can fill up at the water fountain, slipping the tea bag in to cold infuse into the water during your flight. Peppermint tea is a refreshing choice.

Bring Portable Protein

Travel means stress. That stress triggers blood sugar instability and creates “wear and tear” on the body. Therefore, protein is the third food for healthy travel. It balances your blood sugars, staves off cravings, and rebuilds your body tissues. Increasing your protein can boost your energy, too, reduce agitation, and improve your sleep. For a great protein that requires no cooking and is portable, try foil packets of wild-caught salmon or salmon jerky. At the hotel, you can boil eggs in the coffee pot to take with you on your sightseeing adventures.

Remember Healthy Fat

Subsisting on sandwiches, chips, and crackers is a quick ride on the blood sugar roller coaster. Though an amusement park may be part of your itinerary, blood sugar dysregulation can make you “hangry.” No one wants to be irritable, shaky, or foggy during their vacation. Natural fats can keep your moods and energy levels stable. Try olive cups, whole avocados, and raw mixed nuts as packable snacks. Amp up your breakfast by adding nut butter to oatmeal cups.

Eat Loads of Antioxidants

You are much more susceptible to viruses when your travel because of the extra strain on your body. So, you need antioxidant food to keep your immune system strong. That means eating lots of brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. If you are not near a grocery store, bring a cooler from home. You can pack an insulated lunch bag inside your checked luggage to keep produce fresh. Berries, cherries, grapes, beetroot, and bell peppers are all great choices. Live sprouts are a gold-mine of antioxidants if you can find them fresh in your local grocery store.

Plan Substitute Foods For Healthy Travel

You know you’re going to be assailed by the travel mart convenience foods – candies, cookies, and chips. Why not prepare in advance with your own appealing alternative? Munch on crunchy, savory dehydrated vegetables or high-protein cookies before junk food tempts you. My Peanut Butter-Jam Cookie recipe requires only 4 ingredients!

High-Protein PB&J Cookies

3/4 c. all natural peanut butter, no sugar added

1/2 c. all-fruit jam, no sugar added

1/4 c. collagen protein powder

1/2 c. almond flour

Combine all ingredients and mix well. If dough is sticky, add 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Roll into balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Makes 2 dozen.

 

 

 

vegetables for a greener summer

50 Ways to a Greener Summer

A greener summer isn’t just about lawns and forests. It’s about your diet, too. You know vegetables are good for you – especially those leafy greens and the cruciferous kind, like broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. But maybe you don’t know why you should eat them…or how! Here’s my list of what naturally green food does for you. I especially like #3 and #4 when it comes to stabilizing blood sugars and reducing inflammation. So, read on! I’ll tell you how to use them next.

 A Dozen Health Benefits of Green Vegetables

Green vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrients to keep you in top form. While I can’t list all of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals they contain, here are my favorites:

1 – Folate

A precursor for methylation, this vitamin occurs in greens almost more than in any other food. So what? Well, methylation processes toxins, builds neurotransmitters, recycles spent hormones, and creates immune cells. But that’s not all: it synthesizes DNA, produces energy, and maintains the integrity of your cell membranes.

2 – Minerals

Probably only liver has more minerals. I bet you’d rather eat spinach than liver. But why are minerals critical? They’re like spark plugs in the body. We call them co-factors, but basically, they help trigger all the reactions and functions your body  performs. For example, take immunity. If you don’t have enough minerals, your immune system can’t regulate itself. It runs too fast or too slow. Then you are vulnerable to allergies, asthma, and autoimmunity on the one hand, or cancer on the other.

3 – Fiber

If you’re concerned about carbohydrate intake, vegetables are the answer. Eat as many as you like of these carbs without spiking blood sugars because their fiber content slows their absorption into the bloodstream. Nature knows that her greener summer is not only pretty, but healthy!

4 – Antioxidants

Green vegetables have many antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, including vitamin C and chlorophyll – the stuff that makes them green! If you really wanted to, I suppose you could just drink liquid vitamin C and chlorophyll. But it’s probably more pleasant to eat Caesar salad and pesto.

5 – Potassium

This humble electrolyte is a champ at fighting bloat and fluid retention. Since you’re not going to find this nutrient in abundance in animal foods, vegetables are your go-to.

6 – Beta carotene

Known as the plant pigment that gives carrots, squash and cantaloupe their color, this nutrient is more prevalent in dark leafy greens than it is in orange vegetables. While you might connect beta carotene to eye health, it is also important for healthy skin. In fact, it is considered a natural sunscreen.

7 – Magnesium

If you’re stressed or have high blood pressure, eat more greens. Magnesium, abundant in vegetables, especially green ones, is a relaxant. That goes for tight muscles and for constricted blood vessels, too.

8 – Calcium

Arguably, dairy foods have more calcium than dark leafy greens. But you only absorb about 30% of that calcium. While broccoli and kale may have less calcium to begin with, you uptake a much higher percentage from them. So to cover your bases, it’s great to round out your diet with plenty of leafy greens to protect your bone health.

9 – Polyphenols

These are micronutrients found only in plants. Among their wide and varied benefits are the ability to fight disease and bolster immunity. Therefore, not only do you need a greener summer, but a greener winter, too.

10 – Prebiotics

You probably know the importance of probiotics to your gut health. The thing is, probiotics are living organisms. That means they need to eat. The beneficial bacteria in your gut tend to languish on simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. However, they thrive on the plant fiber – prebiotic material – that is so hard for you to digest. So, if you think asparagus has too much fiber for your comfort, think again! You are feeding a healthy microbiome, and these bacteria, in turn, are helping you to digest your food.

11 – Chlorophyll

Although I mentioned this amazing nutrient as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, it has many assets. Chlorophyll is amazing for detoxification because it has the quality of being able to bind heavy metals and escort them out of the body. Chlorophyll helps cleanse your liver.

12 – Live enzymes

When it comes to digestion, enzymes have a lot of work to do. Your body makes digestive enzymes in the pancreas. But the more live enzymes you eat, the less the burden on your pancreas. You are getting live enzymes any time you eat raw plant food, such as celery sticks, cucumber slices, and snap peas.

50 Ways to a Greener Summer

Okay, now that you know why you should eat more green vegetables, let’s talk about how! I get pretty bored with having salads all the time, and a side of broccoli is not very exciting. However, nature is so versatile, there’s no reason to limit yourself to iceberg! Just to get you started, I’ve listed 50 ideas. Since recipes are prolific on the internet, I’ve left the interpretation open to your personal taste.

  1. Alfalfa sprouts blended into a fruit smoothie
  2. Parsley, finely chopped, and sprinkled into a sausage and sweet potato skillet
  3. Mint leaves to perk up a mundane salad
  4. Nettle steeped and chilled for iced tea
  5. Clover sprouts tucked into wraps
  6. Broccoli sprouts on top of avocado toast
  7. Cress nestled in sandwiches
  8. Spinach, minced and mixed into spaghetti sauce
  9. Mung bean sprouts served atop any soup
  10. Broccoli, chopped, steamed, and stirred into teriyaki sauce
  11. Kale massaged into tropical fruit salad
  12. Chives accenting a potato salad
  13. Basil on a skewer with tomato and watermelon
  14. Arugula tossed with roasted squash, potatoes,beets, and carrots
  15. Mesclun mix served with strawberries and poppy seed dressing
  16. Pea shoots added to stir-fry
  17. Asparagus, chopped, and served in risotto
  18. Cilantro blended into avocado & tomatillo dressing for Mexican dishes
  19. Brussels sprouts sauteed in an apple & bacon skillet
  20. Pesto stirred into white bean soup
  21. Collard greens lightly steamed and rolled with any filling for wraps
  22. Swiss chard, steamed, and folded into creamy bechamel with green onion
  23. Green beans grilled with cherry tomatoes and seasoned with basil and oregano
  24. Green bell pepper stuffed with stew, pilaf, or frittata
  25. Romaine grilled with olive oil and red pepper flakes before tossing into soup
  26. Endive (also known as chicory) lightly braised with andouille sausage and added to pasta
  27. Okra simmered in jambalaya
  28. Kohlrabi grated into cole slaw
  29. Zucchini grated into pancake batter
  30. Fennel sauteed in butter with pear halves, then dressed with honey and cream
  31. Turnip greens wilted as a bed for meat or fish
  32. Beet greens tossed with olive oil and baked until crispy for chips
  33. Bok choy shredded into Oriental salad
  34. Mustard greens simmered in Indian curry
  35. Artichoke hearts accenting pizza
  36. Celery, stir-fried, and served with chopped hazelnuts
  37. Leeks sliced into scalloped potatoes or baked beans before cooking
  38. Scallions sliced into frittata
  39. Cabbage slow-cooked with roasts
  40. Rapini blanched and sauteed with garlic and baby red potatoes
  41. Dandelion greens steeped in a tea
  42. Snap peas tossed with green onion slices and feta cheese then dressed with vinaigrette
  43. Snow peas sauteed with carrots, drizzled with honey, and topped with peanuts
  44. Peas piled onto creamy polenta and topped with parmesan
  45. Cucumber, hollowed, and filled with chicken salad
  46. Oregano minced into bread dough
  47. Fenugreek leaves chopped into Indian butter chicken
  48. Spirulina  sprinkled into black bean dip
  49. Kelp, dried, and mixed into your salt shaker as a natural source of iodine
  50. Nori folded into an omelet

What other ways can you think of to have a greener summer?

stop inflammation

How Can I Stop Inflammation?

You can treat inflammation after it occurs. But wouldn’t you rather stop inflammation from happening. The latter is my functional approach for leading you to optimal wellness.

What Are The Signs of Inflammation?

Since inflammation is at the root of nearly all chronic disease, you will want to detect warning signals early. Here are my top 5.

  • Pain, especially in the joints
  • Low energy and constant fatigue, despite sufficient sleep.
  • Depression, anxiety and mood disorders.
  • Poor digestion, including bloating, cramping, diarrhea, and acid reflux.
  • Frequent colds, excessive mucus production, allergies, asthma, or eczema.

Where Does Inflammation Come From?

Although causes of inflammation are many and varied, 3 factors play a significant role in most inflammatory conditions. They are insulin resistance, poor gut health and stress.

Insulin resistance can initiate inflammation, but inflammation can trigger insulin resistance. So once the spiral gets started, it can be extremely challenging to end. Insulin resistance occurs after years of eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates.

Poor gut health is another way of saying increased gut permeability. In other words, the lining of the digestive system is compromised. Stress, food sensitivities, and an altered microbiome all contribute to poor gut health. You change your microbiome when you eat processed foods, don’t digest your food well, expose yourself to environmental toxins, or use antibiotics repeatedly.

Stress can be emotional or physiological. Your body responds the same to both. For instance, your body releases stress hormones that ultimately result in inflammation whether you can struggle with an overbearing boss or whether you just completed an Iron Man competition. Your body also perceives a food sensitivity as a stress.

How Can I Stop Inflammation?

In nutritional therapy school, we learned to “remove the triggers and strengthen the barrier.” Therefore, the first steps to ending the inflammation cascade are to eliminate insulin resistance, heal the gut and regulate stress. Then you can begin a protocol to fortify your body against further susceptibility.

Reversing insulin resistance requires that you choose your carbohydrates wisely – the more fiber, the better. You will need to eat a protein-rich diet with adequate essential fatty acids. Exercise in important, too.

You should work with a qualified practitioner to assess your gut health. She will be able to make recommendations to improve digestion and balance the microbiome. She can also help you test for food sensitivities. Good digestion is key to nutritional therapy.

Stress reduction is a daily habit. I tell my clients, “If you don’t manage stress, it will manage you!” Mindfulness, play, breathing exercises, and journaling are just a few ways to dissipate stress. My class teaches dozens more tips that you can implement in any given moment.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet will help minimize your symptoms while you work on root causes.

eat for beautiful feet

Eat for Beautiful Feet

Summer is here! Did you know you can eat for beautiful feet!

Are you embarrassed to go barefoot or wear sandals? Many common foot problems can be healed and prevented through dietary changes. Check out these 10 ways to eat for beautiful feet.

1. Rough Dry Heels

Dry, flaky heels and foot callouses are an early sign of essential fatty acid deficiency. Fatty acids are used to create the membranes around each and every cell in your body. Because your body prioritizes nutrients for vital organs, your skin will be one of the first place this lack shows up. So, avoid deep fried foods and hydrogenated fats. Instead, focus on including fish oil in your diet, and check with your practitioner about the use of flax seed oil or black current oil.

2. Foot Cramps

When cramping is infrequent and sporadic, you may simply be dehydrated. A tall glass of water may correct the situation without further problem. But if cramping occurs repeatedly, it may be a sign of mineral deficiency. Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are the most common electrolytes you need to keep your muscles contracting and relaxing properly. Therefore, you must eat mineral-rich leafy green vegetables frequently and don’t be shy about organ meats in your diet. Try adding a pinch of sea salt or a splash of lemon juice to your water. Avoid empty calories from nutrient poor foods such as chips, pop, and sweet treats.

Additionally, eating under stress keeps you from absorbing the minerals in your food. Take these four steps at meal time: sit down comfortably, breathe deeply, slow down, and chew thoroughly.

3. Itchy Feet

Most people consider itchy, scaly athlete’s foot to be an annoyance on the surface of the skin. But it could be a sign of an imbalanced gut flora. To keep your gut microbiome healthy and protect your feet from itchy fungus, first, stay away from simple, sugary carbohydrates. Second, eat lots of prebiotic plant fibers, such as garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, apples, and green vegetables to support microbial balance.

Thick, pimple-like itchy patches on your feet may be causes by psoriasis. As with rheumatoid arthritis, an over-reaction of the immune system causes psoriasis. Healing the gut is imperative to balancing the immune system. Particles that escape through a compromised gut are what’s over-stimulating the immune system. Gut-healing foods such as bone broth and licorice tea can be healing after the offending triggers are removed. A food-sensitivity test may be important to detect what your triggers are.

4. Sore Toe Joints 

Achy joints, especially in the hands and feet, are often an early signal for rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. This crippling disease results from a dysregulation of the immune system. To get the body back on track, the immune system needs foods high in micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. So, eat high-quality protein and lots of deeply-colored produce. Avoid the most common immune-triggering foods: gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, and corn.

5. Burning Feet

This sensation is common among diabetics. If you have not been diagnosed with this disease, check with your physician for blood sugar testing. In the meantime, eat foods rich in B vitamins and reduce your carbohydrate intake.

6. Foot Sores That Won’t Heal

This symptom is a major warning sign for diabetes. One in three Americans is diabetic and doesn’t know it. The greatest dietary contributor to this condition is an imbalance between carbohydrates and proteins and fats. Check the risk factors, and aim for no more than 40% of your calories from carbohydrate. Also, eat natural, unprocessed fats, such as olives, coconuts, avocados and butter, while avoiding hydrogenated and heat- or chemical-extracted oils. Finally, try to make at least 1/4 of your plate protein at every meal.

7. Pain in the Big Toe

Gout is a notorious cause of sudden pain in the big toe joint, along with redness and swelling. However, contrary to popular opinion, excessive protein is not always the cause of gout. In fact, drinking pop is a major contributor to this condition because the high fructose corn syrup breaks into purines in your body, resulting in uric acid build-up that settles in the joints. To maintain joint health, eat a balanced diet and limit your consumption of sweeteners.

8. Yellow Toenails

Fungal infections are usually the root cause of thickened yellow toenails. Treat as you would for athlete’s foot by reducing fungus-feeding foods: sweets, refined carbohydrates, and empty calorie foods. Focus on prebiotic vegetables. Lastly, eat probiotic rich foods such as kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and traditionally-fermented sauerkraut.

9. Spoon-shaped Toenails

If there has been no injury to the nail, iron deficiency is likely the cause this unusual shape. Your body absorbs heme iron, from animal products better than non-heme iron from plants. But aside from eating more red meat and organ meat, you can increase your iron absorption by consuming foods rich in vitamin C. For instance, include citrus fruits, berries, papaya, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and dark green leafy vegetables. Also, don’t use acid blockers, over-the-counter heartburn remedies, or reflux medication, as these interfere with mineral absorption.

10. Blue toes

Toes that turn blue when exposed to cold might signal Raynaud’s disease. Raynaud’s is often linked to an autoimmune condition which requires gut healing, mineral-rich foods, and removal of the antigens. If you are fighting this disease, it is wise to contact a practitioner who can guide you through the dietary changes most appropriate for your unique biological make-up.

Eat for Beautiful Feet

In summary, they key to stylin’ in sandals is to eat a nutrient-dense whole foods diet. Remember to

  • Include lots of fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens and deeply-colored produce.
  • Eat the right kind of fats – those that have not been processed or refined but occur naturally.
  • Include enough high-quality protein.
  • Limit carbohydrates to less than half of your calories.
  • Eliminate sugar and empty carbohydrates.
Rainbowl Salad is cooling food

Cooling Foods Beat the Heat

Cooling foods beat the heat by not requiring the oven for preparation. But they also keep the fire of inflammation down in your body.  No one wants to be hot from the inside out when the sun is blazing outside.

To keep your body cool, stay away from deep-fried food and entrees weighted with excessive meat. Focus on lighter seafood, green vegetables, and summer herbs, such as cilantro.

Next, steer away from heavier, starchy food, such as pasta and potatoes.  Instead, select juicy summer-harvested produce. Fruits come to mind, but even zucchini is a cooling food.

Finally, don’t indulge in inflammation-causing cookies, cakes, and pastries. Fennel, with its licorice-like flavor, can be paired with sweet pears for a light dessert in scorching summer heat.

If you have a chronic inflammatory condition, such as autoimmunity, pre-diabetes or heart disease, learn more about beating the heat with diet and lifestyle.

Chill Crab Cups

Create a refreshing entree with a combo of cooling foods that includes crab, cucumber, dill, and chives.

  • 16 oz. crab meat
  • 2 Tb. parsley, minced
  • 1/4 lb. snow peas
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 Tb. lemon juice plus zest
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tb. fresh dill, minced
  • 2 Tb. chives

Toss ingredients together and serve in lettuce cups, in hollowed tomatoes, or in halved bell peppers.

Fruit Rainbowl with Lime-Mint Dressing

Drizzle anti-inflammatory fruits with revitalizing mint to give you relief from the heat.

  • 1 cup each: cantaloupe cubes, watermelon balls, cherries, blueberries, and kiwi slices.
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 Tb. Honey
  • 3 sprigs of mint leaf

Combine fruits in a large serving bowl. Tear mint leaves and whisk together with lime juice and honey. Pour over fruit and toss.

Caramelized Pears & Fennel

In less than ten minutes, you can enjoy a unique, refreshing dessert that doesn’t heat up your body or your kitchen. Now that’s cooling food!

  • 3 pears, cut into wedges
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/4 c. cream

Fry pears and fennel bulb in butter over medium high heat until pears are golden. Reduce heat. Remove pears and fennel to a serving plate. Slit vanilla bean pod open and scoop seeds into the skillet with the butter. Add honey and fennel seeds. Simmer 2-3 minutes, until  sauce is thickened. Drizzle pears with syrup and pour cream over the top.

 

An American Refrigerator

American Refrigerator

What’s in your refrigerator? Is it full of real food or just food-like substances? I got a glimpse of a typical American refrigerator the other day. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have made a satisfying meal with its contents.

Is This Your Refrigerator?

When I opened the door, incredulity overtook me.  I found beverages, condiments, trans-fats, leftover fast food, and refined white flour products. In short, man-made products filled the shelves. I saw beer, wine, pop, flavored water, and Coffee Mate. Moreover, margarine, bread, buns, tortillas, leftover pizza, and a single lemon shared the compartments.

But, were the vegetables? Well, yes, if potatoes count! But, where was there protein? I suppose I could name the flavored, sweetened yogurt, and the processed cheese.

Is this the sum of an American refrigerator? Next, I opened the freezer. My dismay remained: ice cream, popsicles, waffles, and a box of chicken nuggets stood frosty and ready.

Cupboards to Rival This American Refrigerator

Maybe I would find real food in the cupboards.

I didn’t.

Similar to the refrigerator, there were substances to satisfy one’s cravings: popcorn, crackers, chips, chocolate chips, and Swedish Fish. If I intended to cook, I could have used the white flour, sugar, shortening, and vegetable oil. Then, I could pour imitation syrup on top. In summary, I discovered only three “meals” – instant oatmeal, canned soup, and canned chili. (Peanut butter is not a meal!)

Why is the American Refrigerator Problematic?

A steady stream of empty-calorie foods degrade your health. Unquestionably, food-like substances have been linked to fatigue, depression and diabetes. These non-foods negatively impact the function of your heart, your liver, and your brain. Furthermore, they can damage your memory and cause dangerous swings in your blood sugars. Not to mention increasing your risk of cancer. Lastly, they impair your digestion.

Refrigerator Makeover

So, how do you create a super-stocked refrigerator?

  • Start with produce. No health practitioner will argue that you need fewer plant foods. Fruits and vegetables are critical to optimal wellness. Your body needs the fresh leafy greens, brightly- colored tree and vine fruits, and cruciferous vegetables you store in the refrigerator. Strive for variety and include as many colors as possible.
  • Visit the butcher block and the fishmonger. While you don’t need an excess of protein, you should include good quality animal products in your diet. Regardless of your chosen diet, eat no less than 20 grams of protein per meal. Seafood and pastured animals provide building blocks for your red blood cells, hormones, immune cells, organs, bones and muscles.
  • Add some natural fats. Grass-fed butter, coconut products, olive oil, nuts, and avocados create health on a cellar level. They support brain health and contribute to beautiful skin, hair, and nails. Also, natural fats make vegetables taste good and are helpful in preparing meats.
  • Stick to whole grains. Steel-cut oats are a better choice than boxed cereal, and quinoa trumps pasta. Choose 100% whole wheat over products from refined flour.

No one can give you health. You create it from day to day by the choices you make. So, decide to fill your refrigerator with nutrient-dense food.

My anti inflammatory diet doesn't have food labels

My Anti-inflammatory Diet

What does a nutritional therapist eat to keep inflammation under control? Here are 3 secrets to my anti-inflammatory diet.

I Eat Foods That Don’t Have Labels

Compare some of the most inflammatory foods with some of the least inflammatory foods:

  • Processed meats
  • White flour products (bread, crackers, etc.)
  • Sweetened beverages
  • Desserts such as candy, ice cream, etc.)
  • Transfats, including margarine
  • Snack foods, such as chips
  • Cold water fish (salmon, sardines, etc.)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Fruits (berries, cherries, grapes)
  • Sulphur vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)
  • Natural fats (coconut, avocado, olives)
  • Spices & herbs

Can you see that the latter category comes without an ingredient list? I pick foods from farmer’s markets, gardens, dairy farms, ranchers, and roadside fruit stands, not from the factories of industrial food makers.  Also, when I’m at the grocery store, I shop the perimeter.

I Eat Close to Nature

Although a snack from the health food section of the supermarket may only have 3 or 4 ingredients, I would still rather have the fresh food rather than a packaged product. For example, why should I eat a fruit bar when I can simply have an apple or an orange? If that seems boring, I can create my own pudding, ice cream, popsicle, or other fun treat using only whole ingredients.

I Don’t Espouse an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

What I endorse is a way of life, not a short-term diet program. Too often, individuals fall into a trap of thinking that they will deprive themselves to meet a goal, then they will be able to eat whatever they want after that. I choose not to restrict myself, but to celebrate the vast array of flavors, colors, and textures that nature offers. After all, inflammation seems to be a modern problem that comes with modern commercial foods. I believe that following a traditional lifestyle puts me back in harmony with my body’s requirements for nutrition.

Want to learn more about how to eat anti-inflammatory foods? Contact me to set up a private mentoring session.

Woman can't stop carb-loading

Stop Carb Loading

Whether you just love breads and pastas,  or whether you’re unaware how skewed your diet is, you have to stop carb- loading if you want to balance your blood sugars.

Americans typically get 60-80% of their calories from carbohydrates. A healthier amount would be closer to 40%. That means filling the gap with wisely-chosen proteins and natural fats.

Choose Protein at Every Meal

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Swap cottage cheese for yogurt some mornings, or add cottage cheese to salad at lunch time. (Low-fat cottage cheese is 73% protein, substantially higher than yogurt, and definitely higher than nut butters, or beans).
  • Drink bone broth and substitute bone broth for water in cooking (for grains, legumes, sauces, simmered veggies). I even mix bone broth with tomato paste whenever I need tomato sauce. Most brands average about 8 grams of protein per cup. It’s easy to make your own!
  • Slip in an extra egg white! Yolks are mostly fat, but whites are almost all protein. (You can save the yolk for a moisturizing treatment for dry hair.)
  • Snack on grass-fed jerky. This helps offset the tendency to grab chips, crackers, cookies, and other empty carbs between meals.
  • Top salads with canned crab, shrimp, tuna or salmon. If your budget is tight, these seafood options are much more affordable than fresh fish, poultry, or meat.
  • Focus on breakfast. Adding a little more meat to lunch and dinner may be easy, but it’s trickier to get enough protein in the morning. If you want to avoid heavy, high-fat choices, you might consider a sausage alternative that goes well with breakfast foods.
  • Whisk some collagen powder into salad dressings, meat sauces, or even your oatmeal!
  • Sub sprouted grain bread for your regular loaf.

Ways to Stop Carb-loading

  • Limit yourself to 1/2 cup fruit at breakfast. If you are a smoothie lover, it may be easy to overdo it here. And if you eat oatmeal, remember that your bowl is all carbohydrate even before you start topping it with honey and fruit.
  • Choose grain OR potato for a meal, but not both. If your curry contains potato cubes, you don’t need rice, too. If you’re eating mashed potatoes, skip the dinner roll.
  • Reduce rice and pasta to 1/2 cup per meal.
  • Try Thin Slice bread for 15-17 grams carbohydrate instead of the 28-35 grams of a normal slice. Seeded breads tend to be lower in net carbs because the high fiber is subtracted from the carb count. A great one is Dave’s Killer Bread Power Seed.
  • When you eat out, skip the dinner roll.
  • Make breakfast count! Experiment with some low-carb breakfasts, such as egg & avocado, or cottage cheese pancakes, topped with honey butter (2/3 butter, 1/3 honey).

Stop Carb-loading to Restart Your Energy

High levels of refined carbohydrate intake have been associated with chronic fatigue, cravings, hormone imbalances, obesity, insulin resistance, depression, anxiety, high cholesterol levels, and even autoimmunity. If you want to regain your health, it’s best to stop carb–loading as your first step.