The Most Commonly Ignored Cause of High Blood Pressure

Shares information about a common cause of high blood pressure that often gets ignored but which can be addressed using a natural approach. More »

Ten Ways to Make Good Choices While Eating Out

Learn ten simple ways you can eat well and make healthy choices while eating oil. Each tip is simple and easy to do! More »

Ten Suprising Benefits of Exercise

The word “exercise” has many negative connotations for many people. My preference is to stop using the dreaded “E” word and replace it with “fun, sweaty activity.” Getting over our emotional hangups related More »

Little-Known Facts About Weight Loss

I’m always hesitant to write about weight loss, as it’s a topic that has been overdone and which seems to attract many wacky, over-the-edge perceptions that have no foundation in science. It is More »

Stop the Thigh Gap Madness!

Author shares important information on the current thigh gap fad and shares reasons women should NOT try to create a thigh gap. More »

Case Study: Eliminating a 20-Year Cough

I recently promised to share more case studies so you could gain a better grasp of what I do on a daily basis and the types of cases I handle. Please note More »

Modern Epidemic: Metabolic Syndrome

“Metabolic Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms that are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and other developed countries. Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as an “epidemic” because More »

Why Mainstream Diabetes Diets Often Fail

Those of you who know me, know I have a deep passion for helping anyone affected by any form of diabetes. This is partly because Type 2 diabetes has become an epidemic, More »

Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D

The following facts about Vitamin D may surprise you: Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. (This post refers to it as a “vitamin” because that is the common terminology used.) More »

Surprising Facts About Insulin

Insulin is an important hormone for everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. It performs many functions in the body that most people are completely unaware of. The purpose of this article More »

Simple Solutions for Ingrown Toenails

I once heard a man say he couldn’t believe childbirth could hurt worse than an ingrown toenail. (I’ll withhold comment on that statement.) Anyone who has an ingrown toenail knows how painful More »

Simple Ways to Cut Carbs from Your Eating Habits

It is a simple – although often overlooked – fact that most people in the US are obese because they are insulin resistant. It is true that we live in a society More »

Green Coffee Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones: Truth or Hype?

I’ve recently received many questions about whether or not Green Coffee Extract and Raspberry Ketones actually work. These questions multiplied after a well-known MD with a nationally-syndicated television show promoted these supplements. More »

The Joy of Fruitless Smoothies

Many people are currently trying to eat less sugar and fewer carbohydrates. The reasons for this are related to attempts to lose weight, eliminate Candida or pursue a new level of wellness. More »

How to be Your Own Thyroid Advocate

I recently realized my dosage of thyroid medication was too high. This was great news, as it means my thyroid gland is coming back to life and doing what it’s supposed to. More »

Diabetes Myths that Need to be Busted

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Plant Collagen Builder by mykind Organics

I was recently invited to test some of Garden of Life’s new products, including their Plant Collagen Builder. Please note that I received one bottle of this product for free, but was not compelled or asked to share a positive review, nor was I paid for this review. Those of you who know me can rest assured I will always be brutally honest in my reviews. Please also note that some, although not all, of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase product after clicking these links, I receive a very small amount of compensation (less than 5%) of the purchase price. I never share links to products I do not believe in, nor do I ever share links to products I have not used and tested. The small amount of money I receive from affiliate sales are used to pay for the upkeep of this website.

This is an historic day, as it is the first time ever that I have shared a negative review of a Garden of Life product. I LOVE this product, but its labeling is deceptive, and every online description I have read of it is incorrect. More on that later.

The product I’m reviewing is the mykind Organics Plant Collagen golcollagenBuilder. mykind Organics is an amazing sub-brand of the Garden of Life company. Everything the company produces is organic, vegan and non-GMO verified. That is a huge accomplishment.

As I said previously, the product is amazing. It’s the marketing associated with it that I have issues with.

In a nutshell, the name of this product is important, as it says it’s a collagen builder, not a collagen supplement. The product contains nutrients known to support the body’s production of collagen. The product does not contain ample amounts of true collagen. I’m concerned the name of the product may be misleading to those who aren’t familiar with collagen.

There is currently a big focus in the natural health arena on the use of collagen as a means of improving digestion and addressing leaky gut syndrome. In fairness, mykind Organics makes no claims that this product is a collagen product, nor does it claim it is suitable for use in supporting digestive health. But … having worked in the natural health arena for many years, I can pretty much guarantee that many people will see “collagen” on the label and make huge assumptions. That concerns me.

Product LabelMy other big issue with this product is that the label, shown at right, clearly states it contains 2500 MICROGRAMS of Biotin, yet every marketing piece associated with the product claims it contains 2500 MILLIGRAMS. I found this apparent error on two pages of the company’s website, and on every instance where the product could be purchased on Amazon. I can only assume this is a widespread issue.

There are 1000 micrograms in a milligram. That means that 2500 micrograms only equals 2.5 milligrams. That’s a huge difference that concerns me. A lot. 

I contacted Garden of Life to check on this. I will edit this post or delete it as soon as I receive a response.

Moving beyond that, Plant Collagen Builder is a great product that contains ample amounts of nutrients known to support the health of skin, hair and nails. Had it been marketed as such and given a name that reflected that, I’d be singing its praises. 

I’m a stickler when it comes to accuracy in product names and labeling. My opinion of this product reflects that. I will humbly apologize to the company if I am proven to be wrong.

Have you tried this product? What did you think?

Whole Food Magnesium!

I was recently invited to test some of Garden of Life’s new products, including their whole food magnesium. Please note that I received several samples of this product for free, but was not compelled or asked to share a positive review, nor was I paid for this review. Those of you who know me can rest assured I will always be brutally honest in my reviews. Please also note that some, although not all, of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase product after clicking these links, I receive a very small amount of compensation (less than 5%) of the purchase price. I never share links to products I do not believe in, nor do I ever share links to products I have not used and tested. The small amount of money I receive from affiliate sales are used to pay for the upkeep of this website.

The first product I reviewed was the Relax and Restore whole food golrelaxmagnesium. Did you catch that? This is a WHOLE FOOD magnesium, meaning it is made from food.

Why is that important? Because your body recognizes the molecular structure of supplements that are sourced from food and therefore digests and absorbs them much better than synthetic versions of the supplement. There are less than five other whole food magnesium supplements currently on the market, each of which provides an extremely small serving of magnesium, so this new product is a very big deal.

To learn more about magnesium and its importance for health, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

Following is my review of Relax and Restore’s whole food magnesium features. I was brutally honest. I loved the product, but there are a few things I wish were a smidge different.

The Basics

The Garden of Life Relax and Restore Whole Food Magnesium is an effervescent powder. It is organic, non-GMO certified, and vegan. There are very few (less than three) organic magnesiums on the market, and none of those provide a whole food magnesium.

Relax and Restore also provides 1 billion active cultures of probiotics (Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus) to help improve digestion. One billion active cultures isn’t enough to be a therapeutic dose of probiotics for most people, but it’s enough to improve the digestion and absorption of the product. For some people, it may be enough to boost immunity and improve regularity.

The magnesium in this product is derived primarily from pea protein. The main source of magnesium is a chelate, meaning the magnesium molecule has chains of amino acids (proteins) attached to it. The body digests and absorbs amino acids very easily, so the amino acid chelate connected to the magnesium ensures the magnesium will be very easily digested and absorbed. This should also ensure that this form of magnesium will not cause digestive upset.

Price and Serving Size

Serving size is a single teaspoon, so the smaller, approximately half-pound, containers provide around 50 servings. Not bad for a price point that’s between $15-17.

It is interesting to note that the different flavors have different net weights, but each provides about 50 servings. I’m assuming the difference in weights reflects differences in the ingredients that were added to create the flavors. To learn more about the extreme caution Garden of Life uses in selecting flavoring ingredients, please visit Seven Surprising Facts About the Garden of Life Colmpany.

The product is available in the following sizes:

  • Approximate half-pound containers, providing about 50 servings, averaging $15-17 per container. (Price differences were seen between various retailers. Amazing seems to have the best price.) Average cost per serving came to around 32 cents.
  • Approximate one-pound containers, providing double the servings (around 100), and costing around 24 cents per serving. This is obviously the better deal, but I recommend trying a small container of the flavored versions before committing to a large container. (Just in case you don’t care for the flavor.)

There is a somewhat similar product on the market that retails for a similar price but has double the servings. HOWEVER – that product is not organic or non-GMO verified, and contains some questionable ingredients. It also uses a synthetic form of magnesium that is known to cause diarrhea. It’s not a better option, in my opinion.


I tried the Original, stevia-free unflavored version, and the Orange Dreamsicle flavor. There is also a Raspberry Lemon flavor which I did not try.

I truly enjoyed both versions, although I felt the orange flavor was a bit strong. Adding more water helped eliminate that issue. My husband enjoyed both versions. The product wasn’t gritty after blending, and was easy to drink. I’ve tried other powdered magnesium supplements that were extremely gritty and hard to drink, so this was a pleasant change.


Here is perhaps my strongest negative opinion about this product. It’s not truly a negative, it’s merely a lesson I learned the hard way. Because the bubbles in this product are created naturally, it can take a while for the ingredients to finish bubbling.

Let me point out that drinking the product before the bubbling stops may result in a lot of burping. I felt it took an inordinately long time for the effervescence to stop effervescing, but I failed to time it. 

golrelaxlabelPlease also note that stirring the product once the powder has been added will greatly increase the bubbling effect and may cause foaming that will make the product overflow the cup it was blended in. 

If you’ll notice in the graphic at the right, the instructions clearly say to add the water to the powder. I did it wrong every single time, which may be why I had excessive bubbling. Following the instructions is obviously the wise course of action.

My advice if you ignore the instructions is to fill the container half way with water, add the teaspoon of product, and allow it to sit for 30-60 seconds. (I did time how long I waited.) Then add the remainder of the water, gently stir, and wait until the bubbling has obviously stopped.

Not a big deal, especially since the issue was with my failure to follow the instructions.

Interesting Side Notes

As you may or may not be aware, magnesium should never be taken with iron supplements, thyroid medications, some antibiotics, and a wide variety of prescription medications because it can either block absorption or increase absorption and increase the medication’s effectiveness. Please note that the face this is a whole food magnesium is not sufficient reason to assume this supplement can be taken with supplements and medications magnesium is known to interact with.

Having said that, I can say that I experimented with Relax and Restore and took it before bed with my iron supplement for two weeks. I did not notice any difference in how I felt, nor did I begin to notice symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. As someone with Pernicious Anemia, I can assure you I would have been flat on my back had this magnesium interfered with with absorption of my iron supplement. Let me also say, you should not experiment the way I did. My training and professional experience enables me to quickly tell if my body’s balance is shifting. In other words, don’t be stupid.

Have you tried Garden of Life’s Relax and Restore? What did you think?

Are These Garden of LIfe Probiotics Worth the Cost?

Garden of Life LogoI recently received the opportunity to review several Garden of Life products, including their line of Doctor Formulated Probiotics. In the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware I was given these products for free. I  tried two of them myself and gave the others to clients who volunteered to try them and report their results. As you read this review, it will be obvious the fact I received free product in no way influenced my review. I am brutally honest and am fully committed to always sharing the truth. Please note that some of the links shared in this post are affiliate links for which I receive a very small sum if you make a purchase after clicking the link. These small affiliate sums help pay the costs of maintaining this website.

I reviewed a meal replacement powder, several probiotics, and several organic multivitamins. The products I reviewed and my opinion of each follow. I’m covering the probiotic line first, as it’s one that has products marketed toward the entire family. I’ll review the other products in future articles.

Dr. Formulated Probiotics

This line of probiotics was formulated by Dr. Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist who is a recognized expert on nutrition, the gut-brain connection, gluten issues, and neurodegenerative disorders. The entire line includes broad spectrum probiotics with a high number of active cultures and a large number of bacterial strains. Each product is hypoallergenic, vegetarian, and free of gluten, dairy and soy.  The probiotics in each product are specially formulated to be resistant to stomach acid and bile so they reach the digestive tract. (Many probiotics on the market are not, so they are consumed by stomach acid and bile and never reach the digestive tract.) Those are all definite “pros” related to this line. 

It is also important to note that Garden of Life is the only manufacturer of OTC probiotics that ships them in refrigerated trucks. This ensures the probiotic strains stay viable. Most other manufacturers ship in regular trucks, which means the heat during the summer may very well diminish the potency of the products. Garden of Life shipped me the Prostate+ product in a cooler filled with ice packs. I was impressed. In spite of that, the cost required to do so doesn’t seem to have impacted the cost of these probiotics. They range in price from $21 for the children’s up to around $40 for the probiotic with the highest potency. Those prices are in line with similar probiotic products, and are less expensive than some which are only sold to doctor’s offices but which have fewer strains and lower potency.

The complete line includes general formulas and specific formulas for the following:

  • Mood+:  A combination of organic Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb known ot assist with stress, combined with probiotic strains known to help support neurotransmitter balance.
  • Prostate+:  A formula that combines organic herbal remedies known to support prostate health combined with specific probiotic strains known to do the same.
  • Urinary Tract Plus:  A combination of organic cranberry extract combined with Vitamin D and strains known to boost immunity to support the body’s natural ability to resist e coli.
  • Fitbiotic:  A combination of healthy organic fiber combined with probiotic strains known to support weight loss and blood sugar levels.
  • Once Daily Ultra:  This probiotic contains a whopping 90 billion active cultures and also contains lactobacillus gasseri, a strain known to support healthy blood sugar levels. Not many probiotics on the market contain that strain.
  • Once Daily Women’s:  A nice blend specifically designed for women’s physiology. Is shelf stable, meaning it maintains its potency without being refrigerated. (However, for best results I don’t recommend storing these in hot, steamy bathrooms.)
  • Once Daily Men’s:  The counterpart to the women’s version. My male clients liked only having to take one capsule per day.
  • Children’s Plus Chewable:  A nice blend that includes 5 billion active cultures along with Vitamin C and Vitamin D in an organic, all-natural tablet that actually tastes good. I have many clients who found their kids didn’t get sick as often when they happily ate one of these each morning during the winter.

It’s a simple fact that most of us need a probiotic and would benefit from taking one every day. I like this line and especially like that it contains strains of probiotics that most OTC probiotics do not. I’ve used the 

I like this line and I especially like the products designed to support specific systems. In the midst of that, be aware that the specific support products aren’t designed to be used alone. They should always be used as part of a support program and not used as the sole product. It would be impossible to include therapeutic doses of additional support ingredients in a single dose, so the products for specific systems don’t contain a large enough quantity of additional ingredients to provide a strong amount of therapeutic support. 

My clients who used these products reported the following:

  • Several saw improvements in digestion, ranging from being more regular to having less indigestion. One saw loose stools completely disappear. She had resisted using a probiotic prior to this, even though I had recommended it repeatedly.
  • More than one reported feeling more energy throughout the day.
  • A male client who was using the Prostate+ product said everyone in his office came down with a nasty virus, but he skated through without so much as a sniffle.
  • A client who used Urinary Tract+ said, “I liked knowing this provided extra support, but really think the D-Mannose I was taking helped prevent UTIs more than this did.” 
  • One client had mild detox symptoms associated with having harmful bacteria in her gut die off. Those symptoms disappeared once we reduced her dosage from once daily to once every-other day. She was able to return to a once-daily dose two weeks later, and I recommended other steps to help improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in her digestive tract.

The only “cons” I found with this line of probiotics were related to the fact the products marketed to benefit specific systems don’t contain therapeutic doses of additional nutrients, and that this line can only be purchased online or in specialty health food stores. Those are paltry issues when compared to the other benefits of these probiotics.

Are they worth the money? In my opinion, that answer to that question is a definite YES.

Simple Steps to Better Health Starting Today – Guest Post by Terry Reilly

I am extremely honored to share a series of three blog posts by a health enthusiast who made amazing changes over the last 13 years and whose health benefited in astounding ways. He also happens to be my beloved husband. Thanks to Terry for taking time to share what he’s learned through the years and to encourage others to make positive changes.

Have you ever felt that some awful disease is your fate? I have. I have plenty of friends who believe it Simple Changes to Better Health
too. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and the list goes on. It seems like a forgone conclusion that one of them is going to “getcha.” We could treat those thoughts with therapy, but there is a better way.

Why do some people live a great quality of life, disease free, and some don’t? The answers lie in a few key areas where our daily actions truly make the difference. Anyone can live the quality of life they desire. Why do I believe that? For the last 13 years I’ve been my own laboratory. I’m living proof. And the results are good.

What happened years ago were several things. I married the love of my life who is a Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Nutrition Counselor, Master Herbalist, energy practitioner, and more. With her loving guidance I embraced natural living. I started making different choices daily and in a short period of time, I noticed some very positive changes.

You may say, “You were born with good genes” or as my medical doctor loves saying, “In life sometimes you just have to be lucky”. My family tree includes lots of big bad diseases that have taken root including emphysema, hypertension, lupus, various cancers, diabetes, renal failure, arteriosclerosis, alcoholism and mental illness. Plus, as a teen and adult, I really didn’t take very good care of myself. My life choices turned my body into a ticking time bomb looking for a fuse and a match.

At the ripe middle age of 47, I started to simply change the choices I made about my health. I emphasize simply. Here’s how you can too with easy steps that work for anyone at any age.

Welcome to Natural Living 101:  Mind, Body & Spirit. Simple and effective. Part 1—Food.

  • Start with better food. Become a label reader. Before you buy it, look at the ingredients list. When you see words and chemicals you can’t pronounce, that stuff just flat out can’t be healthy for you. Preservatives and colorants are there for shelf life, convenience and let’s face it, the manufacturer’s return on investment. Instead, invest in yourself and your family’s well-being. It’s your body and your money. Pay now or pay later.
  • Choose simpler options. Move away from processed foods to fresh. From food shipped from afar to grown locally. Choose organic whenever available. These choices will not only pay off in better health, but as more families demand real healthier foods, the greater the supply will be. That’s a good thing.
  • Eliminate less healthy foods cold turkey (pun intended). My first simple step was cutting out all soft drinks. Other things I eliminate included fast food restaurants (ones with CO2 clogged drive throughs), salty and sugary processed snacks, energy drinks, sweeteners that come in little colored packets (they’re all hideously unhealthy), plain old table salt (replace with natural Celtic or Himalayan mountain salt). Reason for going cold turkey is you’ll have to replace these bad foods with better ones, so this simple step is a reinforcing one.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. When you fall off the wagon, and you will, don’t beat yourself up, simply restart your commitment. Within a few short weeks, you will find you’ve lost your craving for junk. When you do eat differently, you’ll find the taste of junk food will frankly be disgusting.
  • Share the journey. “Are we there yet?” Parents, remember we are the ones ultimately responsible for our children and families. Making the move to better food can be a beautiful journey with real and lasting benefits. So talk about it. Often. Speak the truths you’ve come to learn with love and conviction. Patience, listening and involvement overcome resistance. Start with your spouse or partner first, then the kids.
  • Remember what food really is. It’s fuel. Fuel for your body. Our cars have fuel quality requirements that when ignored can lead to a breakdown or costly repair. Why treat your wonderful body with any less respect?
  • Remember that bad choices may be destructive. Unhealthy food usually causes disruption and inflammation in our body’s systems. Inflammation is the cause of many serious and deadly diseases. Fresh organic, non-processed foods enable bodily systems to work as they should, particularly our amazing immune system and metabolism. Fresh organic food supercharges the immune system which is our disease fighter!
  • Exercise your free will. The bill of rights and constitution of the good old USA guarantee us many liberties. Processed food in the grocery may be FDA approved and declared “safe,” but the FDA doesn’t do longitudinal studies on the safety of processed foods. However, as certain as I’m sitting here at my keyboard, I can see that people eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) are, in fact, less healthy with each passing generation. We have seen the enemy and it’s processed food. Use your freedom to learn what better foods are and choose them.

Start today with simple steps. You’ll be glad you did. Simply put, the food our great grandparents ate prior to today’s chemical processing made their disease rates lower than those of today’s generation. It’s true. I’ll be 61 years old this year and I’ve never been healthier. I don’t get sick, nor do I expect to.

Stay tuned for Part 2—I hate to exercise, but I love movement. Pursuing living the quality of life you desire and deserve.

Mr. Terry ReillyTerry Reilly is happy to be a transplanted Hoosier. A friend and the Indy 500 brought him to Indianapolis in 1978. His love of natural health began about 13 years ago. He’s a graduate of the Boston University College of Communication.  A family man with four adult children, Terry enjoys movies, the arts, motorcycling and community service. He currently works as Executive Director of The Miracle Ride Foundation, Inc. and you’re invited to connect with him on LinkedIn.

Top 10 Ways to Live Joyfully with Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967, yet I How to live joyfully with diabeteshave very mixed emotions about how this month is handled. I grow weary of the constant stream of negativity shared related to all forms of diabetes. The standard message shared contains words such as, “devastating,” “deadly,” “stressful,” “all consuming,” “terrifying,” etc. 

I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes almost 50 years. None of those words or phrases applies to my life. Never has. Never will. Please know I’m not passing judgment on the views that are shared. I’m simply stating that those views are not a version of my truth. My heart breaks for those for whom it is true.

Based on the negative perspective I see shared so often during National Diabetes Awareness Month, I decided to share my personal tips for avoiding the potential stressors related to diabetes. My hope is that these tips will help you find joy and maintain peace in your journey with diabetes. 

Here are my tips for maintaining sanity and finding joy while living with any form of diabetes:

  • Work through the anger and let it go:  It is perfectly normal to be angry about having diabetes. Did you hear that? Completely, totally normal. Being angry is a standard part of the grieving process that follows diagnosis. Problems result when the anger becomes all-consuming and/or doesn’t dissipate with time. I experienced a lot of anger as a result of having diabetes. I didn’t start working through that anger until about 20 years after my diagnosis. The result of facing and working through the anger was profound. Getting rid of the negativity and learning to find joy in the daily trials of diabetes changed my life. Releasing the anger enabled me to let go of lots of negative junk that kept interfering with my ability to live abundantly. It also helped me finally accept the diagnosis instead of constantly railing against it. My health in general improved as a result. My clients with diabetes often find that emotional release work enables them to lower their A1Cs and feel better in general.
  • Stop expecting perfectly normal blood sugars:  We all know how important it is to maintain blood sugars that are as close to “normal” as possible; however, you will never know peace if you become frustrated and upset each time your sugars stray outside of the normal range. I get that it can be frustrating to do everything right and have your blood sugar dip or spike for no apparent reason. Part of living with diabetes includes accepting that our bodies will rarely do what the text books say they should. Learn from the unexpected lows and highs and move on.
  • Decide and choose to live abundantly:  Many people receive the diabetes diagnosis and instantly decide their life is ruined. That may partially be because ignorant medical professionals often tell newly diagnosed diabetics their lives are over and they will never be healthy again. That is not true. Living joyfully and maintaining peace with diabetes requires that we maintain a positive, hopeful attitude. Living with diabetes can indeed be stressful at times. Choosing to keep a good attitude and maintain a positive perspective on life makes a huge difference in how we function on a daily basis.
  • Don’t let diabetes become your identity:  You are an amazing person with the capacity to live an amazing life. The fact you have some form of diabetes is absolutely irrelevant to who you are as a person. I meet many people whose entire identity is based on the fact they have diabetes. Everything in their life revolves around and is limited by a diagnosis. It doesn’t have to be that way. Having diabetes does not need to and should not affect every aspect of your life. Learning to control diabetes instead of letting it control you is key to maintaining joy and peace in the midst of the potential challenges. Living joyfully is a choice, plain and simple. You can choose to let diabetes control every facet of your life, or you can choose to live your life abundantly and make diabetes a very small part of who you are. It is possible to live that way and maintain good control. I promise.
  • Learn to laugh at your frustrations:  Many aspects of diabetes are hilarious, but it takes a special person to learn to laugh at their frustrations. Commit to finding humor in the myriad of situations that can pop up while living with diabetes. Your entire perspective will change. You may also find people enjoy being around you more.
  • Take time to count your blessings every single day:  I realize that advice is given far too often and may sound a bit cliche. In spite of that, taking time each day to remind yourself how incredibly blessed you are truly helps you live with joy. Focusing on our blessings instead of our challenges helps transform our perspective, attitude and outlook. Don’t believe me? Try it.
  • Take time to help and encourage others:  It doesn’t make much sense, but taking time to help and encourage others is a great way of lifting ourselves up. Taking our focus off of our own problems and making an effort to encourage and help someone else automatically makes us feel better. It works every single time. As a wise man once said, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
  • Stop expecting the worst:  I work with a lot of people with diabetes who assume blindness, amputations, heart disease, and other complications are inevitable. That is NOT true. Complications are possible, not definite. I find that people who expect to have complications wind up having them, while those who assume everything will be fine have far fewer. Our body has a funny way of listening to what we tell it. Assuming complications are inevitable and living our life waiting for them to happen increases the likelihood they will. I’ve seen that play out in people’s lives over and over again. After almost 50 years with Type 1 Diabetes, I don’t have any complications. It is possible.
  • Celebrate and acknowledge your accomplishments:  Living with diabetes can be a challenge. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments! Celebrate and give yourself a pat on the back for everything you do that you thought might be impossible due to diabetes. Also take time to celebrate accomplishments other people foolishly said you couldn’t achieve. Short of a few legalities, there is nothing you can’t accomplish with diabetes. Travel across Europe by yourself? Got your motorcycle license? Worked a 15-hour shift with no highs or lows? Celebrate the heck out of that! Make a list of non-food rewards and reward yourself for every accomplishment you achieve.
  • Consider what you wouldn’t have without diabetes:  Most of us can admit there are aspects of our personal development and life we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t been diagnosed with diabetes. Many of us eat healthier, exercise, and take better care of ourselves as a result of the diagnosis. Some of us have increased self confidence as a result of defeating the challenges of diabetes. Most of us have wonderful people in our lives we would never have met if we didn’t have diabetes.Take time to honestly assess the good things you’ve become or received as a result of living with diabetes. Remind yourself of those benefits when you’re tempted to get frustrated..

And one final word of advice:

  • If you need help, ask for it:  Depression is more common in folks who have diabetes than those who don’t. If you find you are having trouble coping or have sunk into a “funk” you can’t lift yourself out of, please seek professional help. There is no shame in that. Blood sugars directly affect brain chemistry. Depression is not something you can simply think your way out of. Counseling, a support group, or medication may be necessary. Accept that and get the help you need.

You are amazing. I know living with any form of diabetes can be challenging. If we choose to rise above those challenges and live abundantly, nothing can stop us. Go live abundantly!

Ten Natural Health Life Hacks to Simplify, Save Money and Live Better

I am a huge fan of “life hacks.” Handy tricks that can greatly simplify a natural lifestyle create a win-win situation, allowing us to Natural Health Life Hacks
simplify our lives while improving our health. What could be better? Following are my Top 10 Natural Health Life Hacks. Use them to simplify your life, improve your health, save money, and live better. Have your own natural health life hack? Please share it in the comments!

Dr. Pamela’s Top 10 Natural Health Life Hacks

Stop wasting money on commercial colloidal oatmeal:  The word “colloidal” in relation to colloidal oatmeal simply means, “able to uniformly disperse in water.” That’s it. Nothing fancy and no chemistry required. Make your own colloidal oatmeal – and save a ton of money – by blending organic oats in a blender until they form a fine powder. It’s just that simple. Most commercial colloidal oatmeals contain chemical additives designed to improve the powder’s flow through processing machines, so by making your own you also reduce your exposure to potential toxins.

Freeze leftover smoothie in an ice cube tray:  Once the smoothie cubes are frozen, you can either use them as a cool treat on a hot day, can use them as ice cubes in water to create an “infused” beverage, or can toss them into a blender and make a frozen version of the original smoothie. You can also use the frozen cubes to save time. Make a double batch of smoothie every day for a week, freezing the excess and putting the cubes in a canning jar in the freezer. Use the frozen cubes to make a quickie smoothie on mornings when you run out of time for a healthy breakfast. Freezing the smoothie will detract a small amount of nutrition, but will retain enough nutrition to provide benefits. If you’d like a formula to use to make perfect smoothies every time, read this:  Perfect Smoothie Formula.

Keep a pre-packed bag with gym essentials in your trunk:  Having a back-up gym bag packed and ready to go will help eliminate most excuses for not working out. Keep one in your trunk, in your desk at work, or wherever it will always be ready. Items to pack might include a t-shirt and shorts, tennis shoes, deodorant, headband, water bottle, etc. 

Buy organic spices in the bulk section instead of individual jars:  When we buy organic basil in a jar, it costs $4.79. The same amount of organic basil in bulk costs us less than $1.50. Find a locally owned store that sells organic spices in bulk. The store we frequent even allows us to weigh our own container when we enter so we don’t have to use a plastic bag. We save loads of money by buying our organic spices in bulk. We wash and re-use glass spice bottles, but you can also find bottles on Amazon for next to nothing.

Measure your daily water need into a bottle in the morning and keep it with you all day:  We all need to drink half our weight (in pounds) in ounces of water on a daily basis. This means people who weigh 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of purified water daily. Staying hydrated helps ensure our cells can work at their optimal level, helps us feel more energized, can eliminate headaches, and prevents the body from secreting hormones that make us feel hungry when what we actually need is water. The bottom line is that our cells work better when they’re hydrated and look like grapes than they do when they are dehydrated and look like raisins. So do we.

Ask for a to go box when you order at a restaurant, then place half your meal in the box as soon as it’s served:  Most portions of restaurant meals are huge, especially if they include side dishes, salad, etc. Boxing up half your meal as soon as it’s delivered helps ensure you don’t overeat and provides a meal for the next day. For more tips and tricks for eating healthily when eating out, read Ten Ways to Make Good Choices While Eating Out.

Use coconut water instead of sugary sports drinks:  Coconut water naturally contains every trace mineral present in human blood. It is also very easily absorbed and void of added sugars or corn syrup. It makes a much healthier alternative to sports drinks loaded with synthetic minerals and excess sugars. Coconut water is also often successfully used instead of infant electrolyte replacement drinks. (Discuss that option with your pediatrician or physician.) For best results, use a coconut water that is organic and that does not contain added sugars. 

Make your own “gel” icepack:  Simply blend 2 parts water with 1 part rubbing alcohol. Place in a zippered bag, force out as much air as possible, freeze, and use as needed. You may want to use two bags to help protect against having the zippers pop open. These ice packs are nice because they don’t leak all over but can easily fit around limbs and body parts. To prevent overchilling of the body part, place a towel or wash cloth between the area that needs to be iced and the gel pack. You can increase or decrease the ratio of water to rubbing alcohol to change the thickness and density of the “gel” as needed. Vodka or Everclear can be used instead of the rubbing alcohol if you prefer.

Use a piece of spaghetti to light candles:  Believe it or  not, spaghetti is flammable. Light a piece and you can use it to light multiple candles with hard to reach wicks. Note that gluten-free spaghetti doesn’t work as well as regular spaghetti.

Ditch artificial makeup removers:  The best makeup remover on the planet is organic, high oleic sunflower seed oil. The oil easily removes makeup and contains fatty acids known to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also very inexpensive. To use, apply the oil to a natural cotton ball or cotton wash cloth (use black wash cloths for removing eye makeup) and gently use to remove makeup. You’ll protect yourself from artificial chemicals while nourishing and moisturizing your skin. It’s a winning combination!

Bonus Natural Health Life Hack #11:

Use coconut flour instead of corn starch as a thickener:  Coconut flour is ultra-absorbent and makes a fantastic thickener for soups and stews. It does not add any flavor to the recipe. Since most corn starch is made from genetically modified corn and is high in carbohydrates, I prefer to avoid it. Coconut flour not only works better as a thickener, it has better nutritional value, adding protein and healthy essential fatty acids.

Bonus Natural Health Life Hack #12:

Store natural peanut butter upside down on its lid:  That will allow the natural oils to rise to the bottom of the jar. Shaking the jar before opening it will make it easier to stir and blend the oils back into the butter.

What are your favorite natural health hacks? Please share!

Seven Surprising Facts About the Garden of Life Company

I recently had the pleasure and honor of attending an invitation-only event hosted by the Garden of Life® company. Garden of Life Logo I was one of ten business owners and bloggers invited to spend three days as guests of Garden of Life. We spent two days at the Garden of Life headquarters, visited local eateries, were treated to a Lagree Method workout, received tons of swag and a very generous spa gift certificate, and had one glorious day to ourselves to enjoy the sun and sights of Palm Beach Gardens. During the event, we were treated to cutting-edge education about Garden of Life’s company, philosophies, and commitment to quality; were blessed to meet many members of the Garden of Life staff and leadership team; and were pampered like crazy.

I have been a huge fan of Garden of Life products for more than ten years. Visiting their corporate office and getting to learn more detailed information about their products and philosophies strengthened my desire to use their products myself and to recommend them to my clients. I was also impressed at how readily their leadership team shared areas they are working to improve, and how open they were to receiving feedback.

Here are seven facts about the Garden of Life company that may surprise you:

Garden of Life is committed to creating supplements that are USDA Certified Organic and Verified Non-GMO via the Non-GMO Project:  

This makes Garden of Life a true oddity (in a wonderful way) in the natural products market. There are currently approximately only 265 supplements on the market that are both USDA Certified Organic and Verified Non-GMO. Garden of Life has 29% of Non-GMO Project Verified Logothose products. That is an impressive market share that is higher than any other individual company’s. Garden of Life is committed to making sure their future products continue to make it easier to find certified organic, non-GMO supplements. You’ve committed to eating 100% organic food, shouldn’t your supplements be the same? You can learn more about Garden of Life’s commitment to organic, non-GMO products by visiting Why is Garden of Life® the #1 Certified USDA Organic Supplement Brand in the Natural Products Industry?

The enthusiasm and dedication of the Garden of Life staff is amazing:

We were blessed to receive education from various Garden of Life staff members and to hang out with others. I was blown away by how obvious it was that every person there was excited to be at work and loved his or her job. I’ve never before seen that in a corporate environment! Regardless of whether the staff member worked in product development, IT, or finance, their job satisfaction and their excitement to be there was obvious. It was also obvious they were all united in their desire to live and promote a holistic, organic lifestyle.

The Garden of Life slogan of Empowering Extraordinary Health® isn’t just a tagline, it’s an absolute way of life for the corporation and its staff:

I was also impressed by Garden of Life’s commitment to intentional, holistic living in every way possible. Their commitment to “empowering extraordinary health” extends from the products they create to the well-being of their vendors and suppliers and to the health of their employees. The company is so committed to only using organic ingredients that they have programs in place to help farmers convert from traditional growing practices to organic. The company’s corporate office also has innovative perqs such as a Meditation Room, Smoothie Bike (see pic), Supplement Bar (see pic), work out facility with showers, and a “living wall” of plants that serves as a backdrop to the amazingly well equipped employee break area.

Garden of Life Smoothie Bike

Fellow attendee Chelsea Gilson of Traveling Fig demonstrates the Garden of Life Smoothie Bike


Garden of Life’s “Supplement Bar” where employees have easy access to a wide array of supplements. (Photo courtesy of fellow attendee Roshini Cope of


Garden of Life relies on research and clinical trials to verify the efficacy of their products:

The amount of research that goes into the development of every Garden of Life product is staggering. Extensive research is dedicated to every ingredient, including those providing therapeutic nutrients or herbs, and also the flavorings. (Their products do not include artificial colorants.) Once a formula is developed, the research doesn’t stop. Garden of Life products are third-party tested to gauge their effectiveness. This dedication to research is amazing and helps increase confidence in the products.

The Garden of Life company is dedicated to free trade and to supporting the communities their farmers and suppliers live in:

I’m impressed by any company who actively shows a commitment to giving back. Garden of Life definitely fits that category! The company is firmly committed to ensuring all trade arrangements made with suppliers and farmers are fair and that ingredients purchased from small providers ultimately benefit the surrounding community. Sales of some Garden of Life products are used to help support organizations such as SOS Children”s Villages USA, The National Parkinson Foundation, Vitamin Angels, and others. In addition to that, Garden of Life employees are encouraged to actively support organizations that are near to their own hearts. One example of that includes Rhonda Price, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, who helps support Special Olympics. 

Garden of Life’s commitment to high quality ingredients is so strong they have decided to not go mainstream:

There are approximately 7,000 health food stores in the US and over one million mainstream department stores and groceries. Garden of Life evaluated the market and their ability to obtain the highest quality organic ingredients and made a conscious decision to limit the sale of their products to health food stores. While some might consider limiting their potential profit a crazy business decision, Garden of Life recognized that maintaining the highest possible quality was priceless. The fact they only sell in health food stores also enables the company to provide advanced training to health food store employees to ensure that those directly responsible for recommending their products have a solid foundation of knowledge about the products. 

Garden of Life’s commitment to high quality ingredients includes an absolute commitment to only using flavoring ingredients that are organic, non-GMO and pure:

One of the most delightful people we met was Sherri Gunn, Director of Product Development and Flavor Specialist. Sherri’s enthusiasm for and excitement about her job was energizing and contagious. Part of her role is to ensure Garden of Life products taste amazing. To accomplish that, she spends hours tasting a wide variety of different organic ingredients intended to impart flavor. (She must have the most sensitive taste buds on earth to be able to discern subtle differences between multiple botanicals and natural products most of us would think were the same thing!) Sherri’s all-consuming passion for her job and for finding the best organic ingredients to make Garden of Life products taste amazing was inspiring.

In my next post, I’ll share links and info about the other attendees of the event. They are amazing women with big hearts who are changing the world by being themselves and inspiring others to live as healthily as possible. I can’t wait to share them with you!

10 Quick and Simple Ways to Rid Your Body of Toxins

I am honored to share this guest post by Katie Wells, CNC, who is currently serving as my assistant and intern. You can learn more about Katie on her website:; or on her Facebook page:  A Simple Natural Life. Her bio follows this article.

Please note this article contains affiliate links for which Good Works Wellness Research, LLC earns a tiny amount when readers purchase an item. Dr. Pamela is firmly committed to only providing links to products she has personally used. The small amount raised from these links is used to fund the administrative expenses of this website.

Are you tired all the time? Bloated or have digestive issues? Do you have acne or skin irritation? Can’t seem to lose any weight? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are probably in need of a body cleanse or detox. For more information Detoxification Graphicon how to tell you need to detoxify your body, please read How to Tell You Need to Detoxify.

What is Detoxification?

Detoxification is the process of removing impurities and toxins in the bloodstream and filtering them out through the liver. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, skin, lungs, intestines, and the lymphatic system. Your body is constantly detoxing while maintaining all of the other functions in your body. What we need to do is eliminate the toxins we are ingesting or absorbing through the skin or lungs so we don’t overwhelm the body’s cleansing function. When this function is overwhelmed, it becomes “tired” and slows down. This is most likely the cause of the above symptoms I mentioned. For more information about how the body detoxifies itself, please read How Does the Body Detoxify Itself?

Eliminating Toxins

Let’s start with eliminating toxins from your daily lifestyle. You will first want to remove chemical laden foods, cleaning products and body care products from your home. Replace these with organic or all-natural alternatives. Eliminate alcohol, cigarettes, non-organic coffee and tea, refined sugar and processed foods. All of these act as toxins that inhibit your body’s ability to naturally cleanse itself.

10 Ways to Rid Your Body of Toxins

Here is a list of health tips, recipes, and lifestyle practices to help you detoxify your body:

  1. Eat foods with a good source of fiber, magnesium, folate, potassium, and iron. This includes organic proteins, organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables, and brown rice or quinoa. Avocados, asparagus, beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, grapefruit, lemons, spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed are excellent detoxifying foods. Also, adding turmeric, garlic and coconut or olive oil to your foods while cooking will make them taste even better and they are great ways to help detox.
  2. Cleanse and protect the liver by taking herbs such as chicory and dandelion root, burdock, peppermint, and milk thistle.
  3. Eliminate toxins through perspiration. Try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. For more information about the benefits of exercise, please read Ten Surprising Benefits of Exercise.
  4. Detox the mind by trying low intensity and stress relieving activities. Walking, yoga, stretching, meditation, or prayer are great examples. Taking time to LAUGH every day is also very beneficial! (Laughter has many health benefits. You can learn more about them here.)
  5. Help eliminate bloating and digestive issues by taking a probiotic every night before you go to bed. This will help clear toxins out while you are sleeping and then you are ready to expel them in the morning after you wake.
  6. Juicing or making smoothies is also known to help cleanse your kidneys and liver when the right ingredients are used. Here’s an easy formula you can use to make perfect smoothies every time:  Perfect Smoothie Formula.
  1. Drink LOTS of water! It is recommended that you drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. This will help flush the toxins out of your body. If you don’t like the taste of water or want to give detoxification an extra boost, try adding fresh fruit and vegetables to your water. 
  1. Organic green tea is an excellent way to cleanse. Traditional Medicinals also makes great blends specifically for detoxifying the body. Check out these two options:
    Traditional Medicinal Organic Everyday Detox (af)
    Traditional Medicinal Organic Roasted Dandelion Root (af)
  1. Infrared saunas and ionic footbaths are an excellent alternative and a relaxing way to detox. You can learn more about them here:
    Ultra-Ionic Foot Baths
    Far Infra-Red Sessions
  1. Taking baths with extra ingredients can help balance pH levels and detoxify the body. You can learn to make effective detoxification baths using common ingredients at:  How to Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients.

Here is a quick recipe for an easy detoxification bath. Add the following ingredients while running a bath that is warm but not overly hot:

Word to the Wise

Some people may feel minor symptoms as their body begins eliminating toxins. This is perfectly normal. Symptoms may include fatigue, mild headache, a few pimples, etc. These symptoms should last no more than a few days. These symptoms indicate your body is eliminating toxins. If the symptoms become too severe, eat a banana (the natural sugar will slow down the detox) or back off the changes you are making for one to two days. To minimize any symptoms, drink plenty of water, take detox baths, allow yourself to rest, and celebrate the fact your life changes are having positive effects!

For more information about ways you can detoxify on a daily basis, please read:  How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basis.

Guest Author:  Katie Wells, CNC

Katie Wells, CNCKatie Wells, CNC is the owner of A Simple Natural Life. After dramatically improving her own health by making changes to her lifestyle and eating habits, she received formal training a Certified Nutrition Counselor so she could help others improve their own wellness. After receiving her training, she launched her website and continued her training by working as an intern and continually reading and researching. Her dream is to help families obtain a healthier lifestyle by creating meal plans and transforming medicine cabinets with all-natural supplements and remedies. Since entering the holistic wellness field, she continues gaining knowledge to help others. You can follow Katie and learn more about her on:  

Her Website:  A Simple Natural Life
Facebook:  A Simple Natural Life
Twitter:  @asimplenatlife

Win Garden of Life Raw Fit Organic High Protein Powder!

Please note this contest is OVER and is not active. Thanks much.

I was honored ot recently be asked to review Garden of Life’s Raw Fit Organic Protein Powder. I was curious about this productGarden of Life Raw Fit Organic Protein Powder and was therefore thrilled to be able to try it. I was interested in reviewing Raw Fit’s ingredients, taste, and nutrition.

I was so impressed with Raw Fit that I’ve decided bless one lucky reader with a full size container of the flavor of his or her choice. After reading this article, use the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this article to enter the contest. You have several different options for entering, some of which can be completed daily. Good luck!

Please note Garden of Life provided free products to me to use for this review. The receipt of free product was not intended to guarantee a positive review and did not influence my review in any way. Although I very much appreciate the fact Garden of Life sent me a generous selection of samples, I was not compelled in any way to write a positive review. Please also note that some links in this article are affiliate links from which I receive a very small amount of compensation if purchases are made using the links.

The Basics

Garden of Life is known for only using the very best, often organic, ingredients in their products. I have been a fan of theirs for many years, but often found the products in their “Raw” line tasted horrible. (Just being honest.) I was therefore curious to see how the Raw Fit products would taste. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Raw Fit Organic High-Protein Powders taste wonderful. I was provided Vanilla and Chocolate Cacao flavors, both of which were delicious. Other flavor options include Original and Marley Coffee. Packaging options include a 16-ounce canister and single-serving packets.

Garden of Life markets this product as a “weight loss” product. Although it may be a valid weight loss tool, I feel the ingredients would be better marketed as being helpful with blood sugar control. This product is obviously not a substitute for medical care, but contains several ingredients known to help lower blood sugars and improve insulin resistance. It also contains ingredients known to help lower cortisol levels and help the body adjust to internal and external stressors.

Heavy Metal Accusations

I want to comment about reports in 2014 stating Garden of Life’s protein powders contained high levels of heavy metals. Garden of Life worked with other organic protein powder manufacturers to find better sources for the brown rice protein used in their products. The companies reached an agreement to create an industry standard to limit the amount of heavy metals contained in protein products. The levels are extremely low, so I’m confident their products are safe to consume. It is impossible to avoid heavy metal contamination in food due to environmental contaminants. I am comfortable using this product. I tested heavy metal levels in my body using an electrodermal scan unit before and after consuming one daily serving of this product for one week. There was no rise in heavy metal levels in my body. It is nice to note that one source of protein used in this product – chlorella – is also known to help the body eliminate heavy metals.


Nutritional Label from Raw Fit OriginalRaw Fit Organic High Protein powder has an impressive array of ingredients and nutrition.  

The label shown at left is for the unflavored version of Raw Fit Organic High Protein powder. Working from the top of the label down, the product contains:

  • 170 calories
  • 1 gram of fat
  • Very little sodium (25 g) and no added sodium
  • 180 mg of potassium – Please note you may not need to take a potassium supplement if using this product on a daily basis
  • Only 12 grams of carbohydrates. Since 15 grams is considered a serving of carbs, this is a very small amount of carbs
  • 28 grams of protein – almost two full servings.
  • 1000 IU of Vitamin D
  • 340 mg of Magnesium – If you are taking a magnesium supplement, you may need to reduce your dosage if you use this product every day
  • The sprouted protein blend has a varied blend of sprouted seeds, vegetables and grains. (It is gluten-free.) The sprouted grains are much more easily absorbed.
  • Weight loss and stress management blend – A blend of a specialized decaffeinated Green Coffee Bean Extract and Ashwaganda root. Although I’m not a fan of mainstream Green Coffee Bean Extract due to its overuse and abuse (click the link for more information), I’m comfortable with the form used in this product, especially since it is organic and decaffeinated.
  • Glucose management blend – A blend of herbs known to assist with blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity.
  • Probiotic and Enzyme blend

Pros and Cons

Following is an overview of potentially positive and negative features of Raw Fit Organic High Protein Powder:

Pros Cons
  • Organic
  • Non-GMO Verified
  • Free of soy, wheat and dairy
  • Vegan
  • Unique flavor options that taste good
  • Great nutritional content
  • High protein content from sprouted
    seeds and grains for better absorption
  • Extremely low number of carbs per serving
  • Also contains digestive enzymes and 
  • Each container only contains 10 servings
  • Powder is very hard to mix into liquid
    and remains gritty
  • Powder tastes somewhat chalky
  • Price per serving is significantly higher
    than comparable organic protein powders
  • Contains herbs that could be harmful
    to some individuals
  • The flavor designations are
    hard to find on the label
  • Product is low in carbohydrates but
    does not provide much fiber

I will use this product again. I consider the potential “cons” to be very minor compared to the high quality ingredients used, high protein content and other benefits. I can’t wait to try the other flavors! When using these powders, I recommend using a shaker bottle or blender to blend the powder into water or a milk substitute. If you try a container, please let me know what you think!

One lucky reader can win a container of the flavor of his or her choice using the Rafflecopter widget that follows. Good luck!

Win a Container of Garden of Life Raw Fit High Protein for Yourself! 

I was so pleased with Garden of Life’s Raw Fit High Protein food that I decided to give away a container to one lucky reader. Please note I am not giving away one of the free containers I received. I will order the flavor of your choice and have it shipped directly to you.  Feel free to use the Rafflecopter widget that follows to enter as many times as possible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Facts About Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1967. Since then, I have dedicated my life to researching Type 1 diabetes and to helping people with any form of diabetes maintain better control. I suffered from insulin resistance in Type 1 diabetes (after diagnosis) until I committed myself to improving my insulin sensitivity.

Many people have fallen prey to the myth that people with Type 1 diabetes cannot have insulin resistance. This is absolutely not Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetestrue. It is very common for people with Type 1 diabetes to also have insulin resistance. Carla Greenbaum, MD, who is a Member of the Benaroya Research Institute and serves as Director of the Diabetes Research Program and the BRI Clinical Research Center(1), has conducted multiple studies related to insulin resistance in people with Type 1 diabetes. An abstract from one of those studies states:  “Insulin resistance plays a larger role in the type 1 diabetes disease process than is commonly recognized.”(2) It is estimated that one in three people with Type 1 diabetes also has insulin resistance.(3) One study estimated that 25.8 million people in the US have Type 1 diabetes and insulin resistance; and that insulin resistance plays a large contributing role in the complications associated with Type 1 diabetes.(4) The phenomenon of people having both Type 1 diabetes and insulin resistance is sometimes referred to as “double diabetes” or “Type 1.5 diabetes.”

Sadly, many people with Type 1 diabetes do not believe it’s possible for them to have insulin resistance. This lack of knowledge and refusal to accept the truth can greatly inhibit their ability to control their blood sugars. Their lack of knowledge stems from the insistence that Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes have nothing in common. Although the causes of each type of diabetes are different, Type 1 and Type 2 have more in common than many people realize.

Before I go further, let’s review the three basic types of diabetes. There are others, but these are the most common:

Type 1 Diabetes:  An autoimmune condition characterized by insufficient insulin production due to the body attacking the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes used to be known as “juvenile onset diabetes” or “insulin dependent diabetes.” Neither of those terms is accurate in today’s world where adults are often diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and where people with Type 2 diabetes often require insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.

Type 2 Diabetes:  A chronic condition characterized by the body’s inability to properly use insulin. The body’s inability to correctly absorb and use insulin results in high blood sugars and many of the same side effects as Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has many other names, most of which are outdated and inaccurate.

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA):  A slowly progressing form of diabetes in which the beta cells in the pancreas are slowly destroyed due to an autoimmune attack. Destruction of the pancreatic cells usually occurs much more slowly than it does in Type 1 diabetes, with the patient often not needing insulin for months or even years. Type 1 diabetes and LADA are very similar and have very similar control protocols once someone with LADA progresses to the point of needing insulin.

It is very true that insulin resistance is a characteristic of Type 2 diabetes, but it is also a characteristic of Type 1 diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes develop insulin resistance before they are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes; people with Type 1 diabetes usually develop insulin resistance after they develop Type 1 diabetes. Insulin resistance in Type 1 diabetes is very common, but there are ways to reduce its effects.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

The following symptoms may indicate insulin resistance in someone with Type 1 diabetes:

  • Elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain not associated with an increase in food or decrease in exercise
  • Needing increasing amounts of insulin to maintain normal glucose levels
  • Elevated liver enzymes:  High insulin levels are known to impair the liver’s ability to metabolize glucose, which may result in elevated liver enzymes in blood work.(4)
  • Coronary artery disease

It is somewhat interesting that many of the complications we associate with Type 1 diabetes may actually be caused by excessive use of insulin. Maintaining blood sugars as close to normal as possible is imperative, but there are things we can do to help reduce our need for insulin. My goal in my own control and when I work with clients who have Type 1 diabetes is to improve health by living a lifestyle that improves glucose control, lowers A1C levels, and requires less insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.

Potential Causes of Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

The following reasons explain why people with Type 1 may develop insulin resistance:   

  • Stress and illness:  Stress and illness can cause temporary insulin resistance in anyone, but the effects may be much more noticeable in a person who has Type 1 diabetes and is checking blood sugars frequently. This is one of several reasons people with Type 1 diabetes typically need significantly more insulin during times of illness or stress.
  • Large insulin requirements:  A healthy pancreas produces 20-25 units of insulin each day. Many people who are clients of mine were taking 100-300 units of insulin daily when they first came to see me. I was taking more than 100 units of insulin daily when I began making lifestyle changes to control my blood sugars better. I now take 20-25 units of insulin daily and maintain A1Cs below 6.0. The high amounts of insulin my clients took were required to maintain blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. The problem is that high insulin usage can have many negative side effects and can cause the body to become “overwhelmed” with insulin and stop absorbing it properly. This results in insulin resistance. Sadly, insulin resistance is very common in people with Type 1 diabetes. For more information in insulin, please read:  Surprising Facts About Insulin. The challenge is that maintaining normal blood glucose levels is essential, even if it requires large amounts of insulin. I’ll share more about effectively addressing that challenge later in this post.
  • Ethnicity:  People with Type 1 diabetes who are African American, Eskimo, Asian or Hispanic typically have higher rates of insulin resistance than Caucasians with Type 1 diabetes. This is why people of the above ethnicities often require much higher amounts of insulin.
  • High levels of insulin-binding antibodies:  It is common for people with Type 1 diabetes to have higher levels of insulin-binding antibodies than people who do not have any form of diabetes. (Insulin-binding antibodies are not the same antibodies that attack the beta cells in the pancreas.) Insulin-binding antibodies prevent the body from absorbing insulin and/or neutralize the insulin. This causes people with extremely high levels to require more insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Amounts of insulin-bining antibodies vary greatly from person to person. More research is being done about how to control these antibodies.(3)
  • Obesity:  It is a well-known fact that obesity reduces insulin sensitivity. Unfortunately, insulin is a hormone that stimulates the body to store fat, so people with diabetes who are on large amounts of insulin often find it very difficult to lose weight.

Potential Ways to Reduce Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

Although insulin resistance can make it very difficult to control Type 1 diabetes, there are certain lifestyle habits that can greatly improve insulin sensitivity in people with Type 1 diabetes. Those habits include:

  • Reducing carbohydrate consumption and eating mostly low-glycemic carbohydrates:  Reducing the amount of insulin the body needs is a first step to helping cells “reset” and restore insulin sensitivity.
  • Exercise:  As little as ten minutes of exercise improves insulin sensitivity for up to six hours. One study found that people who engaged in exercise and who followed a low-glycemic eating style had improved insulin sensitivity within just a week. Heavy weight lifting can improve insulin sensitivity for up to 48 hours. I engage in aerobic exercise and heavy weight lifting at least three times a week. If you are not currently exercising, start out slowly and increase your activity very gradually.
  • Limited use of supplements:  There are some supplements known to improve insulin sensitivity. I am not mentioning then here because they should be used with caution and because each person’s personal physiology needs to be considered when selecting an appropriate supplement. There’s nothing healthy about taking handfuls of pills every day, so I am very cautious when recommending supplements and rarely recommend more then two. I’ve seen A1C levels drop in some clients by as much as 30% after the addition of a single supplement, even if the client refused to make dietary and lifestyle changes.
  • Working closely with your physician or endocrinologist:  As lifestyle and dietary changes are made, it is imperative to work very closely with one’s physician and to monitor blood sugars very closely so insulin dosages can be adjusted as needed.
  • Medication:  Although it’s not my first choice, some people with Type 1 diabetes and insulin resistance find that using medication such as Metformin helps them maintain normal glucose levels. Some also find a short trial of Metformin helps them lose enough weight that their physician can then very slowly wean them off of their Metformin dose.

There are no “easy fixes” for insulin resistance in Type 1 diabetes, but a combination of dietary and llfestyle changes can help. I know, because I’ve been able to reduce my insulin resistance and improve my health dramatically using a variety of small changes. After almost 50 years with Type 1 diabetes, I have no complications and live abundantly with ample energy. It is possible!



(2) Diabetes Metabolic Research Review. 2002 May-Jun;18(3):192-200.

(3) Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1985 Apr 12;97(8):359-63

(4) The Interplay of Autoimmunity and Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes, Nokoff, Rewers, Cee Green; University of Colorado School of Medicine, 2/14/2012

Sneaky Things to Watch for On Supplement Labels

Dietary supplements pack the shelves of at least one aisle in almost every store in the country. Few people know how to correctly read and make sense of supplement labels. Reading supplement labels is almost more important than reading food labels, even though both are vitally important. There are a few items on supplement labels you need to check to ensure you are purchasing what you need and are taking the right amount of the supplement. The graphic shown below shares a few of the top items to check when reading a supplement label:

Supplement Label 1Items to pay close attention to include:

  • Serving Size:  Many people purchase supplements and assume that a serving equals one capsule or tablet. This is often far from correct. Many supplements have a serving size that requires multiple capsules or tablets be taken. For example, some calcium supplements require 4-6 tablets  per serving, so it’s important to know what the serving size is. Failing to take the full serving size may mean you are not receiving enough of the supplement to have the desired effect. It is also important to know the number of capsules or pills per serving so you can calculate how many days the bottle will last if you take the recommended serving. It is important to note that the number of milligrams for each item listed in the list of nutrients reflects the amount in one serving. If the supplement’s serving is two capsules, the amount of each nutrient shows what is in two capsules, not a single capsule.
  • List of Nutrients:  This portion of the label shows what nutrients, herbs, minerals or other beneficial ingredients the supplement contains. It is important to read this portion of the label to make sure the supplement contains what you think it does. It is also important to read the list of nutrients to ensure the supplement contains nutrients in therapeutic amounts. For example, I recently reviewed a supplement whose front label stated the supplement contained Zinc. When reviewing the list of nutrients, I found the supplement only contained 1 mg of Zinc – not enough to have a therapeutic effect. When reading the list of nutrients, pay close attention to long lists of ingredients listed as a single item. In the example above, the adrenal blend includes a wide array of herbs and enzymes known to benefit the adrenals. The blend includes 19 different nutrients included in the indicated 302 milligrams. This means the total amount of each item is fairly small. This label is from a supplement company I respect very much and use personally, so I know this blend is effective. Other supplement companies may not be as reliable.
  • Other Ingredients:  This is potentially the most important part of a supplement label. The example shown above is from a company that uses no fillers or excipients, so the only “other” ingredient is a non-GMO vegetable cellulose capsule. Other supplements may use ingredients that are known to be allergenic, artificial, or potentially toxic. In the example shown below, note the wide variety of other ingredients, many of which are artificial and/or potentially toxic or allergenic:

Supplement Label 2

It is also important to note on the label shown above that a single serving is four gummies, and that one bottle only contains enough gummies for 15 days. Also note that this supplement contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. If a vitamin is sourced from whole foods, it should not need to have caffeine added as an energy booster. Natural, food-based vitamins very naturally boost energy levels without the addition of caffeine.

Another item to take note of on supplement labels is:

  • % Daily Value:  This refers to the percent of the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) the indicated nutrient provides. It is important to note that the RDA references the minimum amount of nutrients required to remain alive, not the amounts needed to achieve maximum health. It is therefore neither uncommon nor dangerous for a supplement  to contain 1200% of the RDA, which is common on many B12 supplements. I personally don’t pay any attention to the RDA, as I know maximum health usually requires higher amounts of nutrients than those reflected by the RDA. Many nutrients contained in supplements do not have established RDA. Those nutrients typically show a cross symbol or an asterisk under the RDA column.

Here is one more example of a supplement label. This label is for a liquid, so the nutrient list shows the nutrients contained in the liquid, and the actual ingredients are shown as “Ingredients::

Supplement Label 3

Your next assignment is to go read the labels for the supplements you take. Let me know if you find anything surprising!

The Most Commonly Ignored Cause of High Blood Pressure

The CDC estimates that 29% of adults (one in three) in the US have high blood pressure.1 Unfortunately, many people who Blood Pressure Titlehave high blood pressure are not aware of it. The National Institutes of Health defines high blood pressure as any pressure above 149/90, and prehypertension as any pressure above 120/80. It is common for doctors to put their patients on medications while they are in the prehypertension phase without encouraging any lifestyle changes, even though multiple studies proved lifestyle changes can be as effective as medication for lowering blood pressure.2

I want to be very clear that high blood pressure must be treated. Period. Allowing chronic blood pressure to remain elevated and untreated can lead to permanent physical damage and may result in death. The potential dangers of high blood pressure means it can be dangerous to refuse high blood pressure medication when a physician prescribes it. My encouragement is to use the medication while making lifestyle changes, and to then work with your physician to determine whether or not you can reduce the dose. Consider the medication a potentially temporary necessity. Reversing high blood pressure requires a commitment to making multiple lifestyle and eating style changes, but many people are able to work with their physician to reduce or sometimes eliminate their blood pressure medication after making the changes.

High blood pressure always has a cause. Mainstream medicine often addresses the symptom without taking time to determine its cause. My personal philosophy is that it is imperative to figure out WHY a symptom developed in order to correctly address it. Potential causes of high blood pressure vary, but may include (among other things) food allergies, excess alcohol consumption, obesity, systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, cardiac disease, high blood sugar, insufficient cellular oxygen, and many others. If diagnosed with high blood pressure, accept the prescription and then work with your physician to determine why your body raised blood pressure. High blood pressure doesn’t just happen. The body always has a specific reason for raising blood pressure. Take time to figure out the cause.

Sadly, medical literature rarely mentions the most common root cause of hyptertension:  Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells stop absorbing insulin the way they should. This may occur due to chronic high blood sugars, excess consumption of sugars and high-glycemic carbohydrates, or other metabolic imbalances. When the body produces high amounts of insulin over a long period of time, the body’s cells can become “overwhelmed” by all the insulin and stop absorbing insulin in the quantities the body needs. Insulin is an inflammatory chemical, so the cell’s reduced absorption of insulin is a protective measure, but Insulin Resistance can have devastating results including elevated blood sugars, magnesium deficiency, vision problems, and more. For more information on the potentially negative effects of insulin, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin.

Insulin resistance may cause the following situations, each of which can cause high blood pressure:

  1. The cell’s refusal to absorb the insulin in the blood stream means the blood stream contains excess insulin. Insulin is extremely inflammatory, so the excess insulin in the blood stream may cause blood vessels to become inflamed. It is harder for the heart to pump blood through inflamed blood vessels, so this situation can quickly increase the pressure inside the vessels and may lead to measurable high blood pressure.
  2. When insulin is not adequately utilized, the blood stream may also become filled with excess sugar. Sugar is highly acidic and causes inflammation. In the presence of high blood sugar, the body will elevate blood pressure to help it more efficiently attempt to lower the amount of sugar in the blood stream. Raising blood pressure also helps the body more efficiently carry oxygen to the tissues.
  3. One of insulin’s primary functions is to carry magnesium into the cells. If the body reduces the amount of insulin it absorbs, the body’s cells therefore cannot absorb the amount of magnesium they require. magnesium’s most important job is to relax the blood vessels to maintain normal blood pressure. When a person is deficient in magnesium, it is likely the person will develop high blood pressure. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes usually have insulin resistance and a magnesium deficiency. They therefore have a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure. Some doctors automatically prescribe blood pressure medication to their diabetic patients. These physicians assume there is no way to avoid high blood pressure in the presence of any form of diabetes. They are wrong. As someone who has had Type 1 diabetes for almost 50 years, I know high blood pressure can be avoided and/or reversed because I’ve done both.
  4. Excess insulin can cause water retention. When water is retained in the tissues, it is more difficult for the heart to push blood through the vessels. The body therefore raises blood pressure to pump the blood more efficiently through tissues experiencing water retention..

Many people who have hypertension also have Insulin Resistance. I believe there is no such thing as “hereditary” high blood pressure. As the old adage states:  Genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. (Anonymous.)

So what lifestyle changes can potentially benefit insulin sensitivity and high blood pressure? Here are my top three starting recommendations:

  1. Exercise! Even ten minutes of exercise (three to five times weekly) is known to improve insulin sensitivity for four or more hours.
  2. Eliminate most grains and sugars (including natural ones) for one to three months. Grains are metabolized into simple sugars that can make insulin resistance worse. Eliminating grains and sugars can help the body re-set its insulin sensitivity. This dietary change, combined with other lifestyle changes, can help the body lower blood pressure.
  3. Discuss with your physician the possibility of taking daily magnesium and/or potassium. (Take a form of magnesium other than oxide, as it cannot be absorbed by the body and is worthless as anything except a laxative.) Magnesium and potassium are known to help relax the blood vessels and may help reduce blood pressure. For more information on the importance of magnesium, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

The above steps are merely a starting point. There are other options that may help. If you have high blood pressure and wish to lower it using natural methods, please find a natural practitioner who can assist you. Until then, please keep taking your blood pressure medication and make sure your blood pressure stays within normal limits.



1:  Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V, Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the US: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS Data Brief, No. 133. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2013.


Ten Ways to Make Good Choices While Eating Out

Most of us find it easy to make good choices when we’re at home and only have healthy options to choose from. Since never Fork with Veggiesleaving the house is not a reasonable option, we need to find easy ways to make positive choices when eating out. Questions about eating out are one of the most common questions I receive. I have many suggestions that can help. and have shared them below. Please note that these suggestions are not directly related to those with food allergies, but all of the suggestions can fit within pre-existing restrictions due to food allergies and other health issues. 

Top Ten Suggestions for Making Healthy Choices When Eating Out:

  1. Order a side salad with dressing on the side as an appetizer and eat it before ordering:  The salad will fill you up and keep your hands busy, allowing you to leisurely peruse the menu and enjoy time spent with friends. Many people overeat simply because they feel they need to “keep busy” in a social setting. Eating a salad therefore meets a variety of needs. The salad will also make it easier to not gorge yourself once dinner arrives, or to share a single entree with a friend.
  2. Ask the server to skip the before-dinner bread (or chips):  No one needs that much bread or chips prior to dinner. Ask your server to not deliver the bread, or to only bring one slice of bread per person. You’ll wind up being able to enjoy your entree more as a result. Not eating the bread will also greatly reduce your carbohydrate consumption for the evening.
  3. Ask the server to bring real butter instead of margarine:  Most restaurants have real butter available, but serve margarine due to the common myth that margarine is “healthier.” Real butter is far healthier than the hydrogenated oils in margarine. Go for it! (For more information about myths related to fat consumption, read:  Why You Need to Eat More Fat.)
  4. Stick to the basics:  Opt for a salad, steak and vegetable; fish and rice; etc. Try to avoid veggies covered in cheese or other sauce. Keep it simple. Whole food is delicious!
    .                                                           .
  5. Ask to have all sauces and dressings served on the side,and request a side of olive oil:  Sauces are delicious, but often contain MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial additives and more. Asking to have sauces served on the side allows you to use less, especially if you blend half of the sauce with a portion of the olive oil. If you want to skip the high fructose corn syrup and soy oil used in most commercial salad dressings, use olive oil as your dressing and squeeze a lemon over it to add more flavor and a bit of zing. 
  6. When meals include two or more choices from a list of side dishes, choose veggies and salad as your sides:  You’ll benefit from the added nutrition from the veggies and from not eating as many carbohydrates and artificial additives. If guacamole is an option and the restaurant makes it instead of using a commercial product, choosing the guac is a great way to load up on healthy fats and nutrients. Guacamole is also very filling, so it can help prevent overeating.  
  7. Ask the server to bring a “to go” box as soon as the meal is served:  Since most restaurant meals are huge, you should be able to box up half your meal before taking the first bite and still wind up feeling full and satisfied. The bonus is that you wind up having tomorrow’s lunch ready to go!
  8. If ordering cocktails, drink a distilled liquor with soda water instead of beer or wine:  Beer and wine have high amounts of sugars, carbohydrates and yeasts, all of which can wreak havoc with blood sugars, digestion and more. A single shot of distilled liquor (vodka, tequila, rum, etc.) served in soda water with a wedge of lemon or lime will have fewer negative effects. Sticking to a single cocktail will help diminish the negative effects of the alcohol. Better yet, skip the alcohol completely and order water!
  9. Choose broth-based soups instead of cream soups:  You’ll save on calories, sugars and artificial additives. You may find your digestion also improves.
  10. Cut yourself some slack:  Assuming you don’t eat out five days a week, give yourself permission to splurge once in a while. When you splurge, enjoy every bite to the fullest and move on without looking back. Sometimes it’s ok to splurge. If you make great choices 90% of the time, a few splurges won’t do irreparable harm. Give yourself permission to splurge and don’t beat yourself up about it!

What suggestions do you have for making healthier choices in restaurants?

For more information about Dr. Pamela Reilly and her innovative approach to wellness and chronic disease, please visit her Facebook page.

Ten Suprising Benefits of Exercise

The word “exercise” has many negative connotations for many people. My preference is to stop using the dreaded “E” word and Woman Exercising Too Hardreplace it with “fun, sweaty activity.” Getting over our emotional hangups related to exercise can be the first step toward creating a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. If we learn to look forward to movement instead of dreading it, we are much more likely to continue having fun, sweaty activity.

We also need to give up our rigid ideas about what types of activities can be considered “exercise.” In the simplest sense, any form of movement is exercise. We should all engage in some form of movement on a daily basis, with an effort to engage in higher levels of fun, sweaty activity at least three times a week. If going to the gym bores you, but you feel alive when you dance, then dance! Activities such as gardening, chasing our children or grandchildren, playing fetch with the dog, dancing, shopping (at a rapid pace), riding a motorcycle, having sex, and more can all be considered valid forms of exercise. (I’m sure you’ll agree some of those are a lot more fun than others!)

We all know we need to exercise, yet many of us have a hard time committing fitting exercise into our daily routine.

My advice for starting and sticking to scheduled exercise is to:

  1. Find something you enjoy doing.
  2. Schedule exercise in your calendar just as you do other commitments.
  3. Exercise with a friend to increase the fun and hold you accountable.

Surprising Benefits of Exercise

We are all aware of the basic benefits of exercise. There are other benefits which deserve attention but are rarely mentioned. The following list includes ten measurable benefits of exercise which often get ignored:

  • Insulin Sensitivity:  Exercise is an effective way to make the body’s cells more receptive to insulin. Even ten minutes of exercise can improve insulin sensitivity for eight hours or more. Insulin resistance, also known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X, is a leading cause of obesity in the US and other developed countries. Getting even a small amount of exercise is the first step toward improving your body’s metabolic health. For more information about this topic, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin or Top Ten Signs You Have Insulin Resistance.
  • “Feel Good” Hormones:  Have you heard of a “runner’s high?” It occurs because physical activity increases levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Those chemicals are mood boosters that greatly improve mental outlook. In other words, they are “feel good” chemicals. The natural rush of feel good hormones that occurs during exercise is a benefit of exercise that is often overlooked. It is also a great motivator. Exercise is a wonderful way of improving the health of body, mind and spirit. Scientists at Harvard University found regular exercise to be more effective than antidepressant medications for the treatment of depression in some people. (Some forms of depression are due to imbalances which require medication. Please work with a physician to find the best combination of therapies for your personal situation.)
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia:  Even tiny amounts of non-strenuous exercise and movement have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. One more reason to start scheduling weekly times of movement!
  • Bone Density:  Weight-bearing and muscle-building exercise has an effect on bone density and is known to strengthen bones. Whether you run on a treadmill or wear two-pound wrist weights for a few hours, those activities are known to improve bone density.
  • Memory:  Regular exercise is known to improve neurotransmitter function in the brain and to improve memory. It is a simple truth that those who exercise have a better memory than those who do not.
  • Maintaining Heathy Skin:  Exercise improves blood flow to the skin’s surface, which has been shown to improve the skin’s overall health and appearance. Exercise’s detoxifying effects also benefit the skin.
  • Digestion:  Many people do not realize that a few minutes of exercise can improve digestion for several days. It does so by building abdominal muscles and increasing the quantities of digestive enzymes secreted while eating. Good digestion requires strong contractions of the muscles surrounding the stomach. Strengthening those muscles directly improves digestion by making the contractions more efficient and more effective. For some people, engaging in regular movement also reduces constipation. 
  • Increase Metabolism:  Your body’s metabolic rate is dependent upon your muscle mass. Doing muscle-building exercise increases the body’s resting metabolic rate, which increases your metabolism. People who have a high amount of muscle mass also have a high metabolic rate. This means they burn more calories while lying still than other people do. Doing small amounts of muscle building activities each week can greatly improve your body’s metabolic rate.
  • Hormones:  For both men and women, regular movement and exercise has a balancing effect on hormones. Men who regularly exercise tend to have fewer symptoms of “Low T,” and women who exercise usually have fewer symptoms of PMS and pass through menopause with fewer negative side effects.

Are you feeling more motivated to start engaging in fun, sweaty activity? Go for it! 

If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.


Little-Known Facts About Weight Loss

I’m always hesitant to write about weight loss, as it’s a topic that has been overdone and which seems to attract many wacky, Scale and Weight Loss Titleover-the-edge perceptions that have no foundation in science. It is also a topic I receive many questions about. My goal in this article is to share facts that will surprise anyone who believes calories are the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight.

Let me state very clearly that weight loss is not a healthy goal. I recommend setting goals that focus on improving your health and feeling better. Steps taken to achieve those goals typically lead to the desired loss of inches. Weight is a very finicky goal, so I also encourage my clients to take measurements before making changes to their lifestyle and eating habits. That way they have more than one metric to use to gauge how their body is responding to the changes they make. Aim for health and forget about weight. Improving lifestyle and eating habits will have the result you want.

I’ve shared a few surprising facts about metabolism and weight loss in the paragraphs that follow:

  1. If you are eating healthy foods, eating less and moving more, but still can’t lose weight, chances are you have a metabolic imbalance. Metabolic imbalances may be caused by one or more of the following:  excess toxicity, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, insomnia, a thyroid imbalance, adrenal fatigue (often caused by excess stress), one or more prescription medications, malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a reproductive hormonal imbalance, etc.  It is imperative to find a practitioner who will take steps and use assessments to identify the true cause of weight gain and who will then work with you to address that cause. For more information on this topic, please read: The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight.
  2. Your body does not metabolize all calories the same. It is a myth that weight loss is a simple equation involving calories consumed vs. calories burned. That myth ignores scientific facts about metabolism and digestion. Our body reacts to different types of foods in different ways. Foods with different chemical structures, pesticide residues, etc. will affect our hormones and metabolism differently.
  3. Short term diets can cause harm. Healthy, long-term weight loss requires a lifestyle change and may require emotional work related to how we view food. Fad diets may cause a temporary loss of weight, but the long-term consequences of an extreme eating style involving a lack of nutrition and calories can negatively affect metabolism and may cause long-term health problems. The long-term effects are not worth anything perceived as a short-term benefit.
  4. Eating too few calories causes our metabolism to slow down. Subsisting on 500-1,000 daily calories will literally cause your body to go into a status where it slows metabolism to a halt and refuses to burn fat. Some would call this “starvation mode.” Fasting for a few days or doing a crazy fad diet may cause rapid weight loss for a few days, but extending it beyond a few days is dangerous. The prolonged lack of nutrition and calories will negatively affect every body system and will cause your metabolism to dramatically slow down. The end result is that extremely rapid weight gain will occur once a normal eating style is resumed.
  5. It is impossible to achieve a weight loss goal using only eating changes (diet) or only exercise. Weight loss requires a change in eating habits and an increase in movement. It is a simple fact that long-term weight loss and improvements in health require long-term lifestyle changes. Programs designed to sell supplements may promise fast results, but those results will not last very long. Exercise is essential, as it encourages the body to burn fat, improves insulin and leptin sensitivity, assists with toxin elimination, improves cellular oxygenation and builds muscle. Exercise requires “fuel” in the form of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates, so it is essential to combine a healthy eating style with gradual increases in exercise and muscle-building activities to lose weight and maintain the loss. Building muscle is important because muscle mass is a determining factor in metabolic rate. The more muscle we create through exercise, the faster our metabolic rate will become. Good nutrition is essential to maintaining the metabolic boost, so increasing movement and adopting a healthy eating style are both essential to weight loss. Please note that some eating styles designed to eliminate a medical problem may result in temporary weight loss, but that exercise is still necessary to continue improving health.
  6. There are no “quick fix” options for healthy weight loss and health improvement. There are a few supplements that may assist the body with balancing metabolic imbalances, but the supplements cannot be used by themselves. They only work when combined with better eating habits, exercise, and an increase in healthy lifestyle habits. For more information on two popular supplements, please read:  Green Coffee Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones:  Truth or Hype? 
  7. You are not a cookie, so please don’t rely on cookie-cutter diets. We are each wonderfully unique with very unique personal needs related to nutrition, lifestyle and exercise. There is no such thing as a single style of eating or exercising that is perfect for everyone. What worked for one person may not work for us. That’s ok. It is unrealistic to expect changes someone else made to affect us exactly the same way. Our metabolic and nutritional needs are unique and should be celebrated.

If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.

If you need to lose weight and want to improve your health without joining a program, please find a practitioner who will work with you and who will help you identify and address potential metabolic imbalances. One of the best approaches to losing weight and improving health is to reduce consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates and to engage in a combination of aerobic and muscle-building exercise each week. Set small goals and celebrate every milestone you reach. You deserve it!

What Does a Naturopathic Doctor Do?

Some of the most common questions I receive focus on what a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is and what we do. I am also frequently asked what Naturopathy is. Those questions can be Blank chalkboard with wood frame, erased and ready for your messagesomewhat difficult to answer, as every ND uses a wide variety of different approaches, each of which is well within the legal parameters and each of which has a solid scientific foundation. Following is a general overview of how most Naturopathic Doctors view their practice. Please note this post refers to Naturopathic Doctors, not Naturopathic Medical Doctors. For more information on my personal philosophies, please read A Unique Approach to Wellness and Meet Dr. Pamela.

Naturopathic Doctors Focus on Finding the Root Cause of Physical Challenges

Most NDs have a primary goal of identifying the true root cause of physical challenges. In the midst of finding the cause they will also make recommendations to alleviate symptoms, but NDs firmly believe in addressing the cause of an issue instead of alleviating symptoms without finding what’s causing them. Root causes may include nutritional deficiencies, systemic weaknesses, emotional blockages, physiological or chemical imbalances, excess toxicity, or other basic imbalances that can cause the body to perform poorly. The assessment techniques used to identify needs can vary widely, but may include laboratory testing of saliva or urine; a review of current eating habits; Biologic Ionization testing; energetic assessments; Iridology readings; muscle response testing; tongue and fingernail analysis; pulse analysis; measurement of metabolic factors; and others. 

Naturopathic Doctors Address the Whole Person, Not Just a Symptom

Naturopathic Doctors recognize that the body requires balance in body, mind and spirit in order to restore balance and reverse challenges. Our emotional and spiritual health directly impacts our physical health. It is therefore imperative to ensure steps are being taken to achieve the maximum level of balance and health in all three areas. Naturopathic Doctors may address emotional stressors by measuring physiological factors such as neurotransmitter levels to ensure ho physiological imbalances are causing the stress. They may also refer their clients to a counselor or psychiatrist depending on the severity of the challenge. In my practice, I often quickly recognize that a client is consumed with bitterness, anger, fear or other negative emotion. For that reason, every care plan I create includes specific steps the client should take to help improve emotional and spiritual balance. I often refer clients to other professionals. I am also trained in several simple techniques used to clear emotional blockages and often train my clients how to use them at home. My primary focus is on restoring physical health, but I know from personal experience that emotions can prevent health improvements.

Naturopathic Doctors Believe the Body was Created to Heal Itself

Our bodies were designed to reverse minor health challenges on their own. Few of us rush to the emergency room when we get a paper cut because we know our bodies will heal the cut as long as we take necessary steps to assist the body’s own healing abilities. Naturopathic Doctors believe the body is capable of reversing many health challenges, but that simple factors often prevent the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Those factors may include physiological deficiencies or excesses; structural abnormalities; nutritional imbalances; excess toxicity; overactive autoimmune systems; a lack of belief wellness is possible or an excess of negativity; etc. Let me also say that I am a Naturopathic Doctor who is not opposed to mainstream medical intervention when needed. We are blessed to have an amazing wealth of knowledge and resources at our disposal. Naturopathy is very effective for many conditions, but should not be used as a substitute for medical intervention when it is needed. I am blessed to work very closely with many of my clients’ physicians. The blend of natural and conventional approaches often helps achieve wellness very quickly.

Naturopathic Doctors are Firmly Committed to Doing No Harm

An ND’s goal is to improve your health in every way possible and to never cause more harm. I am very careful about what I recommend, and am very thorough in explaining why the recommendations will benefit your health. My goal is to educate and empower my clients to improve their health. The client calls the shots, not me. I operate in a team environment where every decision is discussed with the client in detail. Natural recommendations made by NDs may include dietary changes, lifestyle changes, supplements (herbs, homeopathy, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, etc.), Bach Flower Remedies, essential oils, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, detoxification assistance, weight loss counseling, programs to improve digestive health, programs designed to balance hormones and/or neurotransmitters, etc.

Naturopathic Doctors Can Assist with Chronic and Acute Challenges

Many people assume NDs can only assist with chronic health issues, but that is simply not true. One of the  most frequent calls I receive is from people who have a cold or the flu and need advice about how to alleviate their suffering and boost their immunity. I’ve also consulted with more than one ER physician about what would best benefit one of my clients who had an acute need. Although Naturopathy can definitely help find ways to assist with controlling chronic conditions using natural methods, it can also be used to assist with short-term challenges. I have worked with and assisted people who had a wide variety of physical ailments including broken bones, pleurisy, bursitis, obesity, infertility and more. In each case, I worked with their physicians and made recommendations that nicely complemented the mainstream treatments they were receiving. I also have a wide variety of clients who are in good health and simply wish to remain so. I work with them to help establish better lifestyle habits and to quickly spot and reverse any signs of impending struggles.

There you have it. Did any of this surprise you? What questions do you have?

How to Prepare to Make Positive Health Changes

It’s never too early or too late to begin planning ways you can implement simple changes to improve your health and wellness in Planning for Success graphicthe new year. I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I am a believer in careful planning. (For more information on making successful resolutions, see Ten Reasons Resolutions Fail and Ways to Succeed.) The following tips can be applied any time of year, but seem particularly appropriate right now. I also want to thank multiple members of one of my networking groups who suggested and requested this post. 

Following are my tips for creating a plan for positive change: 

  1. Figure out your priorities: What do you want to accomplish by making positive changes? I often hear people say they want to “eat healthier.” If I ask them WHY they want to create healthier eating habits, they can’t come up with an answer. Attaching a specific outcome to a change we wish to create will greatly increase the likelihood of success.
    Take time to sit down and make a list of specific health improvements you wish to create. Don’t think about what you’re writing down, just brainstorm. Your list may have a few items or may cover several pages. After you create the list, look at it very carefully and ask yourself why you wish to accomplish these changes. Dig down deep and make sure the changes you wish to see are your personal desires and are not intended to impress other people or cater to someone else’s wishes. Eliminate any items you wrote down that are more for others than for you. After that, prioritize your list. Write each item down on another piece of paper (or move the items around if you made your list electronically) in order of most important to least important. 
    When creating goals, focus on your top three priorities. If your top three priorities are huge, you may want to focus on one at a time.

  2. Ease Your Way Into Each Change:  If your goal is to run 25 miles a week but you rarely leave the couch right now, it is very unlikely you will accomplish that goal without causing yourself serious harm. Whether the goal you’re focusing on involves changing your eating style, changing your thought patterns, or moving more, start very gradually. Set a specific goal each week and then increase the goal for the following week. Break large goals into ‘stages.” For example:  If your goal is to lose 100 pounds, set a goal of losing five pounds each month. That is a very “do-able” goal that is not overwhelming. Breaking your goals into bite-size chunks help prevent becoming overwhelmed and also helps you regularly celebrate successes. (Celebrating success and rewarding yourself with non-food rewards is important. Don’t skip that part!)
    Depending on the magnitude of the changes you make, easing into things also helps your body gradually adjust to the changes. The changes we make affect our body chemistry. Making drastic changes too rapidly can overwhelm our body’s ability to adapt and may cause negative health results. Slow and steady wins the race. Remember that every change you make counts. Changes you consider “tiny” eventually add up to large rewards.
  3. Be Specific:  It’s easy to become overwhelmed when trying to create a list of healthy changes. Many of the lists i see include items such as “eat healthier, lose 100 pounds, run 50 miles a week, drink more water, stop smoking, and only think positive thoughts.”  Although those may be valid goals, each of them is far too large and very non-specific. After identifying your priorities in Step 1, create very specific, measurable changes (goals) to associate with them. For example, instead of making your goal to “workout,” create a goal that says you will “walk ten minutes two days a week and do a light hand-weight routine for ten minutes two days each week.” That goal is very specific, eases you into things, and is very measurable.
    Instead of listing a goal of “eating healthier,” consider making it your goal to “eat one serving of vegetables with every meal and two daily servings of fruit as snacks or dessert.” Again, this goal is very specific, very measurable, and relatively easy. If eating five servings of fruits and veggies each day is overwhelming, start with something as simple as, “eat one salad everyday.” You know yourself and know what’s realistic for you. Create goals that are realistic and achievable, not ones that will require superhuman effort.
  4. Jump start your success with a detoxification program:  A great way of preparing your body for positive change is by doing a 3-10 day detoxification program. A gentle detox program serves to rejuvenate the body and helps eliminate toxins which may impede  your success in reaching goals. Most people who do a detoxification program lose 10 pounds during the following year even if they don’t change their eating and exercise habits. Detoxification program typically require a bit of added discipline, which is a great way to start the process of creating positive change.
    Your detox program could be as simply as giving up coffee and alcohol for ten days, or could be much broader. Click here for more information about my upcoming Detoxification and Cleansing Program, or here to purchase Detoxification and Cleansing Kits.
  5. Find an accountability partner:  Making changes by yourself can be tough. Making them with a friend is easier. You can encourage each other and hold each other accountable along the way. Find someone you like and by whom you’re comfortable being held accountable. Share your goals with each other, work together to set goals and create plans to meet them, and then meet weekly or chat on the phone frequently to share your successes and discuss your challenges. Before you begin, pick specific non-food ways to celebrate your successes and attach dates to those celebrations. Rewarding success is an important part of accountability that is overlooked far too often.
  6. Track your progress:  As you begin making changes, it’s important to track the changes you make, your successes and challenges, and the results you see from the changes. I recommend starting a journal. On the first page, list your goals and any measurements associated with those goals. Potential measurements to list include weight, cholesterol, blood sugar or A1C, measurements of specific body parts, blood pressure, muscle mass, etc. Pick measurements that make sense to you and which you hope your changes will positively impact.
    On a daily basis, log information pertinent to your goal. You may wish to log what you eat, how long you work out, the positive affirmation you chose for the day, etc. In the midst of tracking specifics related to the day’s activities, also list items such as how you felt that day, what your emotional status was, any challenges you faced, etc. Make a point of sharing your journal entries with your accountability partner and reading his or hers.
  7. Stay positive:  You’re human. Accept it. One of the fun things about making changes is that you get to learn a lot about yourself and about successful ways to achieve success in spite of challenges. If you have a day (or ten) when you completely blow it and don’t follow your plan, that’s ok. Learn from it and move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but don’t give yourself permission to continue. Record your challenge in your journal, noting what you learned about yourself and how you deal with challenges of that type. Use that knowledge and experience to achieve success next time. 
  8. Use meal planning, but keep it real:  Most health changes involve changing our eating style. Planning menus and meals can be a huge help in sticking to a new eating style. Basic meal planning includes selecting meals for the week, creating a shopping list based on those meals, and then sticking to it. Some people view meal planning as pure drudgery, so I recommend using the following guidelines:

    • Stay flexible:  If you planned to make lamb chops but the store is out of them, be flexible. This also applies if you notice something not on your meal plan for the week is on sale at a deep discount. Stay flexible and be willing to use other meals based on what the store has on sale and in stock. Keep a list of ten “go to” meals you can easily substitute if you’re unable to make something you planned for the week.
    • Don’t be rigid about scheduling:  Some people schedule specific meals for specific days, while others pick 5-7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week and fit them in as their schedule allows. Do what works best for you, but be flexible and be willing to change your plan if your schedule changes.
    • Make enough to create leftovers:  Cooking more than can be eaten at one meal is fine. Leftovers can be used for lunches, frozen in individual servings for nights when things are crazy, or even eaten as breakfast.
    • Stick to real food:  Meal plans should include whole, real foods, not processed food that comes in a box. It doesn’t take significantly more time to cook simple meals from scratch – I promise – and the health benefits are huge.

Being flexible and not overly rigid in scheduling can also easily be applied to exercise planning.

What changes are you planning ot make in 2015? 

Super Simple Super Tonic Recipe

One of my favorite aids to use during cold and flu season is my formula for “Super Tonic.” Super Tonic is a combination of herbs Super Tonic Ingredients and vegetables known to have properties that include being antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, cleansing, immune-boosting and more. The beauty of Super Tonic is that it can easily be made at home by anyone. You can make a batch in the fall and it will keep well until spring. If you need more, you can whip up a new batch in no time at all, or simply add a bit of each ingredient to the existing jar and top with more organic apple cider vinegar. This formula is gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, and is free of the top eight allergens.

There are a wide variety of ways to use Super Tonic. Some people take between a teaspoon and a tablespoon daily, while others only use it while fighting a cold or flu. People who take it while battling a virus take anywhere from one teaspoon every four hours to one tablespoon every two hours. Some people make the mixture and then use the liquid as a spiced vinegar in salads, salad dressings and more. Others use it as a meat marinade. There are obviously a wide variety of ways Super Tonic can be used, many of which fall far outside the realm of using it to boost immunity and increase wellness.

My formula for Super Tonic follows. The beauty of this formula is that it’s very forgiving. You can use more or less of every ingredient and still have great results. The only requirement is that the organic apple cider vinegar completely cover all the veggies. 

Good Works Super Tonic Ingredients (All ingredients are organic)

3 inches of ginger root

3 inches of horseradish (Look for at farmer’s markets if you cannot find it in your local grocery)

1 full head of garlic, all cloves peeled

1 small red onion

2-4 cayenne peppers (other hot peppers may be substituted if needed; vary quantity to adjust taste)

1 quart of organic, apple cider vinegar with the mother


3 inches of turmeric root

3 tablespoons whole cloves

3 tablespoons Manuka honey


  1. Chop all ingredients into small pieces
  2. Place in a food processor and cover at least half way with organic apple cider vinegar
  3. Pulse until ingredients are uniform in size, then process for at least 60 seconds. Transfer to a quart Mason jar.
  4. Completely cover ingredients with organic apple cider vinegar.
  5. Can be used immediately, but will have stronger effects if mixture is allowed to meld 2-3 weeks.

That’s it! If the flavor of the straight Super Tonic is too strong, feel free to make a tea out of it by adding 1-2 tablespoons to a cup of hot water. People rave about its ability to slow coughing and clear stuffy heads.

Do you make your own Super Tonic? What’s your favorite way to use it?

Better Health Through Reams Theory of Biologic Ionization (RTBI)

I am thrilled to announce I now include Reams Theory of Biologic Ionization testing (RTBI) in all my consultations or as RTBI Test Kita single service. RTBI provides insight into the metabolic issues that may be preventing maximum health. It combines seven simple tests of urine and saliva to show potential ionic and metabolic imbalances that may be impacting health. The beauty of RTBI is that it condenses human health into a simple mathematical equation. As with any equation, it can be balanced – brought into the healing range – by simply raising or lowering specific numbers in the equation. That’s an overly simplified explanation, but it is the truth. RTBI reveals metabolic and physiological imbalances that negatively impact the body’s ability to function correctly. When the numbers are brought into the ideal range, or the “healing” range, the body is typically able to begin functioning closer to how it should. 

RTBI was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Carey Reams. Dr. Reams believed every question had a mathematically provable answer. He refused to believe anything until it could be proven mathematically. I love this approach, as it eliminates “gray” areas and brings everything into a clearer focus. We are each wonderfully unique. RTBI testing acknowledges that and assesses each set of test results on an individual basis. This means each person’s results are individually analyzed and used to create an individualized plan to rebalance the system. The RTBI levels are compared to levels which are mathematically proven to create the best health. This is in direct opposition to, but makes much more sense than, the mainstream plan which insists blood test results should match everyone else’s in order to achieve maximum health. We each have our own perfect metabolic pattern. Expecting everyone’s body to perform the best when everyone’s test results agree with everyone else’s is illogical.

Dr. Reams spent years studying the ionic composition and charges of individual atoms. His research led him draw unique conclusions that directly disagreed with the established theories. When he taught in medical and chiropractic schools, his first task was to help his students “unlearn” what Dr. Reams considered incorrect information. He focused on mathematical truths that agreed with biology and physiology, not on what was the most convenient, the most financially rewarding, or what agreed with current beliefs. One MD who attended Dr. Reams’ seminars commented: “I came as a skeptic to these Courses, and I was going to prove you a charlatan and wrong, so I wrote down everything you said that was contrary to what I was taught and what I believe, and for a whole month I’ve been trying to prove you wrong and I found you right 100% of the time. I now
come to you and want to ask you to forgive me for thinking that I was a doubting Thomas.” 

I can understand that physician’s quote. After more than 25 years in the natural health industry, I confess that learning the details and scientific foundation for RTBI was a shocking eye opener. The RTBI training I received revealed I had not truly been addressing the cause of health concerns, but had merely been addressing underlying symptoms. This was a humbling shock, as I have always focused on root cause analysis and on addressing the true cause of health challenges instead of merely hiding teh symptoms. Being given the ability to dig deeper was very freeing and exciting. RTBI allows me to dig deeper and to identify true metabolic imbalances that may be contributing to illness. 

Reams Testing (RTBI) includes assessments of the following:

  • pH of Urine and Saliva: Ideal pH is NOT alkaline. Read The Alkalinity Myth for more information.) 
  • Ureas:  Used to assess protein consumption and waste products from protein metabolism. Numbers are used from two different tests.
  • Sugars:  Used to identify the amount of energy available to the body
  • Salts:  Used to assess the body’s conductivity, ability to send and receive signals from the nervous system, and electrolyte balance
  • Cell Debris:  Used to assess the body’s toxicity

These seven numbers are evaluated together to identify simple changes in lifestyle and eating habits that can positively impact health. When compared with current symptoms, these numbers can be used to identify lifestyle changes and supplements that may provide the best relief by creating the best balance. 

Before testing, people receiving Biologic Ionization testing should not eat or drink anything but water for two hours prior to the test. During the test, clients provide a urine sample, a small saliva sample, and then sit back and relax while I perform the assessments. It typically takes less than ten minutes to conduct the assessments. Once the numbers are compiled, I share them one by one with the client, sharing what the numbers indicate and the lifestyle and dietary habits I recommend to help restore balance. I use RTBI testing in conjunction with Zyto scans to get a thorough understanding of body composition and potential systemic challenges.

RTBI testing often reveals mineral deficiencies, issues in inadequate or excessive protein and carbohydrate consumption and metabolism, a need to drink more water, and many other issues that can affect every body system. Most of these imbalances can be address using simple lifestyle changes. I recommend supplements only if needed.

I typically like to perform retesting after two weeks initially, and monthly or bimonthly after that. I also train my clients to test and assess their urine and saliva at home so they can monitor some of the numbers on their own.

I perform RTBI testing in my office and in house calls. I am also happy to bring my test kit and Zyto unit to your location if you can schedule a minimum of ten clients during my trip. Please feel free to contact me to make arrangements to do so.

Effective Approaches to Heartburn and GERD

Ask someone what their most annoying health challenge is, and there’s a good chance they’ll answer “heartburn and GERD.” Stomach on Fire illustrating Heartburn and GERDHeartburn and GERD are uncomfortable and potentially damaging conditions which are one of the most common issues experienced by people in the US. There are currently 285.3 million people on prescription medications for heartburn and GERD. That equates to one in ten people! This number doesn’t even include the large number of people taking self-prescribed over-the-counter medications for heartburn and GERD. Many people (including mainstream medicine) assume heartburn and GERD are caused by excess acid. This means the common approach is to prescribe proton pump inhibitors (such as Nexium and Prilosec) without determining the true root cause of the problem.

One problem caused by the prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) is they interfere the absorption of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, B12, etc. Long-term use has been linked to malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies. PPI use has also been connected to frequent headaches, constipation and diarrhea, fatigue, increased incidence of pneumonia, higher rates of bone fractures (due to inhibited calcium absorption), bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract, higher incidence of C Dificile infections, magnesium deficiency, increase in coronary disease, and other serious health problems.

The primary reason it is so imperative to assess the cause of heartburn and GERD is that many people’s heartburn and GERD is actually caused by a lack of stomach acid, not by an excess. Although PPIs may bring relief by further decreasing already faulty levels of stomach acid, they ultimately lead to poor digestion and absorption.

As I stated previously, it is absolutely imperative to determine the root cause of heartburn and GERD before taking any medication. It does’t make sense to take a medication designed to decrease the production of stomach acid when heartburn and GERD are actually caused by a deficit in stomach acid. Most people assume the acidic burning in their stomach is caused by excess stomach acid, but the truth is that many forms of heartburn and GERD are actually caused by a deficiency in stomach acid.

Stomach acid is essential for digestive enzymes to work. A deficiency in stomach acid causes the body’s digestive enzymes to  not work effectively, which leads to indigestion, poorly digested food, heartburn and GERD. Stomach acid does not digest food but instead creates an acidic environment that allows digestive enzymes to work at their peak efficiency. Decreasing stomach acid weakens digestive enzymes, which ultimately means the nutrients in foods cannot be absorbed. Stomach acid is also essential for the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc.

Heartburn is a typically burning sensation limited to the stomach. Heartburn my cause burping, bloating, and/or nausea, too. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the contents of the stomach rise into the esophagus. (Which should never happen.) GERD can create a burning in the chest and throat, a gagging sensation, or a feeling something is stuck in the throat. GERD can also cause muscles in the esophagus to spasm, which sometimes creates intense pain that may be confused with a heart attack. (A single nerve communicates pain from both the heart and esophagus, so pain in the esophagus often feels like pain in or near the heart. This pain may be severe.) 

If you are having chest pain, seek medical attention immediately even if you suspect the cause of the pain is heartburn. The root cause of GERD is that the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) that should separate the esophagus from the stomach (and prevent food from traveling up) doesn’t close when it should or does not close completely. Some studies found increasing the stomach’s acidity actually improves the LES’s function. This means PPIs may eliminate symptoms but actually worsen the root cause of heartburn and GERD. Since GERD causes stomach acid to enter the esophagus and damage it, use of PPIs may cause worse damage to the esophageal tissues while hiding the symptoms – for a while.

My perspective on PPIs is that they may be valuable as a short-term means of restoring quality of life, but that steps need to be taken to identify and address the true cause of the problem. The goal should always be to shorten the use of PPIs. Heartburn and GERD are miserable conditions. If left untreated, it may cause a lack of sleep, inability to work, and may lead to vomiting multiple times per day. Restoring quality of life needs to be a priority.

The most common causes of heartburn and GERD include, but are not limited to:

  • Food allergies:  This is the THE most common cause of heartburn and GERD, but is a factor that is often ignored. I have many clients who were told their symptoms couldn’t possibly be caused by food allergies. When we identified their food allergies using a simple blood test and eliminated allergenic foods, those clients experienced complete relief and no longer needed medication. Food allergies can produce over 200 different symptoms from head to toe, so it is important to identify them and eliminate the offending foods. I’m a firm believer that anyone with chronic heartburn or GERD should have a food allergy panel run.
    I spent two years vomiting three or four times daily and feeling horrible due to digestive distress and extreme GERD. My gastroenterologist laughed at me when I asked about food allergies. (I’ve forgiven him and am now thankful to have had that experience because it enables me to help more people today.) I ignored my gastroenterologist and sought help in other places, including having food allergy testing done. Identifying and eliminating the food allergies I had completely eliminated my digestive issues. I often find identifying food allergies and eliminating the culprits quickly restores health in many ways. Sadly, some people aren’t wiling to give up “comfort” foods and prefer to remain on medication. Food allergy testing can be conducted by a single blood test that can identify over 700 allergens.
  • Lack of stomach acid:  Our bodies produce less stomach acid as we age, which can cause heartburn. Using herbal remedies known to increase the production of stomach acid is my preferred approach when a lack of stomach acid is the cause of heartburn. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to take HCl in capsule form with meals. (Organic Apple Cider Vinegar may also help.) I try to avoid the use of HCl, as taking an external form of HCl may cause the body to stop producing it.
  • Excess consumption of liquids with meals:  It sounds simple, but drinking less than 6 ounces of liquid with meals often eliminates heartburn and reflux. When we drink too much liquid with meals, the stomach’s agitating action tends to force stomach contents and liquids up into the esophagus instead of down into the small intestine. This leads to pain and potential damage to the esophagus.
  • Ulcers:  Active ulcers don’t always show up on stool tests designed to find blood. It is important to test for H Pylori or use other assessment techniques to identify ulcers. There are natural approaches that can be used to address an ulcer, but they should only be begun under the supervision and direction of a trained practitioner.
  • Extreme dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance):  Digestion and absorption can be harmed if the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the digestive tract is skewed. This typically results in an overgrowth of fungus that can lead to leaky gut, diarrhea or constipation, anal itching, constant nasal stuffiness, and other challenges. (See Candida Basics: Important Info for more information on this condition.) Re-establishing ample beneficial bacteria greatly improves digestion and absorption. This can sometimes be accomplished simply by taking a probiotic or eating fermented vegetables.
  • Gallbladder imbalance:  Removal of the gallbladder or stagnation in the gallbladder (including sludge and stones) may lead to heartburn and indigestion when fatty foods are eaten. Restoring gallbladder function using natural methods often eliminates this problem very quickly. I do not believe the gallbladder should ever be removed, as it performs a vital function. The body will reverse gallbladder disease when proper support protocols are used.
  • Structural abnormalities:  Sometimes heartburn is caused by physical abnormalities. This cause is the toughest to treat and may sometimes require surgical intervention.

Have you eliminated GERD or heartburn? What solutions did you use? Please share!