Category Archives: food

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!

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.
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  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.
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  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.)
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  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!
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  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. 
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  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.  
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  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!
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  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!
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  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.
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  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.

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.
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    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.

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  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!)
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    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.
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  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.
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    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.
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  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.
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    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.
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  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.
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  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.
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    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.
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  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. 
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  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:
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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? 

Health Benefits of Bacon

I’ve recently seen a lot of “bacon bashing” by people claiming bacon is bad for health. That is untrue. This article explains whyHealth Benefits of Bacon bacon is a very healthy food and which types of bacon are best. Let me state up front that saying bacon is healthy does not mean it’s healthy to eat it in huge quantities, nor does it mean it’s healthy to eat large amounts seven days a week. “Moderation in all things” applies to bacon and every other healthy food or beverage. Recognizing the health benefits of bacon is not permission to go hog wild. (Pun intended.)

Even the healthiest bacon is still a processed meat and is not your best option. Please enjoy it in normal serving sizes (3-4 slices), preferably no more than once or twice a week. People who do not have a gall bladder or who have gall bladder disorders would be wise to avoid bacon or to use a strong digestive enzyme containing high amounts of lipase when eating it.

When I say, “bacon,” please note I am referring to ethically raised, grass fed, organic bacon made without nitrates and/or nitrites. Buying from a small, local farm is the best option for finding this type of bacon. Ask a lot of questions to ensure you are getting what you want.

Why nitrate/nitrite free? Because nitrates and nitrites may lower the amount of oxygen in the blood stream and may lead to coronary issues when eaten frequently. Bacon processors have changed how they make bacon. They now add Vitamin C to counteract the potential negative effect of nitrates, but my preference is still to avoid them. If that’s not possible, an occasional dose shouldn’t be harmful. Baking your bacon instead of pan frying it will help prevent the nitrates/nitrites from forming potentially harmful nitrosamines.

Here are the health benefits of bacon:

  • Bacon is loaded with healthy fat:  Yes, healthy!! The belief saturated fats cause heart disease was based on one small, poorly designed study in the 60’s which drew conclusions its design did not make valid. The commercial oil industry jumped on board and began quoting the study, trying to convince the public that heavily processed vegetable oils were healthier than animal oils. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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    Over the next 50 years, the American public was slowly but surely duped into thinking saturated fat caused heart disease. That is simply not true. Multiple studies proved saturated fat does NOT cause coronary problems. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently compiled and reviewed 21 different studies including over 350,000 people. They concluded saturated fat has no connection to heart disease. The truth is that saturated fat helps maintain the integrity of cell walls, boosts immunity, helps the body absorb calcium, and actually improves heart health.
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    Three slices of bacon contain a good combination of monounsaturated and saturated fats. (Please note that bacon in a limp, almost raw state increases the amount of fat it contains and may fail to kill parasites in the pork. Crispy bacon is a better option.) Three slices contain 2.1 grams of saturated fats, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fats, 140 grams Omega 3 fatty acids, and approximately 1200 grams of Omega 6 fatty acids. Eating grass-fed bacon will increase the amount of Omega fatty acids and greatly decrease the amount of inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids. The numbers shown here are from grain and corn fed bacon, which I recommend avoiding if you can. Bacon also contains high levels of heart-healthy oleic acid, the same acid found in extra virgin olive oil.
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  • Bacon literally makes you happy:  It’s true! Bacon contains high amounts of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate affects brain chemistry in a way that boosts mood and increases happiness levels. There’s a chemical reason eating bacon makes us feel so good! (Monosodium glutamate is not a valid source of glutamate, so don’t try to boost your mood by eating that.)
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  • Bacon is nutritious:  Bacon is loaded with far more healthy nutrition than most people realize. Three slices of crispy bacon contain beneficial amounts of selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, Vitamin D and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12. Bacon also contains enough protein to count as a serving, along with less than a gram of carbohydrates. Three slices of bacon contain 7-9 grams of protein, a single serving. The belief bacon contains nothing but fat is false. Bacon does indeed contain high amounts of sodium, so look for a processor who uses mineral-rich sea salt instead of using overly processed table salt. I’m not a fan of turkey bacon, as it generally contains much higher amounts of artificial sodium than regular (pork) bacon does. For more information on the nutrients mentioned here, read Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Vitamin B12, Why You Need More Magnesium, and Facts About Iron-Deficiency Anemia.
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  • Bacon is a hefty source of energy:  Since bacon is 68% healthy fat and fat is the best source of energy there is, eating bacon is a delicious way to boost energy levels without raising blood sugars. Healthy fats boost energy levels 80% percent than carbohydrates. Smart long distance runners “fat load” before a race instead of carb loading because they know it’s more effective and does not lead to blood sugar imbalances.
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  • Bacon can boost brain function:  Bacon contains high amounts of the chemical choline, which is known to improve memory and learning capacity. There is some evidence choline may be beneficial for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Tourette’s syndrome, seizures, schizophrenia, etc. (Please note that choline should never be substituted for medications used to treat these diseases.) Evidence also exists that regular consumption of choline may reduce the incidence of dementia as we age.

There you have it. When enjoyed in moderation, oven-baked, organic, grass-fed, nitrate-free bacon is a healthy addition to most eating styles. Go for it!

 

References:

Is Bacon Bad for You, or Good?, Authority Nutrition

Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link, New York Times

Nutritional Data for Bacon, Nutrition Data

Choline, WebMD.com

Top 20 Quick and Easy Healthy Snacks

This article contains product links for which I may receive a very small amount of compensation if an item is purchased. Please know I only share links for products which I use or have used personally and which I feel are worthy of recommending

Many people trying to eat healthier are stumped by what good options are for snacking. Eating a sensible snack between meals is a good way of maintaining energy and stable blood sugars throughout the day. For some people, it may also be a way of encouraging the metabolism to kick into a higher gear.

Following is a list of my favorite snacks. As always, please note that all ingredients mentioned are organic:

  • Make or buy dehydrated veggies to use as a great portable, no-mess snack. Make your own using a food dehydrator to Appleensure no added chemicals were used.
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  • Make a custom blend of nuts, seeds and goji or acai berries.
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  • Slice a zucchini into slices and top them with hummus, almond butter, salsa or guacamole.
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  • Slice veggies and dip in pesto.
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  • Slice an apple and dip the slices in almond butter or other nut butters.
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  • Blend one part chia seeds into two parts green tea and two parts coconut milk. Add stevia to taste if needed. Cinnamon or other spices also liven this up. Allow to sit for about ten minutes, then drink it down. It is very filling and provides powerful nutrition!
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  • Make a veggie pate from soaked nuts, soaked seeds, leafy greens and soft veggies. Eat it by the spoon or spread on veggies or gluten-free crackers.
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  • Spread roasted garlic on zucchini slices or on a few gluten-free crackers.
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  • Stir cacao chips and sunflower seeds into vanilla coconut yogurt.
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  • Wrap slices of organic turkey around tomato boats, fermented pickles or other veggies.
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  • Wrap wasabi seaweed snacks around avocado slices.
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  • Stuff dates with almonds. Dates are incredibly high in sugar, so it only takes a few of these snacks to be very filling and energizing.
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  • Load toothpicks with a cherry tomato, mozzarella cube and basil leaf.
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  • Make guacamole to eat on veggies or by the spoonful.
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  • Stuff celery or mini-peppers with hummus, almond butter or guacamole.
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  • Make a plate of avocado slices and tomato slices.
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  • Make a smoothie with 1/3 dark leafy greens, 1/3 veggies and 1/3 fruit.
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  • Stuff half an avocado with a small scoop of chicken, egg or tuna salad.
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  • Pop organic popcorn in organic extra virgin coconut oil and top with a bit of Himalayan Sea Salt and Organic Garlic Powder.
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  • Dip non-GMO corn chips into homemade salsa.
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  • Pack a salad in a jar. Place chopped veggies on the bottom of a Mason jar, top with a variety of mixed greens, then place a dressing on top. Shake when ready to eat. (Don’t forget to pack a fork.)

Oops. That was 21 instead of 20. Oh well!

What snacks would you add to the list?

Top 11 Low Carb Breakfasts

Yesterday I was asked to share what a “normal” day’s meals are for me. I thought I’d start by sharing a few of my favorite Simple Summer Marinarabreakfasts. Please keep in mind my eating style is what works for me. It may not be appropriate for anyone else. As someone who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1967, I eat very few servings of carbs per day and try to stay away from foods which have a high glycemic impact. I also tend to avoid foods which are known to exacerbate autoimmune issues.

Most people in the US eat 3-5 servings of carbohydrates before they even leave the house. High-carb breakfasts don’t sustain the body and often lead to mid-morning hunger, fatigue and/or blood sugar crashes. My goal in choosing breakfasts is to incorporate adequate protein and fat, both of which help maintain and sustain energy and blood glucose levels 

Following are a few of my favorite breakfasts. Please note that everything I mention is organic:

  1. Chia Seed “Pudding:” Blend 1/4 cup of Chia seeds into 3/4-1 cup purified water (or milk alternative). If desired, add cinnamon, cloves or pumpkin pie spice to taste. Let the blend sit overnight. In the morning, you will have a delicious “pudding” that is loaded with nutrients. It is also very filling. Feel free to stir in 1/2 cup of blueberries for extra antioxidants and a light amount of added sweetness.
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  2. Omelet “Muffins”: Whip eggs and blend them with a wide variety of chopped veggies and spices. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with the blend and bake until firm. (I don’t usually add cheese or meat, but both are viable options.) These make great grab-n-go meals that store well and are nutritionally dense. Reheating them is optional, but they heat well in a toaster oven.
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  3. Tex Mex Scramble:  Scramble eggs with diced veggies, avocado chunks, onions and cayenne pepper to taste. Top with homemade salsa.
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  4. Hummus and Veggies:  Use purchased organic hummus or make your own. Use a wide variety of veggies. The hummus provides a good blend of carbohydrates and protein that will sustain you until lunch.
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  5. Leftovers:  Yes, leftovers. Combine last night’s meat with some fresh veggies and you’re set!
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  6. Smoothies: I blend an avocado with leafy greens, protein powder, nuts or seeds (or nut butter) and an assortment of vegetables. I try to use foods that are high in Vitamin C (such as tomatoes, peppers, lemon/lime juice, etc.) to help improve absorption of the iron in the leafy greens. I add stevia and sweet spices to provide just a hint of sweetness.
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  7. Stuffed Peppers:  Cut the top off of red, green or orange bell peppers and remove the seeds. Cook and drain bulk breakfast sausage. Fill the peppers 1/2 full with the breakfast sausage, add some chopped onions (and garlic and mushrooms, if you like) and break an egg over the mixture. Top with the pepper “lid” and bake at 350 degrees until firm. Makes a quick and easy breakfast that even kids love!
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  8. Sausage Bowls:  Mold small “bowls” out of bulk breakfast sausage and bake until meat is completely cooked. While cooking, blend equal parts almond butter and Greek yogurt (coconut yogurt works well, too). Stir the seeds of one pomegranate (or diced blueberries) into the mixture, fill the sausage bowls with the mixture and serve. It may sound unusual, but it is delicious and packs a nutritional wallop without raising glucose levels too much.
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  9. Cauliflower Fritters:  Cut one head of cauliflower into florets and steam until soft. In a food processor, blend the cauliflower with 1-2 eggs, diced onion and 2 tablespoons of coconut flour. (If mixture is too crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons purified water.) Form into patties and fry in extra virgin coconut oil until heated through. Top with guacamole or salsa. Any combination of veggies can be added to these fritters. They are also great made with coconut flakes and diced cashews.
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  10. Guacamole:  Make your favorite guacamole, but stir in one serving of unflavored protein powder. Serve on veggies, eat our of the bowl, or use as a topping for any of the dishes shared previously.
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  11. Salad: Yes, salad!! Salads make wonderful breakfasts, especially when loaded up with nuts and seeds for protein. (Bacon, eggs or meat work, too.) Instead of dressing, I use extra virgin olive oil combined with fresh herbs and lemon or lime juice.

What’s your favorite breakfast combination?

My Review of Daiya Foods Pizza

Finding a good pizza that doesn’t interfere with food allergies (or is vegan) can be a challenge. Daiya Foods, a Canadian-based manufacturer, recently introduced a line of pizzas that are vegan and free of the top eight allergens. I first took notice of Daiya Foods when they launched a cheese alternative in 2009 that tasted like real cheese and was free of dairy, soy, wheat and other top allergens. Prior to that, the available cheese substitutes tasted horrible and were loaded with allergens. Daiya Foods’ cheese alternative was a welcome relief. Daiya Foods now offers their cheese product in the form of slices, shreds and blocks, and began offering a cream cheese alternative a few months ago. Based on my past experiences with their products, I was very excited to hear they were launching a line of pizzas. (I obviously need to get out more.)Daiya Pizza

Daiya Foods’ products are not certified organic, nor are they certified by the Non-GMO Project. However, the company’s FAQ Page states the company requires a non-GMO statement from each of their ingredient vendors. It also states that although they are not certified organic, they only use the highest quality ingredients. (I’m not sure how they manage to get non-organic canola oil that is non-GMO, but their ethics are strong enough that I’m going to take their word for it … for now.) My hope is that they will pursue both organic and non-GMO certification. I would feel much better recommending their products if they had one or both of those certifications. All of Daiya Foods’ products are certified gluten-free and certified vegan. All but the pizzas are kosher certified. Their website also states they use no artificial ingredients and no preservatives. That’s always a nice touch.

Let’s be perfectly honest: Pizza is not a food frequently seen at the top of healthy food lists. Pizza is a party food; an indulgence. With apologies to college students, pizza is not a food that should be eaten seven days a week. Regardless of how healthy the ingredients are, frozen pizza is still a processed food. Although not a true “health food,” there are ways to make pizza healthier and ways to make it possible for people with food allergies (and/or vegans) to safely enjoy an occasional slice. (Key word: Occasional.) The Daiya pizza definitely fills that niche.

I’ve tried two Daiya pizzas in the last week. Overall, I thought the pizzas were good. They’re not any threat to Freschetta or other mainstream frozen pizza companies, but they’re also not loaded with chemicals and allergens. We don’t eat frozen meals in our home, so it was a nice oddity to quickly and easily fix a meal in less than 15 minutes and know I wasn’t exposing myself to any potential allergens. The Daiya pizzas are a good backup option when you need a quick meal with little preparation or need an alternative to take to a pizza party.

 Packaging: The box was significantly larger than the pizza, but Daiya isn’t the first company to create false expectations using an overly large box. The front of the box did a good job of displaying that it was gluten-free and dairy-free. The instructions and ingredients were very easy to find and read on the back of the box.
Price:  I purchased the pizzas on sale for $7.99, reduced from $9.99. Pricey? Yes, but it’s still cheaper than a home delivery pizza and you don’t have to worry about allergens. Some things are worth paying more for. Daiya’s pricing is on par with other gluten-free and dairy-free pizzas. As I said, these aren’t indulgences to be enjoyed every night.
Crust:  The crust was undoubtedly the worst part of this pizza. It was far too thin, burned easily and had very little taste. In other words, I prefer my pizza on bread, not a hard cracker. It was primarily made with tapioca flour. Using a combination of tapioca and coconut flours might have created a richer crust with more personality. The crust wasn’t a deal breaker, but be aware that it will burn very easily and long before the recommended 13-minute time frame. 
Sauce:  The sauce was ok. There was enough to keep the pizza from being overly dry, but the sauce didn’t have much flavor. That may have been intentional with the purpose of allowing the flavors of the toppings to shine.  
Toppings:  The toppings on all the pizzas we tried were good. Not skimpy but not overdone, either. Daiya offers a nice selection of veggie toppings. If you prefer meat, I recommend adding your own (cooked) before cooking the Daiya pizza.
Nutrition:  One-third of the pizza provides:

  • 310 calories
  • 15 grams of fat
  • 0 cholesterol
  • 450 mg sodium
  • 48 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams protein

With the exception of the carbohydrates, each of those numbers is significantly lower than a mainstream pizza. The low protein does concern me, so I recommend supplementing the pizza with an additional protein choice. This recommended serving provides three servings of carbohydrates, which is a high number for a single meal and is higher than most mainstream pizzas. The company could decrease the carbs by not using as much tapioca flour in the cheese and crust, but creating a low-carb product isn’t their primary goal. If you’re following a low-glycemic eating style, my recommendation is either eat a smaller serving or to combine the pizza with a high-fiber food (such as a salad) and a protein source. Both will help reduce blood sugar spikes. (If you have diabetes, be sure to check your glucose level after eating this pizza so you know how to plan for the future.)

My husband, who has no dietary restrictions, thoroughly enjoyed the pizza. If someone who doesn’t need or choose to eat allergy-free, vegan foods enjoyed this pizza, I figure almost anyone will.

Have you tried the new Daiya pizzas? What did you think?

Simple Marinara Recipe

I wanted to share a quick, easy marinara recipe that is delicious and loaded with nutrition. Every ingredient in this marinara is raw, including the noodles, so the prep time is quick and the dish makes a very refreshing meal on a hot summer night. The recipe provides many beneficial enzymes and nutrients yet tastes delicious and can be made in less than 10 minutes. It is also high in magnesium, potassium, lycopene, zinc, antioxidants and more. It’s a win-win! Please try it and let me know what you think!

For those who are concerned, this marinara recipe is very low carbohydrate and uses low-glycemic ingredients. (I can eat a very large serving without needing to take insulin and without seeing a rise in blood glucose.) For more information on easy ways to reduce carbohydrate consumption, read: Simple Ways to Cut Carbs from Your Eating Habits.

This marinara is also Paleo and is a great option for Simple Summer Marinaraanyone on a Candida cleanse. It makes a fantastic after-workout meal because it provides a wide range of trace minerals, healing enzymes and vitamins. Serve it as a main dish or serve as a side with meat of choice. I’ve been known to skip the zucchini noodles and make a smoothie out of this recipe. It’s delicious!

Simple Summer Marinara Ingredients:

  • 2 organic tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 organic garlic clove
  • 1 organic red pepper, cored and seeded, cut into large chunks
  • 1 small organic red onion, cut into large chunks
  • ¼ cup organic sundried tomatoes, soaked in purified water for 2-3 hours
  • 2 tablespoons organic Italian seasoning blend (or 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, thyme and marjoram)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh organic basil + several whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh organic oregano
  • ¼ cup organic, cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – Tropical Traditions’ is my favorite)
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan Sea Salt, to taste
  • Optional: Add 2-3 servings of a tasteless organic protein powder. I like organic Hemp Protein in this recipe.

Directions: Please note I refer to a food processor in the directions, but a blender works just as well. If you don’t have either, chop everything finely and stir together. No need for appliances with this marinara!

  1. Place chopped tomatoes in a colander set over a large bowl to drain while preparing other ingredients.
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  2. While tomatoes are draining, chop other ingredients and place in food processor.
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  3. Drain sundried tomatoes and place in food processor. (Save juice from chopped tomatoes and soak water from sundried tomatoes to use in other recipes such as smoothies, soups, etc.)
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  4. Add chopped tomatoes and remaining ingredients to food processor.
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  5. Pulse repeatedly until ingredients are fully blended. Mixture may be blended more for a smoother sauce, or less for a chunkier sauce.
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  6. Use a spiral slicer to slide zucchini or summer squash into “noodles.” If a spiral slicer is not available, slice zucchini or summer squash into very thin slices using a food processor or mandolin slicer. Zucchini and summer squash may also be shredded for a texture similar to rice.
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    My favorite spiral slicers include:
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    Joyce Chen Spiral Slicer – I own this one and love it! It can be used for many different things.
    GEFU Spiralizer – This is a new one on the market which I’m considering getting. It appears to be simpler to use and have less clean-up

To serve, ladle the marinara sauce over the zucchini noodles and top with basil leaves for garnish. Serve as is!

List of other blog posts

The Truth About Agave

Agave has become a subject that elicits much passion among the health conscious. Who would have thought a simple little agave2cactus could elicit so much emotion? I’m a firm believer that common sense and moderation are always best. Having said that, here are my thoughts on Agave:

  • Agave syrup is NOT low glycemic. I once sat in a meeting with an agave salesman who claimed agave is so “low glycemic” diabetics can drink gallons of it without having it affect their glucose levels. He didn’t get the sale, and I had to politely yet firmly intervene and explain that agave is a SYRUP that is extremely high glycemic and raises blood sugars rapidly. Some studies found it has a higher glycemic rating than high fructose corn syrup and that agave has more fructose than any other sweetening agent, including HFCS. The bottom line is that it raises glucose levels very rapidly and can elevate them to a very high level. Agave is loaded with sugar. Don’t be fooled. This means it is not a good option for anyone trying to lose weight, control blood sugars or control Candida overgrowth.
  • Agave is not an ancient sweetener. The agave cactus was traditionally used to make tequila. Using it to make agave syrup as a sweetener has only been popular for about 20 years. It is a new product and therefore hasn’t been on the market long enough for its health effects to be studied in detail. In addition to raising blood glucose levels very rapidly, it is also known to raise blood pressure in some people, and has been implicated in heart disease. (The fact it affects blood glucose levels means it probably raises triglycerides and therefore affects heart health.) The fact agave syrup has such a high amount of fructose in it also means it is very difficult for the liver to process. There is mounting evidence agave strains liver function and may lead to liver damage. In my opinion, agave syrup is not a healthy sweetener, but it is also not as “evil” as many accuse it of being.
  • Most agave syrups are not truly natural and are not raw. Although it is possible to make agave syrup from the actual plant syrup at low temperatures, that process is extremely time-consuming and expensive. Most manufacturers prefer to make syrup by exposing the plant fibers to heat and a chemical process that converts the starch in the plant (usually the root) into a syrup. This process is obviously neither natural nor raw and creates a sweetener that is amazingly similar to high fructose corn syrup both in how it is manufactured and in how your body responds to it.
     .
    The only agave syrup I’ve found that is truly raw (never heated above 120 degrees) and which is processed in a manner that replaces some of the fiber is Xagavehttp://amzn.to/13BW7Tp. I’m more comfortable with it than with any other, but do not believe it’s a good choice for daily use.

So should you use agave, or not? In my opinion, there are better options. I still encourage everyone to use more stevia and fewer sweetening agents in general. If you must use a sweetening agent, I prefer coconut (AKA palm) sugar because it has higher mineral content and is slightly lower glycemic. I think using a high-grade agave syrup occasionally is fine, but do not recommend using it as a daily sweetener.

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 the number of people affected by it is increasing so rapidly. Why does this matter? Because Metabolic Syndrome is a set of conditions created by lifestyle and dietary habits. Metabolic Syndrome is Metabolic Syndrome: Apple with Stethoscope and Measuring Tapeknown to increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, stroke and more.

Although experts disagree on the specific causes of Metabolic Syndrome, they all agree that obesity, a high carbohydrate diet, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are contributing factors. Other factors which may increase your risk include heredity, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, smoking and possibly toxic exposure from food, air and water.

The problem with Metabolic Syndrome is that no single definition of what it is and no specified set of diagnostic criteria have been defined. Many practitioners in the mainstream medical community do not believe Metabolic Syndrome exists and do not believe early identification can help improve health outcomes. There is also controversy about whether the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome truly represent a “syndrome” or are merely a group of related symptoms which each has its own risk factors. The concern is that we have created a “disease” which truly doesn’t exist.

The bottom line is that whether you group the symptoms together and label them or not, they each represent a very real risk to health and longevity. In my practice, I work with many people who have multiple symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Addressing the issues quickly restores health. It also often results in improved self esteem and a restored positive outlook. I find that people who address Metabolic Syndrome typically experience better overall health on a long term basis.

Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

The most common symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:

  • Weight gain in the stomach and abdomen, often in spite of exercise and decreased food intake
  • Fatigue
  • Increased triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL
  • Acne
  • Higher than normal blood levels of insulin (Please see The Top 3 Blood Tests Everyone Should Request for more info)
  • Mild to moderate kidney damage resulting in excess protein in the urine
  • Increased systemic inflammation which may cause joint pain, water retention and other symptoms
  • Increased liver enzymes due to insufficient detoxification and/or a condition called “fatty liver”
  • Excess growth of Candida (yeast) in the body
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women
  • Low Testosterone in men
  • Abnormal development in children
  • Mental and psychological issues, ranging from mild to extreme

If you have three or more of those symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your practitioner. Ask him or her to order blood work including a complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, insulin level, A1C and complete thyroid panel. (If your doctor is unsure how to interpret these tests related to Metabolic Syndrome risk factors, please feel free to contact me to schedule a half-hour blood work interpretation consultation.)

Reversing Metabolic Syndrome

The good news is that Metabolic Syndrome can often be reversed using simple lifestyle changes. Supplements may also be used in some cases. The purpose of the recommended changes is to improve insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system. Potential changes may include:

  • Improving an exercise regimen and combining it with weight training
  • Decreasing the type and quantity of carbohydrates eaten on a daily basis
  • Increasing the amount of healthy fat consumed on a daily basis
  • Identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies
  • Improving digestion to ensure foods are adequately digested and absorbed
  • Other recommendations based on the person’s specific health needs

Reversing Metabolic Syndrome is very possible, but requires the direction of a qualified practitioner. If you suspect you have Metabolic Syndrome and would like to start the process of reversing it, please contact me to schedule a consultation. 

Photo courtesy of Keith Ramsey

Difference Between Lactose Intolerance and Dairy Allergy

Milk drop

Few topics inspire as much confusion as the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy. The two issues can both cause digestive distress, but each has a very different cause.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks sufficient lactase, the enzyme required to digest the sugars in dairy. The enzyme is lactase, dairy sugar is lactose. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be as mild as a bit of gas or bloating, or may be extreme enough to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Each person will lactose intolerance will respond very differently. The symptoms result because the enzyme lactase is needed to break milk sugar (lactose) down into simpler sugars which can be absorbed and metabolized. If the lactose is not broken down, the body cannot absorb it and will experience digestive distress. Some people with lactose intolerance may also experience fatigue due to the strain caused when dairy is ingested. The amount of dairy required to cause a reaction in someone who is lactose intolerant varies from person to person. Some people must consume large amounts of dairy, while others can safely consume small amounts before experiencing symptoms.

Lactose intolerance may occur in infancy, but more commonly develops later in life. Lactose intolerance can be inherited and may run in families. It can also develop as a secondary challenge resulting from digestive disorders that damage the colon, such as Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, etc. Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed through a Hydrogen Breath Test in adults or via a Stool Acidity Test in children.

Most people can counteract the effects of lactose intolerance by limiting dairy consumption or by taking a digestive enzyme containing high amounts of lactase when they eat dairy. My favorites include: 

Lacto by Enzymedica (My favorite enzyme company)

Dairy Digest Complete by NOW Foods

Dairy (Casein or Whey) Allergy

Dairy allergies are an autoimmune reaction to one or more proteins found in dairy. Casein is the most common dairy protein that causes a dairy allergy. (A dairy allergy may also be the result of an autoimmune reaction to other chemicals in dairy, but casein and whey are the most common.) Reactions to a dairy allergy may be very mild or may be life-threatening, and can affect every body system. There are over 200 symptoms that may be caused by a dairy allergy. The symptoms may include severe or mild digestive distress, skin reactions, respiratory distress, cognitive and emotional issues, and many more.

The reactions occur when the body comes to regard chemicals in milk as “foreign invaders” that must be attacked and neutralized. To neutralize the invader, the body releases antibodies. These antibodies get carried throughout the body via the bloodstream and can therefore cause reactions in any part of the body. Dairy allergies are typically the result of one or more autoimmune genes getting turned “on.”

Dairy allergies can occur at any stage of life. Babies are sometimes born with a dairy allergy. Other people develop  a dairy allergy much later in life. Dairy allergies often appear to develop very suddenly. Causes of dairy allergies have been linked to Candida overgrowth (click link to learn more), feeds containing genetically modified produce fed to dairy cows, genetics, environmental toxins, and many unknown causes. Sadly, the incidence of dairy allergies is rising at a rate that is much higher than population growth.  

Dairy allergies require the affected person to completely avoid all foods containing dairy. This can be difficult because many processed foods contain ingredients that can set off a reaction but whose ingredient list does not contain words associated with dairy. Some people can reverse their dairy allergy by strictly avoiding dairy for six to twelve months, but others cannot. Some children outgrow a dairy allergy, while others do not. Because most allergies result when a gene is turned “on,” it can be very difficult to reverse milk allergies. Reducing or reversing a dairy allergy must include steps to also heal the digestive tract. Extreme measures are typically required to reverse the allergy, but it is possible for some people to eventually eat small amounts of dairy very occasionally without a negative reaction.

I personally had a dairy allergy so severe that I vomited multiple times per day and was extremely ill for many months. Before recognizing my allergy, I lost over 30 pounds, was extremely weak, had hair loss, was extremely grumpy and irritable, had severe acne, and had explosive diarrhea that made leaving the house difficult. To put it mildly, I was miserable. My dairy allergy was identified by a test called the ELISA Allergy Test. This is the test I recommend to my clients who have symptoms indicating a food allergy. (I’m now able to very occasionally eat small amounts of dairy without visible symptoms, although I know my digestive system remains healthiest if I refrain.)

Food allergies can be identified through blood tests, elimination diets, or muscle response testing. I do not recommend using “skin prick” testing for food allergies, as that form of testing is very inaccurate and often incorrect. Blood testing is also often inaccurate unless dairy is consumed within 72 hours of the blood draw, but there are tests which can identify the presence of dairy antibodies without recent dairy consumption.

One of the most popular ways of reversing dairy allergies is by following a diet called the GAPS diet. “GAPS” stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome or “Gut and Physiology Syndrome.” Click the link the view copies of the book that describes the protocol to be followed.

If you have digestive issues, constant congestion or cough, chronic fatigue, eczema or other symptoms you have been unable to remedy, you may have a food allergy or sensitivity. I have helped many people with food allergies and would love to help. Please contact me via email or by calling 317.489.0909 to schedule a consultation.

Have you dealt with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy? How did you figure it out? What tips can you share about coping on a daily basis?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/toru_okada/

Resolving Not to Resolve: Success in New Year Resolutions

Have you chosen a New Year Resolution yet? How likely are you to achieve your goal as a result? Although I applaud the attitude and desire that motivates New Year Resolutions, I’m not sure the “overnight sensation” approach is a good idea. Most New Year Resolutions become failed resolutions fairly quickly as List of New Year Resolutionspeople embrace unrealistic expectations, set impossible goals with impossible timelines, and soon become overwhelmed or frustrated and give up. 

I recently asked my followers on social media if they make resolutions and whether or not they are successful when they do. Most people responded they do not make resolutions because they typically fail, while others said they make resolutions but only attain them about half the time. My favorite response came from a friend who said he tries to improve every single day instead of waiting until the start of a new year to create change.

The problem with most New Year Resolutions are that they are “all or nothing” propositions that wind up being made with little forethought and which wind up being very temporary. Creating true lifestyle change that permanently alters habits takes a different approach.

Here are my recommendations for creating lasting change: 

  1. Identify why you want to change: Many people say they want to lose weight, but if you ask them WHY, you get a wide range of responses. Some will say they want to look better, others will say they want to be healthier, some will say they want to have more energy, and many will look at you as if you just asked the world’s stupidest question. Having a goal isn’t sufficient unless you can identify the reasons you want to reach the goal and can state what you will gain by attaining the goal. I recommend writing down your reasons so you can use them as motivation as you work toward your goal. Recognizing why you wish to reach a goal will also provide greater satisfaction when you reach your goal. One word of warning: Reaching a goal does not always have the outcome you thought it would. Recognize the benefits you gain even if they are not what you expected.The most common new year resolution is to lose weight. Unfortunately, some people want to lose weight because they believe being thinner will make them more popular, allow them to meet the man or woman of their dreams, or bring about other positive social changes in their life. One of the secrets of having a full social calendar is to love and appreciate yourself just as you are. Loving who you are and being content with where you are at creates a confidence and joy that other people enjoy being near. The type of people who are attracted to others simply because they’re thin aren’t the type of people you want in your life, anyway. Trust me.
     
  2. Break your primary goal into smaller steps: For most people, it makes sense to ease into your goal, using baby steps to reach it. For example, instead of setting a goal of not drinking caffeine (out of a desire to lower blood pressure or improve pH), set a smaller goal each week that will gradually build to create your final goal. For instance, give up energy drinks the first week, soda the next, and coffee the following week. In addition to making your goal easier to achieve by “chunking” it into smaller pieces, this also lessens the shock on your body and your psyche. Lessening the shock (or detoxification process) on your body will help you feel better and will again make it easier to stick to your plan and achieve success. It also lessens the emotional shocks that come with creating new habits. This approach can be used with any type of lifestyle change and is not limited to giving up food or drinks. There are times when giving up a food or beverage “cold turkey” is desirable, such as when a food allergy has been identified or when a health condition makes it necessary. However, making changes slowly and steadily brings a higher level of success when illness is not your motivator.
     
  3. Set a start date: Setting a target start date allows you to prepare mentally and emotionally for establishing new habits. Setting a start date also provides the opportunity to identify and eliminate any triggers that led to failure in the past. If you broke your goal into small steps or milestones, attach a time limit to each step. After you set your start date and subsequent milestone dates, use the time leading up to it to encourage yourself on a daily basis, to strengthen your commitment to meeting the goal, and to addressing any negative thoughts you have related to the goal. Use positive affirmations, write down your goals and review them daily, ask friends and family for encouragement and support, or use whatever motivational technique works best for you. Being prepared emotionally will make it easier to rise above and resist any temptations that come. 
     
  4. Celebrate your successes: Reaching goals is a huge accomplishment. CELEBRATE your success and reward yourself! When identifying your goals and milestones as mentioned in Step 1, attach a reward to each one. Pick rewards that are not food-oriented and which do not include anything you’re working to eliminate. Your rewards may include a pampering experience such as a massage, or may be as simple as allowing yourself (and asking your family to give you) one uninterrupted hour to read a book. Your rewards do not have to cost money. Be creative and choose rewards that will make you feel truly rewarded.
     
  5. Don’t let a single slip derail you: Nobody’s perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be. If you slip and step outside of the boundaries you created, use that slip as an opportunity to learn. Ask yourself what motivated the slip and how you could have avoided it. Learn from the slip, consider how you will resist similar situations in the future, and move on. Some people view a single slip as evidence they can’t succeed and use it as an excuse to abandon their entire plan. Don’t give into that temptation. If you deviate from your plan, learn from it and move forward without looking back. Beating yourself up about it won’t accomplish anything positive, so don’t do it.

The bottom line is that there’s more success in choosing to make tiny changes on a daily basis than in trying to accomplish a great change overnight.

Did you make a resolution this year? If so, what was it? 

Graphic courtesy of One Way Stock

Why Mainstream Diabetes Diets Often Fail

Extremely High Glucose ReadingThose 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, partly because the incidence of Type 1 diabetes is increasing, and partly because I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1967. I’m blessed to say I’ve lived on both sides of the “diabetes fence” and have learned a thing or two along the way.

The first thing I learned about dealing with diabetes is that what my doctor and diabetes educator told me frequently did not work. Their recommendations seemed to guarantee I used excessive amounts of insulin, had sky high blood sugars and never truly felt well. More than once I’ve had a client storm into my office, slam a sheaf of papers on my desk, and exclaim: “She’s trying to kill me!” They were referencing the dietary plan provided by their diabetes educator. This post explains why the mainstream approach often fails. (Please note the photo used in this post is courtesy of DeathbyBrokeh and is not a picture of one of my blood sugars.)

NOTE: Please follow your physician’s instructions. Do not make any changes to your care protocol without first discussing them with your physician and care team. People with Type 1 diabetes must use extreme caution and test blood glucose levels frequently when making any change to lifestyle or eating habits.

Before I dive into criticism, let me say the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has come a long way in the past forty years. They have ceased recommending a single dietary approach and are beginning to recognize that alternative eating styles “may” (in their words) have value. They admit a low glycemic eating style improves control, yet refuse to endorse it or encourage its use. They believe people with diabetes won’t comply with a diet rich in low glycemic foods, and they fail to recognize the other benefits gained from this eating style. The battle to overcome tradition in mainstream medicine is huge, so I’m encouraged to know the ADA is starting to cautiously embrace eating styles different from the status quo.

Let me also say I am NOT a fan of extreme eating styles which claim to reverse all forms of diabetes. I have seen many people’s health harmed, sometimes irreversibly, by following diets that greatly restrict nutrition. These extreme attempts at healing scare me. I prefer to use a much more balanced approach that supports the body’s own healing ability and which allows the body to rebuild and rebalance itself. It is also important to state that many people are able to reverse Type 2 diabetes, but there are less than 20 documented cases of Type 1 diabetes being reversed. I believe it’s possible, but I do not believe we know enough about autoimmune illnesses to consistently combat Type 1 diabetes and restore pancreatic function. I help people reverse Type 2 diabetes every day in my practice, but each person is very different. Not everyone is able to reverse it, and extreme caution must be used. I have tried many extreme eating styles. Each extreme style has benefits, but almost all ultimately create systemic imbalances which harm health.

The standard eating style endorsed by the ADA recommends that every person with diabetes, regardless of age, sex, weight, activity level, or type of diabetes, eat a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. A single serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams, so consuming 130 grams of carbs every day equates to eating 8.7 servings. That is a lot of carbs! The large amount of carbs recommended concerns and shocks me. I eat 2-4 servings of low-glycemic carbohydrates every day. Doing so allows me to avoid gaining weight, maintain normal glucose levels, and use less insulin. (Please read Surprising Facts About Insulin for information on the damaging effects excess insulin has on the body.) I currently maintain A1C’s* between 5.5-6.0 and have no diabetes complications. I am extremely blessed to enjoy vibrant health in spite of having had diabetes for more than 46 years.

* In simple terms, the Glycosulated Hemoglobin (A1C) is a blood test that measures blood sugar averages. Normal is considered 4.5-6.0.

The concept of encouraging diabetics to eat high amounts of carbs and then telling them to take large amounts of insulin to counteract the effects those carbs have on blood sugar makes no sense. 

The primary reason the ADA form of eating does not work is that it does nothing to improve insulin sensitivity and fails to combat the cause of high blood sugars. Effectively controlling all forms of diabetes requires maintaining adequate insulin sensitivity and eating in a way that does not greatly elevate blood sugars. The ADA style of eating tends to decrease insulin sensitivity in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics because it encourages eating large amounts of high-glycemic carbohydrates. (Insulin resistance is as large a problem in Type 1 diabetics as it is in Type 2 diabetics. Learn more about it here:  Top Ten Signs You Have Insulin Resistance.) This approach often leads to higher levels of diabetic complications.

The ADA recommends such high amounts of carbohydrates because it fails to recognize how the body converts food to energy and believes carbohydrates are necessary for normal brain function and normal energy levels. This is simply not true. The body’s best source of energy is fat. Yes, fat. Healthy fat, not hydrogenated oils and inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. The body converts fat to energy 80% more efficiently than it converts carbohydrates to energy. Fat is essential for the health of cell membranes, neurotransmitters in the brain, and cardiac cells. For more information on fat and to bust a few myths, read Why You Need to Eat More Fat and Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.

The fact is our bodies don’t need high amounts of carbohydrates. Your body can very effectively function on small amounts of carbs. (I spent two years eating NO carbohydrates that affected blood glucose levels, so I know it can be done, but I don’t recommend it.) The ADA believes carbohydrates that raise blood sugar are necessary for proper brain function. This is not true. The brain runs on pure glucose. As long as there is adequate glucose in the blood stream, the brain will function well. People with Type 1 diabetes rarely need to eat carbohydrates to maintain adequate levels of glucose in the blood stream. The only time they truly require carbohydrates is their blood sugar falls below normal levels. Again, the concept of encouraging diabetics to eat large amounts of carbohydrates and then making them take high amounts of insulin to counteract the effect on blood sugars is counterproductive.

So what style of eating is best for diabetics? The simple fact is that each person’s style of eating must be customized to their metabolism, lifestyle, schedule and many other factors. There is no single style that works for everyone. Each person with diabetes or metabolic challenges must work to find the best style of eating that works for them. In general, an approach that does not encourage excess carbohydrate consumption, focuses on incorporating exercise and healthy eating habits, and one which focuses on using low-glycemic carbohydrates works best for most diabetics.

I am committed to helping diabetics improve their control and live life more abundantly. I have high success rates because I have spent almost 50 years living with diabetes every single day and have an intimate familiarity with what it takes to successfully incorporate diabetes control techniques into daily life. I’ve lived both the good and the bad of diabetes. Nothing brings me more joy than helping others achieve increased control and health. If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your options, please contact me via email or call 317.489.0909.

Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D

Vitamin DThe 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.)
  • Vitamin D is a powerful anti-inflammatory
  • 90-95% of Vitamin D is produced by the skin through sun exposure
  • The natural form of Vitamin D the skin produces is Vitamin D3 
  • The Vitamin D that is added to milk and other products is Vitamin D2, which is not well absorbed
  • Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body stores it 
  • Experts estimate that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes in the body
  • Grass fed beef contains Vitamin D3; mainstream beef does not
  • Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster
  • Studies proved 2000 IU/day is more effective than flu shots at preventing the flu
  • Vitamin D is known to protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, and over 800 different cancers
  • It is very difficult to get adequate D3 through the diet
  • Ten to thirty minutes of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost levels
  • Pregnant women need twice as much Vitamin D as other people
  • Dark-skinned people typically do not produce Vitamin D well and are often deficient
  • The best test to check Vitamin D levels is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test
  • The 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D blood test is very inaccurate and may return false levels if D levels are low
  • The ideal range of D in the blood is 50-75 nmol/L. Higher and lower amounts may cause or worsen health challenges.
  • Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been connected to depression, inflammatory conditions, cancer, fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disorders, weight gain, headaches, bladder disorders, and much more

Do you take Vitamin D? I generally recommend starting with 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Check your blood levels every three months, adjusting the dose as needed. The goal level of Vitamin D should be 50-75 nmol/L.

If you do not have a doctor, you can order a home test kit at: Vitamin D Home Test Kit

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Surprising Facts About Insulin

Cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (Islets of Langerhans)

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 is to show you how important insulin is and why you may need to start paying more attention to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people’s cells have stopped absorbing the insulin their body produces. This insulin resistance creates a domino effect of negative consequences, even though many people never have elevated blood sugars. All of us have insulin resistance to some degree. The resistance is partially caused by aging, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. However, it is very simple to regulate insulin production and insulin sensitivity. (The picture you see is a cross section of the beta cells of the pancreas that create insulin.)

Let’s get started! The following facts about insulin may surprise you.

Insulin is found in almost every life form, including single-celled creatures

Any chemical that is found in every life form on earth must be vitally important. For most single-celled organisms, insulin’s role is to control and advance aging. The older the life form becomes, the more insulin it produces. Insulin is therefore vitally connected to the aging process. When people become insulin resistant, causing their body to produce excess insulin, their cells age and deteriorate much more rapidly. Controlling insulin production and resistance is vital to slowing the aging process.

Insulin allows the body’s cells to store and create energy

We’ve all been convinced that insulin’s role is to lower blood glucose levels. Truth is, that is not insulin’s job. Insulin’s primary role in the body is to create energy. Plain and simple. The insulin your body creates should allow your cells to create energy. When cells become resistant to insulin, it means those cells can no longer create energy. Fatigue and exhaustion follow. This is why many people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are often so tired.

Insulin signals the body to store fat

Insulin is a fat storage hormone, especially when it is not absorbed by the body’s cells. Excess insulin in the blood stream tells the body to start storing as much fat as possible. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes often find it impossible to lose weight. It is also why people with those challenges often have extremely elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s just that simple.

High cholesterol has a stronger connection to insulin than it does to fat consumption. I recently worked with a lady who came to me with a cholesterol reading of over 300 and a triglyceride level of over 1500. What did I do? I recommended an eating plan that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in healthy fats. (Yes. You read that right. I gave her body what it needed. A low fat diet does not help weight loss, nor does it improve coronary health.) She lost forty pounds in three months and had normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels within six weeks. Focusing on insulin instead of her blood lipids made the difference.

Insulin delivers magnesium

One of the most important jobs insulin fulfills is to carry magnesium into the cells. Experts currently estimate that seventy percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. There is a large probability this deficiency is not solely due to bad eating habits, but is also linked to insulin resistance. For information on the negative effects of magnesium deficiency, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

One of magnesium’s jobs is to relax the blood vessels. A primary result of a low magnesium level is that blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. Over 80% of people with diabetes or insulin resistance also have high blood pressure. The connection is purely related to insulin. Unfortunately, the cells in blood vessels never become resistant to insulin. These cells continue absorbing all the insulin that is present. The excess insulin in the walls of the blood vessels makes them hard and predisposes them to being covered with plaque. Both of these factors create elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, these factors create serious heart disease. Few people speak about regulating insulin levels as a means of preventing and reversing coronary disease, but it is one of the simplest ways to improve heart health.

Insulin triggers hormones that create a feeling of fullness

Insulin is a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to stop eating. This makes perfect sense. As we eat a meal, our body releases insulin to turn that food into energy. As those insulin levels rise, it should trigger a feeling of fullness once a sufficient amount of food has been eaten. When the body stops absorbing insulin, it prevents the signal that tells the person it’s time to stop eating and allows people to eat far more than they need without feeling full. This is another reason why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have such a hard time losing weight. The key is to improve the body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is very simple to improve insulin sensitivity using lifestyle changes and sometimes a few inexpensive supplements.

Insulin lowers blood glucose levels

Last on the list is that insulin lowers blood sugar. Insulin’s least significant role in the body is lowering glucose levels. The fact is that elevated glucose is merely a nasty side effect of poor insulin metabolism.

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Do you deal with insulin resistance? Is this a new concept for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of  improving your health and slowing the aging process by improving your body’s ability to absorb insulin.

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 The word "Carbs" spelled in pastais true that we live in a society that constantly overeats, but the rising rates of obesity are primarily due to the fact our bodies simply cannot process and metabolize the high amounts of unhealthy carbohydrates we eat. (I use the term “we” very loosely.) If weight loss were a simple math equation where weight loss occurrs if more calories were burned than were eaten, obesity would not be an epidemic. The simple fact is that our society subsists on foods laden with low-quality, high-glycemic carbs. The Standard American Diet (which I like to refer to as the “SAD”) creates metabolic imbalances that cause weight gain. If losing weight has been a problem for you, please read my article, The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight for more information on the potential physical reasons  that prevent weight loss. I promise to share more about battling insulin resistance in future posts. For today, let’s simply acknowledge that insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Eating excess carbs causes your body to secrete high amounts of insulin, which causes the body to produce and store fat instead of burning it for energy. When people eat high amounts of foods requiring the body to produce large amounts of insulin, their cells may eventually become “overwhelmed” with the constant flow of insulin. Cells which are overwhelmed with insulin will protect themselves by not absorbing and using the insulin. The excess insulin in the blood stream causes the body to store even more fat. This is what is commonly referred to as “Insulin Resistance.” If someone has even low levels of insulin resistance, it means their body does not use the insulin their body produces. This causes their body to produce higher amounts of insulin to try to lower blood sugars, which causes worse insulin resistance and increased weight gain.  The solution to this problem is to reduce the amount of insulin being produced. The most direct way of allowing the body to produce less insulin is to pay close attention to the types and quantities of carbohydrates eaten. Please note that in this blog post, I use the word “carbs” to refer to simple carbohydrates your body metabolizes into simple sugars. Foods that fit this category include breads, cookies, rice, juices, candy, desserts, donuts, pastas, processed grains, etc. I am not referring to vegetables. Fruits  are natural, but must be treated respectfully when dealing with insulin resistance. Some fruits elevate blood sugar very rapidly and require high amounts of insulin, which can contribute  to weight gain for some people. The simplest – although not complete – approach to weight loss involves eating fewer carbohydrates. Following are simple tips to help cut the carbs without losing nutrition:

Substitute lettuce or kale wraps for bread

Not all bread is bad, but it is ALL extremely high in glycemic impact. High glycemic foods rapidly raise blood sugars and require large amounts of insulin. It is a very sad truth that almost all gluten free grains (with the exception of quinoa and millet) have a higher glycemic impact than wheat and require more insulin to be metabolized. This explains why some people experience extreme weight gain when going gluten-free. (Some people lose weight, but the incidence of people gaining weight after going gluten-free is rising rapidly.) Eating a grain-free diet is ideal for a variety of reasons, but most people have such a strong emotional attachment to grains that eliminating them completely seems impossible. Wrapping your sandwich ingredients in lettuce or kale may take some adjusting, but it’s a great option and the lettuce requires zero insulin.

Be extremely careful with portion sizes

People from Europe are often astonished at how much food people in the US eat at every meal. Europeans eat to live, whereas people in the US live to eat. Europeans eat extremely small (aka: NORMAL) portion sizes and don’t snack as often as we do. In the US, we supersize everything … especially portions. Here’s a quick run down of recommended portion sizes of popular carbs:

  • Rice: 1/2 cup (Yes, seriously.)
  • Pasta: 1 cup
  • Grapes: 10
  • Beans and Lentils: 1/2 cup
  • French Fries: 10 (I’m not kidding. Probably best to skip this one.)
  • Dairy: 1 cup (Dairy counts as a carbohydrate serving, even though it contains protein.)

Start every meal with a salad or big bowl of veggies

Filling up on veggies before attacking the other items on your plate often leads to eating fewer carbohydrates. It is also a very easy way to increase your consumption of veggies, and you know you need more.

Eat veggies first, protein next, then carbs

The order you eat foods can affect how much of it you eat. Again, filling up on veggies first and then eating your protein will leave less room in your stomach for the carbohydrate on your plate.

Stick to one carb per meal

You don’t need more than one carb serving per meal. Trust me. The simple act of limiting yourself to one carb serving per meal will often create rapid weight loss. It also eliminates the “3 o’clock slump” many people experience when their blood sugar plummets after a high-carb lunch.

Think about breakfast in a new way

The dietary surveys I use with my patients reveal that most people eat 3-5 servings of carbs and no protein every morning before they leave the house. I’m not sure why we associate carbs with breakfast, but we need protein and healthy fats to boost energy and keep us going until lunch. A typical breakfast I see listed includes three or more of the following: bowl of cereal or oatmeal, banana on the cereal, toast, pancakes/waffles, glass of orange juice, fruit smoothie, etc., etc. Mega carbs and zero protein or fats. This creates a syndrome where your blood sugar skyrockets after breakfast, but plummets a few hours later. This can make you hungry and may make you crave sugar around 10 am. Adding protein to your morning regimen can make a huge difference in how you feel mid-morning and right before lunch. Combining protein with healthy carbohydrates for breakfast helps stabilize blood sugars. Having a huge veggie omelet with a single piece of toast is a great option. I know one lady who has guacamole on zucchini slices with a slice of turkey most mornings. She feels great and has lost 10 pounds doing this. For more creative low carb breakfast ideas, read Top 11 Low Carb Breakfasts. Other great breakfast options include:

  • An apple with almond butter
  • 1 cup of berries in a smoothie with an avocado, handful of spinach and a cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal with 1/2 cup nuts and seeds and 1/2 cup almond milk
  • Two eggs and 1/2 cup of mixed berries. 

Let yourself think outside of the box and stop eating nothing but carbohydrates for breakfast … you’ll feel and look better as a result. Are you eating to live or living to eat? What changes can you make to help you make better choices at every meal? I wish you luck and success!

Six Things People with Diabetes Rarely Tell Their Doctor

Lady holding her fingers to her lips as if saying, "Shhh!"

This post covers a variety of behaviors and lifestyle habits that people with diabetes rarely tell their doctor. I need to state a disclaimer before diving into this post. Please note I am not condoning the activities and actions I’ve shared below. I’m simply sharing what I know to be true and what I see occur frequently in the diabetic community. Please follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and do not deviate from them.

Most of you know by now that I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes (the auto-immune, insulin-controlled type) for over 45 years. In the time I’ve had it, I’ve devoted years of research to the disease of diabetes. I have also dedicated myself to understanding how diabetes affects a person’s emotions, not just their body. One of the most fascinating things I’ve discovered from chatting with thousands of people with diabetes is that there are some very common habits many of them share, but which few of them tell their medical staff. Some of these habits are harmless, while others could be potentially harmful.

Why do diabetics break the rules? The most common reason is because the rules don’t work for them. Although MDs live in a world of black and white absolutes, every diabetic knows that much of what they’re told about controlling their disease does not work for them or apply to their specific case. Their body never read the diabetes text book and doesn’t do the things the text book says it should. Most of us wish our doctors understood that control is highly individualized and that not all care guidelines work for all people. People with diabetes soon learn which topics are “safe” to discuss with their doctor and which will earn them a quick lecture. They grow weary of being told they’re “wrong” or being told one of the control tactics they rely on “can’t possibly work.” The truth is that every person’s body and lifestyle is highly unique and requires a unique approach to maintaining control. What works for me may not work for anyone else, and what works for them may not work for me. Doctors don’t have time to consider these “gray areas,” so diabetics keep this “secret info” to themselves.

The list that follows includes the top six things I’ve found diabetics rarely tell their doctor. Do you know of others? Please share!

I take a lot of supplements to help control my diabetes

This one is perhaps the most common. I hear this not only from diabetics, but from many different people with many different health conditions. Why do people not tell their doctor about their supplements? People I chat with share one of three basic reasons: 1) They are tired of their doctor telling them the supplement doesn’t work (even though using it has improved their health); 2) They are taking the supplement(s) instead of taking a prescription (see the next point); or 3) They know their doctor doesn’t believe in supplements and don’t want to risk upsetting him or her.

Obviously, it is IMPERATIVE to tell your doctor about every supplement you take. Your MD needs to know what you’re taking so that s/he can advise you about any potential interactions with your prescriptions. A growing group of MDs is learning about supplements and accepting their use. If yours is not one of them, perhaps it’s time to find one who is more accepting of the lifestyle you’ve chosen.

There are a wide variety of supplements that can help people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes maintain better control. However, these supplements must be very carefully researched before being added to one’s regimen. It can be dangerous for a Type 1 diabetic to begin taking supplements without checking their blood sugar more frequently. No one taking a prescription medications should begin taking a supplement without first discussing the potential interactions with their doctor or pharmacist. My favorite resource for researching potential interactions between prescription medications and natural supplements is the PDR for Non-Prescription Drugs, 33rd Edition.

I don’t take some of the prescriptions you write for me

This is another very serious item. If you are not going to take a prescription your doctor prescribed, you must tell him or her. It is your choice to not take a prescription, but you owe your MD the courtesy of being honest about it. When you share this information with your MD, take your research, be direct without being emotional, and make it clear your decision is final. If your MD has an issue with this, perhaps it’s time to find someone who is a better fit for your needs. (On a side note, there are times it may be better to take the prescription. Please do significant research before deciding to not take a prescription. As an example, I take insulin. There are no viable alternatives that are 100% effective, so I consider myself blessed to have it available.)

I don’t use alcohol when I take my shot or check my blood sugar

I can’t say that 100% of diabetics fall into this category, but a huge number of them do. Remembering to pack alcohol swabs is just one more thing on an already long list of items that have to be carted around on a daily basis. Many diabetics have found – contrary to what their MD told them – that not using alcohol doesn’t make much difference. They don’t wind up with skin infections, and their insulin continues working perfectly. It’s a personal choice. (This is only true if they are healthy and are under good control.) From a bird’s eye perspective, I don’t think this is a big deal, provided their blood sugars are under good control, they don’t have any other auto-immune conditions, and they are not in a dirty environment filled with toxins. It’s always best to use alcohol, but the likelihood of developing a complication if none is available is fairly small.

I use my syringes and lancets more than once

Most people are horrified to learn that many diabetics re-use their syringes. Let me make it perfectly clear they are not sharing their needles, they are simply using them twice in order to save money The same is true of the lancets used to prick their finger to check their blood sugar. Is it the best way to treat their disease? No. Is it one that has a huge negative effect? Not really. I don’t recommend it, but based on the hundreds of diabetics I know who do this, the effects are too small to even be measured. Re-using syringes is never a good idea, but the effects will probably be minimal for someone who is under good control, is in a clean environment and who does not have other auto-immune conditions affecting their immunity.

In all honesty, if a diabetic cannot afford syringes and lancets, I’d much rather they re-use them than not take insulin at all. A diabetic who needs insulin and stops taking it will wind up in the hospital and deathly ill very quickly. Diabetics who re-use needles run a risk of infection and run a risk of injecting bacteria into their insulin bottles. The potential for disaster is huge, but the fact is that very few ill effects are seen. I don’t advise re-using syringes, but if you’re in a situation where you’re forced to re-use one, please do not exert much energy to worrying about the after-effects. Again … this does not refer to people sharing needles. I’m not talking about a family of diabetics using each other’s syringes. I’m talking about an individual who re-uses their own syringes.

I leave my insertion set in for more than 3 days and refill my reservoirs

This item applies to people with diabetes who use an insulin pump. Insulin pumps use a reservoir that looks somewhat like a short, squat syringe with no needle. The diabetic fills the reservoir manually and then inserts it into the pump. One end of the reservoir is connected to a long tube. The other end is connected to the body via an insertion set. The insertion set contains a very tiny plastic cannula (a form of tiny needle) that is inserted into the abdomen, arm or buttocks. The pump injects insulin into the diabetic’s body on a continuous basis. The amount of insulin infused into the person’s body is controlled by information the diabetic (or his/her support staff) programs into the pump. Programming the pump and inserting the insertion set is a very simple process. An insulin pump is the closest thing we have to a functioning pancreas.

Most pump companies instruct their users to change insertion sets and reservoirs every three days to avoid infection and to ensure insulin delivery continues at the correct dosage. Many diabetics I know leave their insertion sets in for longer periods. I also know a few who refill their reservoir instead of replacing it. These diabetics swear they can’t tell a difference. (One told me she can leave her insertion set in for more than 10 days before infection develops. I would say that’s pushing the limit on the insertion set’s ability to maintain adequate delivery.)

Why do they do it? It’s very simple. Many diabetics are uninsured, and many are underinsured. Many insurance companies have changed their deductible program and have raised deductibles above $10,000 per family. This means that most diabetics receive NO assistance with their pump supplies, in spite of having insurance. On my insurance plan, our regular prescriptions are filled for a co-pay and don’t apply to the deductible, but my insulin pump supplies do not. My insurance company will not pay a dime toward my supplies until my family meets our $10,000 deductible. There is no logic behind this, as helping their insureds maintain good control is the best way insurance companies can avoid more expensive claims. Almost four billion dollars each year are spent on diabetic amputations. That number could potentially be lowered if insurance companies would re-think their approach to handling insurance claims for basic care needs.

A 90-day supply of infusion sets and reservoirs costs anywhere between $500-900 dollars. That’s a huge expense for many people. It is an expense that motivates many diabetics to stretch a 90-day supply of materials into a 180-day supply or longer. They don’t do it as a form of rebellion; they do it because they have no other choice.

The diet you told me to follow kept my sugars sky high, so I found a new one that works for me

I hear this more than any other concern voiced by people with diabetes. A mother with a 10-year old recently came into my office and said her son’s dietitian recommended he eat seven servings of high-glycemic carbohydrates per day. She said he used over 100 units of insulin per day eating that diet because his blood sugars were so high. He also felt horrible most of the time. I worked with her to create an eating plan her son could easily work into his daily activities. The plan I recommended focused on low-glycemic carbohydrates in smaller quantities. Within two weeks, this young man’s energy had returned to normal levels and his insulin needs had lowered to around 60 units per day. (Lowering the amount of insulin needed to maintain control is helpful because of the hormonal side-effects of insulin.) I’ve also had clients come to my office who said they argued with their diabetes educator because they felt the amount of sugars and carbohydrates they were eating was excessive. These patients typically get a slap on the wrist and are told they must obey. Sadly, many who find they can maintain better control using a different eating style than the one their doctor’s staff recommended are labeled “non-compliant.”

This brings us back to individuality. Every person’s body responds to carbohydrates and other types of foods in different ways. Most people with diabetes know which foods affect them more than others. (For me, a quarter cup of white rice will send my blood sugar through the roof in about five minutes. I can’t eat it, even though it was one of the main foods recommended by the diabetes educator I saw many years ago.) It is impossible to use a “cookie cutter” approach to eating styles for people with diabetes. Each person must start with a basic recommendation and then tweak it to fit their needs. Many endocrinologists and their staffs are not willing to allow their patients to deviate from their strict guidelines. This is sad, because it makes many diabetics think they have to hide things from their endocrinologist.

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I recognize and fully expect this post will generate controversy. I’ve shared the truth, but I know many will react in anger. I’m ok with that.

Do you have diabetes? Do you hide things from your doctor? What do you think needs to change in the world of diabetes to encourage more open dialog between endocrinologists/doctors and people with diabetes? I firmly believe change occurs one person at a time. Let’s start here!

*Links in this post are affiliate links shared to provide a visual representation of the mentioned item.

The Joy of Fruitless Smoothies

Picture of a sliced avocado

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. Most of these people look at smoothie recipes and sigh with frustration because they believe it’s impossible to create a delicious smoothie that is low in carbohydrates. (Even carbohydrates from natural fruit sugars can be challenging to anyone with Candida, insulin resistance or diabetes.) It is very possible to make delicious smoothies that are sugar-free, fruit-free and very low in carbohydrates. Fruitless smoothies can be delicious and can easily become a very addicting habit. Fruitless smoothies are the perfect solution for anyone trying to embrace a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, lose weight, reduce Candida overgrowth, etc. The smoothies I’ve shared below are also perfect fits for the Paleo lifestyle which is currently very popular, and make great options for anyone with insulin resistance or diabetes.

A wide variety of creamy, great tasting smoothies can be made without fruit. My breakfast many mornings is a delicious, all-vegetable, smoothie that is low in carbs, high in protein and which keeps me going strong for many hours. This type of smoothie not only provides huge amounts of energy, but also keeps me feeling full until lunch and beyond due to the tremendous nutrition provided. By using a low-carbohydrate, high-protein blend, my bloodsugars stay very stable. Fruit-laden smoothies that don’t contain protein can cause blood sugar spikes. These blood sugar spikes later fall because they don’t have protein to keep them stable. These falls may cause hunger and fatigue mid-morning as blood sugar levels plummet. A combination of carbohydrates with protein creates a slower, smaller rise in blood sugar and helps maintain blood sugar levels at a more stable level.

Following are some guidelines you can use as a basis for creating wonderful fruit-free smoothies:
  • Use sweet veggies such as yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, etc., to add natural sweetness to smoothies
  • Add avocado to make smoothies creamy and thick without using sugar-laden yogurt
  • Use Stevia as a sweetener if needed
  • Use neutral tasting veggies such as cucumbers and zucchini to add bulk to smoothies without adding a lot of taste
  • Add dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, etc., to increase the nutritional content of smoothies
  • Use liquids such as coconut water, aloe vera juice, coconut water kefir, unsweetened nut or coconut milk, the leftover soak water from sundried tomatoes or nuts, or vegetable juices to add flavor, sweetness, and additional nutrition to smoothies
  • Add a protein powder to balance blood sugars and extend the feeling of fullness
  • Use organic spices to taste to add flavor. Don’t limit yourself to sweet spices … have fun with spicy spices to create soups and gazpachos!
  • Strategically add ingredients such as protein powders, green powders, superfoods, seaweeds, powdered greens, maca, raw cacao powder and others to add unique flavor and increase the nutritional content of smoothies.
Using these guidelines and a bit of creativity, you can create a multitude of uniquely delicious and nutritional smoothies. Your options are limitless! Following are a few smoothie recipes I enjoy. Please let me know what you think of them!

Vitamineralicious Smoothie Delight

A lack of minerals can wreak havoc on health. The smoothie that follows is rich in minerals from vegetables, but also adds an extra punch by including a liquid trace mineral. You can boost the mineral (electrolyte) content of this smoothie by using coconut water or coconut water kefir as the liquid.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 scoop Hemp Protein Powder
1 tomato, diced
1 handful kale or spinach (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon organic lemon Juice
1 serving green powder
5-10 drops of a trace mineral
1 cup unsweetened milk alternative of choice OR 1 cup of coconut water kefir or coconut water
1/2 – 1 cup Purified Water (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
Stevia to taste (optional)
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack.

Red Light District Smoothie

This smoothie is rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.

Ingredients:
 
1 diced organic tomato
1 diced organic red pepper
1-2 cup(s) water from soaking sun-dried tomatoes, purified water or organic tomato juice (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
1 handful red lettuce
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon
1 avocado (optional)
Stevia to taste (optional) or experiment with many flavored stevias
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon
 

Diabetic Chocolate Shake

This smoothie is delicious! Add ice to make it more like a shake. If you really want to make it shake-like, add a scoop of So Delicious Dairy-Free Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. (It’s to die for! That’s not an affiliate link … I just love their products!) Be aware that adding the coconut ice cream will increase the carbohydrate content of this shake.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup organic cacao powder or organic cocoa
1/2 – 1 cups unsweetened milk alternative of choice
Stevia to taste (I use chocolate liquid stevia)
Organic cinnamon  or organic nutmeg to taste if desired
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. This is one of my favorite treats.
 
Please consider these recipes to merely be a suggestion. Run with them and modify them to your heart’s content.
 
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
 
Have fun!

Why You Need More Magnesium

Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good magnesiumhealth and which is used by every system in the body.

A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following: 

  • muscle cramps
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches and migraines
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • muscle weakness
  • digestive disorders
  • impaired pituitary and thyroid function
  • PMS
  • kidney problems
  • insulin resistance and/or hypoglycemia
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • vertigo
  • problems swallowing
  • muscle aches
  • tremors and shaking
  • anxiety or over-excitability
  • muscle twitching and tics
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • kidney stones and heel spurs
  • coronary spasms
  • atrial fibrillation
  • dizziness
  • memory problems
  • numbness in extremities
  • worsening of asthma symptoms
  • water retention
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • and many more 

The problem with these symptoms is that many are very vague and most could be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a medical professional to consider a magnesium deficiency and act accordingly when faced with symptoms that indicate one. Additionally, plasma levels of magnesium measured during blood tests are very inaccurate because only 1% of magnesium in the body is stored in the blood. The majority of magnesium in the body is stored in the tissues, making blood tests almost worthless. We live in a society where mainstream physicians are taught to place more weight on blood test results than on symptoms, which makes it even less likely that a person exhibiting multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be given magnesium. (There is a blood test that is more accurate, the ionized magnesium test, but it is not widely available.)

As the huge list of symptoms indicates, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of every body system. A deficiency can have devastating consequences. Magnesium is the most prolific mineral in the body and is responsible for almost 400 different biochemical reactions in the body. A short list of the body functions magnesium directly influences include:

  • Allows the body to absorb calcium and to place it where it belongs 
  • Essential for the production of energy
  • Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
  • Relaxes muscles so they remain flexible
  • Essential for the activation of B vitamins
  • Helps build bone and keep it flexible enough to not shatter
  • Helps maintain a normal electrical flow of nerve impulses in the heart
  • Essential for hormone balance (especially during PMS and menopause)
  • Essential for initiation over 300 different enzyme reactions essential for health
  • Essential for proper digestion
  • Essential for the production of key brain chemicals
  • Essential for normal kidney and liver function

Obviously, you need magnesium. If you eat a standard diet, drink alcohol, or drink coffee, you are probably magnesium deficient. Many people are magnesium deficient because of digestive disorders and malabsorption. (Please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving digestion.) 

It is possible to maintain adequate magnesium levels by eating high levels of dark leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you’re eating well and don’t have absorption problems, you’re probably not deficient. If you don’t eat well, drink alcohol or can’t get by without your daily cup of java, you need to be getting supplemental magnesium other ways. (Coffee and alcohol sap the body of magnesium very quickly. It is not unusual for alcoholics to have anxiety and sleep disorders as a result of their magnesium deficiency.)

Drinking a daily Green Drink is a wonderful way to get sufficient magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you don’t care for the taste of green drinks (which taste like grass, to be blunt), try Green Vibrance Capsules by Vibrant Health. It is one of my favorites and is one I use frequently.

If you prefer to increase your magnesium using supplements, do NOT take Magnesium Oxide. It is a form of oxide that your body cannot absorb. It is worthless. Read labels and make sure whichever supplement you purchase does not contain magnesium oxide. Most people do best taking 200-800 mg of magnesium on a daily basis. I recommend starting with 200/day and very gradually working up (not exceeding 1200 mg) until your symptoms disappear. Having loose stools is a good indicator that you’re taking too much. If you develop diarrhea, take less magnesium.

I recommend doing or using the following to increase magnesium levels, in conjunction with a healthy diet:

  • Take a very warm bath three times weekly with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in the bath. Your skin will absorb the magnesium, eliminating the need for it to be absorbed through the digestive system.
  • Use Magnesium Oil:  Magnesium oil is not an oil, but has an oily feeling due to the high concentration of magnesium in the liquid. Note that it is necessary to use high doses of magnesium oil in order to receive a high amount of magnesium. Most oils need to be used in doses of eight sprays, three times daily.
  • Take Magnesium Glycinate:  Magnesium Glycinate is one of the more easily absorbed forms of magnesium. The magnesium molecule is bonded with glycine, which is an amino acid. The human digestive tract is maximized to absorb amino acids, and glycine is known to improve digestion, so the combination of the magnesium and the glycine greatly increases the absorption levels. The amount of glycine absorbed is minimal, so please do not use magnesium glycinate instead of a glycine supplement if you need supplemental glycine.

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none were intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Check with your medical practitioner before starting or stopping any supplement or medication.

References:

Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.

Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil Give-Away!

This contest ended July 29, 2012. Many congrats to the winner, Lynn from Fort Hood, Texas!! I will be offering more contests in the future … stay tuned!


I recently received a great invitation to review Tropical Traditions’ Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I was especially excited to receive their invitation because I have been a very happy customer of Tropical Traditions for many years. I’m excited to say Tropical Traditions has offered to give one of my readers a free quart of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil! See ways to win later in this post.

Their Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is the best I’ve found. We use it in our household on a daily basis, but not only for cooking. We also use it as a moisturizer, as a base for many body care products, and have found it even works well to quiet squeaky hinges! We use nothing else for cooking. If you’ve never tried it, cook a batch of organic popcorn in Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. It is absolutely delicious and requires no butter!

I could ramble on for quite a while on the health benefits of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, but the Tropical Traditions website provides ample information for you. I promise to share a future blog post on the health benefits and to debunk the many myths that surround it. Those of you who know me know I devote ample research to any product I’m considering using in my home and know I would not promote a contest to give away any product I did not fully believe in and support.

I have many reasons for loving their products. They use the finest processing available and are very committed to providing healthy, natural foods ethically and at an affordable cost. The company not only sells Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, but also sells:

You have seven ways to enter this contest. Note that the only way your entries will be counted is if you post a comment below! You may also share one additional tweet and/or one additional Facebook share of this page each day during the contest. Please note that you MUST enter a new comment for every entry – including a new comment for every retweet or Facebook share. Selection of winner is totally automated, but you must add a separate comment for each entry item you complete. (I’ve said that three times in a row … is it sinking in? Only  The only entries that count are those for which you leave a comment.) Contest ends July 29 at midnight.

To select the winner, I am using a WordPress plugin called And the Winner Is written by @spencersokol who resides in the great state of Indiana. Each entry must have a separate comment to be counted. (That makes four.)

You can earn an entry into the contest by doing any of the following. Please note I will verify each entry. YOU MUST ADD A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH ENTRY ITEM YOU COMPLETE:

  1. Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions Newsletter
  2. Like the Tropical Traditions Facebook Page
  3. Join my newsletter
  4. Follow me on Twitter: @IndyHealer
  5. Like my Facebook Page: Good Works Wellness
  6. Share one of the posts about this contest that was posted on my Facebook page on your Facebook page
  7. Tweet about this contest using the following text:I just entered @IndyHealer’s contest to win a jar of @TropTraditions coconut oil! http://ow.ly/ch62F #coconutoil RT to win!  <– And then enter a comment below!

 

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.

Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. Please also note that if you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.