As increasingly more studies have been published demonstrating the importance of gastrointestinal (GI) or “gut” health on our overall well being, naturally the popularity of methods to improve gut health has also become more mainstream. Enter probiotics. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization defines probiotics as “living microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer health benefits on the host”.
We have 10x as many microbes in our body than we do human cells, and around 1,000 different species! Some species have been associated with different health benefits, and the benefits of these little organisms have been known since 1907, when Elie Metchnikoff published a report linking the longevity of Bulgarians with consumption of fermented milk products containing Lactobacilli. Ever since, foods and supplements containing probiotics have been widely marketed and consumed.
tell me more!
Our first week in Costa Rica my husband and I had the opportunity to do a chocolate tour! It was at a lovely place called Reina’s Chocolate and was run by Reina and her husband, Ron. Throughout the tour we tasted 16+ types and flavors of chocolate (including sipping chocolate, chocolate tea, and my favorite, lime/sea salt/tequila flavored chocolate)!
Cacao has long been boasted as a superfood, a food with significantly higher nutritional value compared to other foods. In fact, polyphenols in cacao contribute to about 12-18% of the dry weight of the whole bean! Cacao (pronounced cu-COW) is not to be confused with “cocoa”, which many of us grew up drinking in our Hershey’s hot chocolate. Cacao, on the other hand, refers to the mature fruit of the cacao tree, which can be consumed raw and is a serious superfood! It grows best in tropical regions near the equator. About 70% is grown in West Africa, while the rest is cultivated in other humid climates such as Brazil and Ecuador.
Continue reading “Cacao is Medicine – Eat Your Medicine”
Papaya is a tropical fruit long promoted for it’s health benefits. It has a sweet flavor with musky undertones, and a butter-like consistency. Although the papaya tree can produce fruit year round, it peaks in early summer and fall.
Continue reading “Health Benefits of Papaya”
- Digestion: Good source of fiber (~2.5 grams per cup) to help enhance digestion and bind to toxins and “bad” cholesterol in your body. Fiber also helps you stay full longer! In addition, papaya contains a digestive enzyme, called papain, which helps to digest protein.
- Immunity: It is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is also helpful in reducing inflammation. It’s beautiful orange color provides beta-carotene, which converts into antioxidant vitamin A.
- Skin: Incredibly hydrating and packed with Vitamins A, C and E, all essential for healthy and radiant skin. As a natural source of alpha-hydroxy acids, it helps rejuvenate the skin and brighten complexion.
We all can experience food cravings. This is one of the many methods our body uses to communicate with us. Learning how to listen to our body in order understand what it needs will enable us to adjust our habits to help prevent cravings and provide our body with what it needs to thrive.
Continue reading “6 Reasons Why You’re Experiencing Food Cravings”
You know when you feel that little tingle in the back of your throat? The kind when you think to yourself “crap that’s not good”. Well that was me last week. My little niece had the sniffles but that really means nothing in regards to social distancing when you’re an obsessed aunt.
A few days later I felt that itchy post-nasal drip tingle and I immediately shifted into prevent mode (my wedding is in less than 3 weeks – I don’t have time for that nonsense!). In the past, starting my prevention regimen immediately after recognizing the first sign has enabled me, at minimum, to reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms or completely prevent the cold altogether. This particular time I had a bit of a runny nose for 2 days then it was dunzo! Pretty awesome right?
Here’s what I did
- Cut out absolutely ALL forms of processed and added sugar. Sugar can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation in the body. Just a small amount of sugar can suppress your immunity for up to 6 hours! Sugar is also void of any nutritional value, leaving our body with the extra work of metabolizing it without any benefit in return.
- Take a mega-dose of vitamin D. Multiple studies have shown that people with lower vitamin D levels are more susceptible to colds and flu so ensuring adequate levels year-round is an overall great prevention measure. Vitamin D helps regulate our immune response and stimulates it, when needed, to protect against viral and bacterial infections. Refer to this article where Dr. Thorburg explains appropriate dosing to start within 24-36 hours of onset of first symptoms.
- Use 4-5 sprays of Beekeeper’s Naturals Propolis Throat Spray. Bee propolis has natural germ fighting properties, is loaded in antioxidants, and 300+ beneficial compounds. I used this twice per day (morning and night) to soothe my scratchy throat and provide natural immune support.
- Eat all the immune-boosting foods. Berries, mushrooms, ginger, turmeric, garlic and onions, bone broth, greens and coconut oil are all excellent anti-inflammatory foods. Onions, garlic and coconut oil even provide anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties! Aim to eat at least 1-2 of these foods at each meal.
- Optimize your beverages. I love to start the day off with a cup of water with lemon, local raw honey and – since I’m growing it this year – sage. Sage is valued for its immune-boosting properties. It has antiseptic and antiviral properties, and can help break down mucus associated with colds or the flu.
- Take a spoonful (or 2) of elderberry syrup. This has been gaining popularity over the years as a natural way to prevent or shorten the duration of colds and the flu. According to Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel, elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. When purchasing from the store, check the ingredients to ensure there are no additives or fillers. I prefer to make it on my own — not only do I save A LOT of money, but I am able to fully customize the ingredients. I like to use this recipe.
Do you catch colds often? What do you do to prevent/recover from them quicker? Share below!
On a daily basis we are exposed to hundreds of different toxins. They are found in the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat, and even the different products we expose our skin to. Our body has natural fighting systems to clear out these toxins such as our lymphatic system and liver. However, our lifestyle choices can determine how efficient these systems work. Although detoxification is a naturally occurring process, there are many steps you can take to raise the level of efficiency. Supporting your daily detoxification processes is essential to prevent disease and feel your best!
Continue reading “How to Supercharge Your Detoxification Systems”
Throughout high school and college, nearly all of us deal with some form of acne. We brush it off and attribute it to hormones and just part of growing up. Dermatologists recommend harsh and often toxic facial cleansers that can dry out the skin. When those don’t work, females are often prescribed birth control pills to control it. However, neither of these options do anything to resolve the underlying issue. Because there is almost always an underlying issue.
Throughout my studies I have been told over and over that our skin is a reflection of what is going on inside our body. If we are detoxifying optimally and have minimal internal inflammation, our skin will reflect it and be clear and glowing. If toxins start to build up or your body is inflamed, whether it be from poor diet, environmental contaminants or constipation, to name a few, our skin will reflect that as well through acne, rashes, etc.
If you have struggled with any type of skin issue, here are some tips on ways to help get to the bottom of it.
- Do an elimination diet. Food sensitivities are infamous for causing skin irritation. Dairy commonly causes acne while gluten has been attributed to different rashes such as eczema. Try eliminating these two foods for 3-6 weeks to determine if a food sensitivity could be the cause.
- Avoid white sugar and processed foods. Fried food, pop and other forms of processed sugar, and highly processed packaged food can cause inflammation in the body and alter the gut microbiome. Focus on eating a whole food diet with loads of vegetables. Avoid frying foods at high temperatures with low quality oils such as canola, soy and corn oil. Use avocado or coconut oil instead.
- Drink more water. Many Americans, are chronically dehydrated. This could cause many issues such as weakened hair and dry skin. It can also lead to inefficient removal of metabolic waste, contributing to accelerated aging. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you sweat a lot in your workouts, live in a hot climate, or drink excessive amounts of caffeine, you may need to increase this further.
- Start your day with hot water with lemon. This is a great habit for digestion and detoxification of the liver.
- Take probiotics and eat probiotic-rich foods. Check out this post to learn all about probiotics.
- “Detox” your skin care routine. Most soaps, shampoos, and lotions contain fragrances, formaldehyde (yes, formaldehyde!), preservatives, and foaming agents that can be carcinogenic, hormone disrupting, and irritating to the skin. Download the ThinkDirty app, which allows you to actually scan your products to see what harmful ingredients are in it. You can also look up products on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database. Curious about my favorite products? Shoot me an email!
Have you struggled with some type of skin issue? Look up your skin care products in one of the programs recommended above — comment below what you learned!
Most of us know someone with some type of neurological disease. Globally, neurological disease accounts for over 6% of disease burden, and it can be extremely traumatic for both the individual and their family. Diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, and headache disorders all fall into this category.
At the present, conventional medicine lacks effective and long-term treatments for most of these diseases, and most are seen as irreversible. Prevention is by far the best option. To keep our nervous system healthy and functioning optimally, we must keep channels of communication open between the gut and the brain. This is referred to as the gut-brain axis. A healthy intestinal microbiome facilitates efficient communication between the gut and the brain. Therefore, supporting our microbiome with good nutrition is key. Stress, certain medications, inadequate sleep, junk food, and vitamin deficiencies can all impact your microbiome and cause your “good bacteria” to be replaced by “bad bacteria”. Below I will dive into some of my favorite foods and habits to help optimize brain health and function.
Continue reading “Top Foods and Habits For A Healthy Brain”
What you eat before a workout is just as important as what you eat to recover after. Eating the wrong food could cause gas, cramping, and bloating, and impact your performance. Optimizing your pre-workout meal will help avoid these issues and set you up for success.
Continue reading “Pre-Workout Fuel for a Happy Gut”
It is pretty clear that sugar is not healthy. Many swap sugar with artificial sweeteners but this is not likely the answer either. While I do try to limit my added sugar intake, I avoid artificial sweeteners altogether.
What are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners, or non-nutritive sweeteners, are synthetic products used to sweeten food in place of sugar or other nutritive sweeteners. They have gained tremendous popularity due to their low- or zero-calorie content.
The FDA has approved 5 artificial sweeteners: acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharine, and Sucralose. They are found in processed and packaged foods, predominantly items advertised as “diet”, “low sugar” or “no added sugar”. This includes foods such as diet pop, desserts, protein powders, and breakfast bars). They are promoted as a safe method to assist with weight loss and control blood sugar levels. However, over the years many studies have demonstrated otherwise.
Continue reading “Why to Avoid Artificial Sweeteners”