What do you think of when you hear “Vitamin C?” Orange juice and colds, right? You would be partially correct. This nutrient powerhouse does so much more than fight colds. Plus, oranges aren’t necessarily the best source of C. One important benefit of Vitamin C is that it’s a natural mood booster, because it aids in the production serotonin. Low levels of the hormone serotonin can lead to depression. Fruit like papaya has more than double the amount of C than oranges.
Along with boosting your immunity and making you happier, vitamin C is a natural antioxidant for illness and cancer prevention. It promotes healthy skin, gums, and vision by helping in the production of collagen. C also reduces damage done to muscle and connective tissue from exercise. For anyone dealing with anemia, make sure to take C along with your iron rich foods or supplement to aid the absorption.
If you’re fighting off an infection, higher doses are recommended. 500mg and up, depending on your size, age, and medical needs. Just be careful, because taking high doses of vitamin C lowers your level of copper.
Daily Needs of Vitamin C
* Women 75 mg per day
* Men 90 mg per day
* Children 25 mg per day
1 serving Daily percentage
Bell pepper 157
Brussels sprouts 129
Other great sources
* Tomatoes, guava, parsley, kiwi, amaranth
* Corn, mango, beets, eggplant, Basil, cilantro, fennel
* Pea sprouts, carrots, chard, alfalfa sprouts, romaine
* Cucumber, garlic, jalapeno, sweet potato, scallion
* Squash, radish, onion, watercress
Want to avoid colds and flus? Eat some papaya. Want youthful, supple skin? Enjoy some broccoli. Want better sleep? Add strawberries to your morning smoothie. Health is truly as simple as A, B, and C.
Live natural. Live well.
With all the health benefits of eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, there can be an awkward problem. Some of the healthiest of foods have one major drawback. Gas. But there is hope! Worried about gas? This is the most common reason people avoid legumes. But since legumes are so darn good for you, being high in fiber, protein, and other nutrients, it’s important to eat them regularly.
Why do beans make you fart? Beans cause gas because they contain a particular sugar that the body can’t break down called oligosaccharide. Oligosaccharides are not broken down and absorbed by the lining of the small intestine the way other sugars are, because we don’t produce the enzyme to do so. They make it all the way through the GI tract to the large intestine still intact. This produces the gas that must eventually come out sooner or later.
You might experience gas even when you haven’t had beans. This can be the result of foods that come into the large intestine without being properly absorbed in the small intestine will cause gas. For example, stress can cause food to move through the digestive tract too quickly to be properly digested, with the end result being gas in the large intestine. Here are some simple tips to reduce the toots.
-Eat with fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kim chi, coconut yoghurt, and miso.
-Cook with fennel or cumin, kombu, ginger, fennel, kelp or wakame to prevent gas.
-Soak for 12 hours in ginger. This soaking process will also cause the beans to sprout, making minerals more available.
-Add half a teaspoon of the prebiotic source raw apple cider vinegar, a fermented food, the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
No need to get embarrassed every time you have a bean burrito or lentil soup anymore. So enjoy!
Live natural.Live well.
With all the hidden and not so hidden sugar and prepared foods, it’s no wonder so many of my patients are dealing with hypoglycemia. They come in complaining of fuzzy thinking, crankiness, and waking up to eat in the middle of the night. They eat sugar to temporarily feel better. Thus, continuing the vicious cycle.
What is hypoglycemia? Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar spikes, the normal response of insulin is released. But, in cases of hypoglycemia, the insulin lowers your blood sugar too low. Leading to the symptoms below.
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
• Palpitations, headaches, foggy thinking
• Fatigue, which is worse after eating, shakiness, excess hunger
• Irritability and short fused, anxiety and panic attacks, crying for ‘no reason’
• Dizziness upon standing, chest pain, abnormal sweating
Do you feel better after you eat? This may mean that your blood sugar levels are off. Please consult your physician. If you have blood sugar issues, it can lead to weight gain, increased food cravings, elevated cholesterol, acne, weak blood vessels, atherosclerosis, plaque buildup, and water retention.
Tips to balance your blood sugar
• Fiber. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar and reduces blood sugar spikes. See my fiber blog for sources.
• Balanced meals. Enjoy healthy fats, protein and complex carbs. Avoid refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated and saturated fats found in most processed foods. Also stay away from white bread and flour.
• Snack. You should eat smart at every meal and all your snacks. You should eat every 2-3 hours to prevent blood sugar spikes. Definitely don’t skip meals.
Options for mid-meal treats- chopped up veggies or apple or pear with hummus or nut butters such as cashew, almond, and peanut. You can also choose sprouted grain bread. Munch on nuts and seeds with fruit. Berries, plums, peaches, cantaloupe, pears are great choices for fruit.
• Take chromium and cinnamon. Both of these supplements help balance blood sugar levels.
• Exercise daily. Exercise aids in glucose metabolism, stimulates weight loss and reduces stress levels.
Isn’t time to charge of your health? Start your healthy eating program and weight loss regiment today. It’s as easy as having hummus as a snack.
Live natural. Live well.
Remember those chia pets that were all the rage in the late 70s? How did that happen? I guess that’s what makes things a fad. Pet rocks, Mexican jumping beans, and the best- streaking. Fads from the 1970s were pretty weird. Well at least chia seeds actually serve a nutritional purpose and most people don’t realize how amazing these little seeds are.
Nutritional Content of Chia Seeds
*Iron. 3 times than spinach for strong healthy blood for improved energy
*Calcium. 5 times calcium of milk for strong bones and teeth.
*Potassium. 2 times potassium of bananas for building muscle.
*Protein. 2 times protein of any other seed or grain for muscle strength and energy.
*Antioxdants. 3 times antioxidant levels of blueberries for cancer prevention.
*Fiber. Twice as much as broccoli for lowering cholesterol, cardiovascular health, stabilizing blood sugar, and constipation.
*Omega 3s. Nearly 5 times the omega 3s found in salmon for brain health and balancing hormones.
*As an added bonus, chia seeds are considered in Chinese medicine to reduce anxiety, fear, and even panic attacks.
You can add chia seeds to your morning smoothie. But one of my favorite ways to eat them is my recipe recently featured on The Better Show.
Chia Seed Pudding
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 3/4 cup coconut milk (or rice or almond)
• 1/2 cup coconut water or apple juice
• 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extra
• 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries
• ¼ cup of thinly sliced almonds
Mix coconut, chia seeds, coconut milk, coconut water, vanilla in a bowl.
Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.
Top with fresh raspberries and almonds.
Dig in and enjoy!
Live natural. Live well.
Beets were one of those vegetables (one of many) that I couldn’t stand growing up. Now I can’t imagine not eating or drinking them almost daily. Not only do beets taste great, but they are so incredibly good for you.
Calm anxiety and alleviate emotional heartache
Nourish yin, which calms the mind and cools you down
Low in calories
Stimulate liver function and purify the blood
High in fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus
High in tryptophan, a natural sedative
Prevent cataracts and macular degeneration
Reduce cholesterol and triglycerides
Lessen tumor cell growth
Support blood vessels
Boost immune system
Beware. Your stool and urine may turn red from consuming beets. Many of you may laugh at this warning. But several of my patients who weren’t used to eating beets have thought that they were seeing blood and rushed to the emergency room.
My favorite way is to have beets in juice with carrots, kale, parsley, ginger, cucumber, and an apple. This drink will give you energy for hours and is an excellent way to prevent colds.You can enjoy beets in soup, shredded in salads raw, or baked like a potato. Add one beet to a pureed carrot soup for extra flavor and nutrients.
Live natural. Live well.
I recently read a great quote. “People suddenly become nutritionists when they hear I’m a vegetarian.” The answer? Guess what? My favorite example- even strawberries have protein. Only 1g per serving. But this goes to show every plant food has some protein.
Ask any vegan or vegetarian how they feel about getting asked about protein, their answer is most likely the same as mine. I like teaching people, but the question can get old. Depending on my mood, I sometimes think, “Here we go again.” We’ve been so indoctrinated to think meat=protein, just like milk=calcium, that most people don’t know.
Part of my job and also my passion is to share the truth about nutrition. So I’m happy to answer, but it is frustrating that false information about protein is so widespread.
Facts: *Only 10% of our diet needs to be protein. NIH says that an average person requires about 50 to 65 grams of protein in their diet each day. Extreme athletes like Rich Roll only eat about 80g per day.
To figure out what you need- The recommended amount of protein is based on body weight. 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Hint: divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to come up with weight in kilograms. 170 pound person = 77.27kg x 0.8 = 61.82grams of protein needed per day.
*There are no known cases of protein deficiency in the U.S. unless the person is malnourished overall. Even then it’s rare. So few, in fact, that I couldn’t find any hard data on this. If you know someone who is pale or always low energy, it’s most likely an iron deficiency. Even those who eat beef daily are known to be anemic/iron deficient. This can be from malabsorption, which anyone with a history of digestive issues probably experiences. Also, meat is pretty difficult to digest. All of my female patients are at least slightly anemic during their cycle.
*Americans are eating too much protein. According a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007-2008, the Standard America Diet (SAD) diet provides 101.9 grams to males and 70.1 grams to females of protein a day. The results- high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis, increased risk of osteoporosis, weakened kidneys and gout.
Myth It can’t be a complete protein, if it comes from plants. Wrong! The concept of a complete protein is pretty outdated. If you eat a balanced, well-varied, whole foods diet, you’re going to get everything you need. If you’re at all concerned about getting enough, then try protein powders that include split peas and/or hemp seed.
Great Sources of Protein
See? Eating enough protein is easy. So the next time someone asks you “Where do you get your protein?” You can answer “In the strawberries I had in my morning smoothie.”
Live natural. Live well.
I had an epiphany (actually several) when traveling in India. You don’t have to eat ‘breakfast food’ for breakfast. For the most part, traditional Western breakfast (sweetened cereals, vats of coffee, bacon, pancakes) is unhealthy any time of day. So why start off that way? How you begin eating will help determine your energy levels, metabolism, brain function, mood, and cravings through out the day. Filling your stomach with sugar, caffeine, saturated fat, processed foods, preservatives, and white bread. Or skipping the meal all together. Does that really sound like a good idea?
Things to avoid
* Sugar. It’s hiding or not hiding at all in most breakfast foods. Having sweets and refined carbs first thing makes you crave them through out the day. Sugar also causes your energy levels crash, weakens your immune system, and negatively affects your mood.
* Coffee. Most people are so exhausted they can’t even think of a day with out caffeine, especially coffee. It a temporary fix, as you probably know. It’s highly acidic, making you prone to inflammation and illness. See for more reasons to avoid coffee.
* Bacon & sausage (yes, even turkey sausage). Processed meats are high in saturated fat, salt, and toxic preservatives. Do you really want to clog your arteries first thing? These high salt foods also lead to craving more of them.
What to Eat
* Lemon water. It hydrates, gets your metabolism moving, and gives you a mini detox every time you drink it.
* Green drinks in a fresh juice or smoothie. Greens are high in nutrients, which increase energy with out any crash. Plus, they’re highly alkalizing to prevent illness.
* Miso soup. Miso is alkaline in nature, high in probiotics and B vitamins. It aids in digestion.
Miso paste- 2 tablespoons
Ginger- shredded or juiced to taste
¼ cup of daikon radish, shredded or chopped
¼ cup of tofu, cubed
½ a carrot, shredded
Nori (seaweed) pieces, toasted
1 clove of minced garlic
1 scallion, finely chopped
Boil 3 cups of water in a large pot. Add carrot, daikon, tofu, and garlic. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add ginger, scallion, and miso paste. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Garnish with Nori.
Improving your eating habits can seem harder than it really needs to be. Having a smart foundation by eating any of the suggested foods above every morning makes the transition much easier. You’ll immediately see an increase in energy and an improved mood, which will motivate you to keep going.
Live natural. Live well.
Do you ever have a hard time letting go? Is it a person, relationship, event or thing? Or all of the above? Have you been unable to process the grief of losing someone you love? By not expressing ourselves fully or completely ignoring emotional discomfort, we can make ourselves sick.
Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes the importance of emotions and their role in our physical well-being. Each emotion that goes unprocessed can affect specific organs. Difficulty letting go or grieving is detrimental to your lungs and/or large intestines. So if you have issues with digestion, going #2, asthma, or weakened immunity, take some time and see what old hurts or non-supportive patterns you might be holding on to. Maybe your health issues haven’t been alleviated or even diagnosed with Western medicine. Holding on to sadness can contribute to physical issues. I’m not saying you’re at fault, but if you haven’t dealt with past hurts and let them go, they will eventually make you sick.
Eating the right foods to support your healing process is key. You might have been given some great nutritional advice in the past. But maybe some of your health concerns just won’t go away. Or that last ten pounds you need to lose refuses to come off. Those sinus headaches keep coming back. Tweaking your diet just slightly could be all you need.
What to eat?
*If you’re experiencing a runny nose, coughing up phlegm, sinus congestion
Kelp, turnips, flaxseeds, garlic, pears, watercress, garlic, and papaya
*Shortness of breath, coughing, easily catches colds and flus, asthma
Brown rice, oats, carrots, almond, lima beans
*Dry, hacking cough
Miso, pears, apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, strawberries, and spirulina
Several studies have shown a link between suppressing emotion and disease, as well as how expressing negative emotions and releasing tension can lead to physical healing. Now isn’t time for you to let go once and for all?
For more details on how to improve your overall mental and physical health, please read my highly anticipated book Fix Your Mood With Food.
Live natural. Live well.
What’s the first suggestion I give to all my patients? Drink lemon water first thing in the morning. Even better? Sip on lemon water through out the day. For those of you who don’t like to drink water, lemon is the perfect addition to a ‘plain’ glass of water. No need for soda, sugared drinks or overly sweet juices.
The Benefits of Lemon
*Aids in absorption of water and hydrates the lymphatic system.
* Mini detox to support the liver’s ability to flush out toxins.
* Alkalizes the body leading to less inflammation and disease
* Stimulates metabolism, especially helpful for those prone to constipation.
* High in vitamin C. There are approximately 28 mg in one lemon, which is close to half of what you need in a day to maintain a strong immune system and youthful skin.
What could be simpler? Squeezing half or a whole lemon in a glass of water or over your fresh salad has so many fitness promoting properties. A lemon a day truly keeps the doctor away.
Live natural. Live well.
Fish. Most people think it’s the perfect food for getting your protein and essential fats. A majority of doctors recommend at least 2 servings a week. Eating seafood regularly healthy or completely safe is a myth. That you need to eat fish for optimal health is another myth. So what exactly am I talking about? Seafood is less than perfect because of toxic levels of mercury and radiation it can contain, along with high levels of cholesterol.
Almost all fish are contaminated with mercury as the result of our oceans and streams being polluted by industrial waste. Fish with the highest levels of contamination include: tuna (all types)*, swordfish *, sea bass *, oysters, marlin *, halibut, salmon *, pike, walleye, white croaker, largemouth bass, sea bass *, mackerel *, and shark *. Pregnant women have been advised for years to avoid canned tuna due to the mercury content and the potential effects on the fetus. Keep in mind that mercury exposure is considered toxic at any level, but children are most vulnerable due to their fast growth rates and low body mass.
(The above fish, which are asterisked, are not only dangerous to consume, but also endangered due to over fishing. Due to increased demand, the number of sea animals consumed per year is now 90 billion. Blue fin tuna population has dropped 96%. No wonder they’re on the verge of extinction.)
High concentrations of mercury can result in:
*Depression, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, irritability, lack of concentration, memory lapses, and nervousness
*Mental retardation, Cerebral palsy, autism, deafness, & blindness
*Trembling hands, numbness in the hands and feet, & loss of muscle coordination
Fukushima was such a horrific tragedy in 2011 for the people of Japan and felt all over the world. Unfortunately, the after effects of this disaster will be with us for decades to come. Before unseen radiation amounts has leaked into the Pacific and is contaminating all creatures and plant life living in it. Obviously, the closer to the spill, the higher the levels of exposure and risk are. Fish living near Fukushima have been declared completely unsafe.
I’ve seen some blogs comparing the radiation levels in fish from the Pacific to natural occurring radiation found in a banana. It’s like comparing natural sugar found in fruit to artificial sweeteners. There are different types of radiation, some more dangerous and longer lasting than others. Also, it is well known that radiation exposure is cumulative. The University of South Carolina and University of Paris-Sud finished a study in 2012, which concluded that even low levels of exposure to radioactivity are hazardous to animals and humans. One of the reasons is it that our bodies are unable to flush out radiation, so there is a cumulative effect.
What about all the healthy fat found in fish? Yes, depending on the fish, it may contain high levels of omega 3s needed for healthy brain function and hormone levels. But many of them also contain high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 300mg of cholesterol per day. If you are high risk for heart disease, you should keep that number under 200mg daily. Just to give you an idea, a dinner containing shrimp will easily exceed 200 mg just from the shrimp alone.
Examples of cholesterol in fish
100 gram serving cholesterol amounts
Oil-packed Sardines 142mg
Striped Bass 103mg
Crab 147 mg
Squid (in calamari) 233mg
Fish are high in omega-3s because of the seaweed they eat. So why not get your healthy fats right from the source? Other great options for healthy fats include flax, chia, sesame, and hemp seeds, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spirulina, kale, acai berries, and walnuts. All of these foods are nutrient dense and some a packed with protein.
Hopefully, this has you thinking about changing some of your eating habits. If you’re nervous about all the fish you’ve eaten over the years, take a blood test for heavy metals. But you can change what you eat today. Have a kale salad topped with roasted cauliflower, and walnuts for a delicious, truly healthy promoting meal.
Live natural. Live well.