Being in nature - a primary rule for better health

10 Rules for Better Health

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

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

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

Two Crucial Rules for Better Health Through Primary Foods

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

Two More Essential Ways to Get Your Primary Foods

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

A Vital Rule for Better Health Through Eating

Eat earth’s food. Not man’s food.

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

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

More Rules about Eating

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

The Last Two Rules for Better Health

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

A Functional Approach to Autoimmunity

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

How Did I Get Autoimmunity?

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do I Have More Than 1 Autoimmune Disease?

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

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

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

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

Where Do I Begin?

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

You can start today with lifestyle choices within your control.

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

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

apple & banana to change your diet

Change Your Diet with Micro Habits

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

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

Start with hydration

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

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

Change your beverages before your change your diet

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

Downregulate your coffee intake with any of these swaps:

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

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

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

Change your dietary habits with substitutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Green vegetable smoothie for detox vs. cleanse

Detox vs. Cleanse

Spring is a time to freshen up your health and your lifestyle. Here we compare a detox vs. a cleanse. Are they the same? What is the purpose of each? How long do you engage in them? What foods are appropriate to each? Who should oversee your protocol? What outcomes can you expect?

 Detox vs. Cleanse Basics

A cleanse focuses on what you are bringing into the body, whereas a detox removes harmful elements from the body. The cleanse increases your nutrition, while the detox decreases your toxicity. You can participate in a cleanse even if you feel weak. But you should only detox from a place of strength. Neither program is a lifestyle. The cleanse doesn’t provide for long-term tissue-building needs. The detox requires heavy respites in between cycles to repair tissues. A detox can be combined with a cleanse.

Cleanse Considerations

Tailored to fatigued, sick, depressed, overweight, inflamed and hurting individuals with chronic pain, a cleanse is an opportunity to ditch poor eating habits. When comparing a detox vs. a cleanse, think of a cleanse as an increase in nutrient-dense foods, chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. It is not a way of life, but rather a seasonal opportunity to restart your health. You can undertake a cleanse for a few days or for a couple of weeks. No special medical supervision is required as long as you stay hydrated, supply plant-based protein to your meals, don’t restrict calories or skip meals, and have an end date within 14 days. NOTE #1: Only drinking fruit- or vegetable-based beverages in place of meals is NOT recommended.

During a cleanse, you will remove processed and refined foods and stimulants such as coffee, sweeteners, and chocolate. Many cleanses prohibit animal foods and grains during the protocol because they are difficult to digest or highly antigenic. Therefore, you can view a cleanse as a short-term foray into a whole-food vegetarian-type meal plan. Many people lose weight during a cleanse. Most report a reduction in nagging, chronic symptoms, such as sinus congestion, edema, headaches, digestive distress, joint pain, and tiredness. NOTE #2: If you are not accustomed to lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet, you will probably want to take supplemental digestive enzymes with your meals, such as Enzymedica’s Digest Basic, to avoid excessive gas and bloat.

Detox Considerations

A detox extracts such damaging elements as heavy metals, molds, pesticides & insecticides, and POP’s (persistent organic pollutants). A critical differentiation between detox vs. cleanse is that unhealthy individuals should NOT engage in a detox. Pulling stored toxins out of cells creates inflammation. If all of your elimination paths are not functioning optimally, the toxins can recirculate, making you sick. Elimination paths include bowel movements, urination, breath, and sweat. Good bile function is a critical part of moving toxins from the GI tract into the stool for excretion. Check with a practitioner if you no longer have a gall bladder, have had gallstones or gall bladder attacks, or experience stomach upset with greasy foods.

A detox can last for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, depending on how you feel. If your symptoms worsen, you should take a break and let your body process what has been liberated before you mobilize any more toxins. You should work with a practitioner who can oversee your detox protocol and tailor it to your specific needs and reactions. In the analysis of detox vs. cleanse, the detox is more than just a diet plan; it involves a chelating agent to bind toxins for removal. Food eaten during a detox should be nutritive, avoid empty calories, and not contain additional toxins. For example, you would want to avoid fish containing mercury residues and shop for organic produce.

Individuals usually detox in cycles with a few weeks in between for healing. A cleanse diet is acceptable during detox cycles as long as you get sufficient protein. (It takes a lot of amino acids to activate all those detox enzymes.) Symptoms that might be relieved through detox include chronic malaise, toxin-mediated hypertension, fine tremor, and immune dysregulation.

Sample 7-Day Cleanse Plan

A template provides a framework for meals so you don’t have to figure out what to each day. Once or twice a day, you will have a “smoothie” containing a plant-based protein with supplemental vitamins and minerals, such as Metagenics’ UltraMeal. This helps insure you are meeting your nutritional needs.  In addition, focus on homemade salads, soups, stir-fries, and vegetable sheet pans meals. Boxed or canned prepared meals have too many additives to be considered part of a cleanse, so plan and shop before you start. You may want to set aside a couple of hours to prepare food in advance.

Here is a suggested meal plan:

  • Breakfast: smoothie and vegetable bake
  • Lunch: salad and soup
  • Dinner: Stir-fry and smoothie

Cleanse Breakfasts

Keeping it simple, but still providing abundant nutrition, the following meal ideas allow for personalization and batch cooking so your time in the kitchen is minimized. Prepare large amounts of each recipe where possible so that you only cook once and eat several times.

Smoothie Ideas:

  • Creamy & Nutty – chocolate protein powder, coconut milk, 1-2 Tb. almond butter, vanilla
  • Tropical – mixed berry protein powder, 1/2 banana, 1 c. mango, coconut milk
  • Gorgeously Green – chocolate or mixed berry protein powder, cored green apple, 1/2 cucumber, 1 c. darky leafy greens (such as spinach or kale), almond milk
  • Very Berry – mixed berry protein powder, 1 c. mixed berries, almond or coconut milk

Vegetable Bake Suggestions:

  • Roasted Roots – any combination of cubed or sliced beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, or parsnips with onion, olive oil, thyme, and red wine vinegar
  • Mediterranean – any combination of sliced zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, fennel bulb, green beans, or cherry tomatoes with garlic, onion, basil, oregano, rosemary, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Exclusively Cruciferous – any combination broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, or kohlrabi with garlic, olive oil, and brown mustard seeds.

Lunches on Your Cleanse

Salad Inspiration:

  • Spring Combo – mixed greens, alfalfa or clover sprouts (or even broccoli sprouts), bell pepper, chopped apple or pear, cucumber, green onion, grated carrot with olive oil and apple cider vinegar
  • Italian – mixed greens, olives, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Super Slaw – grated red or green cabbage, grated kohlrabi, and/or grated chayote squash, apples, olive oil, lime juice, cumin seeds, cilantro leaves
  • South of the Border – shredded cabbage, mixed greens, bell pepper, green onion, mango, cilantro, sunflower seeds, avocado slices, lime or lemon juice

Soup Ideas:

  • Very Veggie – any combination of cabbage, tomatoes, celery, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, okra, potatoes or sweet potatoes, winter squash, zucchini, turnips, rutabaga, spinach, or kale with broth, onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram)
  • Lentil – brown lentils, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and kale or spinach with onion, garlic, broth, coconut milk and curry powder
  • Chili – black and/or pinto beans with celery, carrots, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and chili powder

Cleanse Dinners

Stir-Fry Suggestions:

  • Asian – bok choy, mung bean sprouts, snow peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts, napa cabbage, green onions with coconut milk, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lime juice, and red pepper
  • Quick & Easy – carrots, broccoli florets, snap peas, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, sesame seed
  • Mediterranean – eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, olive oil, basil
  • Crunchy Crucifers – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and or Brussels sprouts with sesame oil, ginger, garlic and onion
  • Mexican – jicama, chayote squash, corn, black beans, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cumin, lime, avocado oil, cilantro

Lifestyle Habits: Detox vs. Cleanse

For both detoxes and cleanses, hydration is paramount. Drink plenty of clean, pure water. If you need a little flavor, add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or steep an herbal tea in your water.

Whether or not you plan to detox with your cleanse, it’s probably a good idea to incorporate a substance that binds toxins so that they don’t recirculate. Pectin-containing fruits (apples and pears) are considered binders, as are both soluble and insoluble fiber found in most plant foods. Beyond that, supplements containing activated charcoal and/or Bentonite clay can be beneficial. Bio-Botanical Research has one such binder called GI Detox. For your convenience, you may order this binder, along with protein powders and digestive enzymes from my supplement portal if you’d like.

When you are engaged in a cleanse, engage in moderate exercise and make the time to get 8 hours of sleep each night. During a detox, be aware that exercise liberates more toxins, so you may want to take it easy to avoid overwhelming your system. Sweating with sauna is a good way to excrete toxins. Be sure to get plenty of rest!

fresh vegetables

Make Vegetables Taste Good

You know vegetables are good for you, but you don’t enjoy them. So, you have come here. Relax! You can make your vegetables taste good without extensive culinary skills. Nor do you need more than a few minutes. The ingredients are readily available in most grocery stores. Further, it only requires a couple of condiments in most cases. Vegetables not only can taste good, but they can also be an enjoyable part of a healthy food plan.

Buying Vegetables

To make vegetables taste good, buy them fresh! The longer they sit in a truck, on a shelf, or in a refrigerator, the more flavor they will lose. So, when possible, buy locally from a farmer’s market or from a CSA (community-shared agriculture) organization. You can identify markets in your area by putting in your zip code at

Another tip is to find out what day your grocery store receives produce shipments and shop on that day. Always look for bright colors and avoid yellowed, browned or wilted produce. Keep your eye out for products that are in season in your climate and have been grown in your state. For example, in Idaho, strawberries peak in June. If I’m buying strawberries in December, certainly they have been shipped from Mexico, spending more than a week in transport.

Cooking Vegetables

Less is more when it comes to making cooked vegetables taste good. Although frozen vegetables may cost less and do offer prompt harvest-to-freezer freshness, they often are soggy and mushy when cooked. So, less handling between the farm and you will yield more satisfaction in taste.

Water is an important factor. Less water generally results in a tastier product. So, steam instead of boil; roast or sauté instead of microwaving. Low and slow may be fine for pot roasts, but quick and hot is better for fresh produce. If you have time to grill, that is a delicious option. For no-fuss indoor grilling, check out Ninja Grills.

Less time under heat preserves the flavor, too. Don’t cook them until they can be mashed – unless they are potatoes. Vegetables are best when they can be poked with a fork but retain a slight crunch. I like to roast vegetables on a sheet pan in a 425° oven with a drizzle of cooking fat just until tender-crisp. Also, stir-frying them in a skillet preheated to medium-high with some cooking oil works well. If you do add them to soups, chop them fine so that you don’t get big, soggy pieces. Add lots of seasoning to your soup to enhance the end result.

Make Vegetables Taste Good

Now, dress them up! Nobody expects you to eat them plain. Like a woman, they present themselves best when they are made up. Here are some simple ideas you can stir together while your vegetables are on the heat.

  • Teriyaki flavor: Combine equal parts soy sauce and pineapple juice concentrate. Drizzle over vegetables and garnish with grated ginger root.
  • Tai: Whisk a spoonful of curry paste into a small bowl of coconut milk. For depth, add a dash of fish sauce and a shake of chili flakes. Dunk your vegetables.
  • Mexican: Mix 2 parts honey with 1 part lime juice. Spice with chipotle powder and chopped cilantro.
  • French: Sprinkle herbs de Provence into cream. Pour over finished vegetables.
  • Italian: Dilute pesto sauce with some chicken broth and toss with vegetables.
  • Grill mix: Shake together in a jar 4 tsp. salt; 2 tsp. each of paprika, sugar, parsley flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder; and 1 tsp. each of celery seed, chili powder, turmeric, oregano, and basil. Sprinkle over any vegetable or add to soups. For a larger batch, use a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon.
  • Mediterranean: Blend 1/3 cup each olive oil & tahini; 1 tablespoon each soy sauce & honey; 3 tablespoons lemon juice; and 1/2 tsp. each garlic powder and salt. Spoon over vegetables.
  • For cruciferous & Sulphur-containing vegetables (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, & artichokes): Stir together 1 part Dijon mustard and 1 part pure maple syrup. Dribble onto vegetables.
  • For sauteed greens (spinach, chard, kale, arugula): splash with balsamic vinegar, then drizzle on a little honey.
  • For raw salads: Whisk 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Add herbs if desired (garlic, chives, parsley, basil, dill, cilantro, etc.)

Expand Your Repertoire

If you don’t typically eat any vegetables besides corn, peas, and beans, here are some fun ways to add more vegetables to your diet.

  • At the grocery store, try to buy 1 vegetable in each color of the rainbow for the week.
  • Choose a vegetable that you have never eaten before, and Google recipes for it. Pro tip: for nearly any vegetable (except lettuce and avocado), it can likely be washed, chopped, tossed with olive oil + salt, and baked at 350ºF until you can pierce it with a fork.
  • Consider making a vegetable soup, stir fry, or salad that has at least 6 types of vegetables in it to get great variety in one sitting. Good vegetables for all of these dishes include onions (red and white), garlic, carrots, celery, bell peppers, cabbage (red and green), string beans, zucchini, tomatoes, cauliflower, sturdy leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach, arugula, chard), and cooked winter squash.
  • Consider having a dip alongside chopped vegetables for a snack – guacamole, hummus, and black bean dip are some favorites.
  • Toss some chopped herbs onto your dishes for added flavor. These are especially abundant in the summer months. Consider fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, dill, oregano, and chives. Great herbs to throw into a soup or roasting meat include sage, thyme, bay leaves (remove after cooking), and rosemary. Garlic and ginger are other excellent, easy to find additions, both raw and cooked.

25+ Healthy Breakfast Ideas

A healthy breakfast provides not only appropriate carbs, fats, and proteins, but essential micronutrients, too. When you eat a healthy breakfast, you feel energized for the day; your mood is stable, and you maintain a sense of satiety. Whether you eat when you first wake up, or practice intermittent fasting, your breakfast sets your blood sugars for the rest of the day. When you eat may not be nearly as important as what you eat.

Here are some suggestions for every lifestyle, so you can eat what you enjoy, knowing you are getting the nutrient density you need.


basket of brown eggs

Fried, boiled, poached, scrambled – you have so many options for such a simple food! Don’t limit yourself to the same recipe every day. Variety is the spice of life!

  • Frittata: like an omelet, only easier. Stir in veggies & herbs, then bake.
  • Eggo-cado: Crack egg into the hollow of a halved avocado; bake until set.
  • Pizza with egg “crust”: top an omelet with olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, Canadian bacon, & Italian seasoning.
  • Taco eggs: scramble eggs with taco meat, avocado, salsa, cheese.
  • Curried eggs: Slice hard-boiled eggs into coconut milk with curry paste and sautéed bok choy, pea pods, and mushrooms.
  • Indian eggs: poach eggs in cooked tomatoes, coriander, cumin, turmeric and ginger.
  • Eggs in a nest: Sautee fresh greens. Crack eggs over the top. Cook gently until set.
  • Fishermen’s eggs: Fry fish in an oven-proof skillet. Add vegetables. Crack eggs over the top. Transfer to the oven and bake until eggs are set.


4 smoothies on a tray

Refreshing, quick, and delicious, smoothies are a favorite with moms and kids. But to make sure they provide a healthy breakfast, be sure to follow these rules:
1. Include 8-12 grams per serving of a healthy fat: avocado, almond butter, coconut milk, coconut oil, flax seed oil, or hemp seeds.
2. Add some protein. You can choose a quality animal or plant-based protein powder without added ingredients. Aim to get 20 grams of protein per serving.
3. Limit yourself to 1 cup of low-sugar fruits, such as berries, kiwi or apples.
4. Add fresh leafy greens if you like.

Here are some creative combinations to consider:

  • Spiced pumpkin with real cream or coconut cream
  • Strawberry almond coconut
  • Cocoa-almond (with almond milk and almond butter)
  • Acai cherry chocolate avocado
  • Green Pina Colada with spinach, coconut and pineapple

Healthy Breakfast Meats

a tray of healthy breakfast meats

Sausage and bacon may be obvious breakfast choices, but have you considered duck, fish, or even flank steak? These suggestions may help you brainstorm your own combinations.

  • Kielbasa Skillet with sweet potatoes and kale. (use nitrite-free sausage).
  • Sausage & cabbage: Sautee cabbage and apples in butter, maple syrup and nutmeg. Stir in ground turkey and sausage seasonings.
  • Sausage stack-up: Homemade sausage patty and pineapple rings topped with cheese. Good with bell peppers and tomatoes
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese on whole grain sourdough toast. Garnish with sprouts and arugula
  • Duck hash: toss fried sweet potatoes with diced duck breast, chives, and purple onion. Serve with poached eggs and wilted greens.
  • Carne Asada: Stir-fried flank steak, jalapenos, new potatoes or pinto beans, cherry tomatoes, onion and garlic – with or without eggs & salsa.
  • Canadian Bacon Cups: Line muffin tins with Canadian bacon. Fill cups with any omelet ingredients (eggs, a variety of vegetables) Bake until set.
  • Sardine Toast: Multi-grain bread, sardines, tomato, onion, parsley, spinach, mozzarella, Italian seasoning.

Dairy-based Meals

yogurt parfait with nuts and berries

If you have no appetite for meat in the morning, consider these dairy options, which are high in protein and low in sugars.

  • Parfait: plain full-fat Greek yogurt, a little fruit, a variety of nuts and seeds (hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin, sunflower). For a bonus, layer with cooked steel-cut oats.
  • Cottage Cheese, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices. 
  • Pancakes: Ricotta or cottage cheese blended with raw eggs, then baked on griddle. Try a savory vegetable topping, such as mushrooms & herbs.
  • Purple smoothie: Full-fat cottage cheese, blueberries, almond milk.
  • Banana Nut Smoothie: Greek yogurt, almond butter, banana.

Pancakes & Waffles

waffles with a side of bacon

It might seem criminal to outlaw warm, golden cakes, fresh off the griddle as a morning starter. So, to avoid an insulin surge in the morning, follow these guidelines for the occasional pancake or waffle breakfast.

  • Substitute almond or coconut flour for the usual high-glycemic, all-purpose or gluten-free flour.
  • Limit your portion and add a side of meat or eggs.
  • Top with coconut milk, Greek yogurt, ricotta, or cottage cheese instead of syrup or jam.
  • Consider adding protein powder to your batter and to your syrup.
  • Stir in grated or pureed vegetables.
  • Incorporate nuts, nut butters, and seeds as toppings or fillers.
  • Sandwich between slices of ham and fried egg.

Healthy Breakfast Cereals

a bowl of muesli

What’s more American than a bowl of cold cereal to start your day? Unfortunately, that’s a quick trip to a blood sugar roller coaster. Try these options instead.

  • Brown rice porridge (congee) served with shredded chicken, avocado, peanuts, and kimchi 
  • Mung bean and Basmati rice porridge (kitchari) cooked in bone broth with ghee or coconut milk, ginger, cumin, turmeric, fennel, and coriander. Garnish with cilantro and serve with mixed vegetables on the side. 
  • Buttered oatmeal: Jazz up this traditional hot cereal bowl with a pat of real butter, a spoonful of chia seeds or hemp hearts, and some protein powder. Serve with nuts and sweeten with coconut flakes. Also good with link sausage.
  • “No-oatmeal”: pumpkin and sunflower seeds tossed with walnuts, flax seeds, coconut flakes, and cinnamon; served in creamy coconut milk. You can buy grain-free granola if you don’t want to make it. 
  • Quinoa, millet, amaranth, or buckwheat porridge, served with Greek yogurt and a side of bacon. Make it savory with parmesan cheese in place of yogurt and the addition of wilted greens. I also like buckwheat porridge with avocado and tomato.

More Healthy Breakfast Ideas

5-Star Breakfast with protein, fat, fiber, and antioxidants.


Perhaps cooking is a problem for you – you don’t have the time or the desire. Check out this post on how to prep a nutrient-dense breakfast in a hurry. If you’re looking for specific recipes, here are some of my favorites. When you need something adventurous to get you out of the doldrums, try breakfast soup!

Pesto Salmon is good mood food

Mood Food – Eating for Happiness

The mood food you need for happiness is natural, not man-made. Sure, there are lots of commercial comfort foods. Certainly, chocolate bars and pasta are among them. But while these may bring a surge of dopamine and endorphins, foods that stabilize your mood overall are anti-inflammatory and label-less.

Your Gut Talks to Your Brain

In his landmark book melding neuroscience with gut microbiome research, Emeran Mayer clearly established that the vagus nerve is not the only way the mind and gut communicate. The microbes themselves send signals to the brain about the status of your physiological health. Disturbances in the gut send alarms to the brain that something is wrong. Any sort of trauma, crisis, toxicity, infection, or imbalance will be relayed to the mind. In short, anything that makes your microbes happy helps make you happy. But that which inflames and dysregulates can make you anxious or depressed. Thus, the best mood food is that which feeds those necessary “gut-bugs” and is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Fish Oil and Produce are Good Mood Foods

Vegetable cooking oils – including soy, safflower, corn, cottonseed, and canola – are inflammatory, according to Dr. Cate Shanahan’s research. But swinging the body’s balance in favor of Omega 3 fish oils has the opposite effect. Including 8 ounces of fatty fish in your diet each week is a good recommendation for anti-inflammatory mood food.

Beyond that, your beneficial gut microbes depend on fiber and polyphenols to feed them. In other words, eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. It’s not enough to watch macronutrient ratios: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. You must also provide plenty of plant foods, rich in phytonutrients. When you fill half your plate with produce, you crowd out the high-sugar foods that are so pro-inflammatory and so damaging to a healthy microbial balance. An easy way to do this is to eat sheet pan meals that provide healthy amino acids for your neurotransmitters and an abundance of vegetables for an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effect.

Light and Oxygen are Nutrients, Too

What you put on your plate is your secondary food. Primary food brings you health in a more primal way. It may include exercise, relationships, and spirituality. Sunlight and fresh air are primary foods because they nourish you without you actually eating them. This time of year, when depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder are high, your time outside is probably at its yearly low. You might consider a daily walk or an afternoon on the ski slopes as mood food. Snowshoeing is certainly mood-boosting for me!

If you can’t get outside, there are still practices you can engage in to nourish yourself through the winter months:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing – Taking time for a few deep inhales and long exhales before each meal and at bedtime is a good way to oxygenate your cells. Also, it calms your gut microbes by putting you in parasympathetic nervous system mode. The gut-brain axis becomes stressed when you spend too much time taking shallow breaths.
  • Light Therapy – In the absence of actual sunlight, a 10,000 lux LED light used for 20 minutes upon waking can help combat the winter blues.

Don’t Forget Sleep

A team at Michigan University studied medical student interns for their sleep quality and resulting moods. They found that those who had variable sleep schedules were more likely to score higher on standardized depression symptom questionnaires, and to have lower daily mood ratings. In addition, those who regularly stayed up late, or got the fewest hours of sleep, also scored higher on depression symptoms and lower on daily mood.

Sleep is the time when the body heals from the daily stresses of the day. A shortage of sleep contributes to greater oxidative stress on the gut-brain axis. Sleep is perhaps one of your most-critical primary foods.

A Recipe for Good Mood Food

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Put salmon, skin side down, on a baking sheet and brush with a little olive oil.  Place in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until the fish is no longer translucent and flakes easily. While the fish is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. With the machine on, add water one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Put the pesto on top of the fish and serve with a side of steamed, roasted, or grilled vegetables.


Balanced Blood Sugars to Hack Holiday Weight Gain

Balanced blood sugars are the key to hormone stability. If your blood sugars are unstable, your hormones will follow suit. But why is that important? Stable hormones – thyroid, insulin, cortisol, and estrogen – are necessary for maintaining normal weight. Whether you like it or not, you do not control your weight. Your hormones do. Hormones are chemical messengers that tell your body how to feel and how to respond to your world. In short, it’s those messengers that decide whether you should store fat or burn it.

It follows then, that if you want to avoid holiday weight gain, you must balance your blood sugars. But that doesn’t need to be as hard as it sounds. My tips are easy to incorporate into your busy schedule and mesh well with social events. Most of them only take awareness and a commitment to make a good choice.

1. Eat A Savory Breakfast

Balanced blood sugars begin with breakfast. Set a steady, not an erratic, metabolism for the day by choosing savory over sweet. Savory foods, such as eggs and sausage, are loaded with proteins and healthy fats. These macronutrients give you a low, slow burn. Insulin, cortisol, estrogen, and estrogen are not then skewed by inappropriate blood sugar levels.

Balanced blood sugars have a flat narrow range

On the other hand, a sweet meal sets you up for food cravings later. Sweet breakfasts are usually baked goods and/or fruit juices. These high-glycemic foods burn hot and fast, then leave you in ashes. That opens you up for snacking temptations when you hit rock bottom. High-carbohydrate snacks perpetuate the cycle. Your roller-coaster blood sugars destabilize your hormones and set you up for weight gain.

Imbalanced blood sugars have a steep range

2. Move Vigorously Before your Meal

When you use your muscles before a meal, you leave them hungry. The glucose from your meal goes to replenish them instead of staying in the blood stream or going into storage. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hit the gym. Even walking has a beneficial effect on blood sugars. So, why not park a little farther from your destination and walk the remainder of the way? Likewise, take the stairs instead of the elevator if your event is not on a ground floor. HIIT routines (High Intensity Interval Training) take very little time but provide great stabilization to blood sugars. You can quickly fit in a 5-minute HIIT such as this one before getting ready for your party.

3. Move Vigorously After your Meal

Similarly, moving after your meal shunts glucose to the muscles. This keeps blood sugars from rising as dramatically. Researchers studying older adults with pre-diabetes found that 15 minutes of easy-to-moderate exercise after every meal curbed risky blood sugar spikes all day. So, invite your friends and family to stroll with you. Or better yet, how about dancing?

4. Start with Vegetables

appetizer with vegetables

The higher the fiber content of a food, the slower it digests. This means your body converts it to glucose less rapidly. Eating high-fiber foods, such as asparagus, mushrooms, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts for an appetizer will provide the necessary fiber to slow down a blood sugar surge from a special meal. If the special occasion is potluck, you can bring a simple dish like this to help keep your blood sugars stable.

5. Swig Some Apple Cider Vinegar

While apple cider vinegar is best known in media for reducing heartburn, it also positively impacts blood sugars. Several studies have shown that it can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugars. Although the most common way to take vinegar is in a 1:8 ratio in water, it also works well as a salad dressing. Since starting your meal with vegetables is a good idea, adding a simple vinegar and oil dressing may just enhance the effect.

Easy Oil and Vinegar Dressing

6. Save the Carbs for Last

Fiber isn’t the only thing that will reduce a blood sugar spike. Fat and protein, much slower to digest than carbohydrates, also ensure that your meal isn’t converted to glucose too quickly. Test subjects who wore continuous glucose monitors discovered a surprising truth. When eating the same foods, but in a different order, their blood sugar levels were lowest when they started with meat and vegetables. In this study, they consumed rice with their meal. The greatest blood sugar responses occurred when they ate the rice first.

7. Eat Whole, Not Processed Carbs

The higher the amount of glucose in a set volume of food, the more it will tend to imbalance your blood sugars. It’s simply a matter of concentration. Less concentrated forms of glucose will have a lower impact and be less destabilizing. The act of processing foods tends to concentrate the amount of carbohydrate in them. Why? Because often the fiber is removed. Some examples include fruit to fruit juice, whole grain to white flour, and fresh fruit to dried fruit. The following graphic from The Glucose Goddess demonstrates this principle.

Eat whole fruit to balance blood sugars

8. No Naked Carbs

Since it is becoming apparent that carbohydrates add kindling to the metabolic fire and interfere with a balanced burn, it follows that you should be wary of eating carbohydrates by themselves. When you are at the holiday potluck, look for food combinations that pair protein and natural fats with carbohydrate. To decrease the temptation to eat sugary desserts and high-carbohydrate side dishes, eat a smart snack before you go. These are simple snacks, such as carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, or apples paired with a sugar-stabilizing fat.

9. Prioritize Protein

Statistics estimate that roughly 70% of the modern diet comes from refined carbohydrates. It’s easy to crave and indulge in these foods that don’t create balanced blood sugars. But if carbohydrates are high, doesn’t that mean by default that protein intake is lower? As discussed above, protein helps maintain balanced blood sugars. This, in turn, protects hormone balance. However, there’s another reason to prioritize protein. It’s what hormones are made of! If your protein consumption is too low, you won’t be able to make enough thyroid hormone to keep your metabolism from being sluggish. Make sure your holiday plate is at least 1/4 protein. If half of your plate is vegetable, that necessarily restricts refined carbohydrates without counting calories or dieting.

10. Fuel with Fat

Fats are satiating. They keep you from being hungry two hours after you eat. Also, they insure balanced blood sugars. If your gall bladder is in good health, you should be able to eat 2-3 natural fats per meal. Then, you will not only eat less frequently, you will consume a smaller quantity of food because fats are filling. Natural fats include olives, avocadoes, nuts, seeds, egg yolks, coconut meat and coconut milk, butter and cream. You can learn how to choose the right kinds of fats here.

Because getting the right kinds of fats is foundational to good health, work with a functional nutritional therapist if you are not able to tolerate fats in your diet.




Food sensitivity test

Do I Need a Food Sensitivity Test?

Food sensitivity tests are popular now. It seems everyone is reacting to gluten, dairy, nuts, or something else. You might need a food sensitivity test if you have unexplained symptoms that are NOT in your GI tract. But if your primary complaints are digestive in nature, it’s smart to check out other options first.

But first, what is a sensitivity?

A food sensitivity is NOT an allergy or an intolerance. It is the most difficult of these 3 reactions to detect. Let me illuminate.

  • An intolerance is not an immune reaction. You simply don’t have the enzymes necessary to digest a particular type of food. There is no associated inflammation. All distress will be in the digestive tract: gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, stomach cramps or pain, and reflux or heartburn. Using supplemental enzymes will solve the problem. For example, lactose-intolerance means you don’t have lactase to break down milk sugar. Taking Lactaid will fix the issue.
  • An allergy provokes an immune response on the mucous membranes guarding entry to the body. So, you will often have inflammation, fluid leakage, and constriction of nasal passages, lungs, or throat. Since the skin is also an entry point into the body, your response may manifest as a rash or hives. The reaction only takes a molecule of the antigen and happens within minutes. Very likely, if you have an allergy, you know it!
  • A food sensitivity is also an inflammation-provoking immune reaction. But your body makes a different kind of antibody with this reaction than it does with an allergy. The inflammation may take up to three days to appear, and may impact any body system. For instance, you might feel moody, get a headache, have joint pain, or being overwhelmingly fatigued. Having a little bit of your trigger food may not set you off. But when you eat it again, gives you a marked response.

What are some typical symptoms of food sensitivity?

Here are what I would consider the top 12 indicators of a food sensitivity:

  1. Headache or migraine
  2. Brain fog, inability to focus
  3. Skin conditions such as eczema or adult acne
  4. Strong fatigue, unexplained low energy
  5. Mood swings, especially when they tend toward depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, or weepiness
  6. Weight gain not attributable to a poor diet, medications, or hormone imbalance
  7. Post-nasal drip and/or sinus congestion (especially common with a sensitivity to the proteins in milk)
  8. Achy joints or arthritic symptoms (pain & swelling in the join) – often apparent with grains in the diet
  9. Tight or sore muscles that don’t respond to massage, acupuncture, magnesium therapy, or other relaxing techniques
  10. Canker sores
  11. Heart racing or shortness of breath, especially after eating or when at rest
  12. GI pain, nausea or reflux – only in some cases. There may be no digestive distress at all!

What foods commonly trigger sensitivities?

The list of likely antigens for sensitivities is different from the list of typical food allergens. While fish, dairy, eggs, nuts and wheat appear on both lists, a catalog of food sensitivities holds some unusual foods, too. Frequently, individuals have sensitivities to oranges, pineapple, or other citrus fruits. Corn and non-gluten-containing grains may also appear on the food sensitivity index. Nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant may be prevalent, too. Both plant and animal proteins triggers sensitivities, including kidney beans, peas, all forms of soy, beef, and pork. But perhaps most surprising are yeast and the cola nut – the flavoring in your beverage.

When NOT to take a food sensitivity test

If your symptoms do not correlate well with the list above, try exploring these other cheaper options.

To begin with, keep a food and symptom journal to see if you notice some patterns. Do you feel worse after a high-fat meal? Late at night or first thing in the morning? Or when you eat out? Depending on what you find, you may try one of the following strategies:

With lots of reflux in the absence of other GI symptoms, remove those foods that weaken or relax your lower esophageal sphincter (caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, mint, citrus, spicy foods, fatty foods, and cooked tomatoes). Then strategically test each one without any other change to the rest of your diet to find out which one(s) brings distress.

However, if you are more prone to a problem at the other end (diarrhea), refer to your food journal to see if fats could be triggering you. Fats are a likely culprit if you have had gall bladder attacks or cholecystectomy. Since cheese and cream are high fat foods, these may bring symptoms that drinking milk or eating low-fat yogurt don’t.

More hacks to solve digestive distress

When raw foods, such as broccoli or salad, cause you a lot of bloat within an hour or two of eating, start with digestive enzymes, taken mid-meal. Notice whether you tolerate cheese better than milk. If so, try Lactaid because milk is higher in the milk sugar lactase.

If you wake up with a headache after a night of take-out (especially Chinese food), you may be reacting to the MSG. Just make sure to order MSG-free food. But if headaches persist despite MSG removal, go easy on cultured and cured cheeses and meats, which are high in tyramine. The amino acid tyramine may trigger head pain, especially migraines.

You may have negative emotional associations with certain foods. This is especially true if your primary symptom is nausea or vomiting. While removing that food is an obvious solution, you may also want to seek counselling to recondition your response.

Finally, if eating causes heart palpitations, start with caffeine removal first, then move onto other items in your food journal that seem to correspond with your symptoms.

How do I take a food sensitivity test?

Food sensitivities are measured by IgG antibodies in the blood. A food sensitivity test that measures IgG plus complement (an immune complex) will be less prone to false positives. This is because it will show foods that actually provoke inflammation. Therefore, start with one of these tests, if possible.

The kit includes instructions, a finger pricker, a blood spot paper for your blood sample, and a bio-hazard envelope in which to mail your sample. Simply follow the instructions in the kit, then sit back to await your results within 10-14 days. When you order your food sensitivity test from me, I will discuss your results with you and give you recommendations for managing your diet.


Man in need of heartburn help

Heartburn Relief

You might need heartburn relief if you have pain in your chest after a meal, have sour burps that contain food or liquid, have a lingering bitter taste in your mouth, or feel like there’s a lump in your throat. An estimated 15 million Americans seek heartburn relief daily! But before you pop a pill, consider these strategies.

Remove Foods Known to Weaken your Sphincter

Above your stomach and below your esophagus is a muscle called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter or LES. Keeping it toned is important for heartburn relief. If you went jogging with a bag of gold, you would want to make sure that you had a tight drawstring to prevent the coins from escaping. Similarly, you want your LES to remain closed when your churning stomach is filled with food. Your throat is not coated with an acid-resistant lining like your stomach is.  So contact with stomach contents hurts!

Studies have shown that the following foods relax the LES. Then it does not remain securely shut.

Chart of foods to avoid for heartburn relief

The most common acidic food to bother Americans is cooked tomatoes (e.g. tomato sauce or tomato paste).

Don’t Overfill the Washer

Just like a washing machine, your stomach needs to be able to agitate freely. If you stuff it to the brim, it’s most likely going to slosh some of the contents where they don’t belong. Sometimes more is less. In this case, effective digestion means stopping when you are satisfied. Because if digestion doesn’t occur efficiently, gas and pressure will build up. Your body is elegantly designed to blow the LES in a case like this instead of letting the inadequately-liquified food move into the small intestines, where if would create further digestive distress.

Chew on This

Did you know that there are digestive enzymes in your saliva? The more you chew your food, the less your stomach has to. Further, the mechanical action of your teeth helps convert food to a fluid form for absorption. Food that has been very well chewed is less likely to spend long periods in the stomach. That means it is less likely to go sour and gas off, putting undue pressure on your LES.

Try this experiment: Start with a bite of food half the size or your normal bite and chew until the food is the consistency of applesauce or pudding. Do your notice a flavor change? Many foods, especially carbohydrates, will increase in sweetness the more you chew.

Augment Digestive Secretions

Breaking down proteins and dissolving minerals so that you can absorb them into your bloodstream requires more, not less, stomach acid. When the pH of your stomach is similar to a battery, the digestive process runs smoothly, as designed. But as a culture, many things we do curtail the stomach acid production. You can support more effective digestion for heartburn relief by practicing the following techniques consistently.

  • Stay hydrated. Stomach acid is, after all, a fluid. The body cannot make fluids out of thin air. Since your body is eloquently intelligent, it will prioritize blood manufacture over stomach acid synthesis. That make sense, because blood is more critical in the short run to your survival.
  • Engage in regular practices to dissipate stress throughout the day. You cannot be in two nervous system modes simultaneously. Rest-and-digest simply is not compatible with fight-or-flight. If you are uptight, deadline-focused, task-oriented, and performance-driven, your body will divert resources away from digestion on purpose! You must breathe deeply, be present, and calm yourself if you hope to have adequate digestive secretions.
  • Don’t dilute your meals. Sure, it’s fine to have a sip of water with your food. But don’t depend on your beverage to moisten your food and wash it down. That’s what saliva is for! It is best to drink most of your water between meals. If your food seems too dry, chew it more!

Use Caution with Commercial Heartburn Relief

You’re not likely to find a long-term solution to a chronic heartburn problem by buying an over-the-counter product. After all, heartburn is not a deficiency of Prilosec! There are several issues with reducing your stomach acid regularly for a chronic reflux problem.

First, as mentioned above, you require good acidity to break down, or denature, proteins. Imagine that you have a big ball of yarn that you need to snip into little pieces. It would make sense for you to unravel the ball before trying to cut it.  Preparing proteins for your use works similarly. First, your body has to unravel, or denature, the strand. Then it breaks that strand into amino acids that can be used to build bones and muscles, make blood cells, create antibodies, or synthesize hormones. Denaturing occurs in a high acid environment.

Second, you need adequate stomach acid to absorb vitamin B12. This vitamin is important to sustain your energy, boost your mood, prevent memory loss, and maintain heart health. The cells that release stomach acid also release Intrinsic Factor, an essential component that binds to B12 so that you can absorb it. Suppress stomach acid and you suppress Intrinsic Factor.

Third, “it takes a lot of acid to dissolve a rock.” Minerals just are not bioavailable to you in a low-acid environment. The calcium for bones & teeth, potassium for heart health, magnesium for anxiety, iron for red blood cells, and zinc for immunity require that you not block stomach acid long-term.

Finally, bile and enzyme secretion depend on high acidity. Good digestion isn’t just about the stomach. You also need enzymes from the pancreas and brush border of the intestines, and bile from the liver. But these are triggered by a very acid pH when the stomach dumps its contents into the duodenum.

So, using a product that you have seen advertised may bring short-term symptomatic heartburn relief, but may create further health problems downstream.

Still Need Help?

Sometimes there are food sensitivities, anatomical abnormalities, or nutrient deficiencies at play that prevent you from getting heartburn relief. I have tools to do the detective work, so you can get the the bottom of your problem. Reach out today if you want a more detailed work up to figure out your unique triggers.