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COVID-19 Considerations

Consider how resilient you are to COVID-19 or any viral infection. Whether or not you have had the SARS-COV-2 virus infect you, you need strong immune function. Regardless of whether you choose the vaccine or not, you want your body to respond well to threats. Even if you are not concerned about Post-COVID Syndrome, you want to be resilient when germs attack your body.

Consider Your Innate Immune Response to COVID-19

Your innate immune system is on the front lines for any viral battle. The key components of this system include your body’s natural barriers: your skin, and the mucous linings of your gut, lungs, and nasal passages. Even the membrane that surrounds your brain is part of this innate system.

If you have enhanced intestinal permeability (EIP), your barriers are compromised. You likely already have increased levels of the cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6). Therefore, you are more susceptible to the inflammation of a high viral load causing a cytokine storm. EIP is common where many food sensitivities are present and is an underlying condition of autoimmunity.

To be strong for either a vaccination or an infection of COVID-19, consider changes you can make to strengthen your body’s barriers.

Heal Barrier Function

Looking at Vitamin D as a consideration for COVID-19 immunity, sufficient levels of this vitamin DO enhance the tight junctions in our skin, gut lining, and blood-brain barrier. One of the issues with Vitamin D supplements is that individuals take high doses. Taking too much at once can deplete magnesium and Vitamin A. Always, you must strive for balance in the body. Too much of one substance compromises others.

Also, too high of levels of vitamin D can suppress immunity. So, while low Vitamin D levels threaten barrier function, too much is just as dangerous. Work with a qualified practitioner to asses your need, and don’t just supplement indiscriminately.

Also, be mindful to hydrate, manage stress, and avoid unnecessary medication to maintain your body’s barriers. Eat whole, natural foods, and skirt the refined, processed oils. Be wary of sugars and foods that increase Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).

Consider Minerals for COVID-19 Resiliency

It is no secret that you need zinc to heal wounds. When you are fighting any virus, the tissues in your body are “wounded.” Further, when you are under stress chronically, your body allows more copper in place of zinc on purpose so that your can fight or flee better. But you need adequate zinc to maintain your immune function. So, whether or not you have been infected or vaccinated, you may want to test your zinc sufficiency. You can ask your practitioner to check your zinc levels.

Are you feeling anemic? When you have inflammation, your body upregulates a substance called hepcidin on purpose. Hepcidin keeps you from absorbing iron well. Your body knows that iron fuels microbial growth, so it wisely prohibits high iron levels. Insufficient iron in the presence of higher hepcidin could be a clue that you already have too many cytokines on the loose. Working to get to the root of chronic inflammation empowers you to be safer when threatened with a virus.

Your practitioner will want to compare serum iron, ferritin, and hemoglobin levels to ascertain your iron status.

Restorative Sleep for Resiliency

You need to sleep to heal. Your sleep hormone, melatonin, is also a powerful antioxidant that repairs damage from a viral battle. When you find yourself on the “long-haul” recovering from a viral infection, your body may commandeer tryptophan (an amino acid) to make more macrophages (white blood cells that devour viruses). Since you need tryptophan to make melatonin, you may find you can’t sleep well. While making more macrophages promotes your survival, it does not support your healing. Thus, you enter a downward spiral that is difficult to recover from.

For the short term, you may need additional protein (and the tryptophan precursor Vitamin B6) so that you can make both macrophages and melatonin. Your practitioner can give you appropriate supplementation guidelines. But to insure your resiliency before and after an infection, make sure you don’t short-change your sleep. Less than 8 hours per night puts you into a sleep deficit. Prioritize a restful night to support your health.


Toilet paper

Relieve Constipation

You can relieve constipation with diet and lifestyle choices. The Constipation Club includes roughly 1 of every 5 Americans. Constipation is a serious symptom that contributes to disease. While it is not true that diet, exercise, and hydration are the only factors contributing to constipation, they are they ones you can control.

Relieve Constipation with Good Eating Hygiene

One of the most important everyday choices you make to sustain bowel regularity is how you eat. If your eating hygiene is sloppy, it will decrease your digestive secretions (stomach acid, bile, digestive enzymes). These secretions are key to ensuring that you have a healthy bowel movement.

What does good eating hygiene consist of? Here are 7 key aspects:

  1. Imagine and create a relaxed setting, where you can truly be in the moment. Candles or nature, anyone?
  2. Focus on the smells, tastes, & textures of the meal. Truly savor your food.
  3. Chew more! If that means taking smaller bites, then use toddler silverware or cut every bite into fourths, but make sure your food is nearly liquid before you swallow.
  4. Yes, hydrate. But do so mainly between meals. If you need to moisten your food, see #3. More than 8 ounces of liquid with your meal will dilute digestive function.
  5. Don’t overfill the “washing machine.” Your stomach needs room to agitate its contents. Leave overstuffing to padded furniture.
  6. Deepen your inhales and lengthen your exhales, especially when you sit down to your meal. This helps switch you out of “fight-or-flight” into “rest-and-digest”.
  7. Take your time. Approximately 20 minutes after you start eating, your body produces cholecystokinin (CCK) to stimulate both bile and enzymes to help break down your food. So, avoid rushing in order to let these substances have optimal effect.

Moving Beyond Eating Hygiene

If you have mastered eating hygiene and are still struggling to relieve constipation, consider the 3 M’s and the 3 F’s.

  • Magnesium helps relax the colon. The best form to take for constipation relief is magnesium citrate. Check with your functional practitioner to know how much magnesium is appropriate for you.
  • Movement stimulates peristalsis. Are you sitting too much? Counting steps with an pedometer lets you know how much movement you engage in per day. For example, 5,000 steps in a 16-hour waking period means you are moving approximately 5% of the time. You need to have roughly 24,000 steps in 16 hours to be moving 25% of the time.
  • Medicines may impair motility (especially opiods, antacids and iron supplements). When you take prescriptions sporadically, you can relieve constipation with prune juice. But when you use constipating drugs regularly, you may need to work with a practitioner to resolve your need for these pills.
  • Fat helps “grease the skids” if it is unrefined & natural. Avoid processed vegetable oil. Stick with olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, and butter for the most part. A low-fat diet can impair your ability to relieve constipation.
  • Fiber can both bulk up and soften the stool for it to pass more readily. You should strive to eat more than 25 grams of fiber each day. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains fills this requirement.
  • Food intolerances or sensitivities interfere with normal bowel function. If you have a food intolerance, you lack enzymes to digest your food well. In contrast, a food sensitivity invokes an immune response and you experience inflammation. Both of these scenarios can contribute to constipation. You can order a blood test to check for food sensitivities.

Constipation Relief Requires Good Cellular Communication

Another cause of constipation is poor communication between the brain and the gut, or between the cells of the gut. Since hormones and neurotransmitters are the messengers of this communication, functional practitioners look at those chemicals for imbalance.

Too little thyroid hormone, can cause your system to back up because it slows down all metabolism, including digestive functions. Be sure to let a functional practitioner test your hormone levels before adjusting any medication. One of your most important levels to know is your Free T3, which is the active form of thyroid hormone. Many individuals have sufficient T4 thyroid hormone, but don’t convert it well to the active form.

Cortisol primes cell receptors for other hormones to enter. Both hyper- and hypo-cortisol states influence thyroid hormone action. Again, “test, don’t guess” is the rule for balancing your hormones correctly.

Neurotransmitter Action Matters

You synthesize serotonin, one of your most prominent neurotransmitters, chiefly in your gut, not your brain. Taking an SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) for anxiety or depression is a common cause of constipation. These medications tell the body to recycle the serotonin you have, so the brain assumes you have enough. Over time, your brain directs your body to slow down production. Too little serotonin provokes constipation, while too much serotonin triggers diarrhea. If you struggle with neurotransmitter balance, you will want to work with a functional practitioner to help you re-establish healthy levels.

As you can see, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to solving constipation. Factors can be varied and individual.

Passing a stool should be an effortless, everyday occurrence. Just as you would not want to use the dirty dishwater to cook a meal, your body does not want to re-circulate waste products to sustain your health. Please avail yourself of tools and resources to make sure that your “garbage” doesn’t pile up.




Is a resolve to lose weight harming you?

Don’t Resolve to Lose Weight in 2021

Don’t resolve to lose weight in 2021. Rather, resolve to be healthier than ever before. Then, when you have optimized your digestion, blood sugars, metabolism, and hormones, your weight will take care of itself.

Prime Indicators of Health

Americans have been conditioned to believe that the scale accurately reflects their health. There are plenty of skinny diabetics, stocky athletes, and beautiful but fatigued models to disprove the weight-health connection. Yet, we continue to look at weight as an end-goal.

For example, if you were to visit your physician with tension headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and weight gain, you would likely receive a prescription for weight loss, along with a diuretic and a statin. But this would not address the reason for your symptoms. Weight gain is after all, only a reflection of your body’s function. It would not be accurate to say that excess weight is the cause of your headaches, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In this case, a resolve to lose weight would treat one of your symptoms. It would not necessarily make your a healthier person.

We can use many lab tests to assess whether you are thriving. Perhaps one of the greatest indicators, though is how you feel. Are you sluggish or energetic? Do you have plaguing cravings, or do your meals leave you feeling fueled and satisfied? Do do you feel bloated, and swollen. or do you move freely and easily? Is your mind foggy or clear? Are your moods unpredictable, or stable?

Roadblocks to Weight Loss

If dieting really worked, we would not have an epidemic of obesity. The CDC reports that the number of Americans on diets has risen 14% over the last decade, and yet, the rate of obesity also continues to rise. Estimates are that roughly 2/3 of the American population is now overweight or obese.

Here are some reasons why your body might be hanging on to those extra pounds:

  • Dieting – Calorie restriction lowers your basal metabolic rate and convinces your body to hoard! It’s better to have an abundance of nutrient-dense foods for your body to run optimally. Then it can discard what it doesn’t need.
  • Toxicity – Adipose tissue is the storage depot for toxins that your body cannot fully eliminate. Your body hangs onto the fat on purpose to protect you from organ damage. If you resolve to lose weight by drastic caloric reductions and extreme exercise plans, you put those toxins back into circulation. Unless your liver is a superhero and all your elimination routes are fully clear, you increase inflammation and stress in your body.
  • Hormone Imbalance – Guess what! Your hormones are in control! Thyroid hormone determines how fast or slow your metabolism is. Insulin commands whether you store or burn your meal. Cortisol is the gatekeeper that admits other hormones into the cell. It’s all a symphony. If one is “out of tune,” it spoils the whole performance.
  • Stress – When your are under constant strain, without regular breaks for relief, your body chooses to “stockpile” energy in the form of fat tissue to insure survival. It doesn’t know how long the threat will last, or if you will be required to flea at any moment. It does know, though, that if you are starved and depleted, you will not effectively make your escape. Thus, stress can increase weight even more than poor nutrition and empty calories.

Resolve to Lose Inflammation, Not Weight

What do toxicity, hormone imbalances and stress have in common? Inflammation! So, you will be most successful in your resolve for better health if you shed inflammation and stop worrying about weight. As noted in this post, sleep deprivation is one factor that increases inflammation. Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep is a primary tool for thriving health. Another tool is insuring good blood sugar balance. If you experience blood sugar crashes, you may want to enroll in our newest class for 2021, “Help! I’m Hangry!”

Baby steps are okay! Start where you are, and resolve to do a little better each day. If you are having digestive distress, or feel that your hormones are skewed, I can help.

Last-minute molasses cookies

Last-Minute Treats

Need some last-minute treats to give to a friend or serve with your holiday dinner that are not sugar-laden? Try one of these simple recipes made from natural foods. You will only need 10 minutes in prep time for each one. Nobody will know that both recipes are dairy-free, gluten-free, and low in natural sugar. The cookies have an egg-free alternative.

Creamy Cashew Fudge

last-minute fudge

With only 6 ingredients, this recipe is simple. You won’t use cups and cups of sugar – just a few ounces of pure maple syrup. But best of all, you don’t need to cook it on the stove like a traditional fudge. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in less than a minute, and stir it into cashew butter.

Palm shortening makes it set. This is not the same thing as traditional shortening, which is full of trans fats. Rather, it is palm oil with some of the unsaturated oils removed to make it firm yet creamy at room temperature. Palm oil, the second most-common cooking oil in the world, comes from tropical palm trees.

These luxurious fudge squares keep best in the refrigerator; they tend to be soft if left out.

Soft Molasses Cookies

last-minute molasses cookies

You’ll never guess what sweetens these chewy gems. The secret is golden raisins! A little pumpkin pie spice turns them into a holiday ginger cookie that can be rolled and cut into shapes if you’re not in a hurry. Although for a last-minute treat, you can drop them onto your cookie sheet with a spoon. Then flatten them slightly, and they’ll come out in pretty little circles.

For egg-free cooking, I find it works well to blend some water, avocado oil, and baking powder with the raisins. The cookies hold together just as well, and the liquid helps puree the raisins, just as the eggs would.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Last Minute Treats

Natural, gluten-free, dairy-free fudge and cookies that will delight your guests as if you had spent hours in the kitchen!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Refrigeration Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cacao, chocolate, maple syrup, molasses, nut butter, raisins
Servings: 16
Cost: $5-10


For the Creamy Cashew Fudge

  • 6-10 oz. 70% cacao bar (depending on how dark you like it)
  • 1/2 cup palm shortening
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew butter (no additives)
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For the Soft Molasses Cookies

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 eggs ( or use 1/4 c. water, 2 tsp. avocado oil, 1 Tbsp. baking powder)
  • 2 cups almond butter (no additives)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


For the Fudge

  • Break the cacao bars into 1" pieces. Add them to the palm shortening in a microwave-safe container. Microwave in 20-second bursts, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted, but not hot.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the cashew butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Pour in the melted shortening and cacao bars. Beat again until smooth.
  • Spray a 9X9 pan with cooking spray. Spread the fudge in the pan with a rubber spatula. Chill until set. Cut into 1/2" squares.

For the Cookies

  • In a high-speed blender, puree the raisins with the egg or egg substitute until no pieces remain.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the almond butter, molasses, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add the raisin puree and mix until completely incorporated.
  • If cutting shapes, chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling to 1/4" thick. Use a spatula after cutting to lift onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
    Otherwise, drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly.
  • Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until browned and set. Cool slightly. Remove to cooling racks.
Lemon and ginger are cold and flu remedies that work

Cold and Flu Remedies that Work

During cold and flu season, you need remedies that work – that actually cure your symptoms, rather than just mask them. Here are my personal favorites.

Cold and Flu Prevention

The most important step you can take during the winter months is to protect yourself before the sick days come. Common sense applies here. Sleep long and deep (about 8 hours) every night, stay hydrated, eat your vegetables, and get plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and vitamin J (joy).

But is there more you can do? I believe so. Like maidens with garlic to ward off vampires, fire cider seems to nip viruses before they can get established. The principle of fire cider is to preserve the anti-microbial qualities of several plants in a vinegar base, then take a spoonful every day.

Fire cider recipes abound on the internet. They all include garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and apple cider vinegar. Some use lemon, cayenne, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, or other ingredients from your pantry. I have used recipes from Mommypotamus, Wellness Mama, and Mountain Rose Herbs.

My favorite way to use this cold and flu remedy is to incorporate it into an oil and vinegar salad dressing, using the fire cider in place of the vinegar in the recipe.

Immune Support that Works

When you feel that scratchy throat just beginning, or the chills setting in, you need nutrients to switch your immune system into high gear. Keep a cold and flu remedy box in your medicine cabinet that contains vitamin A (retinol form), vitamin D3, vitamin C, and zinc picolinate. At the first sign of illness, take the following doses each day for 7 days:

  • 10,000 IU of vitamin A
  • 5,000 IU of vitamin D3
  • 2,000 mg. of vitamin C
  • 45 m.g of zinc picolinate in 15 mg. doses spaced 4-6 hours apart

As a bonus, you can take an astralgus supplement twice a day for two days.

Fever Remedies

There is a difference between gently drawing down a fever and suppressing it. When you suppress a fever with aspirin, ibuprofen or Tylenol, you hamper your body’s ability to fight the virus inside. So when the pill wears off, you experience a more virulent fever than if you had just let it run it’s course. Alex Pinchot, ND, says, “When we get in the way of our bodies innate ability to fight an infection we end up prolonging the illness and are more uncomfortable for longer.”

It is wonderfully soothing to lay a vinegar-soaked washcloth on a hot forehead, or to put vinegar-soaked stockings on your burning feet. You’ll keep your fever low-grade while still allowing it to work against your cold or flu virus. Here’s how to do it: dilute 1 cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of tepid water. Wring your fabric out before applying it. If you are soaking socks, wear wool socks over the top of them and re-soak them after about 3 hours when they are dried out.

Another important principle to remember about fevers is that our greatest discomfort comes when we begin to get dehydrated. You don’t have to limit yourself to water in order to replenish your body’s need. Herbal teas and especially bone broth are particularly nourishing and restorative. I also like electrolyte powders, such as Ultima Replenisher, added to my water.

A Restorative Remedy for Malaise

I understand how difficult it is to budge when everything aches and the fatigue goes bone deep! However, movement can get lymph flowing better, moving waste away from our cells, and it can open up airways, reducing congestion. Yoga teacher Adriene Mishler presents a most relaxing and rejuvenating sequence you can do on your sick bed.

Zinc Works for Sore Throats

You’ve seen supplements that combine vitamin C with zinc. That’s logical since the immune system uses both to fight pathogens. But have you ever thought of applying zinc directly to your inflamed throat tissue? Ahhh, it’s truly soothing! And it doesn’t just numb; it actually provides immune support to your throat tissue. My favorite spray is TheraZinc.

Other Cold and Flu Remedies that Work

  • Cough: Did you know that according to this study, honey is just as effective as dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in most cough syrups? I like mixing it with a little lemon juice and warm water. Others stir it into oil and vinegar, or combine it with cinnamon.
  • Headache: Several different essential oils can be effective when rubbed on the temples. I am partial to peppermint or spruce.
  • Congestion: Hydration is paramount. I find it helpful to temporarily omit dairy and to sip a cup of steaming herbal tea, such as peppermint, eucalyptus, or ginger.

Don’t Forget to Support Your Spleen

It’s a forgotten organ, but your spleen is a blood purifier and is challenged in its filtering capabilities when you are under viral attack. A few drops of burdock tincture or a cup of burdock tea every few hours can be quite healing. I also recommend skin brushing to keep your lymph from stagnating and putting additional burden on the spleen.

The Most Important Cold and Flu Remedy

Last, but not least, take a day off – or several. Stop pushing. Let your body do the work of recovering without fighting against you. It needs the energy to address the viral threat, not to meet work deadlines, run the kids to soccer, throw in another load of laundry, and fix dinner for company. Don’t just take an over-the-counter symptom treatment to keep going. Give your body the grace to heal by truly resting.


Sneezing is one type of food reaction.

Food Reactions 101

If you have a food reaction, are you allergic to a particular food? Not necessarily. There are a lot of reasons to react poorly to something you ate. You may be sensitive, or intolerant, but not allergic. Perhaps you lack digestive enzymes or free-flowing bile. Let’s explore different types of food reactions.

What kinds of food reactions are there?

Beyond food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies, there are physiological reasons to have trouble with food. For example, spicy food can irritate and inflame your esophagus. Foods containing certain starches that are difficult to digest can give you bloat, gas, and cramps. High fat foods can make you nauseated if your gall bladder is congested or even missing. Further, foods contaminated with chemicals can give you a headache. If your detoxification pathways are blocked, you may feel your heart racing when too much of a substance, such as caffeine, builds up in your body. Lastly, sustained stress can  impair your ability to digest.

It can be very helpful to keep a food journal. Note what you ate and when, and record what symptoms you are having and when they occur. You may be able to see certain patterns, such as waking up with joint pain after a binge of cookies, or getting a stomach ache every time you eat fast food in the car. Perhaps you notice post-nasal drip at night that it goes away when you eliminate yogurt or peanuts. The expert on your food reactions is YOU!

What is the difference between a food allergy, a sensitivity, and an intolerance?

Most likely, you know if you are allergic to something. Your reaction occurs sometimes within minutes, but certainly within a few hours. The symptoms are classic: itchiness, swelling, rashes, sinus congestion, and/or airway constriction. It only takes a drop or a crumb to set you off.

However, a food sensitivity may take up to 3 days to manifest. You may not realize you are reacting to something you ate yesterday or the day before. In addition, you may eat it this week and not have any symptoms. But when you eat it next week, you have an attack of diarrhea.

With the first exposure to a food you are sensitive to, your body flags the item as a possible problem. When you eat it again, the antibodies are ready and your immune system reacts aggressively. You may feel that you are inflamed in some way.

Yet, perhaps you only eat a few bites. So you don’t notice much. Next time, you may feel it’s harmless, and may have a cup of it. Over the next day or two, you feel cranky, sluggish or achy. This is typical of a food sensitivity.

An intolerance does not involve an immune reaction. Nevertheless, you are incapable of breaking down and absorbing the food. Usually, this is because you lack the enzymes to digest it. A case in point is lactose intolerance. This simply means your body doesn’t make lactase. Therefore, you cannot degrade lactose. If you eat it, you will have a stomach ache.

How do I know if I’m having a food reaction?

The simple answer is to take the food out of your diet cold turkey for 30 days. (Watch labels to make sure you are not accidentally being exposed.) Then on the 31st and 32nd days, eat two full servings of it each day. Record any symptoms that crop up, especially if you have not been experiencing them over the past month.

Common symptoms of food reactions include joint pain, muscle aches, sinus congestion or post-nasal drip, headache, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, depression, anxiety, lethargy, fatigue, rashes, itching, bloat, brain fog, forgetfulness, sudden mood changes, and irritability.

If you are having difficulty sleuthing out which foods to remove from your diet, you may want to use a blood-based food sensitivity test. The lab technicians will determine if you have antibodies and an inflammatory reaction to the foods on the test. Although the test can give false positives or negatives, you will have a set of likely foods to begin removing in a methodical way.

You can order an at-home blood sample kit through Inner Connected Wellness that tests 22 foods, 132 foods, or 176 foods, depending on your need.

Will I ever be able to eat that food again?

Unfortunately, food allergies are unlikely to go away. But many people are able to heal food sensitivities by avoiding their triggers for 3-4 months (it takes that long for antibodies to die) and engaging in a gut healing protocol to repair the problem that caused the sensitivity in the first place. You can work with a functional nutritionist to make sure you have adequate nutrition and digestive secretions to break down your food optimally. That way, your immune system will not freak out over a particle of partially-digested gluten or casein.

If your food reaction is because of an intolerance, digestive enzymes will most likely help you assimilate that food. When other imbalances, irritants, or blockages are at play, addressing the root cause removes that impairment. Then you can eat troublesome foods once again without an adverse reaction.

Measuring foods against an ideal diet

The Ideal Diet

What is the ideal diet? Is it Keto or Vegan? Should you employ the Flexitarian approach or try Intermittent Fasting? What about Volumetrics?

Truthfully, none of the above diets are ideal for everyone. Because our physiology, genetics, stressors, food tastes, energy expenditures, and budgets are all different, there is no one-size-fits-all diet!

However, there are some principles that can be applied to every eating style. These principles have guided international cuisines through the ages. They have kept humans alive and thriving for millennia.

First and foremost, the ideal diet for you will be one the that supports your lifestyle the best. No approach is any good to you if you can’t implement it consistently over the long haul. Sure, anyone can “white-knuckle’ a diet for a few weeks. But is it sustainable? Is it enjoyable? Further, can you do it without endlessly charting, counting, and tracking? In addition, are the ingredients readily available?

Once you have determined what foods are accessible that you are willing to cook and eat on a regular basis, you might consider these additional keys. I deem these tenets as ideal for mankind’s diet across the planet.

5 Keys To An Ideal Diet

  1. No industrially processed or refined foods. If you think about it, you will realize that food labels are a relatively modern creation. If you were to travel to the Inuit, the Maori, or the Maasai of yesteryear, you would find no commercial foods whatsoever. Now, I’m not glorifying primitive life. I’m only pointing out that strong people require strong natural foods.
  2. A balance of animal and plant foods. Your physiology is that of an omnivore. Nature did not design you to be purely carnivorous nor utterly vegan. You need the phytonutrients of the plant kingdom, and the fats, amino acids, and vitamins of the animal kingdom.
  3. Nutrient dense. Foods from nature have comparatively lower calories and higher nutritional value than man-made foods. For example, contrast a stalk of broccoli with a protein bar. There are so many wholesome plant chemicals in the broccoli that we haven’t even discovered them all! But we know there are upwards of 500.
  4. Cooked plant foods and raw animal proteins. In the ideal diet, vegetables are best raw and animal foods are best cooked, right? Not necessarily. We can learn from traditional cultures that some plants are more digestible when cooked. Some proteins are best consumed with the raw enzymes that help us digest them. Nature and history are good schoolmasters to help us weigh the benefits of cooking against eating raw.
  5. Some fermented foods or beverages. Until the commercialization of modern foods, there was no culture in the world that did not eat fermented products regularly in its diet. Some examples are kimchi from Korea and chutney from India, natto from Japan, and togwa from Tanzania. Mexico had its horchata, and Finland had its sima. These help stabilize your oh-so-important microbiome.

Additional Tenets for Optimal Eating

  1. Soaked, soured, cultured grains, legumes, nuts & seeds. Is it possible that today’s allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances are partially due to improperly-prepared food? In temperate regions all over the globe, societies pre-treated their seeds with extensive methods of sprouting or fermenting. These approaches neutralize the “anti-nutrients” that make them indigestible.
  2. A wide variety of saturated and monounsaturated fats. Certainly, we should understand the science by now proving that a fat-free diet is absolutely detrimental to human health. But which fat is best? Perhaps olive oil is optimal for the heart. However, you cannot build a brain without saturated fat! No single fat has the corner on the health market. The best diet contains fats from both animals and plants, from a diverse range of foods.
  3. Colored salt. Since when was stripping any food down to a single molecule advantageous to your health? Nature brings us food with all the co-factors we need to utilize it. In the case of salt, the other trace minerals are crucial to maintaining our electrolyte balance.
  4. Skin, bones, and organs, too. Just as it is unnatural to eat food that has been processed down to a component or two (think sugar and white flour), it is also just as short-sighted and unhealthy to eat only the  muscles of a creature and to throw away the rest. All societies from the beginning of time made use of the whole animal in their cooking. Each part has its special contribution, such as collagen, minerals, or vitamins.
  5. Special nutrition for select groups. Soon-to-be parents, mothers, and children have an especially high nutritional need! Nature requires these individuals to eat better for the propagation of the race. Our rising generation should have the best diet of all, instead of the most deficient! It is deplorable that we bribe our little ones with treats, send them with puffed bits of artificial food for lunch, and serve them dinners of instant, processed, microwaved substances.

For me, the ideal diet is the one that is closest to nature!

girl with fever is not well

Top Tip to Stay Well During Pandemic

What’s the best way to stay well during the COVID-19 pandemic? Taking zinc or vitamin D supplements? Requesting hydrocholoquine treatments? Actually, my top recommendation to stay well is to minimize all sugar intake. Especially high fructose corn syrup.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t keep washing our hands, masking ourselves in crowded public places, and staying 6 feet away from others. If we’re already infected, we need to exercise care not to expose our fellowmen. In particular, we need to be mindful of those who may already have weakened immune systems. But in the long run, staying well is better than being sick and trying not to spread our germs. Wouldn’t you agree?

Sugar Hijacks Our Health

With regard to the current pandemic, there are at least 3 researched paths by which eating more sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, increases both our risk for infection and our risk for a more severe outcome from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

First, sugar consumption increases insulin resistance. You understand that the higher the sweetness of your diet, the higher your insulin levels go to compensate. Eventually, your cells become resistant to this hormone. According to Benjamin Bikman, author of “Why We Get Sick,” insulin resistance is the fundamental factor in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Of course, you know that these three conditions are the primary risk factors in COVID-19 infection and mortality. High fructose corn syrup, found in most soft drinks, is especially harmful. Gerald Shulman, professor at Yale University School of Medicine explains that, “Fructose is much more readily metabolized to fat in the liver than glucose is….[This] can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD in turn leads to hepatic insulin resistance and type II diabetes.”

Can You Stay Well With A High-Sugar Diet?

There are more reasons to watch your sugar intake. Namely, elevated furin levels in your blood. Furin is a protein that SARS-CoV-2 hijacks to increase its infectivity. A 2018 study between researchers in Sweden and Finland found that over 4,000 participants with insulin resistance and diabetes had elevated furin.[1] The implication is that the greater your insulin resistance, the higher your furin levels. Further, the higher your furin levels, the greater your vulnerability to COVID-19.

Finally, sugar, particularly high fructose corn syrup, feeds the pentose phosphate pathway in your body. Researcher Chris Masterjohn describes a process in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses this pathway to replicate its RNA. “There is a strong biochemical argument suggesting that fructose,” he says, “would provide extra fuel to the growth of RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Fructose disproportionately feeds the part of the pathway that fuels viral growth.”

Eat Well to Stay Well

So what’s a sweet tooth to do? Here are some suggestions to minimize your sugar intake and help you stay well:

  • Transition from soft drinks to flavored water, using stevia-sweetened pop as a stepping stone, if needed.
  • Eat a breakfast of at least 15 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat to keep insulin low all day. If insulin spikes with your first meal, you are apt to have a reactionary blood sugar crash a few hours later. Inevitably, that crash instigates cravings. Soon, you are reaching for more insulin-spiking foods. Avoid the pattern by fueling with a low-carb meal first thing.
  • Snack on foods that contain natural fats and slow-absorbing carbohydrates. Maintain lower insulin levels throughout the day by reaching for smarter snacks instead of cookies, candies, and crackers. For example, munch on olives and vegetables or cheese and fruit. How about a hard-boiled egg with some grape tomatoes, or some nut butter on celery?
  • Supplemement with magnesium to improve your insulin sensitivity. When your insulin sensitivity increases, your cravings will lessen to some degree and you will be able to make healthier eating choices. You can work with a certified nutritional therapist to determine what form of magnesium to choose and how much to take.

[1]Fernandez C, Rysä J, Almgren P, et al. Plasma Levels of the Proprotein Convertase Furin and Incidence of Diabetes and Mortality. J Intern Med. 2018 Oct;284(4):377–387.

brands of fish sauce

Easy Basil Stir-Fry

Basil Stir-fry is easy, quick, and nutritious. For a dinner that comes together in a wink, try this popular Thai street food, also known as Pad Kaprow. Make it with chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp, and choose vegetables that fit your tastes.

The Benefits of This Easy Stir-Fry

  • Nutritional balance: In a single dish, you’ll get an appropriate balance not only of fats, carbs, and proteins, but also a healthy serving of phytonutrients from the herbs and vegetables. Additionally, this dish provides a nice harmony of the five tastes: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and umami.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Although basil has many beneficial properties, one of its top healthy traits is that it may help lower inflammation through its oils, eugenol, citronellol and linalool. Including plenty of vegetables to this dish enhances the anti-inflammatory benefit of the meal.
  • Immune boosting: If you include mushrooms in your easy stir-fry, especially shiitakes, you can count on their immune-enhancing characteristics.

Which Basil to Use

Thai basil, also known as holy basil or tulsi

Although the spicier Thai Holy Basil (Tulsi) suits this recipe best, feel free to use sweet Italian Basil instead if you cannot obtain the former. While sweet basil will give a different flavor profile, it will still be delicious. Adding perhaps a small amount of Thai basil to a bunch of sweet basil will provide the welcome licorice-like taste.

Thai basil has a more distinct flavor than Italian basil, similar to licorice or anise. It’s more savory and is a defining characteristic in Southeast Asian recipes. Because its sturdy leaves hold up well to longer cooking times, it’s the perfect punch for stewed dishes, soups, and stir-fries. Use it to spice up a dish with a heavy scent that has slight citrus notes.

A Note About Ingredients

  • Protein: Ground meats work best. If you’re not using a ground beef or sausage, cut meat into bite-size chunks. I personally enjoy sausage, but even vegan tempeh will work!
  • Soy Sauce: Traditional pad kaprow recipes use oyster sauce, soy sauce and dark soy sauce. To simplify the recipe and minimize ingredients, I have opted to stick with soy sauce only, spiked with a little molasses to give the characteristic thick sweetness of dark soy sauce.
  • Fish Sauce: Don’t scrimp here. This ingredient is important not only for saltiness, but for umami depth. I promise it tastes a hundred times better than it smells! I recommend traditionally-fermented Golden Boy or Red Boat fish sauce. After the you cook this easy stir-fry, you can add more if needed.
  • Palm Sugar: Extracted from the sap of various palm trees, including the sugar palm and the date palm, palm sap is boiled into a syrup, then crystallized. Coconut sugar is just one type of palm sugar. Palm sugar makes a good alternative to white sugar because it has been minimally processed and still retains many minerals, a few phytonutrients and some antioxidant properties. It has a lower glycemic index than white sugar.
  • Mushrooms: For flavor and immune-enhancement, shiitakes are your best bet, but oyster mushrooms and criminis are also good.
  • Beans or Pea pods: Be sure to add plenty to green to your easy stir-fry. They add aesthetics and polyphenols that will feed your beneficial gut microbiome. Polyphenols are antioxidants that help control inflammation. They are a major fuel source for your gut bugs.
  • Red and yellow bell peppers: These sweet peppers balance the savory taste of the mushrooms, add antioxidants to help with inflammation, and create a pleasing rainbow on your plate.
  • Water Chestnuts: Add these if you like a little crunch to offset the texture of the meat and rice.
  • Egg: This ingredient is optional, but for a truly traditional ethnic dish, fry in oil until crispy on the edges and serve on top of your stir-fry.

Easy Basil Stir-fry

This easy basil stir-fry infuses authentic Thai flavors into a dish that’s legendary over rice for a fast dinner you will crave.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: Basil, Beef, Chicken, Pork, Stir-fry
Servings: 4
Cost: $8


  • Wok or skillet


  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork, chicken, or shrimp
  • 2 red chilies, chopped (more or less for desired heat)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh vegetables (see ingredient notes, above)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, crushed
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 4 eggs, fried (optional)


  • Melt the coconut oil in your wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the protein, garlic, and chilies. Stir-fry until protein changes color and is cooked through.
  • Mix in the chopped vegetables and continue stir-frying until they are fork-tender.
  • Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, molasses, water and palm sugar. Stir and cook until the palm sugar dissolves.
  • Mix in the basil leaves and cook just until fragrant and wilted.
  • Serve over warm rice. Top with fried egg, if desired.


female measures weight loss with measuring tape

10 Weight Loss Tips

Stepping on the scale, counting calories, and exercising more are old school tools for weight loss. If you’re feeling stuck, try these more effective measures for trimming down your body weight.

Measure fat loss, not weight loss

Since your body fluctuates 2 to 3 pounds daily, and loses weight in fits & starts, it seems futile to be constantly monitoring the scale. The scale isn’t a measure of health, anyway. A person can be very muscular and actually weigh more than someone who is “over-fat.” Therefore, it’s better to assess your progress in terms of fat loss. Use an article of clothing that your try on once every couple of weeks. If you are truly in better shape, your clothing will fit differently, even if can’t measure weight loss in pounds.

Eat fat to lose fat

Fats are necessary for life, so a fat-restricted diet will stress the body. Bodies under stress tend to hold onto their weight as a survival mechanism. Only when your body is convinced there is no threat, will it begin to release its reserves.

However, not all fats are created equal. Avoid chemically-extracted vegetable oils (soy, cottonseed, canola, safflower, and corn); they loose their antioxidant protection during processing and become oxidized. Oxidized oils are one of the top contributors to free radical damage to your body tissues. And damage = inflammation = stress. Also stay away from trans-fats; they make your cell membranes stiff and less able to take in nutrients and excrete wastes.

Good sources of fats include unprocessed raw nuts and seeds, butter from grass-fed cows, and virgin fats that are cold-pressed and unrefined.

Track sugars, not calories

Counting calories is not a natural or intuitive way of life. In fact, it seems a bit obsessive. It certainly isn’t something I would want to do for the next 25 or 30 years.  In my opinion, any weight loss plan needs to be sustainable in order to head off yo-yo dieting.

Additionally, calorie restriction suppresses thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is a fast-track to weight gain, not weight loss. So, eat plenty of protein and fat to increase satiety, stimulate fat-burning, and provide amino acids and fat-soluble vitamins to the thyroid.

The root barrier to weight loss, in many cases, is high insulin hormone. Unfortunately, you can still have insulin-driven fat storage on a restricted diet. So, if you’re going to monitor anything, let it be sugar. Your fat-free yogurt that seems such a healthy breakfast alternative may have the same amount of sugar as a Red Bull energy drink. Some smoothies have more sugar than Coke, and a medium Jamba Chocolate Moo’d  has more sugar than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Butter Pecan ice cream.

Differentiate between carbs

With all the media about ketogenic diets, it’s easy to think that carbohydrates are bad. However, they are not bad any more than a knife is. It can be very useful; or it can be very harmful, depending on how it is used. Obviously, a diet of high-sugar, low-nutrient carbs isn’t going to be very health-promoting. Too much bread, pasta, and cereal is going to lead to imbalance. But did you ever stop to think that fruits, vegetables, and legumes are carbohydrates, too?

A helpful way to think about carbohydrates is in terms of their calorie content and their potential to be absorbed into your bloodstream quickly. A food that is calorie-dense and quick-absorbing (such as a grain or a sweetener) is going to signal your body to store all that extra energy for a rainy day. Of course, energy storage is the antithesis of weight loss.

But calorie-light and slow-absorbing foods (such as vegetables) can be very beneficial. Medium-calorie carbohydrates, as long as they are slow-absorbing (whole fruit, legumes, nuts, and seeds), can also be helpful for a weight loss plan.

Be mindful of when you eat

Think of your car. After you gas it up, you can drive a long distance, or you can park it and keep the fuel in reserve for another time. The same principle applies for your body. If you want to burn the fuel, you can’t park yourself in a bed or chair for a great length of time and expect your meals to not become reserves. So, it’s best to front-load your meals. That is, eat bulk of your food when your are going to be most active. That’s because anything you don’t burn within 3 hours of eating is stored as fat. It doesn’t make sense to eat your heaviest meal just before bedtime. It’s a good idea to eat 3/4 of your food by mid-afternoon.

Remember, you’re not the boss

We have been conditioned to believe in the simple equation Energy In – Energy Out = Weight. Therefore, more energy expenditure will equal greater weight loss. But this equation neglects the fact that your hormones are in control. Thyroid hormone is king of metabolism. Cortisol reigns over your state of relative stress or relaxation. Insulin dictates how much fuel gets stored.

No matter how much you exercise, you will not lose weight if thyroid hormone is low, or if cortisol or insulin are chronically high. Exercising under these conditions just creates more stress for the body. Then, it switches to survival mode, and hoards fuel to help you fight or flee.

Ultimately, you have to balance hormones first. A functional practitioner can help you with this process.  Engage in “movement,” as opposed to “exercise” to promote stress-relief.

Address “food on the wrong side of the tracks”

Inflammation prevents weight loss; it’s a physical stress, so your body conserves until it is “safe” to let go of those pounds. Guts can be damaged by antibiotics, stress, chemicals, and sugar. Then, when the gut lining is thin and worn, food gets “on the wrong side of the tracks” and causes inflammation. We then say you are sensitive to those food proteins that are causing the inflammation.

If you’re serious about weight loss, you may have to remove triggering foods and heal your gut for a minimum of 3 months before your weight begins to drop, because it takes a while for inflammation to subside.

Support your liver before weight loss

Your liver is responsible for detoxifying everything that needs to be eliminated from your body. But if that organ is overburdened, it will send toxins to fat tissue to be stored where they cannot damage other tissues in your body. Naturally, weight loss frees those toxins from your fat tissue. If your liver is already overtaxed by medications, chemicals, or hormonal and blood sugar imbalances, your body will not release those toxins and you will continue to retain the fat.

The bottom line is that you need to support your liver first! This includes drinking ample water and eating abundant cruciferous vegetables to help your liver with the “rinse cycle” of laundering out your toxins. Potassium-rich fruits and vegetables are also important to help your body flush its wastes. Be sure to eat enough protein, for detoxification requires ample amino acids.

“Find your happy” at your current weight

It’s easy to think you will be happy when you lose those pounds. But your body follows your mind. Stated another way, your mind decides whether life is good and you can release your garbage, or whether your are unsatisfied and need to hold onto things that protect you (such as body fat). So, if you are genuinely grateful and joyful with who you are, your body can let go of those things that no longer serve it.

Don’t moisten your food with beverages

As mentioned above, healthy weight loss requires plenty of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to support detoxification. Breaking down and absorbing those nutrients from your food requires good digestion with plenty of strong stomach acid. Although hydration is critically important, it’s best to sip your water between meals. After all, high liquid intake at meal times will dilute stomach acid. Hence, it will impair digestion. If your food seems dry or tasteless, chew it more. Your saliva will moisten it and sweeten it the longer you massage it in your mouth.