Category Archives: The Path To Optimal Health

How 2 Set New Year’s Health Goals That Work

I don’t know about you, but I prefer setting smart health goals over making new year’s resolutions, which research shows are often ditched after the first three weeks. Here are my favorite goal-setting tips:

fw31. Be specific

Make your goals specific and achievable. E.g., “I want to lose weight” is not as specific and motivating as

“By December 31, I will have [lost 10% of my current weight and be able to fit into a size [X] dress] when I [attend the annual ball]” – just personalize your own goals.

Another idea: Set small to mid-term goals and celebrate small successes along the way – they will motivate you to keep going and build on your goals.

2. Which behaviors will help you get there?

Now, think about behaviors that will help implement the changes in small enough steps to achieve and build on. For example:

– “I will replace soda with lemon-flavored water three times a week”
– “I will walk 10 minutes three times a week”
– “I will get out into nature or head to the beach at least once a month”
– “I will cook at least one healthy meal a week”
– “I will eat one additional serving of veggies X days a week”
– “I will not eat any processed or packaged foods one day a week, and replace with fresh, delicious whole foods because I’m worth it”
– “I will allow myself to sleep at least 8 hours each weekend” (or at least stay in bed for that long)

If you’re already there – great! Just take what you’re already doing to the next level; e.g., if you’re cooking healthy meals from scratch, choose more organic fruits and vegetables. Your thyroid, liver and other detoxification organs will thank you!

3. Write it down

Lastly, be sure to write down your health goals- even on a sticky! Did you know that people who write down their (health) goals are much more likely to achieve them?

“A (health) goal is a dream set to paper. Don’t just think it – ink it!”

Also, I encourage you to do a little exercise. Take time and look back at 2014 in terms of your health and self-care. Are you happy with how you took care of you – body, mind, spirit? If there’s anything you’re not so happy about, get a friend or support buddy (one of the most effective tools!), hire a health coach like yours truly, organize some help at home so you can pursue the things to nourish and empower you on the road to greater health!

Support Digestion 4 Better Health

“All Disease Begins In The Gut”

…is one of my favorite quotes, by Hippocrates. The best way to sail through this season and next is to go with the flow – the flow of nature to support intestinal health. As you know, our immunity depends 70% on the health and strength of our gut, and more specifically, the integrity of the lining of the gut:

The stronger your gut (lining), the stronger you will be.

Here are two top strategies toward that end:

1. Gently and slowly change what and how we eat

When it’s cool outside, we can enjoy having more warm, cooked foods – soups especially – and less ice-cold drinks and endless salads for lunch. This will not only keep our internal engines brimming with energy but help our intestinal lining stay well “oiled” so to speak. Bone broths from chicken and beef especially will even help heal it, due to the minerals and gelatin that the bones of the animals will ‘leach’ into the broth, and more so if you use bones from grass fed animals. Soups will also help you stay hydrated. A great source for bone broth from pastured animals, if you are pressed for time, is to order it from US Wellness Meats; they’ll ship it to you overnight. It is worth every penny. Here are my favorites.

2. Maintain and/or rebuild probiotic bacteria in your gut.

This is key especially after a course of antibiotics, even if it occurred months ago. Antibiotics kill the good and bad bacteria, and it takes several months for the good bacteria to rebuild. Yeast and fungi like the Candida fungus grow more than in “normal conditions”, as they are no longer kept at bay by the “good” or “pro-life” bacteria, and totally unaffected by the antibiotics.

Did you know that the number of individual bacteria in our gut is larger than the number of cells in our whole body?

This is especially key for children, and toddlers with recurrent ear infections. Many doctors recommend taking extra probiotics or yoghurt while on the medicine. However, many patients, no matter their age, would benefit from a longer-term dietary change, and the support of probiotics. Of course, for some, just adding a bit more fermented dairy such as yoghurt and kefir may do the trick. Sadly, many people don’t do so well even on fermented dairy.

3. Reduce the consumption of simple carbohydrates and even sugar

Yeast, fungi and other microbes feed on these foods, and may contribute to inflammation in the body, including the gut. Left unchecked, they can wreak untold havoc and may contribute to deeper digestive issues, such as constipation, diarrhea among others.

Implementing even one of these suggestions will help your body and your digestion function better – which ultimately will give you more energy, stronger bones, and even more balanced hormones. Which one of them sounds like something you want to try? I’d love to hear from you!

As always, remember taking small steps in the right direction will get you to your goal eventually.

A great first small step? Order some bone broth from US Wellness Meats :)

grass fed beef

Choosing the Healthiest Cookware

Upgrading your cookware to healthier options is always a great idea, if you’re interested in creating your best health ever. Why? Your current collection may be a source of unwanted toxins for you and your loved ones, depending on what you use.

Much of today’s cookware contains even trace amounts of metals such as aluminum, lead, nickel, and endocrine disrupters. People may experience health issues of various kinds and levels, influenced by either the accumulation of toxins such as the above, or from their immune system being so sensitive, it responds to even the smallest amounts of these compounds.  In fact, breast-fed babies have been shown in studies (click here 2 read) to have high levels of various chemicals in their bodies when their moms were exposed to high levels – it transfers into breast milk.

I don’t personally recommend aluminum cookware that is not enameled,
nor most non-stick cookware. Aluminum may react with acidic foods (like tomatoes) – and leach trace amounts into the food, and into your body.

Like slowly dripping water erodes limestone, tiny amounts of aluminum or chemical exposure over long periods of time may erode your health.  For more info on the potential effects of aluminum, see this article.

In my professional opinion, choosing the most ‘inert’ or non-reactive cookware is the way to go. This is by no means an exhaustive list:Pots

  1. Glass. Corning Vision cookware is no longer sold tores, but you can find them easily in thrift stores, and online. I love glass because it’s easy to clean and there is no chemical leakage whatsoever into the food. I’ve been using it in my kitchen for over a decade, without any problems or breakage
  2. Enameled steel or enameled cast iron. My personal favorite brands are LeCreuset and Chantal, both European brands you can easily find in the US, and they are often found on sale, too. Both brands are certified to not leech anLeCreusety metals or anything else into the food – largely because I know their enamel is metal-free. There are many other options, too.
  3. Cast iron. An option for frying pans. It’s the tried and true option our grandmothers used all their lives. It can leach small amounts of iron into the food, and some women actually benefit from it. I use enameled steel or cast iron, mostly because I love them and they are easy to clean. But compared to non-stick frying pans, a cast iron pan is a healthier choice. There are new pans being produced that are non-toxic, but I don’t personally know enough about them to recommend them or not.

If you are concerned about your levels of toxic metals, a hair analysis is an excellent way to find out. For more info, check out my website. If you still need a gift, a hair analysis is a great idea, too!

Energize your afternoon and avoid the 3pm-slump

Many people experience a drop in energy in the afternoon. While in some ways that is a natural “slump”, most of us could sail through this time with much more energy than we may be used to, provided we give out bodies the right fuel. Here are three key tips to prevent the afternoon slump:

1. Be sure to start your day right with breakfast and try not to ever miss it (meaning have morefile0001134285944 than coffee or tea and OJ). Breakfast sets the stage of your metabolism for the rest of the day. Often, if you don’t eat enough at breakfast, your body will ask for extra food for the rest of the day. It is the perfect time to have a good amount of carbs, especially if you have a job that requires a lot of cognitive use. Also make sure you have enough good protein – or you may be hungry soon after breakfast. Protein also helps to keep your blood sugar stable, and thus a key factor for many processes in the body, including the prevention of stress.

2. At lunch especially, be sure you consume enough protein, and less carbohydrates and a good amount of vegetables. Many afternoon slumps – or the craving for any food (especially sweets) are just the body getting overwhelmed from eating too many carbs, and then going into a blood sugar slump, causing fatigue, mental and/or physical.

In a quick article like this, it is difficult to provide more specific input on how many carbs and protein to consume, but a good general starting point would be to have at least half your plate be vegetables for lunch, a good palm-size portion of protein and carbs. The vegetables will provide a wonderful amount of fiber and phyto-chemicals as well.

3. Get outside – even just stepping outdoors – and get some fresh air. Even a few deep breaths in fresh air will help get extra oxygen into your brain and re-energize you for the rest of the afternoon. Better yet, take a walk around the block for as little as 5 minutes can do wonders.

Enjoy experimenting with any of these tips ~ and here’s to greater energy for you :)

Nourish Your Body With Grass-Fed Beef

I am a big fan of grass-fed beef. In fact, it is the only beef I will buy, for many reasons – largely because grass fed animals are treated far more humanely than those in CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.  Grass-fed animals are pasture-raised, so they may roam around the farm as they please, rather than being caged in all day, and eat only “grass” (if it says 100%), without the use of hormones, antibiotics and GMO-grains that can affect not only the animals’ health, but yours, because you will ultimately consume some of what the animal ingested.

Did you know that when cattle only or mostly consume grains (such as corn), their stomachs have a harder time digesting them, sometimes making the animals sick and requiring antibiotics? Millions of pounds of antibiotics are administered to farm animals each year. Have you seen this PBS documentary? They were created to digest grasses. Even the Bible says,  “God will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (Deut. 11:15). In addition, many of the grains fed to non-pastured animals are full of mycotoxins, or mold toxins, a growing issue in the food supply (and a story for another day).

Grass-fed meats (and milk and cheese)

  • are easier to digest
  • contain less saturated fat
  • have significantly more Vitamins A and E and omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to overall health, especially heart health, than other red meats.
  • have higher levels of CLA, a fatty acid that can aid in immune function, fighting cancer and diabetes, is also higher
  • are super easy and also quick to prepare, unless of course you use a slow cooker, a tool I’ve recently started using and loving!

This ensures you get the best of both worlds: Your taste buds enjoy a healthy meal, and your body will love the extra essential fatty acids and vitamins you’ll be feeding it!

grass fed beef

One of my favorite sources for grass-fed beef is U.S. Wellness Meats because they ship it express straight to your home. Click here for more info. Of course, your local grocery store should have some too, especially when you check out Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

One of my first recipes is one adapted from US Wellness Meats. Check it out here.

Healthy Eating On The Road & In The Air

With so many people traveling this time of year, I wanted to share with you my my top 5 favorite healthy picks for eating on the run, or the fly, literally – even with the tighter security restrictions.

  1. Dried peas – a great substitute for all those chips loaded with unhealthy fats and chemicals if you’re looking for crunchiness. And it’s great for boosting your fiber and vegetable intake, too! I love getting them at iherb.com. See below for a great coupon code. Check them out here.
  2. Little packs of almond, macadamia, cashew or walnut butter – or bring some whole in a little bag. Nuts are great for boosting your healthy Omega3 and 6 fatty acids – just be sure to get them without a lot of added chemicals, which is why I love the Artisana brand. You can get some right here.
  3. If you’re liking a mix of nuts, try bringing a simple trail mix – either store-bought or one youfile000530388749 quickly put together at home. I often make a mix of nuts, a few dried fruit, some chocolate or carob chips for fun.
  4. If you’re a die-hard eat-healthy fan like me and a bunch of my health coach friends, be courageous and bring a can of fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines as a protein-replacement. I do this especially on longer flights, so I don’t need to depend on hormone-laden meat or chicken on the plane. Other fishy options would be smoked mackerel, trout, or salmon – all full of healthy fatty acids.GREEN APPLES
  5. A sturdy piece of fruit, such as a granny smith apple. It will get you through security just like the other items, is crunchy and packs a great amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Last but not least, for a real treat that doesn’t just pack a super yummy taste punch, but also great nutrition, check out my favorite chocolate snack. It’s only barely processed, lower in sugar than most candy bars, and full of super healthy fats and antioxidants that multi-task to strengthen your body on different levels. You can spread it on bread, pancakes etc but for my personal grain-free taste, I love letting it melt in my mouth, guilt-free! Here it is. Please note – if you have any issues with blood sugar or are currently on a nutritional balancing program due to heavy metal toxicity, chronic fatigue or other issues, you may want to pass on this.

Use Coupon Code LON751 to get a $5 discount, and $10 if you spend $40. Enjoy! And right now – late November 2014 – you can even get 10% off any order over $40, too.

Is There Arsenic In Your Rice?

Heavy, toxic metals are in many things we are surrounded by these days – air, water, drugs, vaccines, food, even furniture (I remember buying a new set of night table lamps a few years ago and being warned on a tag to wash my hands after handling the metal base due to the cadmium on that base). Whoa.

There is no positive use or purpose for toxic metals in our body, although the body does at times use one toxic metal or mineral – such as aluminum – in place of what another mineral would do – such as magnesium. That’s a story for another day, though.

Today I want to share with you a bit about arsenic. Arsenic can be in several foods. It’s been found in chicken, in apple juice from China especially, and yes, even rice. Well water, too.

While I have studied and been aware of these issues for more than a decade, I am always thankful when more of ‘mainstream America’ raises awareness on this issue. This month, Consumer Reports did so with their article on arsenic in rice, and I wanted to share it with you. If you have 4 1/2 minutes, check it out.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/how-much-arsenic-is-in-your-rice/index.htm

Please note – my goal in sharing this is simply to raise awareness myself and to help you make better choices. Not many people do too well on any kind of grains, but if you do, there are some great options out there. As Consumer Reports mentions:

The gluten-free grains amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and polenta or grits had negligible levels of inorganic arsenic. Bulgur, barley, and farro, which contain gluten, also have very little arsenic. Quinoa (also gluten-free), had average inorganic arsenic levels comparable to those of other alternative grains. But some samples had quite a bit more. Though they were still much lower than any of the rices, those spikes illustrate the importance of varying the types of grains you eat.

You can thus choose how much rice you consume each week. There are companies who actually do their own testing on the arsenic content in their rice. Check this out if you want:

http://www.lundberg.com/info/arsenic-in-food/#arsenic-testing-plan

Another way to reduce levels of arsenic in rice when you do consume it is to rinse the rice well, and cook it in more water than you have in the past. Of course, you may also soak rice in water or a vinegar solution, too. Many practitioners recommend doing this to also reduce phytic acid in grains such as rice.

The Incredible, Edible Egg

file7541271862477Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse for many and today I am so excited to share some great health benefits you may experience from choosing the healthiest eggs available out there.

If you are concerned about eggs because your doctor told you to limit consumption (or because you’re allergic), please heed his or her advice.

The best – and truly incredible – eggs are those that are from pasture-raised hens. Not just from cage-free hens allowed to roam in a small but dark barn (though even that is better than the average supermarket eggs from hens living in such small cages they can’t turn their bodies, and have their beaks cut off so they don’t bite their neighbors through the cage) but hens that roam out on pasture, eating bugs and grasses in addition to their (hopefully non-GMO soy or corn) grain ration, getting lots of exercise and natural sunshine (a nutrient not just for humans but these precious animals as well!).

What makes eggs like this so ‘incredible’ is that they are:

  • higher in Vitamins A, D and E, all of which are extremely important
  • higher in beta-carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A
  • higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, another important nutrient that most people are deficient in
  • lower levels of cholesterol
  • lower in saturated fat.

IMG_1916In addition, eggs

  • are a great source of protein, an important building block for our bodies
  • provide the highest amounts of choline, which is important for methylation, healthy cell membranes and reducing inflammation
  • are a very good source of selenium, tryptophan and iodine among many other nutrients
  • are fairly low in calories, at around 70 calories per egg (for those of you who calorie-watch!)

So whether you venture out to your local grocer or are inspired to find a farm, enjoy an egg or two!

Inflammation: Keys to Taming it

Inflammation seems to be one of the new buzzwords these days. What is it? Just what it sounds like – some part of our body gets ‘inflamed’ – gets hot, red, swollen, as in a sore throat, infected skin cut, swollen ankle. Our goal is always to tame or stop the inflammation, after the cause is determined. file1211269799749

In addition to this more ‘local’ type, another type of inflammation can also affect any part of our body. In the heart, it can contribute to heart disease, in our fat cells, to obesity, in the thyroid to thyroiditis, in the brain, it may ultimately lead to depression, even autism, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, in the eyes, blindness. As Barry Sears, MD says,

What we see as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s are not different diseases, but simply different manifestations of long-term damage caused by a continued inflammatory attack on your organs.

An initially protective mechanism (the immune system, through the white blood cells and chemicals called cytokines, designed to shield you from foreign invaders of any kind) ends up going awry for some reason and leads to our body being in a chronic or constant state of (systemic, rather than local) inflammation, potentially wreaking havoc and causing our health to deteriorate – even if for years, you may not have symptoms, which is why some doctors call this type of inflammation “silent”.

The causes of inflammation are many, such as:

  • Toxins (e.g. the up to 85,000 chemicals we may be exposed to in daily life, hidden mold in walls and basements of the buildings we may live and work in, heavy metals such as mercury, lead, etc)
  • Infections, especially hidden viral, bacterial
  • Undiagnosed food allergies and sensitivities (both acute, like a nut allergies, but delayed, which may not affect us up until 72 after ingestion)
  • Extreme, chronic stress and trauma, mental or physical
  • Lack of healthy amounts of exercise
  • An unhealthy diet and ultimately and potentially harmful contents of foods such as transfats, including anything containing partially hydrogenated oils, steroids, antibiotics, hormones, even refined sugars, in excess

Taming inflammation…What can you do?

You may have heard of one popular means for helping prevent dementia by using a ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory OTC drug’ like Advil or Tylenol (with some unwelcome side effects for some people). You may also consider some of these alternatives to help your body deal with or minimize your risk of systemic inflammation:

  • Increase intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, which many people are deficient in. Enjoy some extra salmon or sardines, or take a good supplement, tested and purified of PCBs and heavy metals such as mercury
  • Exercise…even a daily walk or walking a few times a week is a great start. If you prefer, enroll a family member for some rounds of tennis or other active game, or go play outside with your kids
  • Clean up your diet
  • Reduce consumption of refined sugars and carbohydrates, especially processed and calorie-laden but nutrient-“empty” foods
  • Start using the wonderful anti-inflammatory herbs and spices in your cooking, such as ginger, turmeric (which gives curry its yellow color) and even rosemary
  • Determine whether you might have delayed food allergies

Certainly, if you or someone you know suspects they have inflammation, talk to your doctor. You may ask about a blood test called Highly Sensitive C-reactive protein (HS-CRP), which is a marker for general inflammation.

So see if you can pick one or two suggestions you might work on…one small change in your diet and lifestyle over time will make a big difference in your health.

If you’d like to take this to find out if you (or someone you love) have potential toxicities that could be contributing to your health issues, check out Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. I’ve been using it in my health coaching practice with great results. You may find pertinent details here.

As always, please remember that this information is for informational purposes only, is not medically diagnostic in any way and does not substitute the care of a health professional.

Calcium – A Key Life Mineral

Calcium certainly is one of the most talked about minerals. Many doctors these days will tell their patients to ensure sufficient calcium intake, and will even suggest supplements, especially for women. And with good reason. One of the four “macro” minerals, calcium is a key mineral to sustain life. In addition to creating healthy bones, calcium is needed for proper digestion, metabolism function, detoxification, muscle and nerve contraction and relaxation and is involved in thyroid activity and many other functions.

Many people today are actually deficient and may suffer from excess tooth decay, irritability and insomnia. Muscle cramps may partly be the result of a calcium deficiency. On the other hand, some people have too much or even bio-unavailable calcium in their bodies, meaning they’re unable to utilize the calcium, potentially leading to calcium deposits in various organs and tissues (especially if they’re over 35) and other issues like arthritis, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, slower metabolism and even constipation. I have seen elevated

Deficiency occurs not only because much of what we eat is low in calcium (especially refined flours, conventional produce grown in mineral-deficient soil), but also due to higher consumption of sodas – their phosphoric acid content may reduce calcium levels.

If you are one of the many people that has issues with dairy from cows, the good news is you can also increase your consumption of calcium in other ways, since it’s abundant in:

– Cheese, yoghurt and kefir from goat and sheep’s milk (raw if possible)
– Fresh carrot juice – on its own, add some apple to sweeten, or celery to lessen its sweetness
– Sardines
– Eggs yolks – those of pastured hens are full of nutrients, no need to be afraid of them
– Bone broths, homemade, with the bones of lamb, beef, chicken, veal
– Dark, leafy green veggies like kale, Swiss chard, collard and mustard greens – and broccoli!
– Almonds and the more easily digested almond butter (preferably organic)

I realize some of the options here may be a little “out of the box”, but see if you can add even one of them to your family’s menu this month and see how you like it – your bones and your body will thank you! Broccoli can be added to most any meal. Almond butter is an easy one to try – taste is similar to peanut butter and you can eat it in the exact same way!

Are you interested in learning about your personal calcium status? If so, you can do it in the comfort of your own home, with a hair analysis. Although it certainly does not replace a doctor’s visit, hair analysis and nutritional balancing has been a very helpful tool for decades. Feel free to learn more about it here.

For more detailed info about calcium, you may wish to read this article.

This material is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.