Blog

news and live tips
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.

 

 

Antioxidant Strawberries are Valentines that love you

Valentines That Love YOU

Satisfy your sweet-loving heart – and your sweetheart – with Valentines that love you back! These treats bring nutrients to your heart, muscles, skin and lungs, even your very cells. Because you create them from all-natural ingredients, you get no inflammatory lash-back from refined sugars, artificial colors & flavors, and processed oils. No recipe necessary! Just mix and share. After all, real food = romance!

Strawberry Hearts

Dip fresh strawberries in melted dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao), then sprinkle with chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut flakes. Want to send your Valentine some extra love? Instead of dipping the strawberries, draw on them, like Brandi at The Vegan 8, using an icing bag filled with melted chocolate.

White plate of strawberries with chocolate words

 

Valentine Love Pudding

You know the chia pudding that was popular a couple of years back? Why not adapt it for February 14th? Go ahead and mix your full-fat can of coconut milk with a couple of tablespoons of chia, but just before you add a pinch of salt and set it in the fridge to set up, stir in just enough juice concentrate to sweeten it. Try pomegranate, cherry, or cranberry for a beautiful pink color. Then when you are ready to serve it, top it with nuts and fruit, such as goji berries, pitaya, raspberries or cherries.

boysenberry pudding makes a delightful valentine

 

Cupid Chocolates

With just 3 ingredients, you can spread the love! Start with an all-natural peanut-butter, such as Adam’s, and mix in just enough pure maple syrup for a semi-sweet taste. Form into small balls (or even hearts if you like), and chill while you melt some dark chocolate (70% cacao or more). Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and set them in paper candy cups.  Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle with red sugar crystals.

With 3 ingredients, PB chocolates share the Valentine love

A Valentine Mousse to Love

What could be more romantic than a creamy pink mousse, shared by candlelight? Plus, it whips up so quickly, you can spend the extra time getting ready for the big night. Simply combine equal parts heavy cream and softened cream cheese. Add some pureed raspberries to taste and spoon into dessert cups. Chill. Just before serving, top with fresh raspberries and a dolop of whipped cream.

raspberry mousse that loves YOU

Heart’s Delight

Love chocolate and fruit together? Here’s a filled valentine that loves you because there’s no added sugar. You need freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries and coconut butter, plus some melted dark chocolate (70% cacao or more). Start by melting the coconut butter in a double boiler. Meanwhile, using a blender or food processor, powder the berries by pulsing the motor. Add the powder to the coconut butter at a ratio of about 4 parts coconut butter to 1 part berry powder. Pour into candy molds and chill to set. When candies are firm, dip in melted chocolate and leave in a cool place to set.

These valentine chocolates have a surprise raspberry filling

Lover’s Pie

Give your Valentine some love with a light fresh fruit pie. Blend any kind of nuts until they release their oil and begin to stick together. Press them firmly into the bottom of a pie pan. Next, empty about of pound of fresh or frozen berries into a saucepan along with a half of a cup of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the berries break down. Sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of gelatin, and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Pour over the nut crust and refrigerate until set. Top with more berries.

berries and gelatin make a fruit pie your Valentine will love

What you eat matters because YOU matter! If you want to live and give your best, you must eat your best! To be someone’s Sweetheart, cherish your own sweet heart by eating only ingredients that love your body back. If you’re confused about the connection between your diet and your symptoms, check out what Functional Nutrition can do for you.

Eating together raises oxytocin

Eat to Raise Oxytocin

Obsessing about de-stressing? Why not raise your love hormone, oxytocin, instead? Since stress is damaging to your health, you’re under pressure to live a more relaxed life. But isn’t relaxing under duress an oxymoron? However, science assures us that stress hormones come down when oxytocin rises, wouldn’t it be simpler to focus on the pleasurable task of raising oxytoxin?

What is Oxytocin?

You might say that oxytocin is commander-in-chief of your body’s parasympathetic nervous system response. This response is commonly called the rest-and-digest state, or the connection-relaxation state. Though many hormonal and nerve changes switch the body to this response from a sympathetic, or flight-or-flight state, oxytocin oversees the process. You see, oxytocin has many more hats to wear than just making sexual intercourse pleasurable and enabling mothers to birth and nurse their babies. It enhances bonding, appears to modulate fear, and has an anti-depressant effect.

Additionally, oxytocin can reduce anxiety, and lessen symptoms of withdrawal. Both men and women secrete oxytocin.

Signs You Might be Making Insufficient Oxytocin

Obviously, given the roles above, you might be low in oxytocin if:

  • You have trouble bonding.
  • You experience chronic depression, anxiety, or fears.
  • Sexual intercourse is mechanical and/or you have trouble achieving orgasm.
  • You crave addictive substances.

Here’s another sign that’s intriguing to me as a nutritional therapist: you crave sweet, high-carbohydrate foods. There is research that oxytocin counters cravings for sweets. But whether it does or not, this much is clear: stress does raise cravings for sweets. And too much of the stress hormone cortisol blunts oxytocin. So, it only stands to reason that raising oxytocin would diminish sugar cravings.

How Eating Can Raise Oxytocin

We know that social contact, looking in the eyes of loved ones, touch, warmth, and verbalizations of love and gratitude heighten oxytocin production. These factors all come together when you share a meal with family or friends.  But there’s more: you need certain nutrients to make oxytocin, so eating foods high in those factors can enhance your ability to manufacture and release oxytocin.

Here are three nutrients that are effective in optimizing your oxytocin levels:

  • Magnesium: This mineral has a dual function. It helps oxytocin receptors work properly, and it boosts oxytocin’s action. Because most Americans are clinically low in magnesium, you could struggle to have sufficient oxytocin due to mineral deficiency. The top foods for magnesium, believe it or not, are not bananas, although this fruit is #10 on the list. The best choices are spinach, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, tuna, and brown rice.
  • Vitamin C: Oxytocin depends on this vitamin as a co-factor in its synthesis. Vitamin C also seems to stimulate oxytocin secretion. Enhance your Vitamin C stores by eating plenty of acerola cherries, chili peppers, red and yellow bell peppers, guava, parsley, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lemons, and papayas.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri: This probiotic augments brain oxytocin. It is found in cultured foods, such as cheeses, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and miso.

My Favorite Ways to Raise Oxytocin

I find it delightful to strive for an oxytocin boost! It’s much more satisfying than writing “manage stress” on my to-do list. Here are just a few of my most enjoyable ways to increase the love hormone.

  • Eat nutrient-rich, whole-food meals with my favorite people. I highly doubt that junk food will give me an oxytocin rush, so I leave processed, refined foods out of the equation.
  • Turn up the heat. Here are several cozy options I indulge in for warming my body: sit in a sauna, soak in some hot springs, place a heated compress on my neck and shoulders, and relax with a foot soak.
  • Listen to relaxing music. It’s even more beneficial to hum or sing along.
  • Engage in body work. I personally find acupuncture, massage, and yoga to be very pleasurable.
  • Notice the sights, scents, and sounds all around: the motion of the clouds, the chirping of birds, the smell of a pine boughs, the laughter of a child, the snapping of a campfire.
  • Engage in deep inhales & long exhales, using the diaphragm, not the chest.

Remember, stress can undermine even the cleanest diet. Contact me to learn more about reducing stress hormones and eating healthier.

Blueberries and cream is a smart snack to stabilize blood sugars

Smart Snacks

Smart snacks keep blood sugars stable, maintain level energy and moods, and provide vital nutrients. Usually, they come without an ingredient list. The best ones require no mixing or cooking. For the most part, you can eat them on the go.

Convenience Drives Foolish Snack Choices

Why are we even talking about smart snacks? Today’s convenience food industry has created products that are the nemesis of health. For example, beverages with high fructose corn syrup are damaging to your liver. Further, highly processed crackers, chips, and baked goods are high in calories and low in nutrients. They can cause your blood sugars to rise rapidly. Chronically high blood sugars contribute to insulin resistance and type 2 Diabetes. Also, packaged snacks with flavor enhancers, food coloring, and other chemical additives affect your mood negatively by altering your microbiome.

Smart Snacks Are Natural Foods

When you run into the grocery store to grab a quick bite, look for items that don’t come in a box, can, or bag. Think about food that existed more than a century ago. Envision going outside to pick it, dig it, milk it, or gather it. Food scientists have invented most of the harmful products on the market today in the last 50 to 100 years. If you can’t pronounce all the ingredients on the label and don’t know what half of them are, that’s your first clue that you don’t need them. After all, who cooks at home with sodium benzoate, BHA, propylene glycol, and azodicarbonamide?

Don’t Leave Out Healthy Fats

Most of today’s snack choices center on refined carbohydrates. Eating high quantities of processed carbohydrates is dangerous for your metabolic balance. Those snacks that do contain fats are made from highly inflammatory oils: soy, canola, cottonseed, safflower, and corn. But your cells – all 37 trillion of them – each need the right kind of fats in order to admit nutrients and expel wastes. Nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, coconuts and dairy products contain natural fats that benefit your health.

Smart Combinations to Snack on

Check out this list of snack pairings, then get creative designing your own. The key is to pair a fat or protein with a fruit, vegetable or whole grain carbohydrate.

  1. Smoked Salmon on multi-seed crackers
  2. Dates & cream cheese
  3. Hummus & baby carrots
  4. Peaches & Greek yogurt
  5. Snap Peas & tahini
  6. Olives & baby bell peppers
  7. Hard-boiled eggs & grape tomatoes
  8. Raspberries & ricotta cheese
  9. Celery & sunflower seed butter
  10. Red pears & cheddar
  11. Cottage cheese & cantaloupe
  12. Grapes & gouda cheese
  13. Avocado cubes & mandarin orange slices
  14. Tuna salad in cucumber “cups”
  15. Nut butter on brown rice cakes
  16. Broiled tomatoes slices with mozzarella
  17. Peel-&-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce
  18. Pistachios & strawberries
  19. Popcorn with butter & parmesan
  20. Sunflower & sesame seeds baked with honey (see recipe below)

Sunflower-Sesame Crisp

  • 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. sesame seeds
  • 1 Tb. honey
  • 1 Tb. olive oil

Toss ingredients together and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 400° oven for 6-8 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, break apart, and cool completely.

Immunity Soup made with lentils

Immunity Soup

Immunity Soup is engineered to deliver vital nutrients while providing a comforting winter meal. The immune system is a nutrient HOG! In order to keep it functioning well, we have to feed it a constant stream of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Benefits of Immunity Soup

We start with bone broth, because it’s rich in magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and iron. To that, we add sautéed onion, which has sulphur compounds to help you detoxify. The onion is sautéed in coconut oil with some minced garlic, thyme leaves, and cumin seeds. These all have antimicrobial properties.

We know that zinc is crucial for immunity, so we use brown lentils as an abundant source of that mineral. Then for Vitamins A & C, which provide a shot of antioxidants, we chop some veggies. Rich colors alert us to the presence of antioxidants. We use tomatoes, parsley, celery, carrot, kale, cabbage, and chilies – green for mild, red for spicy.

To get an anti-inflammatory benefit, we add grated ginger root & grated turmeric root (or turmeric powder).To give the immune system a boost, we put in some chopped mushrooms and a couple of bay leaves. A final touch is to add some red wine vinegar, which supports your healthy gut microbiome in fending off pathogens.

Recipe

1 onion, chopped

2 Tb. coconut oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme

4 c. bone broth

1 c. brown lentils

1 lb. ground grass-fed lamb, beef, or sausage, browned (optional)

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

1 bunch kale, chopped

4 c. cabbage, chopped

1/4 c. tomato paste or 4 tomatoes, cubed

1 Tb. dried parsley or 1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 chilies according to preference

1″ each of turmeric root and ginger root, grated (or 1/2 tsp. powder)

8 mushrooms, chopped

2 bay leaves

3 Tb. red wine vinegar

1 Tb. salt

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot, crock pot, or Instant Pot. Pressure for 20 minutes, or simmer for 30 minutes, or slow cook for 4 hours.

 

 

Linking Insomnia, Anxiety, and Indigestion

What do insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion have in common? That may depend on your own physiological uniqueness. But for many individuals with these 3 complaints, chronic cortisol is the link.

What is cortisol and how is it made?

When your brain perceives a threat – either from within or from without – it needs a messenger to spread the alarm and get the body ready for action. So, the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary to trigger the adrenals to make cortisol from cholesterol.

You might mistakenly believe that cortisol is the enemy. Many call it The Stress Hormone and give it a bad rap. But what many people don’t realize is that cortisol is critical for you to wake up, focus, set goals, meet your deadlines, and even exercise. That’s because it rouses you out of your resting/healing state. It does that by increasing blood pressure and heart rate and raising blood sugars to that you can have energy to mobilize – whether that be dancing, debating, or dodging a bullet!

The problem is that when cortisol output becomes chronic, your body never gets to rest and digest and heal. That’s when you begin to see health issues.

Why do so many people have chronically high cortisol levels?

First, this is a go-go-go world of ongoing crises from sun-up to sundown, with alarms, alerts, and emergencies all clamoring for your attention. Urgencies control your focus. Your body responds intelligently by producing the hormone that will help you meet those demands. Unless you deliberately choose to slow down, shut down, and turn off, your body will continue to produce cortisol day and night.

Second, 60 to 80% of the American diet is refined carbohydrate, everything from Rice Krispies to Wonder Bread, and from French fries to pasta. And that’s not counting chips, candy, or pop! When you eat like that, your body needs cortisol to come to the rescue. Think of it like this:

What happens after I toss a bowling ball 10 feet in the air? Of course! It comes crashing down! Well, blood sugars are the proverbial bowling ball. You launch them into the air by loading up on meals and snacks that are not balanced with appropriate proteins and fats. The laws of nature say that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, inevitably, blood sugars plummet!

A blood sugar dip may contribute to insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion

Your brain can’t tolerate that. It must be guaranteed a constant supply of glucose in order to direct the minute-by-minute management of all your body functions. So, it declares an emergency, and the hypothalamus signals the pituitary to trigger the adrenals to release cortisol to raise blood sugars back up.  Cortisol alerts the muscles and the liver to release stored glucose for immediate energy. In effect, when you grab a doughnut, a Kit Kat, or a Pepsi, you stress your body into fight-or-flight.

How does cortisol instigate insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion?

Your body is smart. It knows how to put first things first. If you have a battle to fight, it will energize your muscles, increase your blood flow, and sharpen your vision. But…it will also shut down digestion and keep you alert so you don’t drift into slumber easily. After all, those things are a lower priority than simply surviving! Therefore, people with chronically high cortisol often notice symptoms such as heartburn, bloat, anxiety, and insomnia.

How can you reduce insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion?

Start in the morning by building a slow-burning, enduring metabolic fire. You prevent a cortisol spike by avoiding a blood sugar trough. Figuratively speaking, you have to put coal in your steam engine. What would happen if you tried to run a steam engine train with a pile of newspapers? It wouldn’t work! The train would get 2 feet down the track and stop.

Fruit juices, cereal, white flours, and sweeteners are like newspapers. They burn hot and fast, and extinguish quickly. They don’t power you for the long haul. “Coal” comes from healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, butter, coconut oil, olives, and avocados.

That might mean adding Greek yogurt to your oatmeal, putting an avocado in your green smoothie, eating a couple of eggs with your toast or having a sausage patty with your hash browns. Please, please, please don’t grab a bowl of cereal with skin milk, or run out the door with a granola bar!

Next, when you grab a snack, pair a healthy fat with a high-fiber fruit or vegetable. For example, you might eat hummus and carrots, cottage cheese and peaches, coconut milk and blueberries, olives and baby bell peppers, almond butter and apples, or guacamole and mango.

While there are many factors that contribute to insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion, stabilizing cortisol output with balanced eating can improve these complaints dramatically.

Breakfast soup of broth, chicken, and vegetables

Breakfast Soups

What if, instead of cereal, you had soup for breakfast? It might sound odd in America, but all over the world, healthy cultures feast on breakfast soup several times per week.

Historical Bias for Breakfast Soup

There’s an old saying: “Breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; dinner like a pauper.”  In blue zones – 5 places around the world where people consistently live over 100 years old – breakfast looks more like dinner. In most cases, the first meal of the day consists of protein, plant-based fats (nuts, seeds, oils), and beans or vegetables.

Many Japanese eat Sumo Stew first thing in the morning is normal. Also, Nigerians often enjoy Egg Stew, Chinese slurp Congee (rice porridge with egg and meat), and Columbians have their Changua (milk soup with poached eggs). From Mohinga (fish & noodle soup) in Burma to Lablabi (chickpea soup) in Tunisia, people around the globe have been eating soup for breakfast forever. And let’s not forget Vietnamese Pho, or Indian Ginger Rasam (lentil soup).

Yet, according to a survey that Kellogg’s conducted, only 34% of adult Americans eat breakfast at all.

Advantages of Soup for Breakfast

Here’s how soup beats cereal for your morning meal:

First, it stabilizes your blood sugars. Steaming broths rich in amino acids, and vegetables in healthy fats help insure you don’t have an insulin spike today. Add to that protein-rich meats and legumes, and you have a true winner.

Second, those who eat a hearty meal in the morning are more likely to lose weight. One study followed two groups of people who ate the same number of calories, but distributed them differently throughout the day. This first group ate more calories at breakfast, while the second group ate more calories at dinner. The group that consumed the larger breakfast lost 2.5 times more weight than the the group that ate a larger dinner group. Additionally, the first group lost four more inches around the waist. ”What we have seen is that people on diets with the same number of calories who front-load calories to the earlier part of the day fare better in terms of subjective and objective measures of satiety,” researchers said.

Further, those who eat like a king at breakfast are more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI). “Studies have found that although people who skip breakfast eat slightly fewer calories during the day, they tend to have higher body mass index, or BMI,” says Christy C. Tangney, PhD, a clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center and an expert on the effects of diet and nutrition on heart health.

Finally, an ample breakfast encourages a vigorous metabolism. When you eat well in the morning, you’re telling your body that there are plenty of calories available for the day. When you skimp on breakfast, the message you send your body is that it needs to conserve rather than burn any incoming calories.

Recipes

Not sure you want to eat international fare? Here are some American recipes that will give you the same benefits that cultures around the world enjoy.

Butternut Soup

This recipe comes from Mickey Trescott at AutoimmuneWellness.com.

  • 1 tablespoon solid cooking fat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 lbs. whole chicken
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 cups baby spinach
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  1. Place the solid cooking fat in the bottom of your Instant Pot and select the “saute” function. When the fat has melted and the pot is hot, add the onion, and cook, stirring, until translucent and lightly browned, about six minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another 30 seconds, until aromatic.
  2. Put the water into the pot and turn off the heat. Add the chicken, squash, and sea salt to the pot. Lock the lid, and set your machine to pressure cook on the manual “high” setting for 16 minutes.
  3. When the machine indicates the dish is finished cooking, immediately place a towel over the steam valve, carefully opening with the use of a wooden spoon (careful — you can burn yourself easily here!) to quick-release the pressure. Once the steam is released, remove the lid, and allow to cool.
  4. Once the dish has cooled enough, remove the whole chicken from the pot, take off the meat, and place back in the pot with the spinach and lemon juice. Place back into the Instant Pot container to heat to temperature, and enjoy!
  5. If you are going to be portioning this soup into jars for storage in the freezer, allow it to cool completely and spend 24 hours in the refrigerator before doing so — the soup will have a better flavor when you reheat it!

Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 3 cups bone broth
  • 1 lb. ground sausage, browned
  • 2 cups diced raw sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 cups kale, chopped
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in coconut oil until translucent.
  2. Put all ingredients except kale in a crock pot or soup pot and simmer until sweet potato is tender (20 minutes on stovetop, 2-3 hours in a crock pot).
  3. Add the kale and cook 2-3 minutes more, just until kale is wilted.
Need to end bloat from too many cookies?

End Holiday Gas, Bloat, and Heartburn

Is binge-eating synonymous with Christmas?  Too often, merry turns into miserable when gas, indigestion, and heartburn strike after a night of gorging on goodies! Functional Nutrition can help you digest and absorb your food better in order to end holiday bloat.

Use these five tips to keep your holidays happy:

  • Eat real. Focus on foods that don’t come with a nutrition label. You are more likely to be satisfied with less when you eat whole foods. Consider which of these offerings is likely to give your body what it needs so it will turn off the hunger signals. They are both fish: Atlantic salmon, and Swedish Fish candies.

salmon dinnerSwedish Fish ingredient list

  • Sip herbal tea: Used for centuries, peppermint and chamomile are two pleasant herbs that can power up digestion, relieve gas, reduce bloat, and end indigestion. Additionally, sipping the hot water can soothe your stomach. As the water moves through your your system, it hydrates your organs so they are better able to eliminate waste.
  • Nibble bitter food. Fennel seeds and ginger root are classified as digestive bitters. A little at the end of your meal will promote gall bladder contractions and intestinal movement to prevent stagnant stomach. You can toast fennel seeds in a dry skillet until golden brown for enhanced flavor and performance. Ginger can be shaved to be eaten in thin curls.
  • Stretch into some yoga poses. Marichyasana improves digestion by twisting and massaging the abdominal organs. Pavana muktasana releases trapped gas and cures indigestion by stimulating peristalsis, the wavelike motion of the intestines.
  • Go for a walk. Rather than slumping onto the couch, which accentuates lethargic digestion, get up and move! Even just a slow stroll will stimulate your organs to work better.

Now, on the list of don’ts: avoid reaching for Tums or Zantac. We believe in functional nutrition that what you absorb is just as important as what you eat. To rev up sluggish digestion, you need MORE stomach acid, not less. So, enjoy good food and good company, don’t rush your meals, chew thoroughly, and implement the strategies above to prevent and end holiday bloat, gas, and indigestion.