Why I’m taking my diet back to the drawing board

Probably one of the most frustrating things for people is the confusion over dietary recommendations.   For example, first you’re told not to eat eggs, and then you’re given the green light to eat them (btw, still today, there are ongoing debates in science about this).  When we were told that eating fat would make us fat, guess what.  I stopped eating fat and gained weight, like everyone else!   Despite the confusion, we’re learning more and more everyday about nutrition, especially how individualized it can be.  And I’ve finally come to realize and accept that the right answer for you is not necessarily the right answer for me.

food test

This is why I recently began offering food sensitivity testing to my clients, so that they could quickly uncover foods to which their bodies are intolerant.  Unlike food allergies which are an IgE/histamine response that happens immediately, can often be severe, and identifies foods that must be avoided permanently, the food intolerance test measures a delayed, inflammatory reaction to each substance tested.  For many people, certain foods they’re eating may be inhibiting weight loss or causing other symptoms such as:

-          Abnormal cravings/bingeing

-          Migraines

-          Stomach pain/bloating

-          Heartburn

-          Diarrhea

-          Irritability and nervousness

-          Hyperactivity/ADD

-          Skin disorders

Imagine how surprised I was when I found out that my body had a severe reaction to carrots, oats, oregano, and goji berries.  I also had moderate reactions to stevia, turmeric, pumpkin, and red and green leaf lettuce!  And I had mild reactions to thirty-eight foods and medicinal herbs, many of which I eat all the time, including spinach, coconut, cacao, celery, ginger, sweet potato, and chlorella.  Needless to say, I was bummed out but I think my mother is more freaked out than I am.  When I told her I was removing all of these foods from my diet, her reaction was, “What are you going to eat??”

There’s actually well over one hundred foods that my body was OK with, including beets, avocados, lemons (yay!), quinoa and other gluten-free grains (I only reacted mildly to gluten and whey), meats and seafood, nuts/seeds and herbs/spices.  So now, I’m doing the experiment.  For me, I’m interested in finding out if it will alleviate my sciatica that flares up pretty frequently.  Does it mean that I have to avoid all of these foods forever?  No, but at least initially to heal whatever may be going on from them, and then there’s a way to introduce them back without a reaction.

If you’re frustrated about why you can’t lose weight, or suspect that something in your diet is initiating symptoms and you can’t put your finger on what it is, and you want more information about the test, contact me for a brief session and I can explain it in more detail.  Rather than spend weeks, months, or forever experimenting, you’ll have a good idea of where to begin in about one week.   I’m  also offering it with DNA testing to help you optimize your detoxification pathway.  Because with greater awareness, you can make better choices…

The single most important thing you can do for your health

Author Michael Pollan just published a new book entitled Cooked that was inspired by some burning questions he had, such as, “What’s one of the most important things we can do as a family to improve our health and well-being?”  Or, “What can we as individuals do to transform our food system?” [That is becoming ever more industrialized, is eliminating our self-sufficiency, and is having a strong, negative impact on our health].   His answer, as the title of his book suggests, is to get into the kitchen and cook.

This may sound like taking a step back today because many of us have created lifestyles that accommodate processed and pre-packaged foods and have replaced cooking time or food preparation with other activities.  Yet based on what we’re witnessing with our health, this has not necessarily been a step forward.

Even deeper than what this is doing to our health, Michael Pollan has this to say about living on processed food diets:

“This is a problem–for the health of our bodies, our families, our communities, and our land, but also for our sense of how our eating connects us to the world.  Our growing distance from any direct, physical engagement with the processes by which the raw stuff of nature gets transformed into a cooked meal is changing our understanding of what food is.  Indeed, the idea that food has any connection to nature or human work or imagination is hard to credit when it arrives in a neat package, fully formed.  Food becomes just another commodity, an abstraction.   And as soon as that happens, we become easy prey for corporations selling synthetic versions of the real thing–what I call edible foodlike substances.  We end up trying to nourish ourselves on images.”

What’s so interesting is that we have actually acquired palettes for less natural versions of food–in part because of their addictive nature.  To recover from these addictions while returning to the simplicity of real food would actually be a step forward in the right direction.   And so, in order to reverse this trend for our health but also the health of future generations, and the health or our planet, here are three simple steps:

Embrace cooking – Today, we so often see cooking as a chore or even a bother that is getting in the way of doing other things.  What if cooking became one of those ‘other things’ that was just as important as anything else?  Where in your schedule can you make the time for cooking?  Is it a few hours on the weekend?  Can you enlist help?  Then plan it in your schedule and think of ways to make it fun.

Cook with ‘raw’ materials - Sometimes we get busy and dinner means heating up a jar of pasta sauce and a box of pasta, but the more you can start with the really raw materials and create something, the more control you’ll have over what you’re putting into your body. Even if more basic cooking means sautéing some fresh vegetables and adding them to your pasta, it’s progress.

Visit your local farmers - This is the perfect time of year to visit a farm stand or farmer’s market and get to know your local farmers.  It’s not necessarily about eating organic. I’d rather eat local than buy something organic that‘s been grown thousands of miles away.  One farm I like to visit is not certified organic but uses organic practices and when necessary, uses integrated pest management.  And by not paying the high price of becoming certified, they pass the savings on to us.

A Lighter, Brighter, More Energetic You

chivesSpring is finally here!  One of the signs for me was a large tuft of chives that poked its head out of the ground a few weeks ago and that I’ve been picking from ever since.

This is a natural time of the year to cleanse.  In fact, our bodies instinctively want to do this after a long, cold winter of eating heavy foods and reduced movement.  And like magic, nature provides some of the best foods around this time of year for us, like dandelion, which is a potent cleanser.

The other day I was telling a client of mine that I was gearing up to do a detox and she asked why I detox?  Well, as much as I’d like to think my diet is ‘perfect’, it’s not.  I had never taken part in a cleanse of any sort until a few years ago, and I liked the results so much that I decided that they would become part of my spring and fall.

You’re probably aware that your body is designed to continuously detox through your breath, your skin via your sweat, and your digestive system; however, today, we’re continuously bombarded by chemicals like:

  • chlorine and fluoride in our water,
  • fumes from car exhaust and power plants that often contain heavy metals,
  • xenoestrogens from plastics, cans, cash register receipts and our personal care products,
  • pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones from our food

And much, much more and we don’t even know the full impact that exposure to one or more of these can have on us over time.   There is, however, a growing body of evidence that many of these so-called persistent organic pollutants, or POPs are playing a role in the chronic diseases on the rise today, such as obesity, early onset diabetes, cancer, etc.

And if you’re interested in exactly what’s showing up in people’s bodies, the CDC puts out a report on human exposure to environmental chemicals and the EPA’s site allows you to search by state or zip code to see which chemicals have been released into the environment and by whom.

What’s becoming increasingly apparent is that some of us are better at eliminating toxicity from the body than others.  And, if you diet is particularly burdensome on your body, it becomes much more difficult to keep up with the detox process.   Even with a healthy diet, we sometimes just need a nudge.  I remember a couple of years ago, I had a pesky rash on my left elbow for weeks that would not go away.   About seven days into my detox though, it had disappeared without a trace.  That surprised even me and my results have always been positive.

So, to give my body a rest and to clear some space to allow it to get rid of any gunk that may have built up over the long winter, and to transition into a lighter eating pattern for the spring and summer, I do a cleanse.

How might you know that a detox/cleanse is a good idea for you?  Your body will leave clues.  There’s a long list of signs that I will often go over with my clients and here are some of the most common that can be alleviated:

  • digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation
  • itchy or ringing ears
  • mood swings
  • fatigue or sluggishness
  • itchy or watery eyes or dark circles
  • headaches or insomnia
  • stuffy nose or chest congestion
  • poor memory or concentration
  • chronic coughing or canker sores
  • skin breakouts
  • joint aches or stiffness
  • water retention
  • weight gain or loss or trouble losing or gaining weight
  • bingeing or cravings

TCU14head

I have several clients gearing up for detoxes and I’m about to begin my 14-day program.   This program includes a medical food and a supplement that both provide additional liver support so that when toxicity is released, the liver has enough resources to safely neutralize and ship it out for elimination.   The last thing you want is for your body to dislodge the toxins hiding out in your fat cells, only to circulate them around and do damage in your body, and then store them somewhere else.  I also offer a 21-day ‘food only’ detox designed to be gentler than the 14-day program.

If you’re ready to feel lighter, brighter, and more energetic, check it out my programs here.  You can also read about what some of my clients have to say about their detox experiences.  And if you order a program by April 15th, you’ll get a reduced rate of $100 off!.  So if you’ve been thinking about it, now’s the time.  You can order the program now and begin when you’re ready. Simply contact me here and we’ll get you set up!

What is Aromatase and Why Should You Care?

As women, we naturally are aware of and get concerned about our hormones.  Not only do they fluctuate during different stages of development and life, but they can also fall out of balance.  And for so many women today, too much sex hormone is manifesting as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and reproductive cancers in the breast or uterus. Here’s the good news:  you have the power to prevent, and in some cases, heal these conditions through diet, nutritional supplementation, and lifestyle practices.

This article and the following two will briefly address three aspects of hormone metabolism: production, transport, and elimination, because while we often focus on how much estrogen we have (for example), how your body handles it is equally important.

Steroid hormone production begins with cholesterol and can follow a number of pathways that can eventually lead to the production of one of the three forms of estrogen:  estradiol, estriol, or estrone. Like so many health related issues, functional medicine recognizes that your sex hormone levels can be negatively impacted not only by genetics, but also by nutritional deficiencies, excess weight, insulin dysregulation, inflammation, impaired detoxification, and stress.  And for women who are susceptible to or are suffering from the conditions I mentioned above, by managing these conditions, you can better regulate your hormones.

For example, if you consider just one enzyme, aromatase, that stimulates the production of estrogens, here are five situations where it can inappropriately take action:

  • excess adipose tissue (specifically belly fat, or VAT) increases inflammation and elevates estrogen production by stimulating aromatase production;
  • excess insulin stimulates aromatase which stimulates production of estrogen;
  • the pesticide atrazine stimulates aromatase;
  • fibroids and endometriosis tissue themselves have high aromatase activity and produce estrogen;
  • stress also creates an estrogen-dominant environment which stimulates aromatase

So, one strategy to get a handle on estrogen production would be to decrease aromatase activity.  Here are some natural aromatase inhibitors that can easily be added to your diet:

Dietary fiber and lignans – Ground flax as a source of lignans can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on your steel-cut oats or salads, or added to your pancake or muffin batters.

Soy isoflavones - I know many people avoid soy like the plague and for good reason.  Most soy in our food system is genetically modified and ubiquitous in the processed food world in the forms of textured soy protein, soy lethicin, and soybean oil.   And some people may have food sensitivities to soy.

There’s also conflicting information about whether or not phytoestrogens activate estrogen receptors:

  • one interpretation is that they bind to the receptor and block the activity of stronger estrogens.
  • data to suggest that phytoestrogens bind to ER-beta, which inhibits cell growth, versus ER-alpha, which activates it;
  • additional data to suggest that isoflavones block cell growth through mechanisms unrelated to estrogen receptor binding.

I believe that organic soy that’s been fermented to neutralize the anti nutrients (found in all grains and legumes) is perfectly safe to eat occasionally.  Acceptable forms include miso and tempeh (and natto).  And some health professionals recommend whole soy such as edamame.

Resveratrol – Grape seeds, and red wine, with California Pinot Noir and French Cabernet topping the list, are good sources of this phytonutrient.  Of course, go easy on alcohol because of the sugar content and because excess alcohol will increase the risk of breast cancer.

White button mushrooms – Lightly saute and add to salads or make a creamy mushroom soup thickened with coconut milk.

Green tea – Lately the benefits of EGCG found in green tea have been all over the media for fat loss; however, please don’t treat it like a magic bullet.  If you’re concerned about the caffeine, to eliminate much of it, add boiling water to the tea bag and steep for a couple of minutes, then replace the water with fresh, boiled water.

Of course, adding these food sources into an eating plan and lifestyle strategy that supports an overall balance of hormones will make them more effective.   Next time, I’ll look at hormone transport and why it matters.

If you’re ready to take control of your hormones holistically, I can help you get started.   Contact me for a breakthrough session today!

Image courtesy of zirconicusso

Why Acne is More Than Skin Deep

The other day, I was on the elliptical machine at the gym and an infomercial came on for acne medication. When I went to the company’s website, it noted that there was no cure for acne.  If someone with problem skin read that, they may conclude that they’re doomed to years of breakouts and treating their skin with washes and creams and medications.

Well, have you ever heard the expression by Tony Robbins, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”?   This holds true for skin breakouts!

Because in most cases, I believe there is a ‘cure’ for acne and it begins with a mindset shift–from thinking it needs to be treated on the outside to understanding how to prevent it from the inside–and then making the changes necessary to prevent it .

Years ago, I had bouts of cystic acne and no matter what I used on my skin it didn’t help.  It wasn’t until I cleaned up my diet that the breakouts stopped.  And now if they ever show up again, I know it’s because of what I’m putting inside my body.

If not triggered by allergies to outside sources, many skin conditions like acne and eczema are usually caused by food sensitivities that irritate the lining of your gut, causing it to leak.   The rash or the breakout is simply your body’s way of detoxing and is a message that something is wrong inside.   The offending foods may also be contributing to hormone imbalances that can also trigger a breakout.

In addition, like so many personal care products, many acne creams have ingredients like parabens, BHT, fragrances, and propylene glycol that themselves can cause allergic reactions or even act as xenoestrogens and increase your body’s toxic load. While there are some acne treatments that are relatively safe, the Environmental Working Group’s site Skin Deep, lists a number of products that scored as high as 9 out of 10 with 10 being the highest for concern.

To minimize the occurrence of breakouts once and for all, there are four steps that need to be taken:

1.  Remove the offending foods from the diet

2.  Heal the gut

3.  Replace offending foods with gut-friendly foods that also balance hormone levels

4.  Replenish the bacterial flora and feed them to keep the gut strong and healthy

It sounds like a simple process; however, it can sometimes be a challenge to identify the foods and/or eliminate them, especially if they’ve become part of your everyday life.  Whether you’re struggling with a skin condition like acne or eczema, or know someone who is, I bet you or they would be thrilled to take control of the condition.  It begins with a conversation to determine where you’re at and where we need to go from there.   To learn more, contact me and we can talk about whether my support will give you the relief you need, once and for all.   You have nothing to lose and clear, beautiful skin to gain.

Image courtesy of Africa