Education

stop inflammation

How Can I Stop Inflammation?

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

What Are The Signs of Inflammation?

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

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

Where Does Inflammation Come From?

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

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

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

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

How Can I Stop Inflammation?

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

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

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

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

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

eat for beautiful feet

Eat for Beautiful Feet

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

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

1. Rough Dry Heels

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

2. Foot Cramps

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

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

3. Itchy Feet

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

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

4. Sore Toe Joints 

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

5. Burning Feet

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

6. Foot Sores That Won’t Heal

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

7. Pain in the Big Toe

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

8. Yellow Toenails

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

9. Spoon-shaped Toenails

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

10. Blue toes

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

Eat for Beautiful Feet

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

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

My Anti-inflammatory Diet

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

I Eat Foods That Don’t Have Labels

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

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

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

I Eat Close to Nature

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

I Don’t Espouse an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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

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

Woman can't stop carb-loading

Stop Carb Loading

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

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

Choose Protein at Every Meal

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

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

Ways to Stop Carb-loading

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

Stop Carb-loading to Restart Your Energy

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

A sugar-soaked gut = a sugar-soaked brain

Sugar-Soaked Gut, Sugar-Soaked Brain

Brain fog and fatigue are two tell-tale signs of a sugar-soaked brain. The sweets you eat impact your mental abilities. The story of how food affects cognition starts with a sugar-soaked gut.

A Sugar-Soaked Gut

You have a vast filter inside of you that allows nourishment in and keeps toxins out. It’s called the endothelial lining, or gut membrane. It’s like a wire strainer that separates pulp from orange juice. Figuratively speaking, a coffee filter sits on top of that strainer. That filter is your microbiome – your gut bugs. If that probiotic filter is “torn” or defective, some of the pulp is going to get through.

Sugar damages your microbiome. Your beneficial microbes need whole foods. They digest the insoluble plant fiber from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes that your body cannot process. In doing so, they create a short-chain fatty acid, called butyrate. This chemical fuels your microbiome and nourishes your colon. But, if you eat too much sugar and processed food, you starve these microbes. Therefore, you compromise your microbial layer.

Sugar has no fiber. So, it feeds other bacterial strains that destroy the harmonious balance of microbes in your gut. These other strains create inflammation. Between the inflammation and the reduced microbial diversity, you threaten your brain.

A Sugar-Soaked Gut Leads to a Sugar-Soaked Brain

Your gut and your brain are connected in several significant ways.

Vagus Nerve

To begin with, Your Vagus or “wandering” nerve joins your brain to all your vital organs. This major nerve links 100 billion neurons in your brain to 500 million neurons in your gut. Unfortunately, stress causes loss of vagal tone. Your body perceives sugar as a stress because is upsets blood sugar balance and creates inflammation. When the Vagus nerve loses tone, your sugar-soaked gut can freeze your brain in a state of “fight-or-flight” where you have a hard time resting, relaxing, and rejuvenating.

Neurotransmitters

Next, Neurotransmitters are chemicals used send messages from neuron to neuron, or from neuron to muscle tissue. Your body makes a large quantity of two notable neurotransmitters – serotonin and GABA – in your gut.  In fact, you depend on certain gut microbes to manufacture these neurotransmitters. Serotonin contributes to feelings of happiness. GABA calms feelings of fear and anxiety. So, a sugar-soaked gut impairs your ability to manufacture serotonin and GABA, and therefore worsens conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The Fatty Acid, Butyrate

Additionally, microbe-manufactured butyrate not only strengthens the gut-lining, it is critical for forming the blood-brain barrier, too! Your blood-brain barrier keeps pathogens out of your brain. A sugar-soaked gut means a more permeable gut AND a more permeable brain! Then, toxins (or “pulp”) slipping past the gut lining can get into the brain!

Inflammation

Also, Inflammation occurs when toxins squeeze through the gut lining into the blood stream. Your body has to call in white blood cells to fight these  that invaders don’t belong outside of the gut. Inflammation is the mechanism that allows white blood cells into infected tissues. Inflammation from a sugar-soaked gut can ignite in the brain when toxins cross the blood-brain barrier.

Mitochondria

Finally, Mitochondria are the tiny factories in each cell that take the food you eat and the oxygen you breathe and turn it into an energy currency, called ATP. You spend this currency every time you think, breathe, move, eat, feel, and simply live. Inflammation from a sugar-soaked gut damages the DNA of your mitochondria. Damaged mitochondria create more “exhaust” or oxidation than healthy ones. Subsequently, this exhaust damages them even more, initiate a self-sustaining process of destruction. A classic sign of mitochondrial damage is fatigue. Unfortunately, this process of destruction triggers an enzyme pathway that leads to the death of neurons, hurting your brain and your gut simultaneously.

Heal a Sugar-Soaked Gut

Many foods and lifestyle choices benefit your gut and therefore your brain. Here are five of the most important ones.

Omega 3 Fats

The best sources of these fats are oily fish, shell fish and sea vegetables. Studies show that omega 3 fats can increase good bacteria in the gut and can be beneficial to brain health. Additionally, Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory, plus they boost enzymes used in the mitochondria to produce ATP. To get adequate amounts of Omega 3’s, you should eat seafood at least 3-4 times per week.

Fermented Foods

These are foods that contain living microbes such as lactic acid bacteria. They include traditionally-cultured sauerkraut or kimchi, pickled beets, gingered carrots, and dilly beans. It turns out that the benefit of these foods is not solely from the probiotics – which actually die as they pass through your gut and out the other end. In reality, great benefit comes from the actual fermentation – the breakdown of the nutrients to create certain end-products. These end-products can be very healing for the gut and appear to bolster your microbiome. Eat a fermented product every day.

High Fiber Foods

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables all contain fibers that are good for your gut bacteria, as discussed above. Additionally, high fiber foods can reverse the effects of stress on the gut by restoring the microbial populations. Start with 25 grams per day and work up to 50 or more.

Polyphenols

Polyphenols are plant chemicals that your gut bacteria digest along with plant fibers. Brightly-colored, anti-oxidant foods are rich in polyphenols. Like fiber, polyphenols can increase healthy gut bacteria. Thereby, they reduce oxidative stress. Many fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and spices contain polyphenols. If you’re not having vegetables at every meal, start there, then increase until half your plate is vegetables.

Movement

Individuals with high cardio-respiratory fitness produce more butyrate, signalling that they have a healthier microbiome, according to a study published in Microbiome in 2016 . Additionally, these fit individuals had fewer pathways that were creating inflammatory toxins from harmful bacteria in their guts. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, get up and stretch every half hour. If you can fit in cardio workouts, engage for at least 30 minutes per day.

So, What’s the Bottom Line?

In conclusion, whole foods support a healthy microbiome. But a sugar-soaked gut can lead to brain dysfunction. So, eat your vegetables, get adequate fat and protein, and stay active!

 

high blood sugars can cause leaky gut

Blood Sugars and Leaky Gut

Are your blood sugars making you sick? New research suggests that high blood sugars may actually cause leaky gut, a condition linked to chronic disease and autoimmunity.

This research is fascinating because we already know that a leaky gut causes high blood sugars (via inflammation and insulin resistance). So, with science now showing that high blood sugars can trigger leaky gut, we see that dysfunction in one leads to degeneration in both.

What is Leaky Gut?

Technically called increased gut permeability, leaky gut is a condition where bacteria and toxins from your intestinal tract enter your blood stream. The resulting inflammation harms your digestive health. Leaky gut seems to trigger metabolic syndrome and may be prerequisite for autoimmunity. Increased gut permeability occurs when the “gatekeepers” that let nutrients into your bloodstream, called tight junctions, don’t work right. Infection, food allergies, or toxins from the environment, such as pesticides, can damage tight junctions.

Sugar in your diet may contribute to leaky gut by feeding certain microbes that open tight junctions. Of course, too sugar much in the diet means high blood sugars, too. So dietary sugar contributes to leaky gut in that way, too.

Protect Yourself

A stitch in time saves nine. Don’t wait until chronically high blood sugars compromise your gut and put you at risk for long-term illness. Choose to quit sugar now. Eating a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet can normalize your blood sugars as well as support your gut health.

Processed foods often have sugar added. So avoid canned and packaged products where possible. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season, unrefined nuts & seeds, whole grains and legumes, and animal products from pastured, free-range, or wild-caught sources.

 

Are you powerless to stop sugar cravings?

Stop Sugar Cravings

You crave sugar when you are undernourished or overstimulated. But by eating a nutrient-rich diet, you stop sugar cravings now and prevent them in the future. Why? Because you are providing deep nourishment and reducing the physiological stimuli that drive sugar cravings.

How Undernourishment Starts

By definition, undernourishment means your energy output is greater than your fuel input. You can develop this energy debt in a number of ways.

To begin with, perhaps you cut your night’s rest a bit short. Then, who wouldn’t want a doughnut in order to keep running on fumes? Sugar provides a quick source of fast-burning energy – like kindling on your metabolic fire. So, when the coals are almost dead, a sugary snack fans the flames.

But it doesn’t provide the essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and phytochemicals your body needs to be well. So that empty calorie food just increased your energy debt! Did you know that it takes more than a dozen molecules of magnesium to change one molecule of sugar into energy that your cells can use? Further, the processes that change that sugar into fuel require certain enzymes to get them started – the way a car engine requires a spark plug to ignite the gasoline. Your body makes enzymes from proteins. If you’re not eating enough proteins, your body has to “cannibalize” its own tissues to get the raw materials it needs.

Another way you become undernourished is through blood sugar imbalances. When your sweet snack burns out, you drop into a state of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Like a stalled car on the freeway, you can no longer stay in the fast lane. So, you reach for emergency rations – a candy bar for instant relief. Like a bad dream, the cycle starts all over again.

Eventually, these habits cripple your ability to use the sugar you are eating. The lack of vitamins and minerals arrest your body’s natural metabolism. Finally, insulin resistance sets in, blocking the limited nutrients you have from entering cells. You are in a permanent state of fatigue and even more dependent on empty calories to function from one moment to the next.

Stop Sugar Cravings Resulting From Undernourishment

The answer to this hopeless cycle is really very straightforward. You make sure you have enough gas in the tank at the outset of your journey. That means you make sure arise well-rested each morning, and eat a nutrient-rich breakfast. The most nutrient-dense foods on the planet include vegetables, seafood, and organ meats. But not coffee and pastries, or even Cheerios. So, why not make a skillet of Fisherman’s Eggs to start the day? (See the end of the article for the recipe.)

How Overstimulation Happens

First, like the lack of sleep, stress raises your demand for energy. But in this case, your body is stimulated by stress hormones to quicken your breath, send blood to the brain and muscles, and increase your heart rate. You need more energy now!

Second, in a nightmarish way, you become addicted to the surge of dopamine the stress created. Your body now wants constant stimulation, and it turns to sugar and other stimulants to keep the rush going. But none of these fixes gives you the deep nourishment you need for optimal health.

Then, down in your gut, the beneficial bacteria begin dying, starved of the fibers and Omega 3 fatty acids they need for vitality. Meanwhile, pathogenic strains of bacteria feed on your high-glycemic diet. When you don’t supply their sugary feast, they demand it by creating cravings.

Stop Sugar Cravings Resulting from Over-Stimulation

But the answer is always the same. Go back to your roots. Skip the commercial, man-made foods and nourish yourself with the foods of nature that have sustained mankind for millenia. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits. Take the time for unprocessed grains, nuts, and seeds. Make sure to get some wild-caught, pastured, or grass-fed protein. Then cook and dress your food in unrefined, natural fats. Check out these ideas on how to eat traditionally without spending endless hours in the kitchen!

If you’d like to delve deeper into how to stop sugar cravings, Dr. Jockers has an excellent article.

This is Sherry's story of beating inflammation

Beating Inflammation

Today we have a guest post from Sherry Worthington, a nurse, who didn’t realize the connection between sugar and inflammation until it was almost too late. Here is her story of beating inflammation:

My breath wouldn’t come. Numbness surged through my limbs. I heard nothing more after the doctor said, “I don’t feel comfortable treating you any more, due to your immune system.”

The tiny sparkle of hope that had been there a moment ago tumbled into oblivion. I was speechless. My dark world was mirrored by the night sky when I left his office.

The Darkness of Lost Hope

No more medication to treat the crippling rheumatoid arthritis that fettered my days and seared my nights? No more relief from the tiny hammers beating inside my body incessantly? How was I to sleep? Or dress? Or eat? I was going to deteriorate inch by inch into lifelessness!

My tears blurred with the days. But there was no other option. Accept it. Just accept it.

But how could I? How could I descend any lower? In addition to RA, I had hypertension, osteopenia, stasis dermatitis, degenerative disc disease, stenosis, reversal cervical lordosis, B-12 deficiency and sleep apnea. Shots in my neck and back for pain relief had been largely unsuccessful. My high-powered pharmaceuticals with devastating side effects had only been minimally effective in managing symptoms. And even these had been withdrawn when my weak and compromised immune system had descended into pneumonia, followed by sepsis. It was too dangerous to take them now, the doctor thought.But how was I to cope?

Just showering and dressing fatigued me so drastically that I fell asleep at work – or threw up. My fingers tingled constantly. Sometimes my pulse would suddenly spike to 110. Dizziness and nausea haunted me. At night, I would wake up every hour or two, trying to coax my body back into repose.

At some point, I found an RA support group on Facebook. Women from another country started talking to me about diet and holistic approaches. That spurred me into research, where I absorbed massive mounds of information. Confusion reigned initially as I sifted through the flood of suggestions.

The Beginning of Beating Inflammation

Unsuccessful at finding a local support group, and hoping for more personal conversations, I started my own. As I posted the information I was finding, it became clear:

I could do this! I could find relief if I just kept educating myself!

My self-treatments started with herbs: boswellia and turmeric. With some minor degree of success, I kept going. A breakthrough came when I purchased the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook by Angie Alt and Mickey Trescott. It urged an elimination diet. Would I need to do that? If certain foods really were not good for me, then why were they on the grocery store shelves? But I was desperate.

I took out refined sugars and felt a difference! Then I removed processed foods, and the improvement heightened. The dizziness and nausea were diminishing. I added vitamins, minerals, Omega 3’s and started massage therapy and essential oils. I was beating inflammation!

A year later, I have moved from the highest pain patch available to the lowest. My bad days are few and far between – and when they come, I can get relief within a few hours.

I cannot go back to the medications. There is another way: the way of hope! The way of beating inflammation with food and holistic approaches. If you don’t know where to start, contact a nutritionist, and eliminate sugars. And may my story inspire you to believe things can get better!

The Diet Brain Connection

The Diet Brain Connection

What you put in your stomach directly impacts how you think and how your learn. By enhancing your Diet Brain Connection, you can increase your concentration and memory. That’s because the foods you eat can increase or decrease brain fog, distractibility, depression and anxiety.

Too Many Refined Carbs Hurt the Brain

Your brain is an energy hog. It uses more energy than any other organ in the body. Taking up only 2% of your weight, it uses 20% of your fuel. So, if there’s a disruption in your fuel supply, the brain is going to feel it first, before other parts of your body. Sugary, low-fiber foods, and processed carbohydrates create a roller coaster effect on your blood sugars. First, they raise blood sugars well above normal. Then with an equal an opposite reaction, your blood sugars crash. As a result, you have a hard time thinking clearly. But there is an even more insidious problem than bouncing blood sugars.

Sweet & Processed Foods Inflame Your Gut

Crackers, chips, pasta, sandwiches, cookies, cakes, pastries, fruit snacks, fruit juice, soda and other convenience foods cause inflammation. But unfortunately, what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut.

Researcher Sarah Ballantyne explains that inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers) produced in the gut in response to dietary stimuli travel through the bloodstream to every cell in the body. They cross the blood-brain barrier and activate brain cells that sustain inflammation. “An inflamed brain has fewer and slower nerve connections, which manifests as stress, depression, or anxiety,” she reports in her book, “The Paleo Approach.”

How Do I Enhance the Diet-Brain Connection?

To avoid learning difficulties and prevent memory hiccups, the first preventative strategy is to balance macro-nutrients. Americans typically get 60-80% of their food in the form of refined carbohydrates. So you can swap white carbs for colored ones and increase the ratio of natural fats and high quality proteins in your meals. A good rule of thumb is to make half your plate vegetables, not more than 1/4 of your plate starchy carbs (such as grains or potatoes), and at least 1/4 of your plate protein.  Dress liberally with natural fats.

balanced macro-nutrients feed a healthy diet-brain connection

You can also make sure you are eating anti-inflammatory foods. The least inflammatory foods also happen to be the ones that are most nutrient rich. They include:

  • Berries, lemons, limes and papaya
  • Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts
  • Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, and chives
  • Wild games such as duck, quail, pheasant, elk, bison, and deer
  • Wild-caught seafood, including salmon, herring, halibut, sardines, oysters, and anchovies

Smart Snacking Keeps Your Thinking Sharp

Keep your diet-brain connection strong by avoiding empty calorie foods between meals. If you must snack, try a boosting combo that pairs a nutrient-rich carbohydrate with a natural fat. Here are a few ideas:

  • Bell peppers and olives
  • Dates and goat cheese
  • Fruits and nuts
  • Snap peas and tahini
  • Grape tomatoes and hard-boiled egg
  • Celery and sunflower seeds

For more ideas on taming brain inflammation, check out our free inflammation e-guide!

Onions & red cabbage or 2 beneficial winter vegetables

Winter Vegetables

Nature knows. When gray days and dark nights bring the sweet indulgences of New Years, Mother Nature provides some of her most powerful foods. Winter vegetables, primarily in the cruciferous family, restore your vitality in several ways.

Liver Tonic

The vegetables that thrive in cooler weather (not above 70 degrees) include leafy greens, plants in the onion family, and crucifers. For instance, spinach and chard (leafy greens), garlic and leeks (onion family), and cauliflower and cabbage (crucifers) are highly frost-resistant. In fact, they may even be sweeter when the temperature dips below freezing. While the crucifers have a reputation for smelling and tasting strong because of their sulphur compounds, it is these nutrients that benefit your liver. They help the liver detoxify your blood and they protect your liver from damage. Other crucifers are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, turnips, and bok choy.

In addition, onions, chives, shallots, leeks, and garlic have sulphur compounds. So, they are tonic to the liver as well.

More Benefits of Winter Vegetables

The cool season vegetables are high in fiber. Not only does this include the vegetables above, but also stalk vegetables, such as celery and fennel. Fiber normalizes bowel movements, regulates blood sugars, lowers cholesterol, and aids in weight management.

Winter vegetables – especially leafy greens and many of the crucifers – are high in chlorophyll. Therefore, they are blood-builders and detoxifiers. Also, cold-tolerant produce runs high in antioxidants and is cancer-protective.

How to Eat Winter Vegetables

Steaming or roasting, then dressing with butter and lemon are delicious and healthy ways to serve cold-hardy vegetables. Crucifers yield their sulphur compounds more readily when cooked. I enjoy splashing them with a bit of balsamic vinegar in place of the lemon. A mix of rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram sprinkled on these winter offerings makes them even more appetizing.  You might enjoy this recipe for oven-roasted vegetables that includes turnips and broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

For an exotic Diner en Blanc, you can try cauliflower dressed with anchovy fillets and Pecorino Romano cheese. But if the thought of vegetable anything turns you off, perhaps you’ll like moist chocolate cake that uses cauliflower as a secret ingredient.

Below are the simplest ways to prepare several of the most common winter vegetables. A guide to winter vegetables and fruits