Detox, cleanse, renewal season

It seems as thought everyone is jumping on some sort of detox right now, after the delicious holiday binges. I get a lot of questions and comments about different ‘cleanse’ diets available. There are some common reactions, hopefully this will help you on your journey.

I am evening getting on the band wagon, but just doing a very simple detox: removing sugars (alcohol, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, refined flours) and getting back to real food (fresh vegetables, local meats, wild caught fish, nuts, legumes, seeds). Delicious. Basically cutting out most processed foods.

Many people do these sorts of cleanses to lose weight. My first warning, or expectation management: it is entirely possible to drop significant weight the first week of a detox (6-10lbs). Why? Because many programs involve removing foods that cause inflammation. Ridding the body of inflammation, rids the body of a lot of extra weight. One night off the diet can make for a depressing trip to the scale the next day. But do not fear, just note the loss and focus on your other goals (better health, glowing skin, less pain, vitality, etc.). It should all level out over the course of the detox and show a more steady loss (or maintain, depending on the diet).

Moodiness is also very common as the body fights to get rid of built up toxins.

Also know that not every detox works well for every person. We are all biochemically unique and have different needs to thrive. Be kind to yourself, know when to rest, and be grateful.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

Bandaids are only that, bandaids

I was recently on a long flight, and started chatting with a nice fellow next to me. He was on his way to a snowboarding vacation in the Colorado mountains with his buddies. He was curious about my nutrition therapist learnings and asked how to ‘fix’ his inability to sleep and was very disappointed in my answer.

Sleep can be a tricky beast to ‘fix’, there are many potential causes, but most can be put into two primary categories: blood sugar imbalances and stress. Sleep hygiene techniques can help with excess stress and help calm the mind for rest. Adjusting the diet can help with the blood sugar issues. (I’ll save details on those nuggets for another post.) After a short conversation (he didn’t know a potato was a vegetable) and observing what he selected from the beverage cart, I had a pretty good idea what was interrupting his sleep. I made a couple recommendations (emphasizing that it was based on what little information he gave me).

He did not like my recommendations, he even said I was a bad nutritionist for telling him what changes to make to his diet. He really did not want to change anything. I chuckled. I gave him a little analogy. If his leg was broken and he went to a doctor, and the doctor told him he couldn’t snowboard for number of weeks and he had to wear a cast, it would be as if he then had a tantrum and asked why he couldn’t just have a bandaid or a pill to fix the broken bone.

Food has a profound affect on our bodies, for better or worse. If we feed our cells soda packed with high fructose corn syrup (or artificial sweeteners), refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, and other nutrient void ‘foods’, our bodies are going to eventually (or sooner) break down in some way. The way in which our bodies break down will likely be different for everyone (frequent illness, diabetes, skin issues, migraines, cancer, etc.), as we are all biochemically unique. Eating well — a diet packed with a variety of fresh vegetables, legumes, ancient grains (quinoa, millet, teff), wild caught fish, pasture raised meats, free of toxins — in general, our bodies will respond with better health, energy, and vitality.

Changes do not have to all happen over night. Changes can happen in small doses, baby steps. Small steps can often be the best for many, as they tend to stick and become life-long habits toward better health. For today, what will be your next steps toward better health?
Add more vegetables to your daily meals?
Drink more water?
Eat less candy?
Swap out a piece of cake for some fresh fruit?
Quit drinking alcohol (or limit it to once a week)?
Start exercising?
Learn a new way to relieve stress (deep breaths? yoga? meditate? pets?)?

I’d love to hear what beneficial changes you are making today!
Be well, eat greens, and breathe!


A light in the dark place.

Depression is so taboo in our present culture that it’s almost regarded as an infectious disease. Don’t get too close, you might catch it too! In general no one wants to hear about it or discuss it. Unfortunately many believe it is something that someone can ‘just snap out’ of, or exercise and it’ll be gone, or that it is a lack of positive thinking. However, the real story behind depression is very often a deficiency in some key nutrients. Mood, behavior, and mental performance all depend on the balance of neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers.

Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States to address this chemical imbalance. They have a significant effect on the body, especially in the gut and the brain. Unfortunately antidepressants come with many side effects and dangerous warnings. How can we avoid these or enhance their action in the body and decrease side effects?

What is depression?

There are a variety of types of depression. However, I will focus on the most common types of depression: major depression, also known as clinical depression, and chronic depression, also known as dysthymia. These types are the result of a chemical imbalance in the body, and last longer than a few days.

Signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or empty feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

Causes of depression

Depression is generally diagnosed as a disorder of the brain, where important neurotransmitters—chemicals that brain cells use to communicate—are out of balance. Neurotransmitters travel around the brain and nervous system and help determine how a person feels. There are hundreds of different kinds of neurotransmitters, the key neurotransmitters, however, in the brain-mood connection are GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), works to calm and relax; Epinephrine (aka adrenaline), which is made by the adrenal glands and is the motivator, mostly to stimulate a response to stress; Dopamine and norepinephrine are the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, which aid in feeling energized and ‘in control’; endorphins promote a feeling or sense of euphoria (also involved in the ‘runner’s high’); Acetylcholine addresses memory and concentration; Serotonin works both to make happy and calming feelings, improving mood and sleep; and Melatonin helps with circadian rhythms, helping with sleep.

Seeing the action of each of these neurotransmitters in the brain can show how any one being out of balance can create feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, lack of motivation, concentration, and/or interest. Depression can set in with there’s a state of good neurotransmitter starvation. Loss of neurotransmitter production can occur in a number of ways, primarily by not getting the correct nutrients to feed production of these neurotransmitters. Other factors and risks involved are eating a poor diet (high in sugar, caffeine, processed foods, low protein, low fat), chronic stress (saps nutrients), not getting enough exercise, genetics (base-line brain chemistry can be inherited), not enough light in the evenings or winter, gender (women are twice as likely to get depression than men), age (elderly are more likely), triggers such as traumatic events, health conditions (cancer, heart disease, thyroid, chronic pain, diabetes), drugs (medications, alcohol, birth control pills, etc.).

Brain-Gut Connection

There is yet another source of depression, and that source is in the gut. Often the gut is forgotten in mood disorders. Alcohol is an example of a direct brain-gut connection, in which the gut aspect is often forgotten or dismissed. Alcohol is widely understood to have effects on the brain and nervous system, and its connection is very simple: it is ingested into – dramatic pause – the gut. If the gut is unwell, it will affect the rest of the body. Leaky gut, for example, is a common gut dysfunction that can affect the brain and, for example, show up as depression.

What is leaky gut? Leaky gut syndrome is a problem with intestinal permeability. Food particles, toxins, and bacteria are able to get past the intestinal wall cells, causing an increased immune response. This enhanced immune response is may lead to chronic inflammation ultimately increasing the risk for a number of illnesses—including depression. In addition, some of the toxins produced by bacteria and yeast are very toxic, especially to the nervous system (lipopolysaccharide). Antidepressants have the potential to further exacerbate the gut dysfunction.

Conventional treatments

Conventional treatments for depression generally include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, electric shock treatments, and cognitive behavior therapy. The most popular kind of antidepressant, the serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), acts by increasing the action of serotonin in the brain.

Side effects. There are a myriad of warnings that come with these medications and many unknowns about taking long term. Because the majority of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the gut (approximately 80%), any medication affecting the action of serotonin is going to have an effect on the gut. Common side effects of SSRIs include diarrhea, sinus infections, upset stomach, vomiting, flattening of emotion, loss of libido and inability to perform sexually and/or attain orgasm, suppressed rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (the rejuvenating sleep, needed for a well-functioning endocrine and nervous systems), headache, nausea, stomach upset, loss of appetite, agitation, insomnia. In rare cases SSRIs they have shown to cause suicidal and violent thinking and behavior.

Antidepressants affect the brain and the digestive system; again, because of the gut-brain connection. Deliberately altering serotonin levels can cause a wide range of unwanted effects, especially in the gut with many digestive side effects (diarrhea, constipation, stomach ache, dry mouth, nausea). There haven’t been enough studies to show long term use side effects, but some have reported growing evidence of long-term use in adults being linked to bleeding in the gut and increased risk of stroke.

Alternative protocols

Alternative protocols for depression generally include supplements, addressing gut dysfunction, whole-foods diet, and lifestyle changes.

  1. A healthy intestinal environment: address gut dysfunction.
  2. Avoid nutrient robbing foods and substances.
  3. Eat the right nutrients for good brain chemistry.
  4. Identify and reduce causes of stress in the body.


Nutrition can have a significant impact on the neurotransmitters. Protein, especially, is needed for proper neurotransmitter function. The protein consumed is broken down into amino acids, specifically for brain function, are: tryptophan, tyrosine, GABA, glutamine, taurine. These amino acids are turned into the important neurotransmitters, with some help from cofactors vitamins B3, B6, folate, B12, and C, and minerals zinc and magnesium. Essential fatty acids and glucose are also key components to make this all happen.

Tryptophan has an uphill battle to fight to get to the brain to make these feel good neurotransmitters. First, there needs to be enough in the diet. Second, it has to get through the amino acid-selective gateway of the blood brain barrier (BBB). Third, it is a relatively small amino acid, so it has a harder time than other amino acids getting through the BBB, and needs help. There are many supplements that can help, such as 5-HTP, which is derived from tryptophan, which is converted (with vitamin B6) into serotonin.

Glucose is fuel for the brain. Complex carbohydrates are the best option for assisting tryptophan through the blood brain barrier. Complex carbohydrates are also a brilliant nutrient-dense package of important phytonutrients and fiber—helping to stabilize blood sugars in addition to providing needed nutrients. Refined sugars, grains, processed foods offer quick sugars, which the brain will quickly gobble up. However, the sugar highs from these quickly dissipate (sugar lows) and the brain wants more, which can quickly lead to blood sugar imbalance and mood swings. A deficiency of amino acids, especially, can elevate sugar cravings.

Lifestyle & the gut: We live in a very fast paced world and are constantly subjecting our bodies to an excess amount of stress (which stimulates our fight or flight nervous system—and cortisol—not allowing our digestive nervous systems to work) that it’s not equipped to handle. Cortisol and serotonin have an inverse relationship. The higher the stress and cortisol output, the lower the serotonin levels will be. Anything from a mountain lion attacking, to emotional stress to eating too many carbs/sugar causing blood sugar imbalances to going to bed late can cause this stress reaction. Stress is cumulative, as is its effect on the body. Find ways to reduce stress and breathe (breathing helps release stress and lowers blood pH, literally riding our body of acid): meditation, yoga, quiet walks, massage, exercise. Yoga specifically, has a three-fold approach toward mind-body balance: it involves meditation with physical postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation. Exercise is also an important element in healing depression. Different types of exercise (walking, running, dancing; cardiovascular and strength training) can lower stress, help relax, help reduce symptoms of depression, and increase serotonin naturally in the brain.

Nutrients to help depression

Nutritional therapy can work better than most anti-depressants for a number of reasons. However, antidepressants should never be quit cold-turkey, there can be serious side effects to abruptly ceasing these meds. Working with a physician to decrease the dosage and adding in nutritional therapy can be the most effective means to get off the medications and restore balance.

Supplementing is two-fold, one part making sure there’s a good foundation and the other part is addressing deficiencies that generally accompanying mood conditions. Because there are a lot of supplements to take, a daily chart to keep track of supplements and when to take them is advised.

Supportive foods/nutrients:

  • Tryptophan rich foods: 20-30g of protein per meal from sources such as turkey, beef, pork, dairy products, chicken, salmon, halibut, cod, and eggs. Vegetarian sources: nutritional yeast, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and seeds
  • Complex carbohydrates: potatoes, yams, beans, quinoa, lentils, broccoli, squashes, root vegetables.
  • Probiotics will help restore a healthy gut, and concurrently stronger immune system: kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables.

Diet suggestions:

  • Eat regularly, don’t skip meals, this will help keep blood sugar levels balanced and provide a reliable and even amount of nutrients to feed the brain.
  • Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It sets up the body’s metabolism for the day and gives the brain a jump start on producing healthy neurotransmitters.
  • Eat a carbohydrate vegetable with proteins at every meal to help the tryptophan through the blood brain barrier.

Avoid the following as they will deplete nutrients needed for the brain and a healthy gut.

  • Refined sugar, syrups, powders. Sugar will perpetuate low serotonin levels and systemic inflammation.
  • Bad fats, aka highly processed fats: hydrogenated, synthetic, or highly altered fats (trans fats), vegetable oils, margarine, corn oil, soy bean oil. These fats harm the body and brain, by creating carcinogens that oxidize LDL cholesterol, damaging cells.
  • Processed foods (nutrient void) and food additives: artificial flavorings, dyes, artificial sweeteners, MSG, caffeine, diet sodas, chocolate. These can contribute to irritability and mood instability. They also deplete melatonin, B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and zinc.

Depression is a difficult topic to discuss for many, taboo even, making solutions even harder to find. It is very easy to walk into a doctor’s office and get prescription for antidepressants. Nutritional protocols can offer alternatives to antidepressants and a much healthier way to bring the brain back to balance from depression. It is a tough road, but there is hope of getting off or avoiding antidepressants for good. Healing the gut, addressing stressors, nutrient deficiencies, and increasing good brain-chemical nutrients are keys to bring about balance. Time, patience, and persistence can be invaluable tools in concert with this nutritional protocol to bring about balance.

Brain pain

There are many types of headaches, and even more potential causes to headaches. Food intolerances, however, are the most common, and yet, the least-considered source of many headaches, especially chronic migraines. Other common causes (which I’ll save for another post) are aspartame, candida, and other types of bacterial overgrowth. The health of the gut is a direct indicator of the health of the brain. The two are inseparable for good health.

My headache story. My headaches grew over time. They seemed to get the most intense when I was in my late 20s and 30s. I was afflicted with daily headaches (they would last anywhere from 2 to 6 days), sinus headaches (which I thought all of them were initially, turned out many of my ‘sinus’ headaches were migraines), exercise-induced headaches, low-estrogen headaches, and eventually chronic migraines. I would get about one migraine a week (or more). I had a daily prescription medication for the daily headaches, another for when I ran, and another for the migraines, in addition to taking over the counter medicines (NSAIDs, pseudoephedrine). Needless to say, my liver wasn’t doing too well (it has to process all these medications). I was also put on birth control for the low estrogen levels, with the idea that would help keep enough estrogen in my system to keep my bones strong. I tried every treatment I could think of and that was suggested: acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, hydrotherapy, a neurologist (cat scans), a general practitioner physician, and an ObGyn.

The Nature of Headaches. Headaches have a tremendous variety of causes and types of pain. Their pain can range from mild, steady, dull, to a vise-like aching in the head. They can be the result of a severe medical condition such as a brain tumor or simply from dehydrated. Tension headaches and migraines tend to be the most common for which people seek medical treatment. Migraines are the most painful. Headaches caused by brain tumors are very rare. According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the primary classifications and subclasses of headaches are the following:

  • Vascular headaches include migraine, cluster, hangover, exertional, hypertension, and toxins/drug-related headaches.
  • Nonvascular headache include tension, TMJ, brain tumors, sinus/dental/inner ear infections.

migraineTension headaches are the most common type of headache. They are generally a steady, constant, dull pain that starts at the back of the head or in the forehead and spreads over the entire head­­ –­ like a vice grip on the skull. These types of headaches are usually caused by the tightening of face, neck, or scalp muscles (can be the result of poor posture and/or stress). The tightening of the muscles results in a pinching of the nerve or its blood supply, which results in the sensation of pain and pressure. Relaxation usually brings immediate relief.

Migraine headaches are vascular headaches, throbbing or pounding sharp pain, often associated with symptoms of nausea, sensitivity to light and noise. This type of headache is not as common as a tension headache, but they appear to be on the rise. Vascular headaches are caused by an excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head. The pain comes from lining of the brain (meninges) and from the scalp. Some can come on without any warning, other times some have a warning ‘sign’ or symptom, an ‘aura’ before the pain starts. An aura is an optical condition that can last from a few minutes up to 20 minutes. It is usually a visual experience of blurring, fragmented light/vision, or bright spots. Auras are also sometimes accompanied with anxiety, fatigue, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body. There is a theory that some famous artists suffered from optical auras (and the following migraines) and that the visual effects influenced their art, such as Picasso’s abstract paintings.

What Causes of Headaches. Tension and migraine headaches can have many causes, as I’ve learned. However, more often than naught, they are linked back to a few underlying issues such as food allergies or food intolerances, poor serotonin levels, or stress. Other common causes are from sugar, caffeine, withdrawal of addictive substances, low estrogen, PMS, dehydration, and/or chronic use of pain relievers. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction syndrome, time zone changes, chemical inhalants (perfume, etc.), altitude, bone structure misalignment, nutritional deficiencies, or even fatigue. Many of these causes can be triggered by food allergies/intolerances. According to common research theories, the metabolic pathways leading to migraine headaches are triggered by serotonin, platelet disorder, stress, vascular instability, and/or nerve disorder.

Serotonin. Research suggests that migraines are partially caused by a drop in serotonin levels (a neurotransmitter in the brain). Serotonin is a chemical that serves many functions in the body: sleep regulations, feelings of wellness, and blood vessel health. Serotonin also plays a role in the state of relaxation or constriction of blood vessels. Too little serotonin can trigger constriction of the blood vessels, causing pain, which can play a role in the onset of a migraine. A deficiency may result in chronic pains, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression and a overeating. Low serotonin levels are found in migraine sufferers with increased frequency including depression, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as, other chronic pain syndromes.

Platelet disorder. Migraine sufferers, in research studies, show spontaneous clumping of platelets during and between headaches and significant differences in the structural composition of the platelets.

Stress. Emotional stress is one of the most frequently cited triggers of migraines and also could explain, in part, why art has a therapeutic effect on migraine headaches; creating art increases serotonin levels, which reduces stress.

Vascular instability. Studies have shown reduction of blood flow prior to the migraine attack. This is followed by a stage of increased blood flow that can persist for more than 2 days. The abnormal blood flow appears confined to the outer portion of the brain.

Nerve disorder. The nerve disorder hypothesis is that the nervous system plays a role in initiating the vascular events. The nerve cell dysfunction releases into the blood vessels a compound known as “substance P” (P = pain). In addition to substance P being released, is the release of histamine and other allergic compounds by specialized white blood cells known as mast cells. Chronic stress is thought to be an important factor with nerve disorder.

The most common migraine triggers that stimulate the above action are as follows:

  • Low serotonin levels (genetics or shunting of tryptophan into other pathways)
  • Foods: food allergies, histamine releasing or containing foods ß primary cause of most migraines
  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Chemicals: nitrates, MSG, nitroglycerin
  • Caffeine or drug withdrawal (blood-vessel constricting drugs)
  • Stress
  • Emotional changes (especially post-stress let down, and intense emotions: anger)
  • Hormonal changes: menstruation, ovulation, birth control pills, very low estrogen
  • Too little or too much sleep
  • Exhaustion
  • Poor posture
  • Muscle tension
  • Weather changes (barometric pressure changes, exposure to sun)
  • Eye strain
  • Drug-induced headaches
  • Substance withdrawal

Food allergies. Food allergies induce migraines as a result of platelets releasing serotonin and histamine. There are two primary types of food irritants, IgE (immunoglobulin E), which is an immediate severe reaction, rare, such as anaphylaxis reaction, and food intolerances or sensitivities, IgG (immunoglobulin G), delayed reaction, common, which causes systemic inflammation in the body. The immune system and inflammation reaction both play a role in a vast number of migraine cases. Identifying and eliminating allergic or intolerated foods has shown, in many double blind studies, to greatly reduce migraine symptoms in the majority of patients.

Dietary amines are another cause of migraines; amines such as chocolate, cheese, beer, and wine. These examples contain histamine and /or other compounds that are common migraine triggers in sensitive individuals, causing the blood vessels to expand. Red wine, for example, contains histamine that stimulates the release of vasoactive compounds by platelets (20-200x more than white wine). It is also higher in flavonoids (which are a good antioxidant) that can inhibit the enzyme phenolsulphotransferase, an enzyme that normally breaks down serotonin and other vasoactive amines in platelets.

Conventional Medical Treatments. Standard medical treatment for most headaches is over the counter (OTC) medication, generally non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Tylenol, or ibuprophen. There are also a variety of prescription pain medications prescribed for severe and chronic migraine headaches that do not respond to OTC. These drug treatments, however, only address the symptoms of a migraine or headache, not the underlying cause.

Alternative Protocols. Alternative protocols for most headaches are generally more physically based: relaxation techniques, stress management, massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS–low levels of electricity stimulate the muscles to cause them to contract and then relax)—such forms of body work have shown to be very effective. Headache relief from these protocols indicate that the headache is structural in nature; so addressing the physical body can often offer relief to chronic suffers of tension headaches. Other therapies that have been affective are art therapy and guided meditation or imagery.

Chronic migraines, however, that do not respond to structural therapies, require a more in-depth look at the body and what could be triggering the migraines. Keeping a journal and identifying triggers is a first step, next is to identify food allergies, and finally look for trends and/or the metabolic action of any medications taken that could be a contributing factor.

Nutritional Protocols for Prevention and Treatment

Elimination Diet. Given that there are so many potential food irritants that can contribute to systemic inflammation and consequently headaches, one of the most effective first steps is to identify and eliminate those irritants. The Elimination Diet (or Challenge Diet) is an effective means to doing that; no blood test or doctors needed. An initial phase removes common food irritants and then slowly adds them back in, noting any negative reaction. The most common irritant foods are gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, yeast, and soy. Removing (at least) these food categories, along with eating a diet high in plant fiber, calms inflammation and gives the body a break.

An anti-inflammatory diet can also significantly help reduce body-wide inflammation and eliminate inflammation-related headaches. An anti-inflammation diet is two-fold, one part riding the body of irritants, removing processed foods, pollutants/toxins, and increasing foods that will reduce inflammation. Following are the anti-inflammation diet’s guidelines.

  • Avoid foods that cause inflammation:  trans fats (hydrogenated), carcinogens; most vegetable oils, fried foods, breads and other refined carbohydrates, packaged foods/microwave meals (processed foods), fast food, fruit juice beverages, sodas, and remove (or at least limit) nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers).
  • Eliminate sugar: refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined grains, sodas (diet and regular).
  • Embrace foods that reduce inflammation: omega 3s, antioxidants; olive oil, wild-caught cold water fish, fresh vegetables, low-glycemic fruits (berries), pasture-raised meats, game meat, mineral water.
  • Eliminate toxins by choosing organic produce, pasture-raised meats, dairy, eggs, and wild-caught cold water fish. This is one of the best first steps to reducing inflammation.
  • Wide variety of vegetables: this will increase nutrients via the countless phytonutrients vegetables provide.
  • Choose herbs and spices over table salt.
  • Use coconut oil and grapeseed oil for cooking, olive oil for salads, raw foods. These oils have a higher heat tolerance and will not go rancid.

Specific Nutrients for Headaches. The following supplements can help headache sufferers, especially if there are deficiencies, but if the underlying condition is a food allergy, the supplements cannot replace following an elimination and then anti-inflammatory diet.

  • Magnesium
  • 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Essential Fatty Acids, always and forever: every cell in the body needs good essential fatty acids, especially the brain.
  • Riboflavin can increase cellular energy production, which could potentially have preventative effects against migraines.
  • L-tryptophan to increase serotonin, L-tryptophan crosses the blood-brain barrier, which is necessary for serotonin to be made in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Willow bark extracts
  • Feverfew, can help to decrease the frequency and intensity of headaches & migraines.
  • Ginger. Anti-inflammatory and has significant effects against platelet aggregation.

It is possible. But not always an easy journey.

Currently, I only occasionally get migraines, at most (knock on wood) 2-3 times a year. The rest are mostly gone. I do still have a sensitivity to heat that causes some headaches, which I am working on and hope to have figured out soon. I’ve been through this headache journey, and I know there are answers to the signals the body gives us of dysfunction.

Eliminating these headaches took a lot of work and investigation on my part. There was no one answer. I had to work at it and keep track of my daily foods, stress, and pain levels. I learned I had to eliminate many foods that were irritating my systems and made significant changes to my lifestyle (stress management) that brought about headache-free days. I am a living example that committing to addressing intolerances, removing toxins, reducing stress, and learning what triggers headaches can greater improve the quality of life of headache sufferers.

On top of the world and FREE of brain pain.

On top of the world and FREE of brain pain.







To juice, to smoothie, or just fork it!?

Many have asked me about juicing, if it’s a healthier way to consume veggies and fruits, or why some are so crazy about it. Ditto for smoothies, why not just eat a salad? Well, there are reasons, but if a salad is what you want, my all means, please, eat a salad!

Juicing. There are some significant benefits to juicing produce. In many cases, micro nutrients are destroyed when they are cooked: a bunch of points scored for raw produce! We get TONS of enzymes from eating fresh raw produce. Enzymes? what be those? you ask. The quick answer: enzymes are required for every single metabolic (i.e., chemical) reaction in the body. Want more energy? get more raw veggies in your diet. Simple, easy, done. That said, the greater quantity of these produce gems we can get, the greater support we are giving our bodies. Juicing reduces the produce to an extremely easy-to-absorb form. It’s a glass full of fresh, real, nutrients with a direct, free pass to the cells of our body. Juicing is also a great way to add a wider variety of vegetables to your diet. Most juicers come with recipe books. Or grab what looks good to you and have fun with the different combinations. 

My morning juice. Grapefruit, lemon, beets, celery, and carrots.

My morning juice. Grapefruit, lemon, beets, celery, and carrots.

Juices, however, should generally not be considered a whole meal, since there is no protein or fat in juices. (Cleanses/detoxing, however, is another topic.) The downside to juicing, we lose the fiber. However, a savvy juicer will use it to make crackers with tasty seasonings, and ground nuts and seeds. Use it all and waste nothing.

Smoothies are a quick and easy meal. They are also a great way to get a massive amount of nutrients (although, not as much as juicing will render) plus all the fiber! Not much downside to this option. It does beat out salads for nutrient density, however. A salad will have maybe 2-3 cups of vegetables, and a smoothie can have up to 4-6 servings (and less prep work). If I’m having a smoothie as a meal, I make sure to add in a fat, such as an avocado, fresh ground flax seeds, coconut milk, chia seeds, almond butter, for example, to balance the macro nutrients. This also aids in metabolizing the fat soluble vitamins. Gulp it down, good.

Salads: always a brilliant choice. Anyway we can get fresh produce into our systems is a good way. The chewing process is good for stimulating digestive juices. Chewing the veggies also benefits the health or our teeth (and whiteness).

A few guidelines: always wash the produce before juice/blend/chomping it. Use organic vegetables when possible. Conventional produce is often genetically modified (body knows real food best) and always coated in various ‘cides (insecticide, pesticide, herbicide, etc.). At least choose organic for the Dirty Dozen, since juicing and blending will render any chemicals immediate access into your blood stream and instantly create a toxic load on the body.

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

Do you have a favorite smoothie, salad, or juice combination you love? Do you do something different every time? Do you use spices to mix it up?

Coming soon, a guest will review, from the trenches, juicers for us. There are so many kinds, shapes, models, how to choose what’s best for you!

Spring up!

The tulips and hyacinths are pushing through dirt on my little chunk of land. I’ve gone to 5 yoga classes in 6 days and am feeling sore, but also a little bit stronger. Yoga and spring, right after a detox is all such great timing for me. Although, any time we make positive changes in our lives is great timing. Now that I’m feeling a little strength come back, I feel more motivated to do even more. Get outside in fresh air, reconnect with friends and family I haven’t seen in a while. Weed the garden.

Exercise is the other critical factor to good health. Nutrition and exercise work together so well. Our organs and bones will age with us, but we can do a lot to keep them strong and functioning well into old age through exercise and eating nutrient-dense, foods (a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, especially). Muscles, however, are another story. We lose muscle mass in old age because of inactivity, not because of aging (excluding a very few disease conditions). If we strength train when young, middle aged, or when elderly, it will benefit our strength, stability, digestion, moods, and of course that cute tush. Some moderate cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and good nutrition can set up a beautiful foundation for health, energy, and quality of life.

What do you do to stay motivated to exercise?

Happy hiker.

Happy hiker.

Forward we march

Post detox. My cravings were anxiously waiting for the end of the 21-day detox; the end arrived, and well, meh. I wasn’t so interested in binging, splurging, indulging, or otherwise reverting back to where I was. Yes, this is a good feeling. The feedback from the other detoxers is also exciting. The level of compliance varied, but so did the individual goals. Any change we can make toward eating more health-supportive foods is a great accomplishment. Here are the most common results from the fellowship:

  • Cut out some processed foods and drank less soda/alcohol
  • 100% compliant with the protocols
  • Increased energy levels
  • Weight lost (5-15lbs!)
  • More real food intake
  • Less processed food intake
  • Cholesterol levels were cut
  • Tummy aches, sinus issues, were eliminated
  • Sleep was deeper and more restful

Those were just a few of the most common results of this detox. But the one I love most of all: awareness. Awareness was increased around foods that heal and foods that make us sick, stuffed up, and inflamed. Of course, a detox isn’t the answer to all that causes ill, but it can be a start. It can help give the liver a break so that it can function better. Bigger issues can take longer to heal and require specific nutrients, and lots of patience.

My next personal challenge: 20 yoga classes at my local studio in April. I’ve been out of practice for a couple months, too laden down by work, school, other work, pups, life. But I’m going to take advantage of this sense of commitment and get back to it! It’s all part of the equation to live long, strong, and energetically.

What is your personal challenge this month?