Education

Eat broth and cruciferous vegetables for immunity

Eating for Immunity

Eating to boost your immunity may be a powerful weapon in these times of uncertainty. While scientists debate which approaches are working in the battle against COVID-19 disease, we can rest assured that nutrient-dense whole foods are never contraindicated! Further, we can start by nourishing ourselves with the primary foods of love, gratitude, laughter and faith.

Eat Cysteine for Strong Immunity

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

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

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

Eating Hygiene Impacts Immunity

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

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

Boost Immunity with Vitamins and Minerals

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

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

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

Eat Anti-Viral Foods

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

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

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

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

Avoid Inflammatory Foods

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

10 numerals for the 10 ways to fight diabetes

Fight Diabetes 10 Ways

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

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

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

How to Tip the Balance

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

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

Continue To Fight Diabetes

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

Don’t eat this!

Real foods that fight diabetes

Eat This!

High blood sugars may indicate a need to reduce insulin resistance

Reduce Insulin Resistance

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

Why is it important to reduce insulin resistance?

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

Breakfast Like a King

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

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

Are Carbs Good or Bad?

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

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

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

Can a Ketogenic Diet Reduce Insulin Resistance?

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

Move it!

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

Raise Your Oxytocin

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

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

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

Do You Need Help Reducing Insulin Resistance?

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

Eating together raises oxytocin

Eat to Raise Oxytocin

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

What is Oxytocin?

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

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

Signs You Might be Making Insufficient Oxytocin

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

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

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

How Eating Can Raise Oxytocin

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

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

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

My Favorite Ways to Raise Oxytocin

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

  • Eat nutrient-rich, whole-food meals with my favorite people. I highly doubt that junk food will give me an oxytocin rush, so I leave processed, refined foods out of the equation.
  • Turn up the heat. Here are several cozy options I indulge in for warming my body: sit in a sauna, soak in some hot springs, place a heated compress on my neck and shoulders, and relax with a foot soak.
  • Listen to relaxing music. It’s even more beneficial to hum or sing along.
  • Engage in body work. I personally find acupuncture, massage, and yoga to be very pleasurable.

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

Blueberries and cream is a smart snack to stabilize blood sugars

Smart Snacks

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

Convenience Drives Foolish Snack Choices

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

Smart Snacks Are Natural Foods

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

Don’t Leave Out Healthy Fats

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

Smart Combinations to Snack on

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

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

Sunflower-Sesame Crisp

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

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

Linking Insomnia, Anxiety, and Indigestion

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

What is cortisol and how is it made?

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

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

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

Why do so many people have chronically high cortisol levels?

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

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

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

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

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

How does cortisol instigate insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion?

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

How can you reduce insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion?

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

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

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

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

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

Need to end bloat from too many cookies?

End Holiday Gas, Bloat, and Heartburn

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

Use these five tips to keep your holidays happy:

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

salmon dinnerSwedish Fish ingredient list

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

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

 

 

 

Inability to focus may be connected to inflammation

Inflammation Can Bust Your Willpower

Inflammation might be messing with your willpower. Check yourself. First, do you get distracted easily from your goals? Next, does your thinking seem foggy? Finally, do you give in to temptations after you have vowed to abstain? While self-discipline is an important quality, your ability to focus on your intentions may have physiological roots.

A new study tested how inflammation impacted willpower. The results indicated that higher levels of inflammation correlated with undesirable behaviors. For example, subjects were more likely to be impulsive, to delay gratification, and to have difficulty focusing when their inflammation levels rose.

A group of researchers at TCU measured chronic inflammation in their subjects through various blood tests. Then they provoked inflammation by administering LPS (lipopolysaccharide). At length, they determined that the higher inflammation levels were, the more likely their subjects were to report poor concentration, greater impulsivity, and less self-control.

The Role of Inflammation in Your Body

Articles and blog posts lead us to believe that all inflammation is damaging. However, inflammation does play an important role in your health. When you receive an injury, your brilliant body creates inflammation to kill infection and clean up damaged tissues. Once your body heals the injury, inflammation subsides. But for many individuals, inflammation is chronic because the injuries are ongoing from poor lifestyle choices.

Unfortunately, inflammation that doesn’t go away contributes to scores of health problems, from headaches to heart disease, and from constipation to cancer. With the recently-published study from TCU, it seems that inflammation even hurts your willpower. Once deep-seated inflammation takes root in your body, you may be more prone to poor decisions that increase inflammation even more. For instance, you might eat more candy, drink more alcohol, or vape more nicotine because your willpower diminishes. So it becomes a downward spiral. The sugary treat you indulge in once actually makes you less capable of self-control over future temptations.

Sources of Inflammation

Many factors contribute to inflammation. Most of these causes are linked to lifestyle: chronic stress, insufficient sleep, alcohol and tobacco use, and food choices. Diet can have more influence than any other cause. Diets high in sugars, refined and processed foods, and unhealthy fats seem to be the most inflammatory.

Control Inflammation, Control Willpower

Want to reduce inflammation and increase your willpower? There are many tactics you can employ today that will increase your control over your mind. These include:

  • Significantly limiting your intake of sugars and processed foods.
  • Choosing whole foods free of preservatives and additives.
  • Working with a health care practitioner to identify nutritional deficiencies and to make dietary adjustments to return your body to balance.
  • Limiting alcohol and smoking.
  • Participating in moderate physical activity every day.
  • Engaging in stress-reducing activities frequently and consistently.
  • Sleeping more than 7 hours every night.

The bottom line is that to triumph by mind over matter, you need to support matter over mind.

 

omega-3 fats can be obtained from fish

Do I Have to Eat Fish? The Omega 3 Question

Do I really need more omega-3 fat in my diet? How much is enough? How can I increase my omega-3 levels? Isn’t flax seed oil just as good as fish oil? These are questions I hear a lot in my practice.

Why are Omega-3’s Essential Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as essential because your body can’t make them. But you need them for life itself. Every cell in your body incorporates omega-3’s into its membranes, in order for nutrients to enter and wastes to exit. Omega-3 fats are necessary for cell receptors to work properly. Not only that, you have to have omega-3’s to create hormones that regulate blood clotting, inflammation, and arterial dilation. They seems to be important in preventing heart disease and stroke, and may help control eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune conditions. They may even be cancer-protective.

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is the most common in the American diet, showing up in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, particularly walnuts, chia, and flax. The other two omega-3 fats are considered marine oils because they occur mainly in fish. EPA and DHA do not exist in plants.

Why is DHA Important?

DHA, short for docosahexaenoic acid, perhaps should be considered an essential fatty acid in and of itself. While your body can convert some ALA from nuts and seeds into DHA, that conversion rate is less than 10%.

conversion of ALA to DHA is less than 10%

DHA is critical for your brain. A full fifth of all the fat in your brain is from DHA. Additionally, DHA functions like the insulation on all the electrical wires in your house: it forms the myelin that insulates all your brain circuits. The reason animals have DHA and plants don’t is because it’s used for focus, decision making, and problem solving. I haven’t met any reasoning plants, yet.

Studies show that the fewer animal foods you eat, the lower your DHA levels will be.

DHA levels are lower in plant-based diets

How Much is Enough?

The science of essential fatty acids is still young, and there are not defined minimums for omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. But here are some recommendations that we do have: According to the National Institutes of Health, an adequate intake of ALA for women is 1100 milligrams per day (1600 mg/day for men). The USDA 2015 dietary guidelines encourage adults to obtain at least 250 mg per day of marine omega-3 fatty acids to protect against heart disease.

Best Sources of DHA

Land animals have very little omega-3 compared to fish. While grass-fed beef may have twice as much omega-3 fat as corn-fed beef, still it only has about 80 milligrams in 3-4 ounces, compared to 1000 milligrams in the same size serving of salmon. Recently, however, lamb has come to the forefront as an alternative for those who can’t abide the smell or taste of fish. The chart below compares the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in various cuts of meat.

omega-3 fats in various meats

Still, those numbers include ALA, and are not truly reflective of the amount of DHA available for your body. So, the bottom line is that yes, you do need to eat fish! A good recommendation is 8 ounces per week.

teddy bears sick with colds and flu

4 Ways to Fight Colds and Flu

You know washing your hands helps prevent the spread of germs, but there are 4 more action tools you can use to fight colds and flu.

1. Deeply Nourish Your Body

Your immune system is a nutrient hog. It uses more nutrients than any other system or organ – even your brain. To work optimally, it needs vitamins A, C, E, D, K, B6, B9, and B12. In addition, it requires the minerals zinc, selenium, iron, iodine, magnesium, and copper. Also, your immune system needs antioxidants and essential fatty acids.

So while it might be easy to gulp an “Emergen-C” tablet with a glass of water when you feel a sore throat coming on, you need a lot of nutrients all the time to fight colds and flu. It’s smart to regularly eat foods that are nutrient dense. These include dark leafy greens, brightly-colored produce, omega 3-rich fatty fish, and organ meats. I posted about how these foods are also anti-inflammatory. It’s as if nature is showing us their benefit by displaying such rich, vibrant colors.

2. Relax a Lot!

We know that stress raises inflammation. Did you know it raises your blood sugars, too? That’s bad news if you’re under chronic stress. Why? Chronically high blood sugars lead to insulin resistance and even more inflammation.

But that’s not all. Scientists think they have found a link between insulin resistance and decreased immunity. Insulin appears to boost immune T-cells. When mice were genetically engineered with missing insulin receptors in their T-cells (to mimic insulin resistance), they were unable to fight certain infections, including the H1N1 flu virus.

So the bottom line is that to fight colds and flu, you need to guard against inflammation and insulin resistance that can impair immunity. In order to do that, you need to manage your stress effectively. Take time every day to unwind. It only takes a few minutes to employ one or two of the 50 stress hacks I have compiled.

3. Feed the Right Bugs

Since as much as 80% of your immune system lies within your digestive tract, it makes sense that the micro-organisms that live there should be healthy. If you feed the symbiotic bacteria that lie in your GI tract, you can boost your immunity. These helpful bacteria serve as “bouncers” against pathogenic strains of microbes that cause illness.

Your “good” bacteria like to eat fiber! They especially like to feast on cruciferous vegetables, the onion family, and asparagus! But they don’t digest simple sugars. In fact, white sugar and white flour are fodder for pathogens.

Cutting out refined carbohydrates from your diet does not guarantee you can fight off all colds and flu. But your odds are much higher if you do get sick, that you’ll bounce back quicker if you cut down on the sugar.

4. Sleep More

When you sleep, your body “cleans house.” It repairs what is broken, sweeps up what is dirty, and takes out the trash. This is the time when your immune system is most effective at fending off invaders and reducing inflammation. So, reason says that if you are sleep deprived, you are less able to fight cold and flu viruses.

But there’s more. When you are chronically sleep-deprived, your body actually initiates a stress response, raising blood sugars and creating inflammation. You can become insulin resistant with just 36 hours of sleep deprivation.

Ultimately, you end up with an impaired immune system. That means greater susceptibility to illness.

Here are some suggestions for better sleep:

  • Create a bedtime that allows for 7-9 hours of sleep.
  • Eat a nutrient dense diet (see #1).
  • Exercise, but do it at least 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Stick to the same sleep schedule every day.
  • Get sunlight in the morning.
  • Cool your room.
  • Avoid blue light before bed.
  • Engage in evening meditation.

Fight Colds and Flu

No one can avoid all illness forever. But taking care of your health by eating well, relaxing frequently, sleeping enough, and nourishing your microbiome will keep you strong so that if you do get sick, you can recover rapidly.