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Are You At Risk For Metabolic Syndrome?

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, metabolic syndrome is classified as “a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels”. If you are experiencing 2 or more of these conditions, then you are considered to have metabolic syndrome. Some medical experts suggest that if you even suffer with one of these conditions, your likely hood of progressing and experiencing an additional risk factor significantly increases.

The bad news is that if you are dealing with metabolic syndrome, you risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes is very high. The good news is that these conditions are almost entirely dictated by your lifestyle and nutrition choices.

What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?

The cluster of conditions that define metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, abnormal triglycerides, high belly fat and high blood sugar. These conditions are all cause by your lifestyle and nutrition habits. One of the main contributors is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas, mainly after consuming carbohydrates (i.e sugar). Your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into smaller sugar molecules so that your body can use as energy, store in your muscles and liver as glycogen, or convert and store as fat.

You become insulin resistance when this function is impaired, and your body stops taking in the sugar molecules. This in turn will result in high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, high belly fat and so on. This can happen due to excess refine carbohydrate consumption, lack of exercise, and impaired hormonal function. This cascade leads to becoming overweight and/or obese.

How To Prevent Or Reverse Metabolic Syndrome?

As terrible as this may seem, metabolic syndrome can be effectively managed and reversed with proper lifestyle and nutrition habits. Below are a few preventative measures that you can take to reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and the serious more life threatening complications that are associated:

  • Avoid/reduce your intake of fast food and processed food products.
  • Completely avoid vegetable oils (i.e canola oil, mazola oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil)
  • Limit refined carbohydrate consumption
  • Exercise daily
  • Don’t Smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Summary

Metabolic syndrome is a condition that plagues many Americans. Roughly 75 million American adults have high blood pressure – that’s 1 out of 3. Another 1 out of 3 has elevated blood pressure, known as prehypertension. Over 1/3 of American adults have prediabetes, and 90% of that number have no clue. Living with these conditions poses serious risk, and should not be taken lightly. The last thing you want to do is depend on prescription drugs from your doctor, which completely ignores the root cause of your issue. You can control and/reverse these condition with a well thought out lifestyle and nutrition program.

Please comment below, or reach out to me directly if you or someone you know can benefit from a lifestyle and nutrition program and working 1 on 1 with a certified Health and Nutrition Coach.

Simple Diet Changes For Weight Loss & Better Health

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One of the most important things you can do when you are trying to get healthy and lose weight is to pay attention to what you are eating. This does not take any time from your schedule and you will feel much healthier when you eat the right foods in the right proportions.

One of the best ways to change your diet is to focus on eating real food. What does this mean? When deciding what to eat, make sure the food you choose is limited in ingredients. This means that instead of eating refined or processed foods, that contained many ingredients to make just one food – a typical granola bar is composed more than 5 ingredients. The average avocado consist of only 1 ingredient. You get the idea?
You should also increase your consumption of protein, minerals and vitamins. To do this it is good to add a high quality source of protein to each meal of the day. High quality sources of protein include pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed beef, wild-caught seafood and pasture-raised chicken. Not only would you be getting protein, but these foods also contain many of the required vitamins and minerals that your body requires in absorbable forms. (grass-fed beef liver is natures true multi-vitamin, but more on this in a later post)

Despite the many diets out there, one of the most important factors to each of these diets, are the complete elimination, or drastic reduction in junk food. This will include candy, chips, popcorn, ice cream, milk shakes and soda. You can get creative and substitute these highly palatable foods with fruits and vegetable snacks instead. I know this doesn’t sound as appetizing as a cookie dough ice cream, but your waist line and health will thank you for it.

Instead of sodas you can drink water or even add high quality electrolytes supplements with water for flavor. You will find this makes a huge difference in your sugar intake. You will feel healthier and have more energy when you change your diet with these small changes. At first you may feel a little different from the removal of some of these foods, but this will soon pass and your body will work better and more efficiently. You will have more energy and feel like an entirely new, better person.

Remember, looking after your health and staying fit is an investment in yourself and something you should not neglect. The longer you go with unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle patterns, you will find that you’ll likely regret it later in life. Diet is one part of staying healthy that does not take much time and you will reap the benefits throughout your life once you get into a good habit. With these few points you can make huge strides towards staying healthy and being able to do the things you want to do.

Weight Loss: How to Exercise and Burn Fat on a Busy Schedule

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Working in a functional medicine clinic, as a Clinical Nutritionist & Health Coach, I get the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life about their health, fitness, and weight loss goals. Whether their goal is to lose weight, get off meds, improve their cardiovascular health, or simply to maintain their current fitness level they all have one common issue – TIME.

For most of us, the #1 challenge in the quest to get healthy, or lose weight is not exercising itself but being able to actually fit an exercise and nutrition program into our busy schedules.

So how do you do it? How do you balance the demands of family, career, important errands, relationships, life responsibilities, and working out? I have found that there are five keys that will help you to be able to fit a consistent eating and workout plan into your already hectic life.

Commit To a Schedule

When you fail to plan you plan to fail (we’ve heard that one before). Don’t try to haphazardly fit your exercise into your schedule without any rhyme or reason. Don’t think you’re guilty? If you’ve ever told yourself “I’ll workout at some point today”, you were in direct violation of this key principle.

In order to set yourself up for success, you need to take the time to literally write your workouts into your weekly schedule. In order to be effective, you want to be following your exercise program at least 3 days per week. Anything less would be kidding yourself.
Therefore, right in the midst of all of your appointments, “to-do” lists, etc., should be a written plan for your weekly workout routine, so that you will never be in the dark as to when you committed to yourself to exercise.

Utilize Your Weekends

Take advantage of the fact that it only takes 3-5 days per week to put together an effective, results-producing workout. One trick to help you pull it all off is to workout on the weekends. One of the benefits here is that your schedule is more likely flexible and under your control during this time.

What it also means is that when the hectic weekdays roll back around, you will only be responsible for working out 1-3 days during the work week, depending on your exercise program.

Keep Your Exercise Priority

One of the biggest mistakes that even many people who have scheduled a workout program into their schedule make is allowing it to be bumped off of their schedule too easily. I can’t stress this one enough – Prioritize YOU!

Although things will occasionally come up that will cause you to have to reschedule the workout you had planned, you must be vigilant in making sure that only the most important emergencies are allowed to temporarily take you off of your plan (kids, family etc.,).

In the event that one of those important emergencies does happen and you can’t make it to your workout, reschedule with yourself to make it up on the next possible day that you are available to do so. If your own health, well-being, and efforts to lose weight are not a priority to you, they certainly won’t be so to anyone else.

Accountability

Don’t go at this alone. Let the important people in your life know what you are up to. Your spouse or love interest, parents, children, co-workers, and close friends will often pitch in and help you to meet your fitness or weight loss commitment to yourself if you make them aware and ask for their support. If they are not supportive, then try your best to separate yourself until you’ve reached some milestones in your health and fitness goals.

Leverage these relationships to delegate some of your normal responsibilities or even allow you to shift appointments that you have with them as you restructure your schedule for your workout. If any of them are into exercise or trying to lose weight themselves, don’t hesitate to form a buddy system with them as you move forward with your program.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

No matter who you are, there will be times in your exercise and health program that you just aren’t able to keep it up as you would like due to outside demands. Don’t be too tough on yourself when that happens. Be Consistent, not Perfect.

Remember that it is what you do consistently over a long period of time, not what you do in spurts, that truly counts. Just make sure that you get back on track as soon as you can and continue to press forward, doing your best to avoid falling off again.

No matter what goals you have for health, fitness, or weight loss, you CAN fit an effective exercise and eating program into that hectic schedule of yours and be amazingly successful at getting the exact results that you want.

Stay Focused!

How “Stress-eating” Improves Your Health

When you’re stressed out, most people turn to traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think take-out, fast foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution.

When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.

Foods that Fight Stress

If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.

Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.

Some of the best stress-fighting foods include:

  • Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat.
  • Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
  • Dark Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you’re stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate (80% cacao or more) in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.
  • Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, it’s also good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and Vitamins C (organ meats) and E, which can help your body to fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it’s also lower in fat than grain-fed beef whilst being higher in omega-3.
  • Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option which will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, pleasant flavor of walnuts and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads, or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.
  • Pistachios – another food which is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!
  • Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.
  • Fermented foods – last but not least, eating fermented foods such as yogurt can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria which are found in fermented foods such as yogurt actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.

Putting Together Your Diet Plan

Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy, but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach for to snack on when you’re feeling worried and anxious is important to helping you get control over your emotions and fears.

When you’re feeling stressed, you may be tempted to reach for classic ‘comfort foods’ – usually foods which are laden with sugar, very starchy, or greasy. However, although these foods can make you feel momentarily better, they will actually make you feel worse in the long run.

Having stress-busting snacks such as fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts or pistachios, or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in it can help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress.When it comes to combating and dealing with stress in the long run, it’s important to make sure that for the most part, you are eating a diet which is healthy and balanced.

In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to make a meal plan for your week and plan ahead to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress-busting foods in your kitchen to make meals and snacks from when you’re feeling like stress-eating. Making sure that the majority of your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier overall, but can improve your mental health and stress levels, too.

A good example of a healthy, stress-busting menu would be:

Breakfast: Pastured Scramble Eggs with Avocado & Spinach

Lunch: Wild-caught Salmon Salad filled with plenty of leafy greens

Afternoon snack: Bone-broth or Protein Shake

Dinner: Grass-fed beef with vegetables

Before bed: Chamomile tea

Of course, you don’t need to stick to this menu – but it gives you a good idea! Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods which are good for your mental health.

3 Strategies To Get Rid Of Weekend Bloating

Whether it’s the holidays or summer vacation, indulging on certain foods and drinks is a part of the festivities. One thing to always remember when living a healthy lifestyle, is to never get down on yourself after a day or weekend of eating “not-so healthy” foods. A healthy lifestyle is really all about balance, awareness and enjoyment. But, there is a misconception when it comes to balance that I see all too often. For example, a delicious krispy kreme donut and caramel latte is a lot “heavier” on the scale than a salad & water. This is of course in terms of a calories and nutrient density scale.

The point I am trying to make is that 1 bad meal is not equal to 1 good meal. So if this your philosophy when it comes to balance, then you need to adjust.

Now, let’s get into the 3 strategies that you can do to get rid of bloating after a day or weekend of indulgence.

Strategy #1 Hydrate

I know that when I decide to indulge, I’ll usually have foods like pizza, donuts (maple bacon is to die for), burger & fries or probably a tres leche cake. The major component that all of these foods have in common is their carbohydrate heavy content. When you overload on carbohydrates, your muscles and other tissues tend to soak up a bunch of water. This will surely give you that bloat appearance. The easiest way to combat this, is to consume adequate amounts of water. This will help your body flush away the excess water, as well as toxins that build up in your body.

Strategy #2 Go Low-Carb or No-Carb

What I find to be most effective is completely removing carbohydrates, good or bad for at least 3 days. This will give your body a chance to burn through the excess glycogen that you managed to store. If you can’t fathom the thought of removing all carbohydrates for the next couple of days, then try your best to drastically reduce the amount compared to your normal diet.

Strategy #3 Exercise & Lift Something Heavy

This one may come as a “no-brainer”, but is often over-looked. People tend to gravitate more towards the cardio machines, which is also an effective strategy. But, if you want to maximize glycogen depletion which will reduce that bloat look, then heavy compound movements are your best bet. Combine resistance training with cardio, and you have a 1-2 punch for reducing excess sodium and water retention through sweating.

Additional things to think about

Identify known/Unknown culprits

So what do I mean by culprits? Here’s a scenario: The weekend is over and you get back to eating “healthy”. Your typical healthy meal includes some salmon, avocado and broccoli. You have this meal frequently for the next couple of days (you meal prepped of course). But you notice that you are still feeling and looking bloated. Well for a good amount people, broccoli is actually the culprit. Broccoli falls under the FODMAP (fermentable-oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols) list of foods, which are notorious for causing digestive issues such as bloating, gas and stomach pains.

Other “healthy” vegetables that are key trigger foods include onions, garlic, legumes, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Check out one of my blog post for more details on FODMAPs. Leave a comment below or reach out for more details on FODMAPs, and to find out what a Low FODMAP diet is.

Strategies To Implement Right Now To Detox Your Body

When we think of detoxing the body, automatically it infers some sort of juicing protocol or some other wildly unhealthy and unsustainable practice. But, there are much better ways to go about detoxing your body. One of those ways are to simply give your body the things it needs to actually heal and detox itself. Yes, your body does this naturally! It’s apart of our biological make-up, and it does not require drastic measures in order for it to do what it was designed to do.

So, keep reading below to find out strategies that you can do right now to start supporting your bodies natural detoxification processes.

Digestive System

If were are going to effectively detox our digestive tract, you should do your absolute best to avoid ingesting dietary impurities, including herbicides, pesticides, GMOs, additives, and preservatives.

Instead, nourish the digestive system by eating fiber-rich foods to induce proper elimination, as well as organic produce. Eat raw vegetables, salads, and fruit daily to slow the transit time of food wastes through the gut. If tolerated, include high fiber natural grains such as rice, oats, barley, millet, and quinoa, which help soften stool and increases absorption of toxins into stool.

Limit dietary intake of highly processed foods, which tend to constipate and increase the body’s toxic load. Aerobic exercise also helps your body regulate bowel movement and function.

Liver

Limit/avoid substances that especially burden the liver such as: alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, preservatives and food dyes. Also, consider your environment and the many toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. These toxins range from car exhaust, chemical fumes, perfume, body soaps, your deodorant and even your toothpaste!

Eating raw beets and artichokes weekly have been shown to nourish and help your liver detox.

Urinary System

First and foremost, you need to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water (1/2 bodyweight in ounces per day), will help your body flush away toxins. Unsweetened cranberry juice and black tea also aids with detoxing your urinary system. Eating blueberries and dark chocolate (70% cocoa minimum) have also been link to urinary health and detoxification.

Respiratory System

The best way to ensure detoxification of the respiratory system is to breathe in high quality air. Since we live in an industrial world that is virtually impossible. The air quality is much better when you live in a rural area versus a big city, but we still want to take measure to ease any burdens that our bodies bare. Installing a home air filter can help you avoid constant inhalation of air toxins.

Another hugely beneficial strategy to help your respiratory system function optimally is to practice deep relaxed breathing twice daily (convenient times would be first thing in the morning as you wake up and before you go to bed).

Technique: while lying on your back, place one hand over the chest and the other on your lower abdomen. Inhale deeply, first feeling the lower lungs fill with air as the lower hand rises, then the upper lungs fill as the upper hand rises. Exhale deeply, feeling the upper then lower lungs empty of air.   

Aerobic exercise is also a great way to detoxify the respiratory system. Walking, running, biking or swimming for example are all great options (according to your fitness level). These activities help to enhance circulation, open the airways and induce sweating. Session should last between 25-40 minutes, 3x-5x a week.

Lymphatic System

Unlike your cardiovascular system, your lymphatic system does not have a pump to move around lymphatic fluid. So often time it becomes stagnant, especially in sedentary individuals. You lymphatic system is responsible for housing lymph fluid, removing toxins from your as it is a part of your immune system. The number one way of getting your lymph fluid moving is to exercise: light jogging, HIIT, strength training, etc.

Other ways to help detox your lymph system are lymph massages, and rebounding on a trampoline. Stretching regular will help to release muscle imbalances and constrictions, which will also help increase blood flow and lymph circulation. Finish a hot bath with a 1-minute cool or cold shower, which will cause a superficial circulatory flush and stimulate your nervous system.

Skin  

Adequate hydration, healthy dietary fats and dandelion root tea all support the detox, nourish and revitalize your skin. Dry skin brushing your entire body (except face) before bathing, gently but thorough enough, 3x per week opens up your pores for detoxification and stimulates your lymphatic system.

Warm to hot Epsom Salt baths, using 1-2 cups of Epsom salts plus 1 cup of sea salt, once or twice weekly will also aid in detoxification. It’s important that you stay hydrated during and before these baths. Use vegetable oil soaps and moisturizers rather than animal fat products, as they tend to clog the pores. Use herbal deodorants, instead of antiperspirants, which inhibit sweating, a very natural and important avenue of body detoxification. 

Mental Health

To slow your mind, try deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness related activities.

Spiritual Health  

Spiritual health is one that is often overlooked, yet extremely important in your overall health. Try starting a gratitude journal to express appreciation for what you already have. Also, building a positive support system and community is key for spiritual health. Spending time in nature (with your shoes off!) can add great benefits as well.

Try some of or all of the above practices to get a full body detox. The best thing you can do, is give you body the right tools to function properly. It does not need the newest detox cleanse or protocol for it to do what it is designed to do.

Reach out and schedule a consultation for help with getting your health back on track, or taking it to the next level.

50 Different Names For Sugar In Disguise: How To Identify On Food Labels

Sugar may be “Public Enemy #1” when it comes to your health and well-being. In fact, studies show that “the consumption of excess sugar promotes the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes (T2DM) both directly and indirectly”. So if we know this to be true, then why are big manufacturers still promoting the consumption of processed junk food? While this question will never be answered, we as consumers need to do our part in protecting our lives!

But, society is becoming more health conscience which is great. What is not so great, is that manufacturers of these “fake foods” are also becoming good at hiding the sugar from us. So, in this post I’ll reveal the many different names that manufacturers use to hide sugar from you, the consumer.

Sugar In Disguise

  • Barley Malt
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Cane Sugar
  • Caramel
  • Corn Syrup
  • Date Sugar
  • Carob Syrup
  • Castor Sugar
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Dextrn
  • Dextrose
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl Maltol
  • Fructose
  • Fruit Juice
  • Fruit Juice Concentrate
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose Solids
  • Golden Sugar
  • Golden Syrup
  • Grape Sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Icing Sugar
  • Invert Sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Malt Syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado Sugar
  • Panocha
  • Raw Sugar
  • Refiner’s Syrup
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Yellow Sugar

The next time you find yourself staring at the back of a packaged health food product nutrition label, check to see if sugar is hidden in its many forms. Manufacturers will do all they can to hide that fact that their product is laden with sugar, and bad for our health. It’s up to us to get educated and equipped with the knowledge to avoid these products.

I hope this post helped you in identifying the many names of sugar, and will be valuable to you the next time you are reading a food label and making a healthy choice.

Completely Heal Your Gut Health and Other Health Conditions with the Elimination Diet

What is the Elimination Diet?

The Elimination Diet is considered the “gold standard” when it comes to helping you determine what food intolerance’s, if any, may be the cause to various health conditions. Certain foods thought to be good for your health, can actually be the root cause of your ailment. Conditions like leaky gut, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), gut dysbiosis, GI issues, and even autoimmune conditions can all be triggered by the foods that you eat.

The good news is that there is a specific protocol, that can help you determine what foods are causing flare ups, or outright gut issue and autoimmunity.

The Elimination Diet: The Process

It first starts with a “reset” phase, which is typically 3 to 4 weeks long. This timing will absolutely differ between individuals. Some people have better gut health than others, health concerns and conditions are different from individual to individual and we are all unique in our own ways. Some individuals have shown improvements after just 10 days on this protocol, and others need up to 30 days to start seeing and feeling a difference. In the more severe instances, as much 8 weeks is necessary to completely rid your body of these “trigger” foods and there toxins.

After symptoms have subsided, you then enter the “re-introduction” phase. At this point, you will begin reintroducing the identified “trigger” foods, one by one to determine if they are tolerable. You want to do this one food at a time, so that you can determine if you were in fact intolerant to it. Once a food is reintroduced, you want to go 3-4 days to asses how your body reacts and how you feel. If there is a reaction, STOP consuming that food immediately, take 2-3 days to reset and begin reintroducing other foods again. It is a good idea to keep a food journal so that you can record how you are feeling when introducing these foods back into your diet.

During the “reset” phase, it is not unusual to feel worse for a few days or week. This is said to be the “die-off” or detoxification phase, where your body brings these toxins “surface” level to push them out (I’ll be doing a liver detox 101 post later). Side effects can be things such as nausea, constipation and headaches. Its important that you stay hydrated during both phases to mitigate some of the side effects. There is also nutritional supplementation support that can help alleviate some of the side effects, such as magnesium and sea salt.

What To Eliminate?

Determining what foods to eliminate will depend on your specific condition. What your current health status is or diagnosis will also play a major factor. Anyone who wants to do an elimination diet protocol, should first speak with their primary care physician. If you have specific question or would like to go deeper into each food category, then please feel free to reach out to me for support.

If you have digestive issues, eliminate:

  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Sugar
  • Refined Vegetable Oils
  • Processed Foods
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Gluten
  • Peanuts
  • Sweeteners

More severe conditions/symptoms or suspected leaky gut, eliminate:

  • All foods mentioned above, plus caffeine & alcohol

Suspected or small intestine bacteria overgrowth, eliminate:

  • All foods mentioned above, plus starches and FODMAPs

People with Autoimmune conditions:

  • All of the above foods mentioned, plus “nightshades” and nuts and seeds

What are FODMAPs:

Short chain carbohydrates that are easily fermented in your gut. FODMAPs is short for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols”. These are shown to be problematic for people whose gut health is compromised. See below for where you can find these.

  • Fructose: A simple sugar found in many fruits and vegetables that also makes up the structure of table sugar and most added sugars.
  • Lactose: A carbohydrate found in dairy products.
  • Fructans: Found in many foods, including grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley.
  • Galactans: Found in large amounts in legumes.
  • Polyols: Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol. They are found in some fruits and vegetables and often used as sweeteners

What are Nightshades?

Nightshades are a category or family of vegetables that are shown to trigger or even cause autoimmunity and digestive conditions in some people. If you gut health is in anyway already compromised, then you may be affected by nightshades. There are specific compound known as “solanine”, “capsaicin”, and “nicotine” found in these vegetables that are toxic to human consumption. This topic is extremely lengthy, so for the purpose of this post I’ll simply list the food categories which are considered “nightshades”. For more information, please reach out to me! Below are the veggie groups under the nightshade category:

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers

Summary

An elimination diet can be an extremely effect tool when used properly. The wonderful world of nutrition is a complex one to say the least. One day meat is bad for you, the next day its good. One moment plants are the holy grail of health, and now there are a group of them trying to poison us so we would stop eating them. It’s important to find out what works for you, because no two people are the same.If you generally get discomfort after a meal, that is probably a sign that you ate something you shouldn’t have. If you feel bloated most of the time, or especially after you eat, that is your body sending you signals that something is wrong.

If you would like help navigating an elimination diet protocol, please reach out to me. I can help you formulate the best eating plan that works for your body, and that help you to feel optimal.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post! Leave a comment below.

Everything You Need To Know About Intermittent Fasting

What is Intermittent Fasting?

A type of scheduled eating plan where you restrict the time you consume food. The typical protocol involves only eating within a window of 6-8 hours per day.

*while maintaining you caloric needs per day

What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

  • Weight-loss
  • Improved Sleep
  • Helps promote insulin sensitivity – Insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity contributes to nearly all chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc.) (1)
  • Normalizes ghrelin levels, A.K.A your “hunger hormone”
  • Increases the rate of HGH (human growth hormone) production, which has an important role in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process
  • Lowers triglyceride levels
  • Helps reduce inflammation in the body
  • Fights free radical damage and induces autophagy (4)

What Intermittent Fasting Is NOT?

  • Not a form of extreme calorie restrictionYou should feel good while practicing intermittent fasting. If you have low energy, brain fog and start feeling weak, then you need to re-evaluate your strategy.
  • It is not an excuse to eat a diet high in processed foods. It is critical to avoid processed and empty calorie foods, including refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose, and grains.

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

  • ALWAYS pay close attention to your body and your energy levels. People who are hypoglycemic, diabetic, or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction until your blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.

Common 16-8 Fasting Protocol

Step 1 (Day Before Beginning Fast):

  • Have your last meal no later than 8 PM  

Step 2 – Begin Fast (fast/sleep time will depend on individual schedule)

  • Active Fasting: 8 PM  to 10 PM
    • Sleep Fast : 10 PM to 5 AM
    • Active Fasting: 5 AM to 12 PM
    • Eating Window: 12 PM to 8 PM
    • Repeat Cycle

Summary

There are a many variations of fasting protocols including The 5:2 Diet, The Warrior Diet, and Alternate Day Fasting. It’s important to first understand your body, and what it needs prior to undertaking any fasting protocol. Whatever diet plan, or lifestyle plan that you take on, always listen to your body. With that said, fasting has huge health benefits that go way beyond simply weight loss, and can be an effective health practice. If you have any interest in learning more or starting a program, please feel free to reach out to me.

8 Ways To Support Your Heart Health

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in America, and more than half of those are in men. 1 in every 4 deaths are due to heart disease, and every 40 seconds someone has a heart attack. Not to sound too morbid, but the facts are the facts.

Heart attacks have several major warning signs and symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea, lightheaded, or cold sweats.

The good news is, heart disease is largely related to lifestyle habits and choices, and we all have to power to easily lower our risk. Below are 8 ways that can help to lower your risk of heart disease.

1. Emphasize a Whole Foods Diet

Major risk factors of heart disease are high blood pressure and diabetes, which are both significantly impacted by diet. You’ll want to avoid processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats and fried foods, and foods that contribute to inflammation. Eat a diet based on whole-foods, grass-fed and pastured meats, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

2. Exercise Daily

Exercise is considered one of the natural medicines for our bodies. It helps to enhance lymphatic circulation and filters out toxins from the body. Exercise helps to prevent and control weight gain and high blood pressure, both of which can stress the heart and kidneys.

Researchers suggest that resistance training affects your cardiovascular system differently than aerobic exercise, so a workout that includes both is a great combination (1). Training with weights increases blood flow to the limbs and has positive effects on your blood pressure. It also helps to change your body composition from fat to muscle. In the long term, maintaining lean muscle mass is good for heart health.

3. Get Adequate Sleep

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health showed that inadequate sleep can increase the risk of stroke or a heart attack. Getting too little sleep can increase inflammation and blood pressure. You should aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. No more “burning the midnight oil”.

4. Don’t Sit For Too Long

Sedentary jobs and lifestyles increase the risk for cardiovascular events and deaths. Sitting for long periods at a time can increases the risk of blood clots (2). The study linked here compares prolong sitting events such as air travel and bus. What’s insane is that the typical job most people have require the same, if not more hours of prolong sitting. Be sure to move throughout the day by taking regular breaks, walking at lunch, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking further from the office. Set a reminder on your laptop or smart phone for every 15-20 minutes, so you know it’s time to move.

5. Manage Stress

Stress is an underlying issue in all chronic disease, especially heart disease. Stress hormones (i.e. cortisol) narrow your blood vessels, making the heart work hard to pump blood through the narrowed pipes. Ways to manage stress include exercising, yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and even enjoying a healthy social life.

6. Stay Hydrated

Getting adequate water prevents your heart from working too hard. Water is essential and helps your heart pump blood through the blood vessels and muscles to remove wastes. A general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of pure, filtered water. An additional 4 ounces is recommended for every 15 minutes of intense physical activity. Stay hydrated!

7. Keep Your Mouth Clean

Dental health and overall health go hand-in-hand since most of the risk factors that are present for gum disease are also linked to heart disease. Bacteria in your mouth from gum disease may increase C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels, and a risk for cardiovascular disease. Brush and floss daily to prevent gum disease. Use an all natural toothpaste that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals such as fluoride.

8. Avoid Trans-Fat

Contrary to popular belief, we actually need fats in our diet, including saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. However, one fat to avoid at all cost, is trans fat found in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine and fast foods. Trans fat is known to increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. Do your due diligence and read labels and avoid products with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. Also be aware that as long as the product does not contain more than .5 grams of trans-fat per serving, the food manufacturer can legally claim 0 grams of trans-fat. So it’s very important to stay away packaged foods, and pay attention to serving size as well.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many other lifestyle practices and habits that can either reduce or increase your risk for heart disease. Make a conscience effort when choosing foods, personal care products and other lifestyle habits that can help reduce your risk for chronic diseases. Please reach out if you want help navigating the health and nutrition space, and guidance on reducing your risk factors.