Fat has gotten such a bad rap in the last 30 years that food labels like “skinny,” “lean,” and “low-fat” boost sales of nearly every product on the market. The public perception that all fats are created equal and will make you fat, clog your arteries and make you sick is, I believe, a huge obstacle to overcome in the nutritional world. Even children that participated in a cross-sectional study regarding television viewing and nutritional perceptions were found to believe that the words “low fat” and “diet” before food titles meant that that version of the food was healthier than the full fat versions (Harrison, 2005). There is a huge disconnect between what the general public has been told by media and how integrative practitioners like myself feel about fat and its’ role in nutrition.
The social and political implications of the fat free movement are profound. For over three decades United States citizens have been sold the idea that the saturated and unsaturated fats in food is what is making our country fat. A score of well-intentioned people are avidly reading food labels and looking for zero fat content and low calories. Social implications include but are not limited to moms who look at other moms buying fatty food with condemnation and disdain and feel a sense of pride in spending a little extra on the fat free yogurt or reduced fat crackers. As spiritual creatures humans strive for a state of wellness and to pass on healthy genes and habits to our offspring. In the 1970’s when the McGovern report supplied their findings regarding obesity trends and nutrition the new government guidelines came out encouraging Americans to buy more food with less fat which opened an entirely new way for companies to reduce nutritional content, change labels, and make more money (Soechtig, 2014).
Epidemiological studies showing correlation between saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular disease have caused broad sweeping nutritional recommendations to not only decrease fat consumption but increase low fat or fat free food consumption (Daley et al, 2010). It is these broad far-reaching gestures that have turned a “scientific” correlation into a nation-wide failure to give our bodies basic nutrients in the lipid profile that we need to live well and fight disease. Research that shows non-negative, inverse and positive correlations between saturated fat and CVD morbidity and/or mortality are finally starting to gain traction in the scientific communities (Siri-Tarino et al, 2010). Not only are saturated fats not showing up in recent studies as causing CVD but also are not related to increased risk of stroke or congenital heart defects (Siri-Tarino et al, 2010). Conjugated linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that cannot be produced in the body and is found in high quantities in the full fat milk of grass fed cows, has even been shown to decrease risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction (Smit, Baylin, & Campos, 2010). Documentaries like Fed Up which point the finger at sugar not fat as the backbone of the obesity epidemic and skyrocketing CVD related deaths are gaining social and political traction (Soechtig, 2014).
Don’t even get me started on how mainstream medicine isn’t distinguishing between large / small LDL which each have a significantly different and opposing impact on cardiovascular risk.
The deeper meaning behind the fat free trend of the last 30 years can be seen in two lights. One perspective is that in an Orwellian nightmare the masses look to government and science funded by big business to find their information on what is or is not good nutrition for their bodies instead of discovering it for themselves. Personalization of healthcare does not make any corporation rich and therefore the public is sold a standardized health protocol based on biased science that benefits the highest bidder. The second, less dramatic and conspiratorial way to view the fat free epidemic, is that people truly care about their nutritional health and want to make choices that benefit their current / future health and well-being. Emotional implications in this situation are profound. When 2 out of every 3 Americans are considered overweight or obese it will be a trial to change public perception to an understanding of “fat as good.” Not only that but supplementing with oils and lipid sources can increase enzymatic antioxidants in peoples with chronic disease (Sommerburg et al, 2015).
We need to EAT fat …to not BE fat!
Education about different types of fats, inflammatory vs anti-inflammatory, their pros and cons, how to use them appropriately and how certain forms have therapeutic benefits for different health concerns is one of the first topics I tackle with my clients. If you’d like to learn more feel free to contact me!
Ahhhh that elusive thing we call sleep!
We want it…we NEED it…but sometimes it JUST. WON’T. COME. Have you ever been so tired you can’t sleep? Doesn’t it drive you nuts? A rare bad night of sleep stinks but it isn’t neccessarily cause for alarm. However, if you’re finding that the sandman seems to forget your house a LOT (more nights than not) you may be suffering from insomnia.
Insomnia is a condition characterized by difficulty falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia), frequent or early awakening (maintenance insomnia) or nonrestorative sleep (associated with excessive sleepiness of fatigue) that persists for 4 or more weeks. Insomnia can be further characterized into primary insomnia (no medical, psychiatric or environmental cause) or secondary insomnia (insomnia due to a medical or psychiatric disorder that will resolve when the disorder is adequately treated/addressed).
Sleep is critical to health and while everyone’s sleep needs are different it’s generally recommended that 7-9 hours per night for adults is necessary to function optimally.
If you’ve been suffering from insomnia even for a short time you’re likely noticing your quality of life is diminishing. Weight gain, depression / anxiety, brain fog, and increased pain are only a few of the symptoms that can be caused by insomnia and poor sleep quality. Your body detoxifies while you sleep and resets for the next day. Without good, deep sleep your body slowly stops working the way it should.
Symptoms of sleep disturbances are easy to observe but what about the cause? Whether you’ve had trouble sleeping your whole life or it’s a new development diagnosing the reason BEHIND insomnia is more challenging. If you’ve “tried it all” it might be time to call in the Ghostbusters!
It might be time to call me! Identifying the core imbalance behind insomnia can be challenging but it’s not impossible. Nutrient deficiency, poor sleep hygiene, hormone imbalance, even a change in how well your body is dealing with stress can contribute to those late nights (or early mornings in some cases). If you feel like you want a targeted approach to dealing with your insomnia whether it’s been life long or short lived give me a call and we’ll see what we can work out for you.
If you’ve got some energy to try it on your own for awhile here are some Clinical Nutritionist approved methods for getting those ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz’s.
As with any supplement make sure to check your medications and with your doctor or certified practitioner to avoid negative interactions.
Are you interested in completing a Liver Detox protocol?
Is terrified a better description of your sentiment? 😀
Usually the word “DETOX” makes me cringe as most people don’t complete a detox protocol knowing what they are doing or even exactly what they’re putting in their bodies and often can actually do more harm than good.
Sooooooo I decided to help guide you all (and myself) through a healthful, nutrient dense, researched and effective 10 Day Detox that will help restore metabolic processes that have been hijacked by our busy lives, environmental exposures and garbage food!
This will be an online private group that is FREE to participate in since it’s my first launch of the program. You will only have to buy some supplements to help in the process that support all the phases of liver detoxification. In the future the course will cost $275 as I have put weeks…more like MONTHS… of time investing towards creating recipes and protocols for this program. I will also be spending lots of time each day during the detox to support you and will be doing Facebook Lives, handing over tons of recipes and food ideas, creating an open forum to discuss how everyone is doing AND OF COURSE doing it right along side you.
So invest some time and money into your health and get the year started off on the right foot! The course starts January 17th but you must complete the intake paperwork and purchase the supplement prior to the start date to be included in the free online support group and to receive my targeted dietary protocol that compliments the supplement interventions.
Your liver has a dual role. It is both the main organ for detoxing (which your body is naturally doing all the time) as well as a digestive organ. These days many, many people have over burdened livers that are “speaking” to them and crying out for help!
pain or discomf“ort over the liver – (right upper abdominal area under the rib cage)
excessive abdominal fat; pot belly; or a roll around the upper abdomen
trouble digesting fatty foods
had your gallbladder removed
dark spots on the skin commonly referred to liver spots
overheating of the body & excessive perspiration
acne/rosacea or itchy, blotchy skin
unexplained weight gain and inability
to lose weight even with calorie restriction
Eating fresh, in season, whole foods is good..great even! But take a look above and realize that with the burden of work we give our liver on a daily basis it just isn’t enough to keep that work horse chugging along without a boost every once in awhile! The supplement shake that I’m recommending as part of the Detox Protocol contains all the nutrient co-factors for liver detoxification, in highly bioavailable forms. It even contains herbs like milk thistle that support healthy liver processes and targeted amino acids to help in removing the toxins from the body after they’ve been drawn out.
The diet, which is 10 days from start to finish, focuses on SLOWLY removing certain foods and additives from daily consumption. By Day 4 we are consuming mainly a plant based diet rich with nutrient dense foods (you have LOTS of options in here and can pick foods, recipes, etc that you enjoy…you won’t starve I promise!). Then towards the end we start adding in foods. It’s a gentle intro and exit!
“Each year, more than 4 billion pounds of chemical compounds are released into the environment. Although the body is designed to naturally process and excrete these elements, an abundance of environmental agents combined with poor diet and nutrition can lead to an overburdened system. Metabolic detoxification helps by providing advanced, targeted nutrition to support the elimination of unwanted chemicals from your system.
While other detox approaches, such as trendy fad diets or juice cleanses, actually deprives your body of essential nutrients and can leave you even more vulnerable to environmental risk factors, the Clear Change program offers the targeted nutritional support that is necessary for metabolic detoxification—leaving you refreshed, energized, and feeling your best.” -Metagenics
Using my online dispensary you can purchase the 10 Day Detox supplement (not available in stores as this is a medical grade supplement company with the highest standards of quality). If you know me at all you know I am not a huge fan of supplements! My goal is always to get the nutrients we need from food and I work hard with my clients to create targeted plans that include functional foods to address their health concerns. HOWEVER…this one of those times where you’ve just gotta suck it buttercup and do the drink. The shake doesn’t taste bad (just is a little gritty) and you can choose from 3 flavors. The cost for the drink mix, a shaker bottle and supportive supplement is $120. I like the Chai…
You also will need to buy some Detox Tea which you can get locally in your grocery store or on Fullscript. If you are concerned about “Detox” or “Die Off Symptoms” you are not alone! Even though I eat a mainly whole foods diet and try to keep fit I sometimes get a little achy the first few days as my liver is working hard to suck out toxins that have built up. For this you can buy some Buffered Vitamin C or SpectraFiber both of which will act like little mops to absorb some of the gunk and junk we break loose in the detoxification process.
Finally, there are few criteria that may exclude you from a liver detox protocol such as this. Because we are essentially pushing fast forward on liver detoxification it has the potential to increase clearing time for certain medications. In order to participate in the cleanse you must sign a consent form and provide a little bit of information (all forms are HIPAA compliant so you’re privacy is completely protected) so that I can make sure the process will be safe and effective for you!
To keep in touch and so you don’t miss the next group start date follow me on Facebook!
Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes referred to as the “winter blues,” is a reoccurring seasonal depressive disorder that results in feelings of sadness, lethargy and even overeating and chronic aches and pains. Women are more likely to suffer from S.A.D. as are those living far from the equator, working in shift work, or who suffer from other mental illnesses . If you feel you may be suffering from SAD follow this link to this seasonal pattern assessment questionnaire http://www.ubcmood.ca/sad/spaq-sad.pdf and be sure to follow up with a healthcare provider.
Well…that’s fine and dandy but what can you DO about this crummy feeling of your emotions being so connected to the weather?
Move to Aruba. Easy peasy.
However… if that that’s not realistic or feasible how about take back some control and give your body and brain a boost by supporting your neurotransmitters, hormones and vitamins that may be lacking during this gloomy time of year. You can’t change the weather and if you’ve ever experienced any type of true depression you know that you can’t just “pull yourself up by your boot straps” or “smile through it.”
Melatonin: ….long pause. I know you’re thinking: “Emily wait! I’m already tired and can’t get out of bed! Don’t make me sleepier!” Don’t leave me yet! Melatonin supplementation has shown to be a valuable therapeutic treatment for SAD. Those with diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder are more likely to overproduce melatonin causing daytime sleepiness and feelings of fatigue. While it may seem counter-intuitive to take more melatonin studies have shown that actually taking 3mg of melatonin 45 minutes before bed will help regulate your sleep cycle and circadian rhythm, decreasing daytime production of the sleepy hormone . Not all melatonin supplements are created equal so please don’t hit the Walmart and think it’s a bust if your melatonin supplement doesn’t make a positive impact. I see SO many clients with altered digestion / absorption that I always prefer a liposomal or meltaway tab that is more directly assimilated via the mucous membrane in the mouth. As for brands and sourcing, dosage and quantity…well that always depends on the individual. Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding melatonin supplementation!
Vitamin D: I like never..ever..never ever never make sweeping nutrient recommendations because everyone is so different and their unique nutritional needs are their own and no one elses. EXCEPT…maybe with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a crucial part of overall health (like if you pubmed search “vitamin D” and “any disease ever” there is a correlation). Not surprisingly low blood levels (below 30 ng/mL) have been correlated with increased risk of depression. Because we get so much of our Vitamin D from the sun supplementing with Vitamin D may be highly effective for treatment and even prevention of SAD which is thought to be linked to decreased sun exposure. Also if you live in above the 37 parallel in the US you just AREN’T getting enough D…even in the summer …to sustain you through the winter months or so says Harvard. Because the quality and dosing of Vitamin D varies widely please see your nutritionist or healthcare provider for brand and dose recommendations. I will you give you this if you’re not getting a little buzz of energy from your Vitamin D you’re probably taking the wrong one! It needs to be bound to a fat source for absorption and the very best brands are in liquid form.
*You can over-supplement with Vitamin D so it’s best practice to have a healthcare professional help with dosing.
Nutrition: Eating as many fresh foods as you can during this season may help you trick your body in to thinking it’s summer!
Just kidding, that’s not a thing.
What is true is that fresh, colorful foods are higher in B-vitamins which correlates to increased energy and mood enhancement. Fresh, whole foods also decrease inflammation which eases those aches and pains that are often associated with S.A.D.’s. Trying new things and having new experiences has also been shown to help hack the brain into forgetting about the doom and gloom that is trying to invade your normally happy hormone production. (That IS a real thing). So have you ever had a persimmon? Fresh pomegranate? The apples this time a year may be mushy and have been in cold storage TOO long but the oranges are delightful! Try something new from the store that appeals to your senses and let it feed your body and your soul.
Integrative Therapies: Other therapies such as massage, counseling, and light therapy have all shown moderate to significant levels of effectiveness for treatment of SAD and are worth exploring . Even moderate intensity exercise like yoga, walking (bonus points for getting outside…great research is emerging about earthing / grounding for increased health in everything from mood to cardiovascular health) for 30 minutes a day has been shown to significantly decrease feelings of depression and that foggy brain you feel as a result from the winter blues (1). If you really want to set your circadian clock up right try to exercise at the same time each day!
You Aren’t Alone – So Don’t Try to “Go It Alone”
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects hundreds of thousands of indiviuals and even mild cases can make you vulnerable to significant depression . Please, please, seek out a healthcare professional that you feel safe talking to if you feel you are suffering from symptoms of this disorder no matter how mild you feel they are.
Craft, L. L., & Perna, F. M. (2004). The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 6(3), 104–111.
Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Depression Research and Treatment, 2015, 178564. http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/178564
Pizzorno, J. E., Murray, M. T., & Joiner-Bey, H. (2016). The clinician’s handbook of natural medicine. St. Loius, MO: Elsevier.
If you’re interested in which brands I typically recommend feel free to sign up for my online dispensary. Do note that while you can shop for food, personal care items, and quality supplements you need to remember that just because a supplement is natural doesn’t mean it is safe or useful for you. By signing up for an account with my dispensary you are agreeing that you will only buy personal care, food items or multivitamins / probiotics and may do so at your own discretion. Any targeted supplement purchases for therapeutic treatment of a symptom or disease state MUST be approved by myself prior to purchase. Disregarding this rule will result in your immediate removal from the platform.
As I write this the air quality outside has reached over 200 = “very unhealthy.” Washington, Oregon, and Montana are all experiencing wide spread wildfires and my thoughts are with the men and women fighting fires and for the families whose homes are threatened. Even for those of us that aren’t in the direct path of the fire we are still at risk due to the prolonged and worsening air quality. Clean air, water and food are integral to our health and the excessive inflammation that is caused by even minimal exposure can have a significant effect on a person’s current and long term health.
Symptoms include but are not limited to:
While inflammation itself is NOT a bad thing, in this case we are talking about excessive inflammation that, if left unchecked, is often a root cause for significant health concerns down the road.
Even though you may think you are outside of the “at risk” group for poor air quality (children, elderly, asthmatics etc) new research in the field of nutrigenomics is finding that air pollution can affect genetic expression in individuals with certain gene mutations. Unless you are an expert in the field of genetics you probably don’t know how your body is responding on a cellular level to the change in air quality.
While I could talk genetics and inflammation for days I would rather focus on the good and the change so here is the core of the problem:
Poor air quality ↑ inflammation
Inflammation ↑ oxidative stress
Oxidative stress = SUPER not awesome
Luckily there are a whole host of foods that can reduce inflammation and combat oxidative stress by reducing free radicals and thus permanent damage. Here are a few of the targeted foods / nutrients I’m increasing in my family while we battle the poor air quality and why.
We all know that to increase our health we should eat more green stuff. For this list broccoli is winning the game with something called “sulforaphane.” Sulforaphane has been shown to reduce the inflammatory effects of oxidative stress by safely and effectively inducing mucosal enzyme expression in the upper airway (Reidl et al, 2009). I often get asked how best to cook foods (or not cook them) to preserve nutrients. Here is a great write up on the best way to exploit the sulforaphane in broccoli and not destroy it in the cooking process!
A study was done to measure how omega 3 supplementation affected individuals exposed to a certain range of PM2.5 air quality and the adverse side affects associated with that level of exposure. The study showed significant modulation of the biomarkers related to oxidative stress and inflammation caused by poor air quality with increased omega 3, particularly those that had fish oil as the form of omega 3 (Romieui et al, 2008).
Wild caught fish, nuts, and seeds as well as local fresh eggs can be excellent sources of omega 3’s. For more info on foods, portion sizes and even some recipes with omega 3’s click here.
Man I love these guys. Energy, metabolic functions, protective properties…they are real classy dudes. Autonomic function and cardiovascular health are significantly affected by poor air quality and research shows that vitamin B supplementation not only has a protective affect on the body during exposure but even potentially a restorative affect as well (Zhong et al¸ 2017). I often recommend a B-complex supplement for clients to restore their levels but here are some good food sources for the B’s with some recipes as well.
Makes sense that to combat oxidative stress you would use “ANTI-oxidants.” To date, several studies have suggested that some harmful effects of air pollution may be modified by intake of essential micronutrients such as vitamins C and E (Peter et al¸ 2015). Click here for a rainbow smoothie recipe that is packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants to support a healthy inflammatory response and reduce the burden on your body that is caused by gross air!
We’ve all had tummy trouble at one time or another but as of 2012 nearly 20% of the population could be aptly diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and 1.35 billion dollars was spent that year on the condition in the U.S. (Magge & Lembo, 2012). The standard American diet is perfectly suited to reducing immunity, degrading epithelial cell walls and promoting dysbiosis….so that’s awesome. I get questions ALL the time about gut health, which is good since it’s my specialty, so for this blog I thought I’d focus on teaching a little bit about how FODMAP’s, probiotics and prebiotics affect inflammatory bowel diseases.
Irritable bowel symptoms vary from abdominal pain, altered bowel function and dyspepsia to anxiety and depression (Pizzorno, Murray, & Joiner-Bey, 2016). While many therapeutic options are relevant in the integrative approach (addressing food intolerance, stress, sleep etc) something that gets brought up a lot is a low FODMAP diet to manage symptoms and heal the gut for clients with IBS.
FODMAP’s (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that are osmotically active and produce hydrogen / carbon dioxide when fermented by intestinal bacteria (Pizzorno, Murray, & Joiner-Bey, 2016). The production of these gases increases bloating and distension can also be related to water retention, especially in the small intestinal lumen, resulting from the osmotic effects of slow, small molecule absorption (Muir & Gibson, 2012). While the pathology of Irritable Bowel Syndrome isn’t fully understood, FODMAP’s can contribute to the visceral hypersensitivity, altered motility, abnormal colonic fermentation, and sugar malabsorption, which are usually present in IBS patients (Magge & Lembo, 2012).
Because many people with IBS may be suffering from dysbiosis of the gut microbiota, including location and variety of bacteria, increasing microbiome health is relevant for IBS patients. Increasing microbiome diversity can be an effective treatment, along with supplements anda a low FODMAP diet, in preventing flares and improving gut health (Muir & Gibson, 2013). The chronic inflammation, that is in part due to harmful microbiota, made me curious as to how much research has been done with probiotics and IBD (Lee et al, 2014).
While simulating indigenous bacteria sounds like it would have a positive effect on bacterial imbalance, the research I found showed that the results were incredibility varied because many participants had to pull out of studies due to bloating and discomfort (Lee et al, 2014). This is why individualized nutritional counseling is so integral to success for clients!!! No two people are the same! Using strategic medicine, as Dr. Ben Lynch calls it, I can narrow down the therapeutic options to the interventions that are most likely to succeed and then use a little bit of trial and error to find the perfect diet and supplementation for each person so that they can thrive and not just survive
Here’s a freebie for you if you want to do something TODAY to start feeling better:
While bone broth is usually my go to recommendation for digestive distress I had to think a little harder when I realized that the typical main ingredients I like to use (onion and garlic) are not on the approved list of low FODMAP foods. Luckily you can still make a nutrient dense stock rich in glutamine and low in FODMAP’s by using this recipe.
Having suffered for years with debilitating pain and fatigue while under the weight of dozens of prescription medications I found my health and healing through nutrition, nutrigenomics, gut healing and making small changes in my lifestyle. This life altering experience has spurred me to want to become a conduit of education and counseling for others who need help on their wellness journey. I have always gravitated towards “helping” professions but found myself ill-suited for nursing or elementary school teaching as I’m a pretty big wimp about blood and guts and am not a fan of boogers or whininess. I settled on a degree in Sociology followed with minors in Spanish and Bilingual studies to pursue my second love, language. Days before graduation from
university in 2006 my first son was born and I have been privileged to mostly be a stay at home mom to my four children for the last 11 years. With a supportive spouse and strong social network of friends and family I embarked on the journey of combining my passions of nutrition and counseling to get my Master’s of Science degree in 2015 and am thrilled to be launching my career as a Certified Nutritionist both in a physical and virtual practice.
If you’re checking out this page you’ve caught on to the notion that maybe you could maybe feel better if you address your nutrition (spoiler alert: you’re on the right track!). But there is just SO MUCH information out there. My goal is to help clients reach their goals by using an individualized and targeted approach based on their unique body, concerns and life situation. I want to help you to increase your reliance so you can enjoy your life and reach your goals in the least invasive way possible. If you’ve tried every diet or protocol on the planet and still feel crummy, I’m truly sorry. I have literally been there. I spent thousands of dollars on supplements, doctors and tests before I figured out the correct path in my health journey. Keep up the hope,