How to eat on Thanksgiving.
 Image via Our Food Stories

Image via Our Food Stories

Our overall philosophy in life in general applies to Thanksgiving as well. And that is, life is to be relished. Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude - of health, of happiness, of friends and family, and the opening of the holiday season. Be kind to yourself and please, allow yourself to enjoy - guilt free. One “off-the-rails” meal is likely not going to make much of a difference in your body composition and digestive health overall, but the memories of your Thanksgiving experience will.

If you were hoping we’d give you a step-by-step plan on how to skillfully maneuver in a healthful way the overwhelming amount of food usually served on this abundant holiday, here is a loose one.

  1. Move throughout the day. Take walks. Play some games like touch football or tag with the kids. Put on some groovy tunes and dance while you cook. Throw in random squats, push ups (insert exercise of choice) here and there.

  2. Do a high intensity interval training before the big meal.

  3. If #2 is not possible, a quick 30-60 second intense move just before the meal will help with blood sugar regulation.

  4. Appreciate the food with all your senses - smell, sight, mouth-feel and taste. This not only will feel good but will also slow you down.

  5. Start with greens and lots of them.

  6. If you are going to drink alcohol, choose low sugar wines and cocktails. If you are having a cocktail, mix in some bitters. Bitter herbs are digestive aids, blood sugar regulators and super tasty.

  7. Pace yourself with alcohol. Have a glass of water in between for every drink, or have 2 sips of water for every sip of alcohol.

  8. Make sure to chew at least 40 times per bite. This helps with digestion and helps you to pace yourself.

  9. Speaking of pacing, go for an after dinner walk (or dance or engage in some type of movement)

  10. Deep belly nose breathing throughout the day will help keep your nerves in check. This is especially helpful around mealtime. It will help you stay in rest-and-digest mode. Shallow and/or mouth breathing cues your sympathetic nervous system to up regulate.

Lastly, we will be opening registration for two amazing events this week! Be on the lookout. As you know, we like to keep things exclusive and intimate, so space will be limited on both events.

Fatima CookComment
Cold & Flu Season Prep
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The ominous cold and flu season is upon us. How can we strengthen our immune systems and keep colds and flus at bay? Flu shot you say? Well, maybe. While there is a small chance the CDC got it perfectly right and matched this year’s vaccine formulation with the currently circulating strains of the virus, more than likely this is not the case. Regardless of your dogma - pro-vaccination or not, it makes sense to super charge your immune system and those of your loved ones naturally. Read on and she how we do it.

  • Vitamin C. This is an important vitamin to help prevent colds. In addition,1,000mg per day of a good quality, organic food based vitamin C supplement (or one that is USP grade and produced in a GMP certified facility) can alleviate the severity and shorten the duration of a cold. Here is an example of a good one.

    Aside from supplementation, eating vitamin C rich foods is the easiest way to make sure you are getting enough. Some examples include all citrus fruits, papayas, strawberries, raspberries and pineapple, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and parsley.

  • Elderberry. This powerful fruit contains anthocyanins which are known to have potent immune boosting effects. Studies have shown that supplementing with elderberry within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, can reduce the duration of symptoms by four days on average. You can find this in a syrup or juice concentrate, as well as in capsules or tinctures. We make gummies out of the juice or tincture.

    Elderberry Gummy Recipe

    *You’ll need a silicone mold and coconut oil to prevent sticking.

  • 1/2 cup elderberry syrup

  • 1/8 cup gelatin powder

  • 1/4 cup hot boiling water

    Grease the molds with a bit of coconut oil.

    Whisk 1/2 the elderberry syrup with the gelatin powder quickly.

    Add the hot water and stir vigorously until smooth. Pour into the prepared molds and refrigerate until completely firm.

    Store in an air-tight container with parchment in between each layer.

  • Echinachea. Immune boosting and oxidative damage protecting, this medicinal root was first used by indigenous North American Indians. Research shows that it can help prevent the common cold and also reduce its duration by a day or two. It is particularly helpful for respiratory conditions and inflammation.

  • Zinc. Required for multiple functions throughout the body, zinc is a micronutrient important for immune system containing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some foods containing high levels of zinc are seafood, especially oysters, meat and cheese. Studies have shown it to have the ability to shorten colds by a whopping 5 days or even longer. The most effective form of zinc is zinc acetate for cold prevention/shortening. Try a lozenge the second you feel a cold coming on and continue taking one every few hours until your symptoms go away.

  • Hemp Oil. We’ve talked about this at length and if you’d like to learn more, read here. In a nut shell, hemp oil is a plant-produced cannabinoid (or phytocannabinoid) from the Cannabis sativa plant that mimics our body’s own internal cannabinoid (or endocannabinoid) system. The main function of this system is to maintain homeostasis and help the body adapt to stressors. When it is out of balance, the digestive, reproductive, nervous, and immune systems suffer. In addition, this system regulates neurotransmitter function, inflammation, mitochondrial function, and metabolism. Use hemp oil regularly as a nutritional supplement to prevent and help the body naturally fight colds and flus. There are hundreds of different CBD oils available now, some more efficacious than others. This is the one we use.

  • Prebiotics and probiotics. A healthy gut equals a healthy body and mind as an estimated 80-85% of the immune system is in the gut. The bacteria in our digestive tract plays a vital role in nutrient absorption, mucosal barrier function, support of gut lymphoid tissue, and immune function. We can keep our gut bacteria happy by feeding it prebiotics (foods that promote the increase of good bacteria in our gut) and probiotics (foods that feed that good bacteria). Some good examples of prebiotic foods are Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leeks, asparagus, dandelion greens, chicory root, potato starch, green bananas or green banana flour, cooked and cooled white potatoes and cooked and cooled rice. Fermented foods such as kimchee, sauerkraut, beet kvass, fermented pickles, yogurt and kefir are good sources of probiotics. Aside from whole foods, you can boost your prebiotic and probiotic intake through supplements - we like Hyperbiotics Organic Powder and Healthy Origins Fiber All Natural for prebiotics and Klaire Labs Ther-biotic Complete or Primal Blueprint Primal Probiotic for probiotics.

  • Mushrooms. The anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties of this incredible superfood have long played a role in Chinese medicine and have more recently made its way into the Western world. They contain powerful antioxidants, polysaccharides and triterpenes as well as a long list of nutrients that can help with cardiovascular health, hormonal regulation, thyroid functioning, digestion and skin health. Culinary delights made from enoki, maitake and oyster mushrooms can help fortify the immune system and these mushroom varieties can be found in local and specialty grocery stores. Other mushrooms such as chaga, reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane and cordyceps are a bit more difficult to source. In addition, extracting their medicinal properties to their greatest potential can get a little more complicated. Luckily, there are companies such as Four Sigmatic and Host Defense that do the job for us. We personally use the 10 Mushroom Blend by Four Sigmatic and My Community Multi Mushroom Extract by Host Defense.

  • Bone Broth. Bone broth contains particular amino acids and lipids that are indispensable for immune system functioning. It is collagen and gelatin rich - two things vital for gut health, and contains anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulating glycosaminoglycans. For more bone broth info (and a recipe), see here.

  • Load up on Micronutrients. An adequate intake of micronutrients will help keep your immune system intact. While in general we eat a rainbow of vegetables regularly and make sure our plates are 90% plant based, we turn to Dr. Cowen’s Garden for an even broader variety of vegetables to easily supplement our micronutrient intake. Dr. Cowen is a brilliant, forward thinking anthroposophical doctor, author of several books, one of our favorites being How (& Why) to Eat More Vegetables, based in Northern California. He cultivates organic, biodynamic heirloom plants, carefully dries and creates vegetable powders out of them. The powders are stored in Miron jars to preserve their nutrients. Sprinkle any of their veggie powders on foods and drinks and mix them into baked goods. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they are also delicious. Our favorites are the Savory Three-fold Blend, the Leek Salt, the Kale and the Three Beet Powder. The powders are not inexpensive but we think they are worth the price. We are affiliates of Dr. Cowen’s Garden and if you use our code (DRCOWANSGARDEN) you’ll get a 15% discount. Every little bit helps!

  • Sauna. The principal role of the lymphatic system is to keep white blood cells and fat-soluble vitamins flowing throughout the body while moving dead cellular matter out. Stagnant lymph can lead to an accumulation of toxic cellular debris and pathogens - and an impaired immune system. One of the the body’s primary means of detoxification is through the skin. Sweating in a sauna is a great way to circulate lymph fluid.

  • Rebounding. This is another powerful lymph-moving technique. Bounce on a mini-trampoline for about 10 minutes a day to help keep the lymph system decongested. Alternatively, stand on a vibration plate.

  • Sleep. We have talked about sleep and its numerous benefits in the past, but it is so important, it is worth mentioning again. It is during rest that the body is able to renew, recover, and revitalize. This is especially important when the immune system is compromised.

  • AVOID: sugar (including bread and pasta), processed foods, industrial seed oils and gluten. These foods present stressors in the body and place an excessive burden on the digestive system. They divert energy away from our natural immune and maintenance processes.

And what if you do get sick? In addition to the above, here’s the home made cold-busting concoction swear by. Take at onset of symptoms! Mix all ingredients into a paste and eat.

  • Juice from 1 lemon

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon organic turmeric powder (or freshly grated if possible)

  • 1 teaspoon Manuka honey

  • 1-2 teaspoon coconut oil

  • freshly ground black pepper

(Full disclosure:  Lots of affiliate links above. Yes, we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, but it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we wouldn't be recommending them if we hadn’t personally tried and approved of them)!

Additional references:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20614424

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20829306

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16282192

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22729452

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585736

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047908/

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1611618

https://www.pediatricneurologybriefs.com/articles/10.15844/pedneurbriefs-32-3/

https://bcc.ca.gov/about_us/documents/17-261_required_testing_chart.pdf

Fatima CookComment
THE exercise you need to know to feel young forever.
 Basic Body Weight Squat

Basic Body Weight Squat

The SQUAT. Yes, the squat. It is arguably the most basic and fundamental exercise every human being on this planet should re-learn how to do regardless of age.* Because it engages more muscle then virtually any other exercise, it is the backbone of health and mobility. While it is not a complicated exercise, it has to be done properly in order for one to a) reap its full benefits and b) avoid injury.

*Side notes: 1. RE-learn because children instinctively know how to squat perfectly. 2. The next equally important exercise we’ll talk about is the dead-lift.

Why is the squat so important?

You need to be able to squat for just about everything you do - to sit down and stand up, to pick things up off the floor, to use the bathroom, even walking up stairs is a series of modified squats. You get the idea. And, these are only examples of partial squats. Ideally, you want to be able to perform a powerful and full squat with some sense of ease. Consider a fall. A powerful squat increases the ability to prevent an impending fall and to move quickly out of the way of incoming and sudden danger. Power also exhibits a strong neuromuscular connection and practicing powerful squats is a great way to maintain that connection. Without this explosive element, you no longer can be completely autonomous and the potential for injury goes up exponentially. Should you actually fall, being able to comfortably squat fully, meaning, butt to calves, will enable you to get up unassisted.

The inability to squat means you have restricted mobility throughout your entire body. Without a proper squat you really lack the strength to traverse the earth. In fact, there was a study conducted in 2012 correlating the ability to stand up off the ground unassisted with longevity, and it makes sense.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are about 100,000 ways to squat - maybe more - as long as you have healthy knee and hip joints. The more ways you can squat the better. The basic squat is a good place to start. Master this, before you move on.


BASIC SQUAT BREAKDOWN

  1. Toes: Keep them pointed straight ahead or slightly turned out.

  2. Feet: They should be hip to shoulder width apart. The tighter you are, the wider your feet will need to be.

  3. Torso: Maintain upright posture. Pay attention to your ribs. Don’t let them pop out.

  4. Weight: Center your weight throughout your feet. Keep your heels down. Imagine you are inside a tight cylinder and avoid bowing your head forward (so as to avoid hitting the walls of the cylinder).

  5. Butt to calves. Actively pull yourself down into the squat. Your hips will shift back a bit. Your tailbone reaches to a target just behind your heels. Your knees stay in alignment with the toes, but track forward as far as needed in order to pull down into the deepest squat possible without losing your balance.

  6. To come out of the squat, imagine you are in that tight cylinder again and keep your torso upright. As you press the floor away with your feet, your hips and torso come up at the same speed. Imagine you are shooting out of the floor like a rocket.


TIPS

Make a fist with one hand in front of you at chest height and squeeze it tightly with the other hand. Pull your shoulder blades down so you are engaging your lats. Squeeze your arms to your sides as if you were holding something under your armpits.

Corkscrew your feet into the floor and/or spread the floor away with your feet.


WHAT MAY BE GETTING IN THE WAY OF YOUR SQUAT?

Lack of hip mobility, tight ankles and/or a tight back.

WHAT CAN REMEDY THIS?

The more you practice, the better you will get. Practice squatting more and sitting in a squat for longer periods of time. Sit in the squat position for as long as you can and while down there, explore different positions. Try rocking forward and back, and rotating from side to side. This may feel uncomfortable at first and this is totally ok, just don’t go into pain. Focusing on deep breathing can help. Inhale for 4 counts and on the exhale let the air strongly release.

Use props to help you such as a TRX, door knob, kettlebell, column or a person to counterbalance your weight to help pull yourself deeper into a squat.


 Tiny Fencer. Image courtesy of Daily Burn.

Tiny Fencer. Image courtesy of Daily Burn.

Try this exercise. I call it the Tiny Fencer. Kneeling on an exercise mat, step one foot out to the side with your knee bent, toes facing out and heel in line with the opposite knee. Open your arms out on a diagonal and press your forearm into the inner thigh of the inner thigh. Keeping your turned out foot flat on the floor, bend the knee of the leg that is turned out as you press your hips forward and reach your arms out as long as possible. Allow the knee to extend past the toe to feel the stretch in your hip flexors, inner thighs, calf muscles while increasing your ankle mobility. Hold for a few seconds, then practice rocking from side to side. Repeat on the other side.

Practice doing some powerful squats intermittently throughout the day. Do 10-20 jump squats every 30-60 minutes.

Ready for more? Who says you need equipment or added weight? Try these first!


3 ADVANCED BODY WEIGHT SQUATS

  1. The Pistol

    This is essentially a one-legged squat with the non-working leg straight out in front of the body. Extend one leg in front of you, lower down slowly with control and balance until your butt is on your heels. Push into the floor to powerfully stand back up. In addition to leg strength, before you can do a pistol, you need to be able to do a full, deep squat. You’ll need mobility in your hips, feet and ankles, and good balance. (Image 1 above)

  2. The Sissy Squat

    This type of squat helps to build quadriceps strength. Standing on both feet, keep your torso in a diagonal line with your knees as you bring your knees forward and shoulders back. Drop your knees down to the ground as you push up on the balls of your feet. (Image 2 above)

  3. The Shrimp Squat

    This is another single-leg bodyweight squat requiring tons of strength, flexibility and balance. Bend the knee of the non-squatting leg behind your back (as if you were stretching your quadriceps) and hold that ankle with your hand. Slowly and with control, lower your body until your knee touches the ground, then stand back up. Keep your weight balanced in the middle of your foot as you squat up and down. (Image 3 above)

Need some help with your squat? Is limited mobility, flexibility or stability getting in the way of living a pain-free life? Work with us.

Want a taste of a deep functional mobility and breathing class? Join us at Limelight Fitness in NYC this Sunday, November 11 at 1:30. Details and sign up here.


(Full disclosure:  There are some affiliate links above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!

Gregg Cook Comments
Souper Power!
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Summer is no longer lingering here in NY. As the weather has become crisp and chilly - as fall should be - my focus lies on two things. First, making the house feel warm and cozy. We begin to enjoy dinners by candle or oil lamp light. Thick, yummy blankets come out of their summer hiding places to snuggle with us on Friday “movie nights”. Second, I shift how we nourish ourselves. The Instant Pot is out on heavy rotation as I busily conjure up a vast array of chilis, soups and stews. Vast, to keep things interesting for me to make and the rest of the Cooks to eat.

At the base of all my wintry preparations is none other then bone broth. It is the foundation of every chili, soup, stew and the like that I make all fall and winter long. Why?

In a nutshell, the big secret here is collagen (and gelatin). Collagen is found only in animal flesh and connective tissue and is a fundamental part of bone, containing a large amount of amino acids. Aside from water, it is the most common material found in the body. It makes up 70% of the skin, 90% of bone mass and 90% of connective tissue. Believe it or not, our endogenous production of collagen begins to slow down in our 20’s!

Our ancestors practiced nose to tail eating. They never knew when they would have their next successful hunt and couldn’t really afford to waste any part of the animal including skin, bones, hooves, tails and knuckles. What they discovered was that by cooking down the tougher scraps, they were able to draw out all kinds of beneficial nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and collagen protein. Eating this way is no longer common practice and boosting our collagen is therefore crucial. Bone broth contains the most bioavailable form of collagen.

Here is a list of some of the key properties of bone broth.

  1. Bone broth helps heal your gut. It contains glycine, and amino acid that helps heal and protect the gut through it’s anti-inflammatory, immune regulating and cell protecting properties. Glycine is also a major player when it comes to detoxification, reducing oxidative damage, enhancing insulin sensitivity, and regulating human growth hormone.

  2. Bone broth contains the joint healing nutrients glucosamine and chondroitin.

  3. Bone broth aka Mother Nature’s Botox, does wonders for your skin. The collagen in it helps smooth out wrinkles and stretch marks and can even help reverse sagging skin. Bone broth also contains glycosaminoglycans which help keep the skin plump and supple. In addition, bone broth strengthens nails and encourages hair growth.

  4. Bone broth helps fight inflammation - glycine, proline, glucosamine and chondroitin all have anti-inflammatory properties.

  5. Bone broth is helpful for weight loss. Through its anti-inflammatory and gut healing properties, it allows your body to maintain a healthy GI tract which in turn helps facilitate weight loss. For more on this look into The Bone Broth Diet, popularized by Dr. Kellyanne Petrucci. It combines clean, anti-inflammatory eating with intermittent fasting and bone broth.

  6. Glycine found in bone broth is a sleep aid. It works on the central nervous system to improve sleep quality.

  7. Bone broth is versatile, rich, complex and soul satisfying.


 Turmeric Bone Broth Latte

Turmeric Bone Broth Latte

Want to try making your own? Thousands of recipes can be found online, but these are the beef and chicken versions I make. I use an Instant Pot, but the recipe works in a regular old stock pot or slow cooker as well. Instead of the 2 hours in the Instant Pot, simmer for 12-48 hours.

*It is CRITICAL to use high quality bones as it is in the skin and bones that toxins are stored. Go to a trusted butcher and ask for 100% organic grass fed beef bones and 100% organic pastured pork and chicken.

*Adding apple cider vinegar to the pot and letting it sit for 30 minutes or more before turning on the heat will help extract the most out of your bones.

*For a richer flavor, roast the bones before adding them to the pot.

INSTANT POT (MOSTLY) BEEF BONE BROTH RECIPE

2 stalks celery roughly chopped
2 carrots roughly chopped
1 onion cut into large chunks
5 cloves garlic smashed
3.5-4 lbs grass-fed beef bones (preferably knuckle bones and joints)
1 pastured pig’s foot (optional, but is a great source of additional collagen)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher Salt
Filtered Water

Instructions:

Place the bones and foot (if using) into the Instant Pot. Add apple cider vinegar, and let sit for 30+ minutes. In the meanwhile, chop your vegetables.
Drop in the vegetables, bay leaves, and sprinkle with salt.
Cover the contents with water, but make sure the pot is not more then two-thirds full.
Cover and lock the lid and set to high pressure.
Set the timer for 2 hours and let the pressure release naturally.
Strain the liquid, discard the solids and place in the fridge overnight. This is simply to let the fat rise to the top and solidify. It makes it a lot easier to skim the fat off the top.
Drink the broth alone or add to recipes - even smoothies!

To substitute chicken for the beef, use 2 1/2-4 lbs of pastured chicken bones (from another meal or a butcher). You can use a pig’s foot here too, and/or about 6-8 chicken’s feet. Follow the rest of the recipe as written.

Our favorite way to enjoy bone broth is in latte form, blended with a little grass-fed butter, ghee or extra virgin olive oil, turmeric, cumin, a dash or two of cayenne pepper, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Don’t have time for make your own? We like Brodo Bone Broth, available in Wholefoods, Fairway and other grocery stores and Kettle and Fire.


Some interesting related facts:

“All disease begins in the gut”, said Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. Documented as early as 400 BC, he recognized the healing powers of bone broth and prescribed it to those with digestive disorders.

In 1845 American industrialist, Peter Cooper, secured a patent for powdered gelatin. (Bone broth cooked over a long period of time turns the collagen in the bones turns to gelatin).

Other collagen boosting foods include wild salmon, chlorella, leafy greens, citrus fruits, eggs, berries, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, avocados, garlic, chia seeds.


 Do you eat the tendons, ligaments, joints and bones? Do you eat the skin off your chicken or turkey? Personally, these are some my favorite bits! image:www.foodinsight.org

Do you eat the tendons, ligaments, joints and bones? Do you eat the skin off your chicken or turkey? Personally, these are some my favorite bits! image:www.foodinsight.org

(Full disclosure:  There are some affiliate links above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!



Scenes from a Retreat
 Selva, Mallorca

Selva, Mallorca

We are thrilled to say that our first retreat in Mallorca this past September was a huge success. It surpassed all of our expectations and reassured us that hosting fully immersive Deep Health “Evolutionary” experiences such as this one is truly a valuable way to share what we do - the way we personally live on a daily basis to maximize overall health and wellness, the habits and techniques we’ve learned, all with a nice balance of our hedonistic pleasures.

What exactly did we do during this weeklong adventure?

We woke up to the most breathtaking sunrises each morning. We enjoyed delicious lemon-ginger-cayenne shots and coffee, then started each day off with breath work, meditation and movement that progressed from addressing the smallest, oft-forgotten details of our bodies all the way to our largest muscle groups, taking our breath away once more. We simultaneously explored the various terrains of Mallorca and challenged ourselves on all levels in the throes of nature, engaging in activities we normally don’t find ourselves doing (especially in NY). We learned about biodynamic wines and olive oils, picked fresh plums from the tree on our property, foraged wild mushrooms, cooked and were cooked for, laughed a whole lot and even had a 10-year old inspired dance party to wrap up the week (definitely a keeper in the program).

Master organizer, Mallorcan connector, incredible cyclist - sweet as can be and hilarious to boot, Laura Cozik of Travel with Lipstick, was a perfect partner for this event. So much so, we are already planning our next family retreat in Mallorca with her from June 29th- July 6th and another adult-only event in Morocco in the fall of 2019. Details coming soon, so stay tuned!

Enjoy some of the photos of our retreat below!

Fatima CookComment
Another reason you may be holding on to fat.
 “Famous Chunkies” by Alex Solis

“Famous Chunkies” by Alex Solis

In most cases, variability in life is to be expected. We all go through periods of highs and lows and one of the keys to finding internal happiness is to be OK with both ends of the spectrum, knowing neither will last forever. With respect to glycemic variability, however, this is far from the case. Aside from inflammation, glycemic variability is one of the most important bio-markers we should be giving some attention to.

What is glycemic variability?

It refers to the swings in blood glucose levels that occur throughout the day. This includes fluctuations that happen during hypoglycemic periods, postprandial increases (after eating) and changes occurring at the same time on different days. Basically, it is your body’s ability to process the consumption of carbohydrates. When this fluctuates too much and blood sugar gets too high, the body has two options. It can either store it in the muscles as a potential energy source or store it as fat. For those who are mostly sedentary, that excess energy will turn into excess fat.

You may be wondering what types of foods can contribute to this variability. Sugar may be the first thing to come to mind, but in all reality, sugar, as we commonly think about, i.e., candy and soda, isn’t necessarily the only culprit here. All sugars end up becoming converted to glucose and the body really doesn’t care where it comes from. Even vegetables contain some amount of sugar. Regardless of the glucose source, an excess of it will cause an imbalance in blood glucose levels and begin to cause problems. Don’t get the wrong idea and begin swapping your kale for donuts. Along with sugars, different foods carry in them different nutrient levels and in the long run, we should always opt for those with the greater nutrient density (raw honey v. cane sugar, sweet potato v. pasta). This may seem obvious, but I would be remiss not to mention it.

This means eating too much and/or too often and not moving frequently enough are two major contributors to the extra layers of fat you may be holding on to. In addition, every individual is unique and will have a different response to specific foods. For example, while one person may do well with eating rice, it may shoot another person’s blood glucose levels through the roof.

(Of course there are other confounding factors to this. Not getting enough good quality sleep is a biggie as is too much stress and an overwhelming toxic load).

Back to glycemic variability. There are some ways to take control of it. Here are our top 8 tips.

  1. Strength train. This will increase your body’s ability to drive glucose into the muscles.

  2. Workout in a fasted state in the morning. Studies show this can increase metabolic rate and burn more energy throughout the day.

  3. Move vigorously before eating. Just 30 seconds of high intensity exercise will help regulate blood sugar. Think 30 seconds of burpees, sprints, and/or squat jumps.

  4. Move after eating. This could mean a leisurely post-meal walk or as we like to do at home, a post-dinner mini dance party.

  5. Move all day long. While a dedicated workout is great, moving all day long may be just as good or even better. Set your office or home up for success with plenty of opportunity to keep physically active throughout the day. If you need some ideas on how to accomplish this, send us a note.

  6. Add glucose regulating herbs and spices to your diet. Ceylon cinnamon, berberine, rock lotus and bitter melon extract are all natural ingredients that can regulate high blood sugar. You can opt to take some of these in the form a supplement as well. We like Lean. (No affiliation).

  7. Add fiber to your diet. Not only will it help keep your colon clean, it will also help regulate glycemic variability.

  8. Take a Robb Wolf’s 7-day carb test to determine your tolerance for certain foods. Robb Wolf is a 2x New York Times bestselling author of The Paleo Solution and Wired to Eat. He is a former research biochemist and one of the world’s leading experts in Paleolithic nutrition. 

So there you have it. If you’d like more information on glycemic variability, sleep, stress and other factors that may be getting in the way of fat loss, please feel free to contact us.


Fatima Cook
Lunch Box
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How do I get my kids to eat well?  The answer is to offer them and stock the kitchen with only healthy food.  At least while they are within your domain, you have a bit of control over what they eat.  The bonus to this approach is that everyone else living in the household benefits  - you also are happily trapped into making healthy eating choices.  What happens to your child's diet outside your doorstep is honestly out of your control and coming to terms with this (at least for me) is somewhat comforting.  What children eat is important for reasons beyond maintaining physical health.  It will help with proper growth and development, mood, focus and cognition - the alternative (i.e. sugary foods) lead to distraction and sleepiness.

So, school lunches are slightly out of the control of parents seeing as once the kid(s) are out the door, whether that carefully prepared lunch will be eaten, discarded or traded is junior's decision.  My sweet mama did her best to pack me and my siblings healthy lunches.  Tuna fish on whole wheat bread, accompanied by fully oxidized, brown apple slices and a thermos of room temperature milk were frequently served - and often traded for Jiffy and Smuckers or mystery meat sandwiches, chips, candy and Kool-Aid.  As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.  To this day, I wonder if those kids who agreed to trade with me and my siblings were intrigued by our lunches or simply felt sorry for us.  In any case, offering up healthy AND delicious lunches could solve this problem.  In my personal experience with my daughter, it totally has.  In fact, she's often reported that her friends often want to try her lunches and friends' parents regularly ask me for recipes.   When thinking of packed lunches, my first line of defense are leftovers.  Whenever possible, that's what I serve up!  Otherwise, I've poked around the internet and have put to the test what seems like hundreds of lunch box recipes.  Below are some of our tasty lunch ideas with links and recipes.  

I am always looking to expand my lunch box repertoire.  What are some of your favorites?

MAINS

1. Prosciutto wrapped mini frittata muffins (pictured above)

2. Vietnamese Mini Meat Balls (*recipe below)

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3. Lettuce Wrapped Chicken Tacos - Wrap left over chicken in butterhead lettuce with sliced avocado or guacamole, shredded carrots, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese or whatever you choose.  Serve with a side of sour cream for dipping.

4. Prosciutto Wrapped Avocado Slices - Wrap sliced avocado in slices of prosciutto.  Secure the wrap by tying a chive around it.

5. Smoked Salmon, Avocado Nori Rolls with Cauliflower Rice (or rice of choice) - Spread rice of choice on a sheet of nori.  Top with smoked salmon and avocado.  Sliced cucumbers work well too.  Roll and cut into bite sized pieces.  Note, if using cauliflower rice, you may need to add a bit of cream cheese to help bind it together.

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6. Hardboiled eggs or if you have more time, deviled eggs.  

7. Egg Salad

8. Shaker Salads

9.  Spanish Tortilla Squares

10. Sausage Patties

11. Grass Fed Uncured Pepperoni Sticks

12.  Soups - Broccoli Cheddar, Cauliflower, Creamy Tomato - add shredded chicken, pork or hard boiled eggs for added protein.  This is a great, leakproof container that will keep your liquids warm (or cold) for hours.  

SIDES

1. Cut veggies:  carrots, celery, fennel, broccoli, baby bok choy, cucumber, mini peppers, cherry/grape tomatoes

2. Homemade chia bars (*recipe below)

3. Homemade chia pudding

4. Seasonal Fruit (berries, orange wedges, small whole apples, or sliced - squeeze lemon juice if to prevent browning )

5. Olives

6. Pickles

7. Homemade crackers

8. Dark Chocolate

DIPS

1. Hummus

2. Tzatziki

3. Cottage Cheese

4. Plain, whole milk yogurt.  Add berries for variety.

5. Homemade chocolate pudding

6. Seasnax

BEVERAGES

1. Filtered water 

2. Herbal iced teas, unsweetened

3. Homemade Strawberry Hemp Milk (or milk of choice: almond, cashew, coconut) (*recipe below)

4. Warm Golden Milk

 

Thai Mini Meatball Recipe, serves 4

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper and then roll into mini meatballs (or whatever size you choose), place each meatball on a tray as you work. In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, coconut aminos, fish sauce and honey.

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the meatballs until cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning them 2-3 times throughout cooking. During the last minute or so of cooking, add the sauce and give the meatballs a good toss through the sauce. Cook another minute longer you until the sauce glazes the meatballs. Remove from the heat.

Serve with Basil and Cilantro Yogurt Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 3/4 cups greek yogurt
  • fresh squeezed lime juice
  1. Add the cilantro, basil, yogurt and lime juice to a blender or food processor. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Turmeric & Black Pepper Pumpkin Seed Chia Bar

  • 6 large Medjool dates
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Remove pits from dates and pulse in a food processor or blender to form a paste.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix dates and the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Press into the bottom of a baking dish lined with parchment paper, cut into squares or rectangles and refrigerate until firm.

*Variations: Roll into bite sized balls instead of making bars, omit turmeric and black pepper for a “plain” bar, add coconut flakes and/or dark chocolate chips & top with flakey sea salt such as Maldon.

 

Banana Walnut Chia Bar

  • 3 dates
  • ¾ cup dried bananas
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Remove pits from dates and pulse in a food processor or blender to form a paste.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix dates and the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Press into the bottom of a baking dish lined with parchment paper, cut into squares or rectangles and refrigerate until firm.

 

Homemade Strawberry Hemp Milk (serves 2)

  • ½ cup hemp seeds (organic, hulled seeds)
  • 4 cups water
  • 10-15 hulled strawberries
  • 1 pitted date (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  1. Blend hemp seeds in water until smooth. 
  2. Add strawberries and blend again.
  3. Strain the pulp from the hemp milk if desired.
  4. Refrigerate. Hemp milk will be good for 5 days.

 

(Full disclosure:  There are some affiliates links above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!

Food Details - Micronutrients and Nutrient Density
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We've often mentioned micronutrients and eating nutrient dense foods on the blog, but what exactly are we talking about?  Let's start with the small stuff.  

Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals and antioxidants not produced in the body and derived from food.  They are needed in small amounts, but are nonetheless  are vital to development and disease prevention and contribute to functions such as DNA repair, slowing of oxidative damage, protection against infection, energy generation, nervous system balancing and bone mineralization.  Every system in the body depends on micronutrients to thrive.  According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), over 2 billion people worldwide, including 1/2 of the children up to age 5, are deficient in at least one micronutrient.  Examples of micronutrients include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, folate, vitamins A, D and K, zinc, and a whole suite of B vitamins - biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin.  Below is a list of micronutrients and their specific functions in the body, taken from the book, Paleo Takes Five - or -  Fewer, by Cindy Sexton.  

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Now what about nutrient density?  Very loosely, nutrient density is a term referring to the amount of nutrients packed in a food by volume.  Certain foods such as organ meats and oysters are so jam packed with nutrients, a single serving once a week will supply the body with all the nutrients it needs.   When thinking about which foods to include in your regular meal rotation, it's important to keep this in mind.  What foods give you the biggest bang for the buck?  Aside from organ meats and oysters, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, cacao, fish and seafood, grass-fed beef, lamb, veal and wild game, vegetables, pork, pastured eggs and dairy (especially grass-fed butter), pastured poultry are at the top of the list.  

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The next question is, can one overdo it?  The answer to that is yes.  Just about everything in life is dose dependent.  We increase the chances of developing a food allergy towards foods we over consume.   (The same goes for foods we don't consume enough of)!  This problem is naturally resolved for us by Mother Nature.  It is one of the reasons vegetables grow at specific times of the year and why the availability of animals for hunting and seafood for fishing varies throughout the course of a year.  We are designed to nourish ourselves accordingly, and benefit from the diverse number of nutrients each food has to offer.  Now that we have access to any food we can imagine at anytime of year, it has become easy to abuse the consumption of foods, with the push of a button.  And there, my friends, is an important argument for eating seasonally and locally.  

Having this information makes it somewhat easier to make decisions about what foods are important to have on the menu on a frequent basis.  For us, it is especially useful for feeding our daughter while we still have the ability to control what she eats to some degree.  Now that we are approaching the end of summer and she will be going back to school, you can bet we load her lunches with as many nutrient dense foods we can get in there without totally making her feel like the "weird" kid in her class.

Our next post will be specifically on that...school lunch ideas.  You won't want to miss that one!

Your Daily Detox
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Detox programs abound left and right.  All over social media you’ll find celebrity endorsed juice cleanses and diets suggesting they are THE answer to those last, stubborn 5 pounds stuck to you like an over-jealous boyfriend or the remedy to that feeling of endless exhaustion no matter how much sleep you seem to get.  Want the real deal?  Keep reading!


 Ilfede / istockphoto

Ilfede / istockphoto

True, we are living in a toxin-saturated world.  Think of the pesticide-sprayed lawns we walk by every day, the chemical-laden products we use on our skin and hair, the chemicals leached from the plastic container last-night’s take out was delivered in and the seat on the airplane (or your child’s pj’s for that matter) drenched in flame retardant.  These are only a few examples.  We are currently estimated by scientists to have over 700 contaminants rummaging around in our bodies.  As we accumulate these toxins such as heavy metals (ex. lead and mercury), chemicals (ex. parabens and pesticides), air-borne pollutants, they lovingly embed themselves in our tissues, primarily fat, as well as in our brains and bones.  What happens when we couple all of this with the ever-persistent onslaught of stress of modern day living, the lack of proper sleep and full-range, frequent movement?  Our bodies internal detoxification mechanisms - the liver, the kidneys, the gallbladder, the skin and even the respiratory system - don’t stand much of a chance.


Do juices and detox diets work? 

True, detox juices usually contain several herbs and vegetables such as cilantro, milk thistle, dandelion, garlic, and chlorella that do indeed work to gently pull toxins from the body – same for many of these detoxing diets and can be wonderful as part of a maintenance protocol.  However, they fall short of a full, true detox protocol.  Why?  While they help your body to release toxins from tissues, they generally do not contain any binding agents to properly flush them from your body.  These toxins end up circulating the body and getting reabsorbed.  This often exacerbate the situation, sometimes making the symptoms much worse.  Examples of some binding agents are charcoal and various types of clay. 


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If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to move the needle in the right direction or you feel worse after a juice cleanse or detox diet, there are a handful of comprehensive detox systems in the market today that might be more effective.  They usually need to be supervised by an experienced physician (usually a functional medicine, naturopathic or alternative medicine practitioner).  If you want more info on this, send us an email.  

Some signs you may need a deeper detox include: brain fog, hormone imbalances, thyroid issues, diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, weight-loss resistance, autism, autoimmune diseases and even cancer. 


On the sunnier side of things, there are ways to minimize exposure to toxins – and they are simple and inexpensive (mostly).  Here are our top 13 detox tips:

1.  CHOOSE YOUR FOOD WISELY.  Whenever possible, choose organically grown and locally grown food, high quality grass-fed meats, and wild, well sourced seafood.  Avoid inflammatory seed and vegetable oils at all costs.  Gut nourishing foods such as cleanly sourced collagen and fermented foods also help fortify good gut bacteria which in turn will down-regulate inflammation and help heal the gut which will help protect you from toxic elements. 

2.  DON’T CHOOSE FOOD AT ALL.  I am talking about water fasts, and not necessarily prolonged ones.  Periods of not eating allow for the body’s own cell-cleaning mechanism, known as autophagy, to take place.  Studies have shown that the magic number of hours to fast seems to be 16 hours.  In other words, eat your last bite of the night at 8pm and don’t ingest any calories until 12pm the next day.  Another option would be to eat 2-3 meals, breakfast, lunch and even dinner if you choose and simply make sure to finish your last bite 16 hours before the next meal.  For example, be done by 4pm and eat breakfast at 8am.  Water, black coffee and tea are fine while fasting.  The key is to avoid any calories, including supplements.  

3.  WATER.  Drink lots of water and always be sure that is filtered from fluoride, a known neuro-toxin, pesticides, chlorine and other harmful, potential endocrine disruptors.  Solid block carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters work well, although they can be costly.  Alternatively, and even better if you have access, opt for a clean source of natural spring water.  Here is a link to find one near you.  Avoid water bottled in plastic!

4.  AIR.  Invest in a high quality air filter with the ability to remove chemicals and allergens.  We use a Molekule filter and love it.  It destroys air pollutants such as VOCs, allergens, mold spores, bacteria and viruses and looks pretty snazzy to boot.

5.  AVOID PLASTICS.  Bring your own glass or stainless steel containers to restaurants if you normally bring home leftovers.  Replace any straws with glass or stainless steel ones.  Stay away from plastic bottles and storage containers.  In a pinch, plastics #2, 4 and 5 are the best options.

6.  MOVE MOVE MOVE.  Movement helps keep moving toxins out of the body.  HIIT training, bouncing on a mini-trampoline (or rebounding) are ideal.  As a bonus, quick and intense movement first thing in the morning for about 3-5 minutes helps move the toxins that have built up in your body while lying still and will reset your circadian clock…which leads to the next tip!

7.  SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP.  This could be one of the most important tips of the bunch!  This is the body’s processing and detoxing time in the spotlight.  The brain uses this opportunity to clean house, create memories, and un-gunk the mind of any plaque build-up.  In addition, it improves mood, immune function and mental and physical performance.

8.  DRY SAUNA and PHOTOBIOMODULATION (infrared light) THERAPY.  These are the priciest suggestions of the bunch, but well worth looking into.  Just a few times a week in a sauna for a mere 11 minutes will have a tremendous impact on the mobilization of toxins through the skin.  While not usually thought of as such, the skin has a high fat content, and as mentioned above, fat is a prime hiding location for toxins.  Photobiomodulation is a therapy involving specific wavelengths of light applied to areas of the body to improve functioning of that particular tissue.  This type of therapy has a profound effect on energy metabolism.  We use the Joovv.

9.  STRESS-LESS.  Meditate, get outside and balance your circadian rhythm, laugh, and hug someone.  Hemp oil, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms are examples of things that can be helpful.  (We've written much more about hemp oil in the past, so we won't go into it here).   Stress inhibits our ability to detox.  When we are in fight-or-flight mode, our energies go towards surviving.  As an example, you wouldn’t worry about cleaning the house if it were on fire. 

10.  COVER your skin as much as possible when on an airplane to avoid contact with the flame retardant-ridden seat.

11.  DRESS CLEANLY.  Be aware of clothing sprayed with flame retardant and/or other toxic chemicals.  Children's pajamas are notorious for this.  While we do not want our children catching on fire in their beds, what are the chances?  The risk of exposure to noxious chemicals is much worse in our opinion.

12.  UNCOVER your skin.  Allow your skin to receive regular doses of sun before applying a non-chemical laden sunscreen.  The benefits of sunlight reach far beyond vitamin D…benefits a supplement cannot possibly capture! 

13.  POOP.  Our bodies are designed to get rid of wastes and pooping at least once a day is critical for eliminating toxins.  If you have trouble, take a look at your fiber intake and make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.  Stress can also get in the way.  If you are looking for a supplement, magnesium helps with both stress and to loosen the bowels!

Bonus Tip:  Learn some breathing exercises to help with detoxification.  The Wim Hof Method is one of our favorites. 

Incorporate these strategies in your daily life, keep your body as free of toxins as possible and live an overall much happier and healthier life! 

(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!

SKIN
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Skin, so strange, and spectacular - if you really think about it.  It is our largest organ, our interface with the outside world.  Incredibly, it has the ability to take in vitamins and nutrients, protect us from harmful bacteria and frankly, holds our insides together, keeping it from spilling out into world.  The countless receptors in our skin signal our body how to react to stimuli (think FIRE) and adapt in terms of body awareness, balance, and stability throughout the entire system.  

On a deeper level, skin mirrors our wellness.  The nutrient density of our movement, eating, and sleep patterns coupled with our stress and happiness levels are all reflected in our skin's elasticity, clarity, tone and texture.  It is directly connected to our liver and our ability to flush out toxins.  Given all of its functions, feeding our skin, from the inside out and outside in, really should be right up there next to breathing, with regard to priorities in my humble opinion.

What are some ways to show your skin love?  Today I won't be taking a deep dive into movement, food, stress management or sleep.  I'll cover those topics in a later post.  Instead I'd like to steer the conversation to ingredients in products and slightly more fringe skin health concepts.

Did you know that the EU has banned over 1300 chemicals from cosmetics, while the US bans only 30?  With this in mind, we need to be our own detectives and label scourers.  


What are some ingredients to BEWARE of?  Here is a list of our top 11 (there are many more).

1. SLS or Sodium Lauyl Sulfate.  This ingredient is found in shampoos, body and face washes, makeup mouth wash, toothpaste as well as cleaning products.  It is that thing that makes products foam up.  It messes with the skin's microbiome, is an eye and lung irritant, and a hormone disruptor.  If you get acne around your chin, SLS may be one of the causes!

2. Formaldehyde.  This preservative used in many skin care products to prevent the growth of bacteria, is a known carcinogen.  It has been linked to several types of cancers, weaken the immune system and cause allergic reactions on the skin.  Formaldehyde can be found primarily in nail polishes and other nail products, but also in shampoos, conditioners, cleansers and eye makeup.

3. BHA.  A known human carcinogen, butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, can cause the loss of skin pigmentation and liver damage, and can interrupt normal thyroid function.  It can be found in skin exfoliants, perfumes and colognes.

4. Parabens.  These are preservatives used to prevent bacteria and are commonly found in moisturizers, shampoo, shaving cream and makeup.  They are estrogen mimicking and problematic, as excess estrogen can disrupt thyroid function. They can be linked to almost every type of cancer, as well as infertility and skin disease.  Some other terms for paragons are: benzylparaben, butyiparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben,isobutylparaben.  Be on the look out!

5. Phthalates.  This group of chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, linked to insulin resistance, breast cancer and reproductive defects in both men and women, and developmental problems in children.  They are used to increase pliability and softness of plastics can be found in just about everything from nail polishes, lotions, moisturizers, to perfumes and hair spray.  They are tricky additives as in the US it is not required  specifically disclose their inclusion on labels and are often hidden under the "fragrance" umbrella.

6. Petroleum.  In case the question popped up in your head, yes, this is the same stuff you find in motor oil.  The EPA classifies this as a probable cancer-causing carcinogen because it contains 1,4-Dioxane.  In addition, it forms a barrier on the skin, not allowing the skin to breathe or moisture to be absorbed from the environment.  Be aware that it hides behind some other names including liquid paraffin, mineral oil, xylene, toluene and petrolatum.

7. Triclosan.  Technically, this is a pesticide and in addition to being a hormone and thyroid disruptor, is terrible for the environment.  It is used as an antibacterial in soaps, deodorants and toothpastes.

8. Retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and retinol.  These highly carcinogenic ingredients rapidly oxidizing in sunlight and are common ingredients in moisturizers and sunscreens and damage the skin when applied topically.  You can safely say they are aging-accelerators for the skin.

9. Fragrance.  In the US, the term "fragrance" is a mystery and could mean just about anything.  The FDA allows companies to keep these ingredients hidden to protect them from being copied, but this lack of regulation opens the doors to health anarchy.  According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average fragrance has over a dozen "secret" chemicals in it, many of which are linked to hormone disruption and allergies.  

10. Hydroquinone.  This is the active ingredient in skin lighteners.  It decreases the formation of melanin and is a bleaching chemical.  In high concentrations, it can potentially cause ochronosis, a permanent skin pigmentation condition.  Products with this are often paired with toxic mercury, which can cause severe brain inflammation, among many other unwelcome issues.  Steer clear of anything with the words "mercury, calomel, mercurio or mercurio chloride" in the ingredient list.

11. Synthetic Colors and dyes.  Artificial coloring and dyes are made from carcinogenic coal tar, known to irritate and cause sensitivity by depositing heavy metals on the skin. Keep your eyes peeled for anything with FD&C or D&C in it.


What TO look for.

 Aloe Vera.

Aloe Vera.

Basically, you want to know that if you ate your skin products, although they may not be pleasant to the taste buds, they would do you no harm.  Why take such a strong stance on this?  Anything you put on your skin is absorbed right into your bloodstream.  As I mentioned earlier, your skin is a reflection of what is going on internally, both physically and psychologically.  If your organs are bearing a heavy toxic load, it will inevitably be reflected in your skin.  

Some of my favorite ingredients:  jojoba, coconut, avocado, olive, almond, argan, and tea tree oils, coconut, cacao, mango and shea butters, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, aloe vera, sea salt and essential oils such as lavender, geranium, palmarosa, sandalwood, rose, frankincense, helichrysum, carrot seed, lemon seed, neroli, sea buckthorn.


And other "fringe" skin secrets.

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1. Photobiomodulation.  As most of us learned in elementary school, light is not simply what it appears to be to the naked eye.  Just as food can be broken down into vitamins and nutrients, each supporting a specific function, so can light be broken down into several colors, each having a different effect on our bodies.  There is research dating as far back as the late 1800's describing the benefits of red light on health.

Light therapy, or photobiomodulation, is basically specific wavelengths of light applied to areas of the body to improve the functioning of that particular affected tissue.  With regards to skin health, I am talking the appearance of scars and boosting collagen production (hello fresh young skin)!

Bonus side note:  This type of therapy also helps with a broad range of ailments from pain, muscle aches, osteoarthritis, and depression.  It boosts testosterone production and even improves eye sight.  The idea is that light, red light in particular, has a profound effect on energy metabolism.  While the other colors of light, ultraviolet, blue, green and infrared, are absorbed by the skin and not able to penetrate it, red light and near-infrared light are able to activate enzymes associated with mitochondrial respiration, in other words, affecting cellular health.  Powerful indeed!  Our favorite device for this type of therapy is the Joovv light.  While not the most pocket friendly piece of equipment out there, given all of its benefits, it is definitely worth the investment. (We have the Joovv light original). 

If you want to learn more, here are a couple of studies to satisfy your inner geek.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148276/

2. Derma Rolling.  This basically involves stabbing your skin repeatedly with tiny needles.  Doesn't that sound great?  I've tried it and its actually not painful at all.  Why would you do that?  Micro-needling your skin has been around for several years.  We've talked about hermetic stressors in the past, and this is one you can apply to your skin.  By creating micro-punctures in your skin, you induce an inflammatory response which stimulates cell growth, oxygen and blood flow.  It also a pathway for nutrients to enter the body so that incredible, organic, edible mask, moisturizer and skin serum you just bought can have an even more pronounced effect!  I use the one from Alitura Naturals.  In fact, I love most of their products.  The clay mask and night cream are my absolute favorites.

3. MELT Method 50-Second Face Lift.  This may sound crazy, but let me tell you from personal experience, it works!  Sue Hitzmann, the creator of the MELT Method, developed a quick hydrating treatment that stimulates the cells and relaxes the entire face using the Large Soft Ball from the MELT Hand and Foot Treatment Kit.  She calls it the 50-Second Face Lift.  She has another face lift treatment as well using the MELT Soft Roller.  The entire MELT Method has been a game changer for us in terms of body maintenance and definitely worth checking out.  

4. Prebiotics.  Your skin has it's own microbiome that needs feeding, just like your gut.  Many of the cleansing products out there will strip the skin of its natural oils and good bacteria, starving your skin of the "food" it needs to keep itself healthy.  Skin probiotics encourage the growth of necessary strains of bacteria and can be super helpful in treating conditions such as eczema and rosacea, calming the skin and controlling breakouts.  Our family uses Aleavia body wash and mist.  The lavender is great too, and smells delicious!

5. Contrast Therapy.  This may be the easiest and most affordable treatment for the skin of all.  Showers with alternating between periods of cold and hot water temperatures have significant health benefits, one of them being an anti-aging effect on the skin.  They help boost circulation and the removal of toxins and waste products from the tissues and also have an anti-inflammatory effect.  Other health benefits are increased mental and physical alertness, the upregulation of oxytocin (happiness hormone) and the ability to convert white fat (responsible for fat accumulation) to brown fat (stimulates tissue to burn fat for energy).  There are several ways to do this.  Some ideas: Start with 30 seconds of cold followed by 30 seconds of hot, ending with a cold cycle.  Or, take a normal shower and end with 1-5 minutes of cold, particularly on your head, neck, shoulders and upper back regions.


(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!

Wine Drinking Made Healthy (ier)
 Rudd Oakville Estate, Mt. Veeder

Rudd Oakville Estate, Mt. Veeder

Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love a glass of red wine.  For me, there is no better way to enjoy an evening.  I love the smell, the taste, and how the flavors change as the wine travels to different parts of the mouth.  I especially love the rituals I have created around it.  It marks the end of day, and usually the welcome of friends and family for a shared meal, conversation and connection.  It opens the doors to relaxation, enjoyment and play time in my mind and body. 

In addition to the pleasurable experience of wine drinking, there are compelling studies showing some positive heart-health benefits to drinking a glass or two.  While drinking wine alone does not do much in terms of improving health markers such as cholesterol, blood glucose, triglycerides or other inflammatory markers, coupled with physical activity, it can be a good thing.  This is true for both red and white wine drinking.

The benefits do not end there.  Red wine in particular, is a polyphenol powerhouse.  Polyphenols, for those unfamiliar, are loaded with antioxidant properties and are phytochemicals found in natural plant foods.  They are known to fight disease by reducing oxidative stress and neutralizing free radicals.  Furthermore, polyphenols from red wine have a prebiotic effect on the gut, meaning it feeds the gut with beneficial bacteria. 


So, shall we move happy hour to noon in the name of health?  Not so fast.  As always, there are two sides to every story.  Wine drinking, especially overconsumption, can lead to a cascade of undesirable issues including liver damage, addiction, depression and gut disruption (from the ethanol).  In addition, the truth is, most wines today are not a simple concoction of fermented grapes, especially the cheaper wines.  In the case of wine, you truly do get what you pay for! 

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Conventional grapes are one of the most highly pesticide ridden crops out there.  Most of us make a point (or at least SHOULD) of seeking out organically grown, pesticide free foods, but not many of us think about this when considering wine.  Perhaps we convince ourselves that the alcohol in the wine will kill any of the pesticides lingering on the grapes.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Aside from pesticides, toxic additives of all kinds are insidiously mixed in to improve the color, texture and flavor of wine.  We are talking about some seriously dangerous junk here.  The FDA approves a variety of chemicals, fillers, coloring agents, added sugar and sugar concentrates in winemaking.  Arsenic is a major culprit, for example.  Arsenic at levels up to 500% or more than what’s considered the maximum daily intake was found in 60+ bottles of very common and well known wines.  The effects of arsenic toxicity is well documented and include several types of cancers, skin disorders and neurological conditions.  Personally, I don’t understand how this can possibly be legal.

Water is another issue.  Because irrigation is used as a method of watering the vines of 95% of American wines, nasty contaminants found in water such as fluoride, chlorine and even birth control pill run-off may be making their way into the soil and ultimately into the grapes.  This can lead to a variety of health issues including hormonal dysregulation and impaired gut health.  Honestly, it is just flat-out disgusting.

Basically, in the US, there are no laws dictating what wine makers must disclose in terms of what is in their product, how they producing their products and the environmental effects, or how they treat their employees.  It’s truly a secret society!


 Sad, empty glass.

Sad, empty glass.

This slow poisoning would put the kibosh on any pleasure I would normally gain from my wine drinking rituals. 

Fortunately, I have found some ways to continue filling my glass with luxurious goodness and cheer without the deleterious additives and I am happy to share this with you! 

1. Try drinking Natural Wines.  What is a natural wine?  Natural wine refers to the way the wine is produced, ideally with as little intervention as possible.  These wines are organic, often biodynamic (more on this below).  They are like bread baked from scratch, from grains grown, cut, and milled by hand.  Natural wines are made with wild yeast, native to the land in which the grapes are grown (terroir) and exude the character of the land, contain no additives and low to no sulfur is added.  The end result: a clean, fresher, often earthier and funkier tasting wine, with a lower alcohol content (drink more, suffer less).  These wines are also more beneficial to the gut flora because of the wild yeasts used during fermentation.  The production of natural wines is historically commonplace in Europe, and is a growing movement in the US.

2. Look for organic and/or biodynamic wines.  Biodynamically grown grapes are grown according to a process based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, where the vineyard acts as its own ecosystem, dependent on its surrounding, sun, moon and stars.  They are intrinsically organic.  Organic wines are made with grapes grown without the use of pesticides and added chemicals, but are not necessarily grown in a biodynamic manner.  This is important because conventional grapes are one of the top listed items on the Dirty Dozen list due to the high levels of pesticide residue found on them, which then become part of the wine created from them.  The cleaner the grapes, the cleaner the wine, the better off we are, the better off the people handling the grapes are, the better off the environment.  Win, win, win.

3.  Seek out dry farmed wines.  This is a type of farming without irrigation and relies solely on natural annual rainfall for growing grapes.  The reason for this is twofold.  One is water conservation.  Dry farming can save as much as 16,000 gallons of water per acre annually.  Two is grape quality.  Dry-farmed grapes are smaller, and denser.  Dry farming also ensures the quality of the water hydrating the grapes is clean.  (Irrigation is illegal in some regions of Europe, so in a pinch, choose old-world style European wines over American.

4.  Minimize sulphites. It is very difficult to make high quality wine without added sulphites, which act as a stabilizer and preservative. Unfortunately, this is also what can cause headaches, migraines and lethargy.  Wines produced by smaller, artisan producers tend to have significantly less sulphites than large production wines. Organic wines are allowed a certain amount of sulphites to be added to wines during the wine making process, but at much lower levels than non-organic.  (Another reason we should choose organic).  Older, high-quality European wines and properly aged wines contain lower levels of sulphites.  While their standards of wine making are slowly becoming more relaxed, in general, their practices are much higher and more tightly controlled.  “Old European Winery Laws” protect the land. 

(Side note, white wines usually contain more sulfites then red)!

5.  Purify your wine to remove sulphites.  There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this.  First, there is an Australian based company producing food grade hydrogen peroxide drops you can put into your wine, without affecting the taste and quality while minimizing sulphur dioxide gas.  It’s called Pure Wine and is available for shipping worldwide.   Second, there are a couple of products on the market available for removing sulphur either by the bottle or by the glass.  Check out Ullo Wine Purifier and The Wand by Purewine.  We haven’t tried either product, but they both sound promising.  I’ll update you once we give them a whirl!

Funny how people pay so much attention to what they eat, but so much less often what they drink.  While industrialized food has gotten so much attention in the past decade or so, industrialized wine is only now being explored.  Beautifully made wines are becoming much more accessible in the US.  This is an exciting progression.  Need some proof?  We’ve got some resources for you below.


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There are some people looking out for fellow health-enthusiast-wine-lovers, sourcing natural wines for the US market.  We love Dry Farm Wines.  Dry Farm Wines procures wines from smaller, mostly European sources and lab tests every batch for sugars, alcohol content, mycotoxins/mold and sulphites.  It’s a wine club so the specially curated wines are delivered to your doorstep monthly, or at whatever speed you desire.  Easy!  We’ve loved the taste and clearly feel a difference drinking the wines we’ve received from them.  Full disclosure, we are affiliates of Dry Farm Wines.  While we get a small kickback for every order placed using our link (with no additional cost to you, of course), we would not be recommending them if we did not truly believe in them.

If a wine club is too much of a commitment, our friend Matt Franco owns a beautiful little rare wine shop in Lower Manhattan appropriately named MCF Rare Wine.  He is not only passionate about the wines he carries in the shop, but also about his clients.  Going into the shop is true boutique experience.  He knows every single bottle on his shelves and each visitor is treated with personal attention and care.  He has a knack for selecting just the right wines for your palate or occasion and can help steer you in the right direction in terms of natural wines.  Worry not if you don’t live in NY.  He also delivers. 

For incredible California wines, we love Rudd Wines.  They are a small, family-owned winery, based in Napa Valley, California and truer wine artisans, you will not find.  Passionate about their vineyards, they are 100% organic and currently integrate biodynamic farming into their practices.  They produce 4 world-renowned craft wines, 2 reds and 2 white, all of which are absolutely exquisite.  I had the pleasure of visiting the estate and fell in love not only with the property and the wines, but the family, their vision and their practices.

 Rudd Oakville Estate

Rudd Oakville Estate

 (Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we honestly wouldn't be recommending them if we didn't believe in them)!

Fatima CookComment
Keto Part 2
 Bacon tasting at PRESS, St. Helena, CA

Bacon tasting at PRESS, St. Helena, CA

So now you that you've read my last post, Keto Part 1, and have a little bit of background info on the ketogenic diet, I'd like to share a bit about my personal keto journey.

I had been hearing/reading/learning about the ketogenic diet for years from some of the leading scientists and doctors in the field including Dom D'Agostino, Peter Attia, Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek and Robb Wolf.  The scientific process behind the diet fascinated me - still does - and its benefits became too tempting to resist trying for myself.  So, I made the leap and jumped on the keto bandwagon.

This leap, I must profess, was more a short hop then a surging one.  My starting point was advantageous, as my diet was already very clean, paleo-esque, and with a relatively low carbohydrate profile, most of those carbs coming from starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, other root vegetables, and a tasty low-sugar cocktail here and there.  Because of this, I was able to avoid the headaches, grouchiness and fatigue associated with transitioning to the ketogenic diet, also referred to as the "keto flu".  For most, this flu lasts about a week or two, and basically is the period of transition for the body as it shifts from using carbohydrates for fuel, to fats.

What I did have to get used to, was getting an adequate and pretty high amount of fat into my diet.  I have no problem with dairy, and this made it a bit easier.  I ate gobs of butter and added heavy cream and sour cream to fill in the gaps.  I ate all the fat surrounding the pork chops Fatima made - off my own, hers and my nine-year-old daughter's as well.  Side note, if you are going to eat animal fats like this, be sure you are getting them from grass-fed, pasture raised sources of meat because toxins are stored in fat, including your own...but that conversation is for another post)!  I could have easily sustained the Mexican economy solely on my consumption of avocados, was eating spoonfuls of coconut oil and poured olive oil or MCT oil on everything.  Side note: MCT oil enhances the flavor of just about anything you put it on, especially sushi (thank you Ben Greenfield for the tip).

 Macadamia nut bread

Macadamia nut bread

 Bacon & avocado roll-ups

Bacon & avocado roll-ups

Fat, fat and more fat.  You get the idea.  

I also ate as many non-starchy vegetables and fermented foods as possible to ensure I was getting in enough micronutrients and good bugs.  Fatima tripled her time in the kitchen (it's amazing she got anything else done) figuring out how to make my favorite foods "keto-friendly" - and boy did she do a good job.  Macadamia nut breads, fat bombs, and low carb desserts kept my diet quite varied and interesting.  Within a few days, my ketone blood-prick monitor registered that I had indeed arrived in keto-land.

How did I feel?  In a nutshell, INCREDIBLE.  I had tons of energy, my mind felt sharper then ever and my body quickly shed any bit of fat I had been holding onto.  I was already lean, but eating this way propelled me into a whole other level of leanness.  For me, this was merely a side benefit.  The most fascinating and rewarding thing I experienced - and one I became slightly addicted to - was the effect fueling primarily with fats had on my brain.  I had not felt as focused and clear in as long as I can remember.  

As a highly active, fitness oriented person, I knew I would need to somehow begin cycling in carbohydrates to replenish my glycogen stores and keep my hormones balanced.  There are different ways to do this, and the frequency and depth with which to do so vary greatly from person to person.  I had to play around quite a bit to figure out what would work for my body composition and level of activity. So, once I had fully transitioned to becoming a fat burner, I began to experiment.  

Experiment 1, Carb Backloading.  I used this strategy 1x/week.  I ate in usual keto fashion until dinner time.  For dinner, I ate a lower fat, much higher carb meal.  My carb intake on those days was somewhere between 100 and 150 grams.  I didn't keep exact count, but basically, ate carbs to satiety.  I always made sure I scheduled my heavy training days for the days I knew I'd be carbing-up in the evenings.

Experiment 2, Carb Saturdays.  Another method of refueling with carbs is to chose a day to bag the keto diet, and eat carbs all day long.  Naturally, I chose Saturdays so I could enjoy pancakes, pasta, pizza, oh, and on of my favorite dishes, feijoada (the delicious Brazilian national dish of black beans, all kinds of meats and rice, my mother in laws specialty).  I threw this into my repertoire once every 2-3 weeks.

Another side note:  Of the two strategies, I definitely prefer carb backloading.  I find my body works much better fueled with fats during the day, and carbs at night with regards to digestion, energy balance and getting a better night's sleep.

I kept this dog and pony show up for about a year and it was fantastic for me - almost the entire time.  Why almost?  Well, eventually, I began to feel a little less vibrant - I wasn't firing the way I was used to and there was a little less pep in my step.  I found myself naturally waking up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning and feeling like I didn't need the extra few hours of sleep, but felt my nervous system was rev'ed up and my family was bearing the brunt of it.  My ladies (Fatima and Solé) report that I was grumpier then usual and less patient.  I started to feel like I was getting a little too lean as well - a little sunken and cadaver-like.  My body and mind were overstressed.  This all happened in combination with the launching of a new business (hi), and the enormous amount of stress associated with that endeavor...and of course the normal stresses of being a human being of this time, in NYC.

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It has been about 6 months since I decided I needed some space from my keto-relationship.  I still practice carb-backloading, saving all my carb-rich foods for dinner time, but am not focusing on eating keto during the first part of the day.  I admit, my mind is not as clear or sharp as it was, but after weighing out all the pros and cons, for now, this is the right thing for me.  I use the ketogenic diet strategically now - when I know I'll need to be extra clear and sharp mentally, as an adjunct to a detox program, or when I need to lean out a bit for photoshoots.  

The takeaway from all this, is to listen to your body.  It needs different things at different times.  This may be the most important thing to be aware of for your continued quest towards your greatest health.  This relates to all aspects and modalities of health - training, breathing, sleeping, stress-management and of course diet.  Ask me what I am doing in another 6 or 8 months.  I can almost guarantee it will be at least slightly different.

Keto Part 1
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The ketogenic diet is a controversial one these days.  It spans the spectrum from being a miracle weight-loss, disease curing, life-changing diet to being a dangerous fad only to be tried by radicals and circus clowns (ok, maybe not clowns).  I've long been studying this diet and anyone who knows me, knows that by this I mean I not only immersed myself in science and literature on the subject, but also tested on myself.

This post will be strictly about what this mysterious diet really is.  Keto part 2 will reveal my personal experience with it - guts and glory.

WHAT IS KETO?

The ketogenic diet is derivative of research dating back to the early 1900's.  Researchers noticed that patients with severe epilepsy experienced extraordinarily fewer seizures while fasting.  When the body is fasted, muscle and liver glycogen is depleted.  (For those unfamiliar, liver glycogen is a stored carbohydrate).  When this happens, the body shifts into a state of ketosis, i.e. produces ketone bodies from fat and these ketone bodies are used for energy, particularly by the brain.  Ketones provide a much more stable source of energy for the brain as compared to glucose.  The brain is able to shift from metabolizing about 2/3rds of its energy from glucose to ketones.

The ketogenic diet mimics the features of fasting by drastically reducing carbohydrate intake, increasing fat intake and keeping protein intake at a moderate level.  Aside from benefitting the epileptic population, this macro ratio (macros = fats, carbs and protein) has shown remarkable effects with conditions such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers, neurological disorders, fat loss and contrary to popular belief, even in athletic performance.  Seemingly instantaneous weight loss and brain clarity are two of the benefits most appealing to those using the ketogenic diet without a serious health condition.

The basics keto breakdown would be something the following:  

Super low carb - approximately 20-30 grams per day or 5-10% of your daily intake, all from low glycemic, non-starchy, nutrient dense vegetables.  This will vary depending on activity level and metabolic health.

High fat - 70-80% of your daily intake from health fats.  This will vary depending on whether your goals.

Moderate protein.  20-25% of your daily intake.  This will vary greatly depending on height, weight, activity level and personal composition.

As you can see, this is a very personalized diet and differ greatly between individuals.

 www.perfectketo.com

www.perfectketo.com

 

WHAT TYPES OF FOOD WOULD ONE EAT ON A KETO DIET?

Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, healthy oils and fats, nuts, seeds, full-fat dairy (if tolerated).

WHAT TYPES OF FOODS WOULD ONE AVOID?

Grains, processed foods, starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, sugar and alcohol.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS?

Aside from the conditions mentioned above, there are several reason one would choose to follow a ketogenic diet.  Robb Wolf spells it out nicely in this handy-dandy chart pulled directly from his website.  Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist and best selling author, among many other things.  He is extremely knowledgable and smart about all things nutrition, metabolism and exercise.  He is one of my go-to resources.

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So now you must be saying to yourself, "Great, bacon and cheese, less body fat and a quicker, sharper brain???  I'm all in".  Well, not so fast.  There are some downsides as well...

WHAT ARE SOME KETO DOWNFALLS?

Some of the downfalls of this way of eating range from hormone dysregulation, especially for menstruating women, adrenal dysregulation, thyroid imbalance, and low libido.  There are ways to get around these conditions, such as tinkering with your carb intake on certain days or in the evenings, but there is a lot trial an error involved in determining what works for each individual.

Keto is not easy to sustain.  Until one gets used to how much of each macro they need to eat to maintain the state of ketosis, there is a lot of measuring, finger pricking (Ketones are most commonly measured in the blood.  Other methods use breath).  

If the goal is weight loss, it can be difficult to determine how much fat to eat.  Simply because it is a fat-intense diet, does not give an individual carte blanche on fatty foods as fatty calories can add up pretty quickly.  It's easy to over due it.  This goes for protein as well.  As intake of protein is unique to each individual, establishing personal guidelines can be tough.

Because it basically requires cutting out a macro from your diet, namely carbs, many people end up lacking some key things.  One is fiber.   Constipation is a common issue.  This isn't a problem per se, but one needs to consciously address it.  

Mineral deficiencies, specifically potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium are common in those not fully versed on how to troubleshoot the keto diet.  Supplementation is often necessary.

Such a precise diet where food often needs to be measured and weighed and macros calculated can easily instigate disordered eating for those with an existing unhealthy relationship with food.

Lastly, there's keto breath, and boy is it gnarly!    

I've experimented greatly with the ketogenic diet.  The next post will give you the lowdown.  I will share my personal experience with it, how to do it right and how to use it as a tool to upgrade your life.  If you have any specific questions or concerns you'd like me to address, let me know.

 

References:

https://articles.mercola.com/ketogenic-diet.aspx

https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/low-carb-ketogenic-diet-podcasts/how-to-get-into-ketosis/

https://robbwolf.com/paleo-vs-keto/

https://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2017/05/the-keto-diet-book-qa/

https://www.dietdoctor.com/dominic-dagostino-benefits-ketogenic-diets

https://www.perfectketo.com/guide/ultimate-guide-to-ketosis/

 

Gregg Cook
Why Does Movement Matter?
 Photo by Gjon Mili

Photo by Gjon Mili

What the heck is "movement" anyway?  

You may be thinking to yourself, "I've got this in the bag!  I move all the time.  I walk to my car, I park at the back of the lot so I get some extra walking in, I go to the gym 7 days a week.  How much more do I need?  The answer to this question may not be what you want to hear.  You actually need a lot than you think!  We also need to take a good, hard look at HOW we move.  

The modern understanding of exercise is the idea of taking an hour out of the day to go to an exercise appropriate environment (be it a gym or the great outdoors for a bike ride or run), doing the deed and returning to "normal" life of sitting behind a desk and working our butts off (but not really) behind a computer.  While I have nothing at all against this (hey, am I not a group fitness instructor and personal trainer??) what we do with the rest of our days matter greatly.  Not only this, but how we move is also enormously important.

Looking back to the wisdom of our ancestors, we see they moved constantly.  This movement was often in the form of walking several miles a day, climbing, wrestling/fighting, throwing, jumping, bending, lifting, pushing and pulling for hours and hours on end.  They often encountered situations requiring high intensity exercise, like sprinting away from a predator or chasing that night's potential meal, but movement at this intensity was usually short-lived.  It was rare, however, that they had the opportunity to sit, let alone sit in the same position, for extended periods of time.  They didn't have the cushy couches and fluffy pillows we have now that beckon us to lounge for hours on end.  Nor did they have the time.


You may be asking yourself, why should we look to them for advice?   Our DNA, governing our bodies and brains operating systems, have changed very little if at all since the time when human beings were hunter-gatherers, and from an evolutionary perspective, our bodies are programmed to move frequently, fully and in a variety of ways.  This potpourri of movement signals our DNA to build a robust, lean, strong, energized, fully functional body equipped with a mentally sharp mind.  In addition, our ancestors definitely did not have the amount of chronic disease we have now.  Acute sickness, yes, and fortunately modern medicine has taken care of a lot of this, but we've mastered the chronic sickness space in a bad way, and the situation is only getting worse.

Let me offer you another way to look at it is this.  Our bodies adapt and become fully capable and skilled at what we do most of the time.  What did our ancestors do?  From the moment they arose in the morning until it was time to settle down in the evening, they were on the move ensuring the tribe/family had enough food to avoid starvation.  The intrinsic motivation to move was directly related to survival.  They in fact, needed to be as conservative as possible with their energy, so as not to burn up more than they brought home in the form of food.  This is called Optimal Foraging Strategy (OFS) and all living beings to adhere to this in order to survive.


We now pay expensive gym memberships for this, pay for trainers to show us what to do, how to do it and for how long and set aside a “special” hour or so a day to get in our “workout”.   We have no need to conserve our energy as walking to the fridge, or picking up the phone for take-out require little more than a few steps and perhaps a bonus tug of the refrigerator door.  Is the picture becoming clearer?  You can now begin to see why we have become so riddled with health issues - cardiovascular disease, “diabesity” osteopathic issues, just to name a few.  It has now become easy to take in much more energy (food) than we put out or use (movement).

 

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I can just hear you all now, “I work out 7 days a week!  I do HIIT training, strength training (which in all honesty most of us do NOT do enough of), cycling classes, etc.  How much more can I do?”

I’ll answer that question with a few others.   What kind of body do you want? How healthy, lean and capable do you want to be?  If you’re shooting for just above average, don’t mind extra body fat, joint stiffness and pain, read no further than the end of this paragraph.  This, friends, will eventually lead to less energy, more resistance to moving and more body fat, which will lead to more stiffness and pain. Get the idea?  You will be spiraling down in the direction of modern day diseases of convenience or diseases of captivity.

 

  YES, CAPTIVITY!

YES, CAPTIVITY!

When compared to the way our ancestors lived and the way our bodies and brains are designed be challenged, we live in an environment that dulls the senses, weakens the body and disrupts our potential health.  Consider the temperature controlled perpetual “spring/summer” like environment we live in, and the stairs that do the climbing for us (escalators). Hunting and foraging has also had a complete makeover. For most of us, it now consists of few steps to the fridge. Conveniences abound: running water, plumbing, cars, paved roads, flat surfaces to walk on, no rough terrain to challenge agility or balance and so much more.  These are convenient from the perspective of conserving energy and lowering the potential discomforts of life, however NOT convenient for those of us striving to remain healthy, lean, strong, mentally sharp and emotionally well balanced.


Our bodies require a certain amount of environmental stress, or load (pressure).  Some examples? Cold, heat, physical challenges that elevate heart and breath rate, strenuous lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, etc.  When combined with stretches of down time where we can be in a calm and physically relaxed state to rebuild and fully recover, our bodies adapt by becoming stronger and more efficient at dealing with these stressors.  Getting to the gym, even 7 days a week, is not enough because for the majority of the population, the rest of the day is spent sitting behind a desk. The world of health science now recognizes another category of people aside from the well known 1. active and 2. sedentary and it includes MOST of us. This group is categorized as the active sedentary.  We “workout” up to 7 days a week, but then spend 5-10 hrs a day sitting or standing in one place.

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Enough about the problem.  How are we going to remedy this?  

Movement, of course!  Movement is a huge category, with exercise and even sports being only a small part of it.  Our bodies are capable of millions of movement options and thrive from a vast array of frequent and full ones.  This approach to movement can be integrated into our day at anytime anywhere.  You do not NEED to go to a gym and exercise to experience robust health, a lean strong functional body, and a robust immune system. You DO however need to begin thinking of movement differently and becoming more proactive about it.   Just as we should be eating a variety of foods of different colors with each meal, our movements should be equally colorful and varied.


Here is an example from my own life:  I am fortunate enough to have a job that has me on the move most of the day.  Yet, in the past when I had been at home in front of my computer or reading, listening to podcasts, etc., I would sit at my “desk” (dining room table).  Inevitably, I felt stiffness and pain in my joints, along with the ensuing lack of desire to move brought on in this scenario. Fast forward to what I do now. I have stand for my laptop that functions as a standing desk or a floor desk.  I spend a good amount of time in a squat, cross legged, in a split etc. while working. When standing, I am shifting in and out of multiple positions as well.  Position changing is key!  I also hang a pull-up bar in my bathroom doorway (ten steps from where I am working), keep a kettlebell close by (20 steps away) and keep a 20 minute timer running.  Every 20 minutes, I take a 60 second movement break.  This can look like a 30 second hang from the pull-up bar, 30 hanging leg raises and 20 bodyweight squats.  The beauty of the movement break is not only physical.  It also helps to maintain focus, and fosters creativity and productivity.

Keep an assortment of moves in your back pocket for your breaks.  Although repeating the same thing beats sitting or standing in one position, changing things up is by far a more better solution (and much less boring).  There are many movement experts sharing their movement creativity and expertise out there. Find someone or a few sources you can trust, and get to work! (One of those people I’d recommend is the one writing this blog post)!  

Contact me if you’d like a consultation.  I do this privately for individuals as well as on a corporate level.

 

(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a small profit if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  We have tried each of these products, honestly believe in them and would otherwise never recommend them).

Do your thoughts matter?
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"What you think, you become.
What you feel, you attract.
What you imagine, you create.”

― Gautama Buddha

Our view of the world is determined for the most part, by our perception of it and our world attitude (how we relate to experiences and outlook on life) in turn, largely impacts health, both psychological AND physical.  In terms of turning health around and truly "deep health" evolving into the best version of ourselves; that thriving, growing, learning, full of vitality and overall happy human of our dreams; a host of different aspects must come together synergistically.  We've touched on many of these aspects in the past - movement, nutrition, and sleep.  What about the mind?  Without a supporting mindset, it's not likely any of the efforts put towards moving, eating and sleeping will make a marked difference for long.  

So what the heck are we thinking these days?  Turns out, way too many stress inducing thoughts.  Fueled by television and social media and the impending FOMO (fear of missing out) we've come to live in a time of less than optimal thinking patterns.  The representations of life in media are often far beyond any grasp of reality, and while we may intellectually realize this, the resulting feelings are of disappointment and disconnection.   Coupled with overwhelming stress, relentlessly busy schedules, and a lack of mindfulness, it is important to not only become aware of negative, energy zapping thought patterns, but also to have the tools to turn them around.  


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What are some negative, energy zapping mindsets to be aware of:

1. Perfection or failure, nothing in between.  For example:  You didn't get the job you were hoping for, therefore you will become homeless and starve to death.

2. Personally attaching to outcomes.  For example:  You didn't get the job you were hoping for, therefore you are worthless.  Part of this is also comparing your constructed reality to the truth.  Example:  I should have done [insert action], then I would have gotten the job.  "Should" can be a very dangerous word!

3. Ruminating on negativity which leads to feeling helpless, powerless and stuck.  This often leads to depression, lack of confidence and trust that things will work themselves out.

4. Trying to think of very possible scenario to avoid failure and again, becoming stuck.  


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A healthy mindset is a muscle that requires training, just like your glutes and biceps.  Here are some ways to cultivate one.  

1. When you notice yourself creeping down that negative rabbit hole, ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen"?  Usually the worst that can happen is not so bad.

2. Focus on the "details in the fabric".  If we pay attention to the subtle details in life, we'll see that they are perfectly coordinated.  Take a glass of wine (or a cup of coffee), for example.  The subtle nuances are what transform a decent glass of wine into something superb.  Recognizing the wildflowers popping up between the slats of concrete, the sunlight peeking through the clouds just so,or the touch of a loved one help minimize the impact of the seemingly unfortunate life experience.

3. Let go of assuming we know the future.  We often judge our experiences from the "fortune teller" point of view.  The truth is we have no clue of what the future holds or why things happen the way they do in the long run.  Fortunately is a kids book that really nails the message.  With a broader lens, we see that things work themselves out just the way they are meant to.


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Here are some healthy mindset exercises:

1. Mindfulness Meditation:  There are several good apps out there to help get you started.  (Contact us if you'd like some recommendations).  You can also start out pretty easily unassisted.  Take 5 minutes out of your day at anytime that works best for you. Sit upright and comfortably in a chair, cushion or floor, close your eyes and pay attention to your breath going in and out of your body.  Some people find it easier to say to themselves "inhale" and "exhale" as they do so.  As this becomes routine in your life, this sense of mindfulness will carry over to the rest of your life and in all you do.  

2. Gratitude Practice:  Studies show that maintaining a gratitude practice, has shown to lower levels of anxiety and depression, and increase optimism and overall sense of wellbeing.  All it takes is 2 minutes in the morning to quickly jot down 3 things you are grateful for.  Keep a journal by your bedside dedicated to this to help make this into a habit.  

3. Breathing Techniques:  Like meditation, certain breathing techniques can help create space between you and the negative situation you may be experiencing and help activate the healing/calming effect of the parasympathetic nervous system.  One of our favorites is 4-7-8 breathing.  Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8.

4. Determine Your Triggers (and create a pre-game plan):  Think about circumstances, environments, people, and even foods that have triggered negative thinking in the past.  Short of avoiding them (which is easiest to do with food), make a plan for when you DO have to be in those "toxic" situations.  Your pre-game could look like this:  Schedule in an extra meditation session to help broaden your outlook.  Then, determine your default negative thought patterns and write them down on a piece of paper.  Next to those, write down how you'd like to respond to them.  Keep that piece of paper with you in case you need a reminder of that plan while in the midst of the trigger situation.

5. Take a break:  A change in scenery can do wonders.  Take a walk (preferably in nature) or a movement break, engage in a mindless activity or take a nap.

6. Limit your time on devices in general and especially social media.


June is gratitude month for our family.  We are expressing gratitude outwardly to one person every day of the month in person, via email, text, old fashioned letter, gift, etc.  No rules, except that it is to be done daily and should be specific (rather then "thanks for being you").  Want to join us?  


(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of one or more items listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  We have tried each of these products, honestly believe in them and would otherwise never recommend them).

A Mother's Day Gift Guide

Motherhood - complicated in an other-worldly-sort of way.  What does it mean to be a mother?  It's indescribable love, passion and joy.  It's immeasurable frustration and doubt.  It is reaching deep into the cavernous shadows of the soul and learning the true nature of existence.  Motherhood reevaluates purpose.  It is the ultimate proof of spirit.  That a being can grow inside of a woman's body and become a person outside of her to carry on the human experience, is evidence that motherhood is a job to be matched by no other.

Although we know that mamas should be revered everyday for all they do, next Sunday is officially her day.  It's tough to come up with a pretty little package whose contents can truly represent paragraph 1, but here is our feeble attempt.   In any case, they will certainly put a smile on her face!

These will cost you some money.

1. Alitura Naturals Skin Care Products.  The face mask and night cream are by far more effective then anything else we've ever tried.  The ingredients are completely natural and you'd even be safe eating it - although we wouldn't recommend that!  Be forewarned, the face mask smells very "natural".    

2. An organic wine subscription from Dry Farm Wines.  These wines are low sugar, natural, additive, mycotoxin and mold free.  If she is going to enjoy a glass of wine, she shouldn't have to deal with the negative effects that often follow.  

3. Her very own hemp oil subscription.  We've talked a lot about this already so we won't get into it again now.  It's the new and improved "mother's little helper".  If you want to learn more read our blog post.  

4. A spot in our Mobility + Hemp Oil special event on May 19th.  Even better than a massage, she will come home feeling relaxed, balanced, and like she got a challenging, but also therapeutic workout.

5. Essential Oils from Snow Lotus.  Their French Lavender is incredible.

6. A private yoga lesson at home with the amazing Hannah Gruber.

7. A transformative week on an all inclusive, intimate wellness retreat in Spain (with us, of course).  This is the ultimate, rare experience.  We've thought of everything you would ever need to gently reset and nourish your body, mind and spirit.  She will come back rejuvenated and inspired.

8. A blissful, spiritually moving massage with the therapist we've been working with for almost 20 years.  Geraldine Abergas.  No one even comes close.  Hands down.

These will cost you some time, but will leave your wallet alone.

1. A back rub, a foot rub, a scalp massage.  You get the idea.

2. A >20 second hug.  Who doesn't love a hug?  Research indicates it takes about 20 seconds for the body to release oxytocin and dopamine from a hug and this is especially helpful in women for heart health. Sprinkle these in throughout the day.

3. Something home made.  How about medicinal mushroom infused dark chocolate?  Here's an easy and delicious recipe from Four Sigmatic.

4. A photo book of last year's pictures with quotes.  A friend of ours gifts this to her partner every year.  So thoughtful and absolutely priceless.

5. Time alone to do whatever she wants without leaving her a mess to clean up when she returns.

 

(Full disclosure:  We are affiliates of a few of these brands listed above.  While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you.  We have tried each of these products, honestly believe in them and would otherwise never recommend them).

 

 

 

Hemp Oil Infused Mobility Class

Join us in NYC on Saturday, May 19th at 2pm for an intense, unique, full-body mobility class amplified by the profoundly balancing effects of the plant based supplement, hemp oil.  

We've been talking a lot about hemp oil lately...its ability to establish homeostasis in the body and allow the body to naturally heal itself, enhance energy, recovery and endurance. 

Now's your chance to experience it for yourself!

In this class you will be able to deconstruct old beliefs of what your joints are capable of, push boundaries and leave feeling balanced and energized.  

Some of the benefits include improved immune function, normal and bone cell growth, better sleep, increased relaxation, memory, focus, and optimization of the nervous system and mood.

The class itself will be about an hour long and will be followed by a quick information and Q & A session.  We'll have hemp oil there for you to purchase as well.  Can you tell we are excited about this??

(Affiliate disclosure:  We receive a small commission from sales, but the price is the same for you.  This is something we personally use, support and would recommend.  We will only ever link to products or resources (affiliate or otherwise) that we feel will benefit your health).

 Photo by  Greg Vaughan

Photo by Greg Vaughan

Deeper sleep, less inflammation, quicker recovery and sharper focus through weed without getting high
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I bet we got your attention!  To clarify, no, we don't have any secret pot vaping tricks.  We are talking about hemp oil.  This is something we've been exploring and experimenting with for a long time now.  It's been in the news a lot lately, and we thought we'd shed some light on what it really is and its applications from a deep health point of view.  We believe it to be one of the most important dietary supplements to add to your health regimen.


What is Hemp Oil?

The use of hemp itself has been historically documented for over 6,000 years, beginning with its use in Oriental Medicine.  Hemp oil is extracted from the stalks and stems of the hemp plant.  What makes this hemp plant different from marijuana plants, containing the psychoactive element, THC, is quite simple and rather interesting.  In order for the plant to develop the psychoactive properties, the female plants must be deprived of fertilization by its male counterpart.  Happily pollinated female plants will hardly produce any THC at all (less than 1%).


The Health Benefits and how it works.

Studies show that hemp il is helpful at reducing a number of disorders related to the dysregulation of the cannabinoid system.  Did we lose you there?  Let us explain. 

Human beings have an internal cannabinoid system, aka endocannabinoid (endo = internal).  This system, made up of endocannabinoids and their receptors, are found everywhere in the body from the brain to the organs, glands and immune cells.  Their main purpose is to maintain homeostasis, or balance, throughout the body.  When this system is in balance primed with sufficient cannabinoids, it supports the balance of the body's systems overall.  It establishes equilibrium within and allows the body innate intelligence to do its job, and heal itself wherever healing is needed.  

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In modern times we are hugely overstressed.  Overwhelmed by toxins from foods, not enough movement, lack of sleep, heavy metals, overexposure to unnatural light and EMFs (just to name a few), just about everyone on this planet has an endocannabinoid system that is seriously out of whack.  

What happens when we satisfy our endocannabinoid system?  Hormones are balanced.   The immune system, normal cell growth, bone growth, sleep and relaxation, brain, memory, focus, nervous system and mood are all optimized.  Energy, recovery and endurance are naturally enhanced.

Hemp oil is a nutraceutical that is neuroprotective, in other words, protects the brain.  It's used to successfully treat children with epilepsy with no side effects, has anti-bacterial properties and acts as an antioxidant.   It supports heart health, skin conditions, and can slow the growth and spread of some types of unhealthy cells.


What about negative side effects?

While THC is sometimes associated with laziness, addiction, overeating and memory loss, these undesirable attributes are not characteristic of hemp oil.  In addition, its nearly impossible to overdose with it. It has been used for the past 6,000 years, and has stood the test of time.  The death count from overdose is zero in all this time.  As it is a natural plant-derived supplement, there have been extremely rare cases of allergic reactions noted, but that aside, no negative side effects are known.  It is even safe for children and pets!


What to look for in a hemp oil?

Surely by now you are busy scavenging Amazon for hemp oil.  Before you do that, here's the catch, not all hemp oil is created equal.  First, be sure you are getting something that is meticulously sourced and extracted from the hemp plant itself (not lab-created) and full spectrum.  Second, you need something that can be readily absorbed by the body.  Most of the beneficial properties of hemp oil will be lost as it goes through the digestive system if its not delivered by means of liposomes.  When looking for a high quality, bio-available hemp oil, you also need something with a minuscule particle size, below 100 nanometers (or 1/100th the width of a single human hair), 

If you are interested in getting your hands on what we consider the gold standard when it comes to hemp oil (and we've tried many), contact us.  Also coming on May 20th is a special hemp-oil infused mobility event in New York City.  If you are in the area at that time, please join us.  More details to come very soon!

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Now, here are some more very interesting cannabinoid facts.  Aside from the hemp plant, cannabinoids can be found in nature in black pepper, cacao, black truffles, kava, echinacea, helichrysum (a South African daisy with potent healing qualities), and even mother's breast milk.  It's what you experience when you get into deep mediation or that "runner's high" during an endurance workout.

Looking for more research?  We sited a bunch of studies above, but if you're looking for more, there are thousands out there.  Have a look at pubmed.gov and projectcbd.org

We are not doctors, or do we claim to be on the inter-webs!  If in doubt, please check with your medical professional before beginning or trying any new dietary supplement.

Detoxing through Intermittent Fasting

 Bowl by Brickett Davda

Bowl by Brickett Davda

Did you know that our amazing bodies are naturally designed to self-detox down all the way to the cellular level?  Did you also know that we have the ability to help ignite that detoxing process?  It involves timing meals - or fasting and a few specific foods to help move the process along.  

Why is it important to make sure our bodies are properly detoxing on a regular basis?  No matter how hard we try to practice clean living, modern life overloads us with toxins we can’t avoid.  I am talking about pesticides, EMFs, dirty electricity, pollution, cigarette smoke, chemical ridden skin care, sugar laden diets, an overload of stress, lack of sleep, lack of full body, full range, all-day movement…I can go on, but I think you get the picture.  Our toxic load and lifestyles won’t allow us to shed weight, wreak all sorts of havoc in our guts and ultimately push the aging process into hyper-drive,

How can we help our bodies naturally and deeply detox and slow the aging process down?  Let's take a look at intermittent fasting.

Perhaps you’ve heard or read about it already.  For those of you unfamiliar…simply put…it is a way of eating that consciously alternates periods of eating and not eating and can be done in several ways.  It can really assist in weight loss and fat burning and boasts a number of incredible therapeutic benefits as well. 

Fasting can help improve neutral connections in the hippocampus part of the brain, the area associated with memory, mood and motivation, and has neuron protecting qualities.  For similar reasons, it is also helpful for those recovering from brain injury.  It also promotes mental acuity and focus.

Periods of fasting stimulate cells to cannibalize.  This process, known as autophagy, or “self” (auto) “eat (phagy), is the body’s natural ability to clean out detox and recycle cells that are no longer functioning properly.  Through this function, your body can boost the immune system, prevent diseases related to aging as well as cardiovascular diseases, increase insulin sensitivity, and boost energy.  According to studies, fasting can even prevent or slow the progression of cancer. 

There are several ways to intermittent fast.  Some people chose to eat only during an eight-hour window. For example, you can eat from 12 pm to 8 pm, then fast from 8 pm to 12pm.  Another, more advanced form of intermittent fasting would be fasting for 24-36 hours once or twice a week.

Can anyone fast?  In my experience, it’s not for everyone and not all the time.  In general, pregnant women, and women dealing with fertility issues should probably stay away from fasting.  Gut issues, blood sugar imbalances, sleep issues, adrenal problems and a history of eating disorders are also conditions in which I would suggest avoid fasting.  Ultimately, if you have any chronic health condition or any doubts, clear it with your doctor before trying.

What are some tools to use while fasting to help the detoxing process along?  There are several foods can that help ignite the detoxing process.  Some of these foods are almonds, walnuts, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, coffee, green tea, butter, cream, lentils, mushrooms, garlic, red wine, dark chocolate, and chia seeds. 

Supplementing with hemp oil is one of the most powerful tools to combine with fasting.  It acts as a catalyst, stimulating the endocannabinoid system, bringing the body into a balanced state and allowing it to heal itself.  For more information about hemp oil and its incredible benefits during fasting and otherwise, look up hemp or CBD oil on pubmed.gov, or projectcbd.org.  If you are looking for a resource, let me know!

I am launching an intro to intermittent fasting guide with accompanying meal plan.  It is geared towards those getting started and experiments with different types of intermittent fasting.  It's 5 days long, includes a meal plan designed to fire up the benefits of fasting, recipes, tips and tricks, bonuses, daily motivation and accountability reminders and access to coaching by me throughout the 5 days.  If you are interested, contact me.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23168220

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19171901

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17413096

https://www.osher.ucsf.edu/patient-care/self-care-resources/cancer-and-nutrition/frequently-asked-questions/cancer-and-fasting-calorie-restriction/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27557543

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15372870

https://www.projectcbd.org/cannabinoids-and-mitochondria

What should we be feeding our kids?
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So many of the clients we work with hire us to for help with diet.  In the maze of information and misinformation, we work together to figure out what works best for them as individuals...their personal make-up and lifestyle.  In the end, what we find is as one person in a family makes healthier choices, the rest of the family benefits as well.  Health is contagious.  This is the case not only for diet, but for movement, mental conditioning and overall happiness as well.  

When we see an exception to this phenomenon, it is almost always with regards to the children in the family.  Poor kiddos!  Part of this is because as parents we try to avoid any and all drama with our kids.  If the child seems happy with "organic" cereal out of a cardboard box, and thick gooey processed fruits and veggies squeezed out of a tube, we let them be.  The other part is that parents tend to catastrophize the situation.  Here's an example.  Your child won't eat the healthy meal you serve and will be hungry and possibly starve.  They won't grow and develop as they should.  They'll be smaller then the rest of the kids, not as smart, never get into college, get a job, make friends or find a partner.  AND, they will be grumpy and hangry in the meanwhile, making your life completely miserable.  Better to give them the not-so-great food they love and call it a day.  I am definitely not pointing any fingers here...I can totally relate!

The quality of food we feed our children is especially apparent in restaurants.  Have you ever taken a good look at kids menus?  The usual selection consists of pizza, mac and cheese, pasta with butter, grilled cheese and the occasional chicken "fingers".  Sometimes there is even the added bonus of juice or chocolate milk and a dessert of some sort included in the offering, at no extra cost to you, no immediate cost that is.  

The question is, how important is it to get children off the carbohydrate/sugar/nutrient-wasteland of a diet they've grown so accustomed to?  And if it is something worth doing, what in particular do they need, and how the heck do we get them to actually enjoy eating healthy foods?  


First, why this IS important?  On a universal level, our children are our legacies.  We pass our torches on to them.  Children truly "are the world" (flashback to 1985).  They are the future of humanity.  From this perspective, we need to equip them with the healthiest, strongest bodies, sharpest minds, kindest and most compassionate hearts and we possibly can.   

Historically, there was never any difference between the adult and the children's food, there was only the plants foraged, the fruits gathered and the meat hunted.  By feeding our children out of boxes and tubes, they have become disconnected with food, where it actually comes from, how it is grown.  This is a detriment to our already ailing environment.  This also potentially leads to a poor relationship with food in general, emotional eating rather then relating with food as an earth given gift, as nourishing, as medicine.  

It is critical for our kids to get certain nutrients out of their diets, even more so than adults.   Their development depends on it.


What do kids need the most?  Here I turn to someone I admire, trust greatly, and have personally been a patient of, Chris Kresser, one of the most intelligent functional medicine doctors out there.  

  • Fat soluble vitamins such as A, D and K2, which can be found in organ meats, cold-water fatty fish and dairy, egg yolks, Natto (Japanese fermented soy).
  • Choline and glycine found in eggs, bone broth, fattier and collagen rich cuts of meat (brisket, oxtail).
  • Iodine from sea vegetables (particularly kelp) and dairy (not from milk itself, but from the agent used to sterilize the containers that hold milk).
  • EPA and DHA from cold-water fatty fish.
  • Zinc, iron and copper, once again from organ meats and shellfish.
  • Calcium from dairy, bone-in fish and dark leafy green vegetables.
  • Phytonutrients, a variety of them from fresh fruits and vegetables, along with their fiber.
  • Protein, the foundation for the development of muscles, tissues, and all the body's support systems.

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Finally, how do we get our kids to eat these foods and actually enjoy them?  Here are some simple tips.

  1. Be an example.  Kids do as we do, far before they do purely what we say.  If we are eating these foods ourselves, not only are we feeding ourselves the nutrients our bodies need, but setting an example and stimulating curiosity.  Make room for questions and tastes.
  2. Make small changes.  Start with making foods your kids already know and love, but healthier versions of them.
  3. Don't force your kids to eat anything or to finish what's on their plates and don't offer substitutions.  Prepare healthy foods and put them out on the table and be patient.  The kids won't go hungry and will eventually come around.  
  4. Add first, take away later.  Resist the temptation to immediately clean the pantry out of everything your kids love.  Make healthy snacks available and accessible so that they are encouraged to try them on their own.
  5. Try and try again and again and again.  It can take 10+ times, and often months for your little one's taste buds to adjust.  Often times rejection of a food as more to do with texture than taste.  Try different iterations of a food.  For example, if your kids don't like mashed sweet potatoes, try them roasted.
  6. Make it fun...a family project, experiment, or game.  Involve your kids in menu planning and cooking. Set aside your inner OCD (this one i especially hard for me) and within limits, let them be inventive.  Create "fun" plates with foods they can eat with their fingers.  Make smiley faces out of the food on their plates.  Jazz veggies up with healthy sauces to dip into or add butter.  (Butter or oil helps make the  nutrients in vegetables more bioavailable by the way).
  7. Make sure your kids are hungry.  Steer them away from snack too close to mealtimes.
  8. The earlier you start the better.  Partially due to our own laziness, we never cooked anything special for our daughter.  She always ate exactly what we ate.  She knows no different and is always eager to try new things.  The result is a very broad and sophisticated palate.  Don't get us wrong, she won't pass up a cookie or piece of chocolate cake if their offered, but will happily gobble up raw oysters and a steamed artichoke with melted butter if that is what we are eating.  (Our meal accompanied by a dirty martini, hers, sparkling water with lemon).

Need some coaching?  We are happy to help!  Give us a holler.