Detoxing with a Skeptical Nutritionist

Have you ever been curious about following a short-term detox or cleanse program? If you’re anything like me, maybe you’ve been skeptical. Is a detox really necessary? Can a detox be done safely? Does detoxing offer any true health benefits?

In this video of my recent talk about detoxing, I answer these questions, plus talk about how toxins promote weight gain, supporting detoxification with supplements, what to expect and what to eat while detoxing, common misconceptions, how to avoid retoxification, and much more. You can watch the video below:

Want to find the right detox program for you and your goals? Contact me today to set up an appointment in person or via Skype.

Three Simple Tips for Healthy Digestion

Let’s not be shy about this: painful or excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation happen to all of us. If we’re lucky, these kinks in the digestive works are infrequent and passing. But when altered digestive function becomes a regular occurrence, it can start to seem normal. Chronic symptoms of impaired digestion are not healthy, and the discomfort they cause isn’t something you just have to live with.

Painful or excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are signals from the body that something isn’t right, and when they go unaddressed, a variety of other health problems can result, from nutrient deficiencies to depression. There is no single universal cause or condition underlying these symptoms for everyone. But there are three safe, simple, and effective tips that anyone can try today to help improve digestive function.
3 Simple Tips for Healthy Digestion Image

Soaking

Beans and grains contain enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that can prevent food from being broken down and nutrients from being absorbed. Soaking beans and grains in water and discarding the soaking liquid before cooking can reduce the amount of these anti-nutrients and may reduce gas and bloating.

Plenty of different methods for soaking different beans and grains offer various claims of superiority—I like to keep it simple. Soak your dried beans and grains in filtered water overnight. When you’re ready to cook them, drain, rinse, and cook in fresh water. If you still have gas and bloating, next time try adding a tablespoon or so of lemon juice or whey from the top of your yogurt to the soaking liquid, or extend the soaking time.

The bonus with this method is that soaked beans and grains have a much shorter cooking time than their non-soaked counterparts.

Fermenting

The friendly bacteria in our guts are crucial to healthy digestion and many other aspects of health. Drinking alcohol, taking antibiotics, and eating an unbalanced diet are just a few of the factors that can reduce the populations of friendly bacteria and encourage the propagation of unhealthy bacteria. Eating cultured and fermented foods full of probiotics can help to restore the friendly populations and the digestive and overall health that they enable.

Making your own fermented foods, like Spicy Fermented Carrots is surprisingly simple. You can also purchase live fermented foods. Yogurt, kefir, miso, pickles, sauerkraut, and kombucha that contain live cultures can be found in the refrigerated sections of many grocery stores.

Relaxing

Just as important as what you eat is how you eat. If you consistently eat in a state of stress, rushing, worry, or distraction, your body may be too focused on these other concerns to put its efforts toward digestion. Taking the time to thoughtfully prepare and mindfully enjoy eating your meals helps to enable healthy digestion.

Instead of eating while you’re driving, pull off into a parking lot under a tree and roll down your window, or better yet, find a park with a picnic table. Instead of eating lunch at your desk while looking at the computer screen, turn your chair around and look out the window, or better yet, enjoy the company of a coworker while you eat. Instead of eating dinner while watching television, set a proper place for yourself, light a candle, and play some music softly—even if it’s just for you. Those few extra minutes to focus on your food can add up to years of better health in the long run!

Elimination Diet | Why Do It and What to Eat

Many of us consider ourselves to be in good health yet are held back from optimal health by ailments that we’ve come to accept as part of our everyday lives. Maybe it’s a little gas, bloating, or reflux in the evenings, headaches and moodiness a few days each week, the occasional acne or eczema flare-up, chronic fatigue and muscle or joint pain, or a whole host of other symptoms that interfere with reaching the maximum potential of health and happiness. Much of the medical advice will do little more than suggest over-the-counter treatments like antacids, NSAIDs, cortisone creams, or other medications that offer short-term relief and long-term harm without ever addressing the root cause of your symptoms. An elimination diet can both identify the trigger(s) and reveal exactly what you can do to relieve symptoms of both minor and major ailments.
food and symptoms

Allergy, Sensitivity, or Intolerance: What’s the Difference?

Food allergies are a relatively well-understood immune system response to particular foods causing obvious and severe symptoms like hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing. Peanuts, strawberries, and shellfish are just some of the foods that commonly cause a food allergy reaction.

Food sensitivities are not as well-understood. They include a broad range of reactions to various foods through mechanisms that may be more or less understood. For example, nightshade vegetables can worsen arthritis symptoms, and phytates in beans can cause severe bloating and gas. Food sensitivities can even cause mood and attention disturbances.

Food intolerances occur when the body lacks the ability to digest a specific food. For example, individuals with lactose intolerance don’t produce the lactase enzyme required to digest the lactose sugar in dairy.

In truth, these labels are murky, and the human body doesn’t exist to perfectly fit within limited definitions. What it comes down to is that certain foods can cause specific symptoms in different individuals. Blood tests for food allergies aren’t always reliable or conclusive. The best way to find out if your symptoms are related to the food you’re eating is by going on a short-term elimination diet.

What Does an Elimination Diet Eliminate?

Elimination diet protocols vary: most eliminate dairy, soy, corn, gluten, and eggs, along with any foods that are suspected to cause a reaction for you, such as nightshades or salicylates. After two to three weeks on the diet, each eliminated food is then reintroduced as you watch for the recurrence of symptoms. After cleaning out all possible reactive foods from the diet, the link between a specific food and an undesirable reaction can be much more obvious.

It’s important to understand that an elimination diet has a very specific purpose: to identify food allergies and sensitivities. An elimination diet should not be used to cleanse, lose weight, achieve optimal nutrition, or treat any disorders.

So What Can I Eat?

Plenty! An elimination diet isn’t about restricting your calories and feeling hungry all the time. You’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you have plenty of meals on hand that you can eat. Your foods to include and exclude on the elimination diet will be unique to your physiology. Working with a nutritionist to identify these foods, create meal plans, develop recipes specifically for you, and offer support can help you be successful.

Here are some of the foods I’ve enjoyed while on an elimination diet:

Breakfast

Homemade Granola with Almond Milk & Nectarine
Oatmeal Cooked in Coconut Milk, Topped with Strawberries
Savory Oatmeal Cooked in Chicken Stock with Sautéed Mushrooms & Herbs
Smoothie with Cashew Milk, Kale, Frozen Berries, Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder

Lunch

Green Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Shredded Carrots, & Chicken or Canned Salmon
Black Bean Soup with Cumin, Cilantro, & Cashew Cream
Red Lentil Dal & Cauliflower over Brown Rice
Turmeric Quinoa with Sautéed Kale, Chickpeas, & Sliced Avocado

Dinner

Braised Chuck Roast with Onions, Carrots, Thyme, & Rosemary
Roasted Chicken with Almond & Raisin Quinoa, Roasted Broccoli
100% Buckwheat Noodles with Tahini, Sautéed Vegetables, Coconut Aminos
Rice Noodle Soup with Sliced Steak, Shiitakes, Snow Peas, Cilantro

An elimination diet also offers the opportunity to try new foods and to mix up your routine. It helped me get out of my breakfast rut and learn how much I enjoyed and benefited from starting my day with atypical breakfast foods, like rice noodle soup, turmeric quinoa, or rice and beans. If you think an elimination diet could help you, contact me today, and let’s discuss working together toward your optimal health!

Nutrition Nose to Tail | Beef Jerky Recipe

At last week’s Nutrition Expo, I shared samples of homemade beef jerky, along with lots of information about how and why to choose sustainable animal-based foods. Choosing sustainable meat, eggs, and dairy, and using all parts of the animal—from the organs to the bones—can be good for your health and the environment while honoring the life of the animal. I’m sharing my beef jerky recipe below, along with a list beneficial nutrients you’ll find in sustainable animal-based foods and a list of harmful components to avoid in conventional animal-based foods.
cow

What is Sustainable?

Sustainable animal-based foods come from cows, bison, lambs, and goats raised on plentiful, open pasture and fed grass and hay; pigs free to root in the earth and fed a variety of healthy table scraps; and chickens and turkeys encouraged to roam fields to graze on bugs. Choose sustainable animal-based foods for their higher quantities of…
Sustainable

What is Conventional?

Conventional animal-based foods come from cows, pigs, chickens, and any animal raised in confinement, in small cages or crowded warehouses, without exposure to sunlight, fed genetically modified and pesticide-laden grains and unnatural waste products, injected with hormones and antibiotics, and inhumanely slaughtered. Avoid conventional animal-based foods for their higher quantities of…
Conventional

Beef Jerky Recipe: Preservative-Free, Nitrate-Free

Ingredients
Meat
2 lbs. lean beef, such as eye round, bottom round, or flank steak

Marinade
1/2 cup tamari
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Instructions
Stir marinade ingredients together in a small saucepan, and simmer at medium-low heat for 10–15 minutes. Meanwhile, trim any fat and gristle from the beef, and slice into uniform 1/8–1/4-inch-thick pieces. Transfer to a storage dish, pour the marinade over the beef, and toss with your hands. Refrigerate the marinating beef for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Remove the beef from the refrigerator, and set it onto the trays of a dehydrator in a single layer, making sure to flatten out any pieces that have folded over. Dehydrate at 160˚F until the beef is dried out but still slightly pliable. The dehydration time will depend on several factors, including the humidity level of the room, the thickness of the beef, and the idiosyncrasies of your particular dehydrator.

Remove the dehydrated beef from the dehydrator, and place between paper towels to absorb any residual moisture. Properly dehydrated beef is shelf stable. For longest storage, store in an air-tight container wrapped between paper towels in the refrigerator.

Fermentation for Health | Spicy Fermented Carrots

If you want to make a dish that will stand out at your next summer cookout or picnic, try these fermented carrots with jalapeños. Fermentation is a traditional method of preserving foods, and unlike pickling and canning, it encourages and preserves the good bacteria that are beneficial for our health. Fermented foods are also high in vitamin C, and they have a delicious sour–salty flavor.

Bacterial imbalances in the gut have been linked to everything from allergies to anxiety. Including fermented foods as part of your regular diet can restore the populations of “friendly” lactic-acid-producing bacteria in your body, encourage a healthy immune system, and optimize digestion. Best of all, the fermentation process is mostly a hands-off activity that won’t require much work on your part.

This recipe is inspired by a meal I had at Sally Fallon Morell’s lovely P.A. Bowen Farmstead. Once you’ve mastered the process, you can get creative with your own combinations of vegetables and flavors!

spicy fermented carrotsSpicy Fermented Carrots

Ingredients
1 pound carrots, peeled, sliced diagonally
1 jalapeño, seeded, sliced into thin rounds
1 tablespoon fine-grained sea salt
¼ cup whey (see note)
Pure filtered water to cover

Special Equipment
1 wide-mouth 1-quart mason jar with 2-piece lid

Note about whey: If you’re lucky to have a cheese-maker in your neighborhood, they may have whey for purchase. If not, you can easily make your own. Set a sieve over a bowl, and line sieve with a dish towel or cheesecloth. Fill with about 16 oz. whole milk yogurt (the amount of whey you’ll get will vary depending on the yogurt). Fold the dish towel or cheesecloth over the top of the yogurt, and leave to drain at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1–2 hours, or until the desired quantity of whey collects in the bowl. You can use the strained yogurt in place of cream cheese, or as you would Greek yogurt. If you don’t have whey, you can omit it and increase the salt to 2 tablespoons. Your vegetables will obviously taste saltier with this method.

Instructions
In a large bowl, toss the carrots and jalapeño with the salt. Fill the jar with the carrots and jalapeños, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. As you fill the jar, use your fist to pack them in tightly (this is why a wide-mouthed jar is important!). Keep packing the vegetables in until you have about 1 inch of space below the top of the jar.

Add the whey to the jar, and fill the jar with water to cover the vegetables. Avoid allowing any vegetables to poke out above the surface of the water. Place the lid on the jar, and leave to ferment for about 3–5 days. A dark, out-of-the-way, room temperature spot is best. A low pantry shelf or the back of a cabinet will work if your kitchen doesn’t get too hot. In the summer, I use a shelf in the basement.

You can test the doneness of the ferment after about 3–4 days. A lid that pops when you remove it is a good sign that your ferment is ready to enjoy! You can also taste a carrot—it should be pleasantly sour and crispy. When the desired level of sourness has been reached, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to several months.

If done correctly, your ferment shouldn’t have any signs of mold or other unpleasantness. Your instincts are best, so if anything seems “off,” discard and try again.

Nutrition for Bone Health: Calcium & Beyond

Bones are quite literally our most important support system. Not only do they give our bodies the structure upon which every other part depends, they also serve as a storehouse for minerals used in everyday processes, including controlling the beating of the heart! Our bones deserve—and need—much more than a daily calcium supplement or glass of milk.

Bone health relies on many inter-related nutrients, particularly vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Many of these nutrients regulate the absorption or action of others. For example, vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium absorbed in the intestines. You can drink a cow’s worth of milk, but without adequate vitamin D, much of that calcium will pass right on through you.

Even more concerning is that excessive calcium in the diet or through supplements can lead to serious health problems. Calcium is involved in many more processes in the body than just bone mineralization. Getting too much can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, chest pain, stomach bleeding, kidney dysfunction, calcium deposits throughout soft tissues in the body, and magnesium deficiency.

For many healthy individuals, obtaining adequate nutrition for bone health from the diet is not only possible, but also delicious. This salmon salad is nutrient dense and super simple to make. Carrots provide vitamin A for bone growth and remodeling, and parsley packs a punch with vitamin A, vitamin C for collagen formation, and vitamin K for bone protein production. Choose canned salmon that contains bones: the canning process softens bones so they are completely edible and full of minerals.
salmon salad

Bone-Building Salmon Salad
Original Recipe

Ingredients
1 7.5-ounce can of wild sockeye salmon, bone and skin included, drained, flaked with fork
1 carrot, shredded
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon (1–2 tablespoons, or to taste)
drizzle of olive oil
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
Stir ingredients together thoroughly. Adjust seasonings, and add more olive oil if necessary to moisten. Serve spread on toast, scooped atop salad, tossed with pasta, stuffed into celery, or dipped into with cucumber slices.