To Your Health! Nutrition
412 W. Olive St.
Fort Collins, Colorado 80521
Phone: (970) 224-2310

Don’t you love it when life hands you synchronicity? There is something magical when events converge to change Think yourself healthyyour life…and this is exactly what has happened to me. Two months ago three things happened that, at the time, didn’t seem related: I started a new book on how to improve cognition and brain efficiency, I began my search for a seminar that met my CEU (Continuing Education Units) requirements for my board certification, and a past client came in to see me. As it turned out, these three events have changed my nutrition practice and my health forever.

 

Let me start with the book: Head Strong by Dave Asprey. Dave is the guy that created the “Bullet Proof Coffee craze. (If you have been living under a rock and do not know what bullet proof coffee is, it is a lovely concoction of coffee, butter, and coconut oil that is blended to turn your morning cup of joe into rocket fuel that can keep your energy and your brain chugging away all morning long.) His book is a compilation of brain enhancing techniques that he has developed to produce clearer thinking, better memory, improved creativity, and accelerated learning. If you know me at all, then you know that this is right up my alley…I am always trying to find new ways to make my brain better. As soon as I cracked open the book, I realized he was speaking my language. His first and foremost “bio hack” was to eat real food! No GMOs, no packages, no refining…just as nature intended it. As I read on, he also spoke about the importance of sleep, exercise, stress resiliency, and community. He was preaching to the choir, but I loved every minute of it.

 

It was a Saturday and I could have happily spent the day being preached to, but I had other things that needed my attention. So I grudging sat down at my computer to begin the search for a conference that was interesting, not too far away, and that fit the requirements of my professional governing board, The National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP). As I checked out the usual suspects (and found them all wanting), I came across a two-day seminar in Dallas (but they also offered it live-stream…I could stay in my jammies!) on “Reversing Cognitive Decline” by one of my functional medicine mentors, Dr. Dale Bredesen. Wow, this was perfect and eerily connected to what I was learning from Dave Asprey. I signed up and paid (a rather large sum) right then and there.

 

Monday morning, I walked into my office to the phone ringing. It was one of my favorite clients (actually, they are all my favorite) who I had not seen in about four years. She was terribly distraught and was having a hard time explaining why she was calling me. This was not the woman who I had counseling four years ago. She was having problems organizing her thoughts and finding the right words to explain her situation. She had just turned 69 and had been having trouble maintaining her independent lifestyle. The doctor had told her that she had mild cognitive decline and was probably moving into full-blown dementia or Alzheimer’s and there was not much she could do about it. A medication might slow the progression a bit, but that was about it. This was not at all her style; she knew there had to be something else out there and so she called me to see if I could help.

 

Okay, now this was pretty crazy…the universe was definitely trying to tell me something…brain health should be my focus for a while.

 

Fast forward two months…I have long since finished the book, taken the course, and begun a plan to help my client get her life back. Personally, I have implemented many of the supplements and little life style changes that Dave suggested in his book and I have noticed increased performance in my own brain function. I have learned that cognitive decline and neuro-degeneration are not permanent and can be reversed (Dr Bredesen’s new book is called The End of Alzheimer’s and he has now reversed diagnosed-Alzheimer’s in over 100 people), and I have seen my client make improvements in her mental abilities in just two months. I will never look at the aging brain the same way again, in myself and in my clients. Here are the big takeaways and things you can do today to rejuvenate your mental prowess:

 

The Five Pillars of the Healthy Brain…and a bonus idea

1.     Eat real food. Sometimes I sound like a broken record, but if suddenly all processed food were to magically disappear from the world, it would solve the health crisis. Eat food as nature intended; without added sugar, chemicals, unnatural processing, and manipulation (i.e., GMO).

2.     Don’t shortchange your sleep. Sleep is the time that we repair our bodies, consolidate new information, and restore our energy. It is also the time that we balance hormones that keep our mood stable, our weight healthy, and our bodies youthful. Make sleep a priority.

3.     Move everyday…workout some of the days. We are not made to sit all day long. Plan movement into your day: go for a walk, bike to work, take a yoga/tai chi/pilates/whatever class, mow the lawn…it’s all good! Exercise is a main way to produce more BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor), which is a major chemical to produce new brain connections.

4.     Find a community and be supported by them. Make sure that you get a hug, stroke a pet, chat with your BFF, or hang with friends every day. Research shows that isolation increases the risk of brain degeneration as well as other chronic diseases.

5.     Create a stress-free oasis. When I tell my clients to “reduce stress” they look at me like I just asked them to fly to the moon, so now I say, “Find a place that you can take a vacation from your stressors”. I suggest taking a bath, reading a book, meditating, being in nature, or playing with your kids…just for a few minutes. These activities create a buffer from the stress of our world and will lower your inflammation, improve sleep, and reduce your risk of cognitive decline

6.     Bonus idea: Choose some targeted supplements. There is a long list of supplements that improve brain function and many of them are familiar, such as probiotics, omega 3 fish oil, and turmeric. But here are three new ones that you may not know about. When added together in a “stack” (brain hacker’s term for putting multiple supplements together to get a big effect) produce more brain repair and less degeneration:

o   Ashwagandha – improves mood and restores memory

o   Citicholine – regeneration of neuronal connections and increases brain energy

o   Lion’s Mane mushroom – neuro-protection and increased neuronal connections

When trying out supplements, quality matters more than quantity. It is more effective to spend more money on quality products without strange fillers, than to take a bunch of inexpensive, ineffective and possibly harmful products that you find online or in a discount store. Ask for some help in finding the best supplement for your dollar…and your brain.

 

I have implemented every suggestion here, plus a few more and I can tell you that my very good brain is even better than it was two months ago. Fix your broken brain and live longer, smarter, and happier. In the future weeks, I will be writing part two of this article, in which I will outline some of the advanced techniques I am using to fix my brain forever.

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October 14th, 2017

Posted In: Health Practices, Healthy Brain, Healthy Foods, Menopause, Vibrant Health

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Foods to prevent diabetesWhen I became a nutritionist ten years ago, I had a big goal: Improve the health of America one plate at a time! I work toward this goal everyday through the classes I teach, my corporate wellness program, and the many clients that I work with on a day-to-day basis. I love to explain how stress affects health, what happens when you don’t sleep well, and how vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals improve resilience to chronic disease.

The problem is, sometimes I get a little over zealous and my clients or students can get a little glassy-eyed. That is when I remember Barbara (name changed to protect the innocent).

Barbara is one of my typical clients; older than she wants to be, a little overweight, dragging around instead of conquering the world, and in general just feeling yucky. Toward the end of our first appointment (which is an hour and a half and can be a little like drinking from a fire hydrant) she looked at me and said, “I know you know your stuff…I wouldn’t have come to you if I didn’t think that. But I am tired and my brain is tired. Can you just tell me one simple thing that will change how I feel and give me back a little of my old self? Once I can get there, I will be able to listen better to your pearls of wisdom.”

Wow, that made me stop and think about the tidal wave of information that I give to people every day…all with the intent of convincing them to change their lifestyle, and now she wants me to boil it down to one thing! I looked at her and I said, “Yes, I can…Eat Real Food!” Once I said that, I realized that this idea is actually the most important component of diet and lifestyle improvement.

If nature made it, eat it…if she didn’t, don’t!

Real food; food which is unprocessed, unadulterated by chemicals and additives, and well grown, is the basis of health. Here are a few ways in which eating real food can change everything from the quality of your sleep to how well you fend off chronic disease:

The fiber in fresh vegetables keeps your digestive track running like clockwork. Having efficient elimination reduces toxicity in your bloodstream, lymph system, and liver. Modern life exposes us daily to a myriad of chemicals and toxins that need to be taken out with the trash on a daily basis.

Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a plethora of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that tune up the immune system, provide the “spark” that runs our biochemistry, and create the electrical signaling that allows our cells to carry out their important functions. These are the “additives” that we want in our food, not dyes, preservatives, and pesticides that come in processed/packaged foods.

Well-grown, pasture-raised, wild-caught animal products provide the body with all of the amino acids that are the main building blocks for all of the 100,000 biochemicals that we make in the body. Eating healthy animal-based proteins improve our mood and sleep as they contribute to the production of hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin.

Healthy fats from unprocessed oils, well-grown animal products, and whole-food fats such as olives, coconut, avocados and nuts and seeds improve brain function, provide a clean long-lasting fuel, and create healthy cellular membranes. Human health has steadily gone down hill since we began the low-fat recommendations. The trend toward healthy fat can turn that around.

Real food, in all of its forms, is the main component of healthy weight maintenance. Our reliance on convenient, nutrient poor and energy dense foods is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in this country. Eating nutrient dense foods that come from nature will improve metabolic efficiency and decrease body fat storage signals such as high insulin and nutrient deficiencies.

Lately I have been starting off all of my presentations and client consultations with this statement:

“If I were to give you one fool-proof suggestion to improve all aspects of your health, energy and well-being it would be…Eat Real Food, just as nature intended”.

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September 24th, 2017

Posted In: Health Practices, Healthy Foods, Menopause, Vibrant Health

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Genetics

(Or “How Your Life Can Affect Your Genetics”)

I love to figure out how things work. I have always been like this…I remember getting into big trouble on my 11th Christmas when I completely dismantled the transistor radio that was my “special present” to figure out how it worked. (Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to put it back together again.) My love of understanding the nuts and bolts of how something works is one of the most appealing things for me about being a clinical nutritionist.

This Christmas I gave myself a “special present”…a five and a half hour webinar by Dr. Ben Lynch on the complete genetic pathways of the Methylation Cycle. “What in the heck is the methylation cycle”, you may ask…I like to define it as the “cellular engine”. Without the biochemical activities of the methylation cycle in each one of our ten trillion cells, we would not be alive. Understanding the genetic underpinnings of the methylation cycle is the ultimate in “dismantling” metabolic function in the body.

For me, the five hours of learning about this complex subject was like savoring a piece of Christmas fudge (you know my love of chocolate…if not, see one of my first blogs), but when I was finished with the class, I realized that there was one big takeaway: the hardwiring of your DNA does not matter very much. What does matter is what we do to the DNA hardwiring that we are given.

From the moment we are conceived, we are installing software on to our brand new DNA ‘computer’. It starts as soon as our little egg begins to transform into a multi-celled zygote. The lifestyle habits of your parents (Did they smoke? Drink? Eat their veggies?) are the first bit of information used to influence your DNA potential. Did you grow up in the middle of L.A. or on a farm in Iowa? Did you have a stressful childhood? Party too much in college? Avoid the expense of organic food once you had a family? The list of things that affect your DNA negatively goes on and on. But so does the list of things that can positively affect it.

I am a good example of this…I did not have healthy parents; they both smoked and drank way too much. My mom thought TV dinners were haute cuisine. I grew up in southern California near an Air Force base. I was on the birth control pill for most of my adult life. I lived under the burden of extreme stress for most of my middle age. The list of assaults to my rather poor DNA profile is long. But so is the list of beneficial lifestyle factors. I have always been very athletic and exercise has been a priority in my life. I am also a good sleeper and have enjoyed quality and restful sleep since I was a kid. I would prefer a bowl of broccoli to a bowl of ice cream any day. I have multiple ways to modulate the stressors in my life. After tallying up the good and the bad influences to my DNA, the good have won out. I am a very healthy 63-year-old with great energy and zest for life.

So back to the main takeaway from my Lynch webinar…a healthy lifestyle matters.

  • Eat good, clean, real food.Methylation Cycle
  • Hang out with people who love and support you.
  • Make sleep a priority.
  • Move around a lot.
  • Find ways to become stress resilient.

If you didn’t do these things in the past, make the switch and work on doing them now. By the way, there is a fancy word for this concept: epigenetics. You may have heard this term before, but were confused by what it meant. In the next few posts, I will continue to explain how healthy lifestyle habits can positively affect your DNA and tell you more about what I have learned from the good Dr. Lynch.

 

January 11th, 2017

Posted In: Epigentics, Health Practices

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Menopause treatment from To Your Health Nutrition in Fort CollinsYou know what I realized the other day…I don’t think I have ever written about who I am and why I do what I do. My passion in life is to help middle-aged women feel as vibrant and look as fabulous as they did in their thirties. I am “62 years young” and I feel as energetic and as able to tackle life as I did before I went through menopause. It wasn’t always this way for me, however…Ten years ago, I was learning to live on my own again, going back to school, and fighting fatigue, weight gain, and brain fog the whole time. So, believe me, I feel your pain. But I am also here to tell you it can be different. At the end of this article, I will give you five quick secrets to help you regain some of your youthful energy and radiance (and a few other goodies as well).

 

So let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. I am a Nationally Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist® with a private clinical practice in Fort Collins, Colorado (I work with people all over the country and the world using Skype and phone). This is my third career; for 18 years I was an elementary school teacher and then owned a busy and profitable bookstore in the mountains of Colorado. A few years into my life as a bookseller, my stud-muffin husband, Dan, suddenly became a vent-dependent quadriplegic when a growth burst in his spinal cord. I was only 44 at the time and my good health and youth supported me through the initial few years of taking care of him and running my busy bookstore. But eventually the stress began to take its toll and I went through a very miserable and symptom-filled menopause. I gained weight, became depressed, lost my cognitive edge, and suffered from debilitating fatigue.

 

I started researching how to improve both my health and Dan’s through reading just about anything on healthy lifestyle and nutrition that I could get my hands on. (I actually read Michael Murray’s 946-page tome, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, from cover to cover.) I began changing our diets, our sleep patterns, and our toxic exposure. I made sure we both had some stress relief every day and I instituted a supplement regimen that complemented our new nutritional habits. Both Dan I began to feel the difference and I started the long journey to the vibrant health I have today. I also decided to sell my wonderful bookstore and go back to school for my nutrition degree.

 

After years of fighting pneumonia and kidney and bladder infections, Dan passed away peacefully one day while taking a nap. It was a sadness and a blessing all in one. I miss him terribly and think about him daily, but if it was not for that long painful journey, I would not be as happy and as healthy as I am today. And I would not have the absolutely amazing job of helping women like myself become happy and healthy also!

 

I specialize in helping women (and men, too) navigate the waters of middle age. It is neither natural nor normal for us to feel tired, depressed, overweight, and sleep-deprived as we move into our later years. In fact, with the kids out of the house, financial stability, and the gift of experience we should be having the best years of our life. But for many, this is not the case. Well, I am living proof that you can go through hell and come out smelling like a rose.

 

Here are five quick tips for menopause treatment and to turn your “MenoPause into MenoGo” as I have done:

1.     Make sleep a priority – Don’t let menopause turn you into a night owl! This will create an imbalance in your hormones and neurotransmitters making you grouchy, fat, and sleepy. Sleep is your fountain of youth! Click here for my Sleep Worksheet, Rejuvenate Your Sleep Naturally.

2.     Don’t diet…just eat real, whole foods as nature intended – As menopause looms, the hormones that regulate weight, appetite, and energy begin to go offline. The best way to rebalance them is to eat three meals a day of natural, whole food…very nutrient dense and full of the building blocks the body needs. No need to count calories if this is your “diet”.

3.     Do three things every day to give you stress resilience – Stress affects all aspects of our life and, unfortunately, there is no way to remove all the stressors from our world. The best way to deal with stress is build resiliency. The way to be resilient is to spend as much time in “rest and digest” (R&D) and as little time in “flight or flight” as possible. One way I do this is to go into R&D as many times in a day as I can. I have just taken up coloring (yes, just like when I was a kid, but with adult coloring books and fancy colored pencils…this is my favorite coloring book, The Secret Garden). This is a great activity to help slow breath, put your mind in the moment, and improve hand-eye coordination. Two of my other favorite R&D activities are listening to music and picking weeds in my garden.

4.     Reduce sitting and move everyday – Sitting is the new smoking. Our bodies were just not made to sit in a chair all day long. Try using a standing desk, a timer for the computer, and taking short walks throughout the day. Take a look at this amazing infographic illustrating some of the health issues related to Sitting.

5.     Reduce multi-tasking and focus on one task at a time – The more things we try to do at once, the less we actually get done. This is a proven fact shown by numerous studies on productivity. Many of my clients complain they are overwhelmed by the amount of things that they have to do and they just can’t seem to get to the bottom of the pile. This takes its toll on our energy and our well being. I suggest working on one task at a time…try not to look at email, answer the phone, or let out the dog out while working on something. Having said that, you will improve your productivity if you take a break every 45 minutes or so then go back to the same activity.

Try one or two of these tips and notice the difference in how you feel. Don’t get frustrated if you fall back into some old habits, just get back on the horse…It can take up to 15 times before a new activity becomes a habit. One small change can make a huge effect on how you feel.

July 25th, 2015

Posted In: Health Practices, Menopause, Rejuvenating Sleep, Vibrant Health

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Sleep is the Most Powerful Tool in Your Menopausal Toolbox

Menopause and sleep are not always easy to combine.  However, good sleep is essential for a healthy menopause.Time waits for no man…or woman, for that matter. We know it every morning when we wake up and look into the mirror and wonder what happened to that twenty-year-old cutie that used to stare back at us. But would you really want to go back to those days…I wouldn’t. I like where I am now, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a little of the “cute” back. Well, one way to do that is to honor your sleep.

In this post, I am going show you that quality sleep is one of the most important things that you can do to help you lose weight, improve your skin, energize your day, and sharpen your mind. I am also going to give you the five most important things you can do to get that youth-promoting sleep.

“Wait a minute!” you say. “I sleep okay. I want more to know more elusive ways to make me feel like I did before menopause.” Okay…then answer these questions and if you answer ‘yes’ to all of them, then you can skip this post and probably teach me a thing or two. But if you answer ‘no’ to any of them, then you are not getting the restorative and youthful sleep that you need to “turn your MenoPause into MenoGo”:

  • Do you usually fall asleep within ten minutes of turning out the light?
  • Do you get your best sleep between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.?
  • If you wake in the middle of the night, do you go back to sleep within a few minutes?
  • Do you wake up with the sun and feel refreshed and ready to go?
  • Do you abstain from eating between dinner and bedtime (even something healthy)?
  • Do you turn off your TV or computer/pad/smart phone within an hour of going to bed? Do you keep it out of your bedroom while you are sleeping?
  • Do you sleep in a quiet, darkened room?
  • Have you cured your mate from snoring or banished your pets from the bedroom so they do not wake you?

These are just a few of the things that can mess with your sleep quantity and quality. I believe that one of the most important things you can do for turning back the clock is to get great sleep.

Sleep is much more than just taking a break from the day. Every thing in nature, including the human being, follows a diurnal body clock. This clock is regulated by the day/night cycle. Every one of our 200 metabolic hormones has a relationship with this clock and is released or halted in a complex sequence that is regulated by our daily rhythms. These hormones promote fat burning (60% of our fat is burned while we sleep), stress regulation, tissue regeneration and reproductive hormone balance. Here are just a few of the ways that our lifestyle can create poor sleep:

  • The appetite-regluating  hormones of insulin, leptin, glucagon, and ghrelin are all influenced by sleep and can block the processes of glucose and fat metabolism – turning on fat-storage rather than fat-burning programs. When you eat after dinner, this raises your insulin, unbalancing all of the other metabolic hormones during sleep.
  • Cortisol and melatonin are in an inverse relationship to each other…in other words, when cortisol (a major stress hormone) is high, melatonin (our major sleep hormone) is low. Anything that raises cortisol before sleep will reduce melatonin at the same time. Insulin also raises cortisol…so now you are wide awake and storing fat instead of burning it.
  • Daylight contains the “blue light” spectrum…this blue light tells us to wake up and reduces melatonin. All computers, televisions, smart phones and pads emit blue light. When using them after dark, the brain (specifically the pineal gland) thinks it is daytime and blocks melatonin production.
  • And one last fun fact…sleep is also the time that the brain detoxifies and removes the waste products created by busy brain cells. Ever wonder why you feel “fuzzy” after a poor night’s sleep…your brain didn’t get a good “scrub” during the night. Sleep is a shower for the brain!

So as you can see, your nutrition and lifestyle have profound effects on your sleep and vice versa. What can you do about this? One thing is to make sleep a priority in your life. I promised you five of the best tips for improving your sleep, here they are:

  1. Eat three well-balanced meals during the day and no snacking, especially after dinner. This is a big topic to summarize here (my next post will be focused exclusively on “well-balanced” meals), but in general a well-balanced meal has the following attributes: real food as close to nature intended as possible, nutrient density that includes healthy protein, fat, and carbs in each meal, 500 to 700 calories per meal (I don’t want you counting calories here, I just want you to know that you need to eat enough at each meal to sustain you.) and think about making breakfast centered around protein, lunch centered around healthy fats, and dinner centered around healthy carbohydrates (Healthy carb??…fresh fruit and lots of veggies, both starchy and non-starchy).
  2. Create a bedtime ritual that is calming to the nervous system and the body. Modern times really messes with our primal senses that tell us it is bedtime. Lights, sights, and sounds tell us to wake up, not go to sleep. Try to be in bed by 10:00 and develop a routine that lulls you into sleep. Some ideas are: Turn off all electronics by 8:30 or 9:00, take a soothing bath or shower using either Epsom salt in the bath or spray on magnesium after the shower, soothing music, and/or read a real book (not too exciting) with a dim light.
  3. “Blanket” your bedroom from the world. Your bedroom should be used for two things: sleep and sex. It should be your refuge from the stressors of your day. Once you turn out the light, your room should be as dark as possible (not even an alarm clock light…I cover mine with a cloth) and as quiet as possible. Use blackout curtains and a sound machine or ear plugs if needed. One other tip…use an alarm clock that wakes you with light and a soothing sounds. This is the one I use.
  4. Increase your activity during the day. To promote healthy sleep, you need to be active during the day. As you will soon learn, I believe that movement needs to be regular, enjoyable, and natural…I am not a big fan of going to “the club”. Go for a walk, reduce your sitting, take the stairs, stretch or do some yoga, or garden. These activities will not be building tons of muscle or “burning off the calories”, but they will promote great sleep that will promote fat burning and give you energy.
  5. Realign your metabolic hormones with a small amount of melatonin before bed. As I said earlier, today’s lifestyle has made it difficult to regulate our metabolic hormones, which can mess with quality sleep. One way to kick start hormonal balance is to use melatonin at bedtime. The body naturally makes melatonin in very small amounts, so it is best to mimic that dosage. I suggest starting with .5mg and working up to no more than 2mg. Take it an hour before sleep and make sure to eliminate blue light before bed and get some natural morning light first thing in the morning.

Don’t try to do all of this at once…try one idea and give it three to seven days to see if it helps. Sometimes, a combination of these ideas will start to make a lasting change. To get more information on how to improve your sleep naturally check out this E-book by Kevin Geary, RemRehab.

Good sleep is absolutely essential to turn your Menopause into Menogo…nighty-night!

January 5th, 2015

Posted In: Health Practices, Menopause, Rejuvenating Sleep, Vibrant Health

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Turn Your MenoPause into MenoGo

Learn how to get menopause relief. You can turn your menopause into menoGoMenopause. Interesting word. The dictionary defines it as “the ceasing of menstruation”. Pretty straightforward; nothing dire or life-threatening. But if you type it in to a word search on web, you come up with medical definitions that involve the words “disease”, “condition”, and “symptom”. I think one of the ways that our conventional medical system has failed us is that it has turned the natural processes of the body into things that needs to be fretted over and maybe even feared to feel menopause relief.

I went through menopause a long time ago. I am now 61-years ‘young’ and have absolutely no ill effects and a whole lot of benefits from this stage of life. Believe me, I do not miss the monthly hassles that went along with being in the baby-making mode. Neither do I have any of the “symptoms” of being menopausal except that I weigh ten pounds more than I did when I was a teenager. (There is a very good reason for weighing slightly more than you did in your teens when you go through menopause…I will get to this in later posts on this topic) I do see many clients however, who are miserable in their journey through their middle and later years and who exhibit many of the signs of an unhealthy menopause or peri-menopause.

There are many reasons for this state of affairs, but the most logical and obvious one is that our lifestyles have evolved to impede the natural process of “ceasing to menstruate”, which has negative affects on every metabolic and hormonal system in the body. I am going to give you Five Secrets to getting your middle-years back on track:

  1. Eat real food at the right times
  2. Promote healthy and quality sleep
  3. Become resilient to stress (it is almost impossible to get rid of daily stressors, but you can make them less impactful to your health)
  4. Move naturally every day (reduce sitting)
  5. Create a healthy and well-functioning digestive system

Whoa…this list is a lot easier said than done, right? These are large, over-riding principles that guide how you live your life, not just quick steps to feeling like your old self again. So for this post, let me give you one quick and easy “action step” for each of the Five Secrets to help you get started (well, maybe not easy…no change is easy):

  1. Eat real food at the right times – Cook at least half of your meals at home. Michael Pollan says that anything made and eaten at home is better than eating the same food in a restaurant…even French fries. He has a great two-minute video about this idea. I completely agree with him and I try to make a full meal for myself at least five nights per week with enough for leftovers the next day.
  2. Promote healthy and quality sleep – Make sure your room is as dark as possible when you sleep. Any light, even the small amount from an alarm clock, can reduce your melatonin production and interfere with your sleep quality.
  3. Become resilient to stress – Find time for an activity that you love to do, everyday…even for 5 minutes. When you occupy your time with an enjoyable activity, you turn on the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system and turn off the “flight and flight” processes that promote the ill effects of chronic stress
  4. Move naturally every day (reduce sitting) – Get up from your chair every 45 minutes. I set a timer when I am working at my desk or even reading a book on the couch. When the timer goes off, I go to the bathroom or wash a dish or chat with my office mate for a few minutes. I am actually more productive and this interrupts some of the damaging effects of having a sedentary job. Check out this great info-graphic from the Washington Post on the problems of sitting too much.
  5. Create a healthy and well-functioning digestive system – Dechlorinate your drinking water. One of the most damaging things that you can do to the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract is to expose them to the chlorination in water. If you don’t have a filter, you can set a pitcher of water on the counter for six or more hours and the chlorine will evaporate. Here are a few more ideas to improve your water quality.

Making small changes lead to bigger ones and can make a pronounced change in how you feel. In future posts, I will give you many ways that you can turn your MenoPause into MenoGo just as I have done. See you soon!

 

November 22nd, 2014

Posted In: Health Practices, Menopause, Vibrant Health

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So what’s up with the “spring cleanse”? Google “spring cleanse” or “detoxification program” during the first part of the year and you will see every nutritionist, chiropractor, and naturopath promoting their new-and-improved detox program. Why is detoxification necessary and why is spring the best time for cleaning, both inside and out?

The human body does a pretty good job of cleaning up after itself…we have multiple ways of taking out the metabolic trash. Just as you have to clean up the kitchen after creating a culinary masterpiece, you must clean up your digestive, absorptive, and cellular processing of that meal.

Just has you need to find a way to dispose of the used oil from your Maserati once every 3,000 miles, you need to find a way to dispose of used up hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters from the daily metabolic processes that take place in your body.

And just as you have to clean and change the filter in your fish tank to keep your angel fish from kicking the bucket, you need to clean out your body filters (liver, kidneys, and skin) or you will become bogged down and sick from the environmental sludge that we swim around in all day.

Detoxification, or more biochemically correct, “biotransformation” is the method the body uses to do all of these housecleaning duties on a daily basis. But if you are anything like me (or my mother and grandmother) you block off a weekend for a thorough cleaning of your abode in the spring. We should also do this for our bodies.

Unfortunately, we are living in a chemical “soup” that is becoming more toxic by the moment. I am not going to go into all of the gory details of the hundreds of chemicals that we have to process through our livers everyday. But I do want to encourage you to help your detoxification organs become more resilient and effective in their daily household cleaning, by performing at least one major cleanse per year.

So what is so special about the spring? In Ayurvedic medicine, the seasons play a major role in promoting and maintaining health. One of my mentors, Dr. John Douilliard, explains in his book The Three Season Diet that the green veggies and leafy plants that naturally become more abundant in the spring are the vehicle for the natural spring detox that has been taking place in our bodies for millions of years. The components of these plants provide vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that help to “biotransform” the toxins that have been building up in our organs like dust bunnies under the bed.

I am about to begin my annual, internal spring-cleaning later this month. I am inviting my clients, my friends, and my readers to do this along with me. I have my own new-and-improved Spring Cleanse that I am happy to share with you and guide you through the process. Please call me for information and I’ll fill you in on the particulars.

Okay everyone…dust mops to the ready…let’s get cleaning!

April 30th, 2014

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New and improved TYH Website

New and Improved To Your Health Website

To Your Health is proud to announce the launch of our new website. Our goal is to make everything easy to find and improve the functionality, and overall look and feel. We also want to make your experience more personal, and user-friendly. Feel free to leave comments about the new look, or if there is anything that you might like to see added in the future.

February 25th, 2014

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addicted to chocolate

Orininally posted on July 22, 2013 by To Your Health! Nutrition

I confess…I am addicted to chocolate. Everyday, around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, I have a cup of tea (my favorite is white peach tea) and two squares of Endangered Species Extreme Dark Chocolate (88% cocoa). It takes me at least two hours to have a couple of cups of tea and the two squares of chocolate…I savor each sip and each tiny bite (which I never chew…I just let it melt slowly in my mouth). This is such a ritual that I am often tempted to not schedule clients in during that time so that I can quietly enjoy my chocolate, although I have never done that. Some of my long-time clients know of my chocolate passion and I can indulge in their presence without guilt. Now the rest of you know, too.

This may seem like a contradiction, since I am a nutrition therapist and so I should be eating a completely healthy and clean diet, but actually my chocolate passion is not so bad for me. Here are some reasons why:

Sugar Content of Chocolate

Like everything, chocolate is good in moderation. Okay, maybe not all chocolate, but dark chocolate, when eaten responsibly, provides a number health benefits. The dark chocolate I choose to eat has only 4 grams of natural sugar per ounce. Compare that to the 24 grams of refined sugar in your average 1.5 ounce milk chocolate bar.

But sugar is sugar, right? Not at all.

There are similarities between natural sugar and refined sugar. Both come from the sugar cane plant. Both are initially made by drying the juices of this plant into sugar crystals. This, however, is where the similarities end. Once the crystals have dried, phosphoric acid, calcium hydroxide, sulfur dioxide, and a host of other chemicals are added to refined sugar. Your body metabolizes chemicals much differently than natural foods. The end result is a shockingly higher caloric content, increasing your risk for diabetes and obesity.

While all sugar can cause health problems, limited amounts of natural sugar balanced with a healthy diet and exercise can provide the sweet flavor you desire without the dangers of its Frankenstein cousin.

Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Body

There are numerous studies that have found two ounces of dark chocolate per day has several health benefits. Included in these are:

  • Dark chocolate lowers platelet activity, making it less reactive and slower to clot. This, in turn, reduces your risk of heart disease
  • Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, long known to provide numerous health benefits including reducing oxidative damage that can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, dark chocolate has a flavonol called epicatechin which, in a study by The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, was found to be highly effective in reducing blood pressure
  • Dark chocolate is chock full of phytonutrients, non-nutritive plant compounds that protect you from illness and diseases of all sorts
  • Chocolate can help keep your teeth strong and healthy. A 2013 study performed by the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found that a new form of toothpaste containing the natural occuring cacao extract theobromine was more effective than fluoride in protecting teeth.

These benefits are particular to dark chocolate. In fact, a recent study by the National Institute for Food and Nutrition found that milk interferes with the absorption of antioxidants, therefor rendering milk chocolate incapable of providing these health benefits.

Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Mind (Okay…dark chocolate is good for my mind)

Buddhists and Hindus place offerings on alters. Catholics and Protestants recite liturgies. Me? I take two hours every day to practice my own ritual. This is my meditation, my space, my peace. This is where I cultivate both love and attention – beginning with careful preparation of my tea and ending as the last piece of dark chocolate melts completely away. Like a Japanese Tea Ceremony, I pay attention to every detail, savoring the entire experience, and centering myself for the rest of the day.

Being a nutrition therapist does not mean that I can’t enjoy foods. Quite to the contrary – being a nutrition therapist allows me to better enjoy foods; appreciating both their health benefits and their unique and expressive tastes. Eating should be a pleasure. It is my distinct honor to teach people how to enjoy it more.

July 12th, 2013

Posted In: Confessions, Healthy Foods

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Originally posted July 1, 2012

Inflammation causes, solutions and heart disease

So here I am, ready to write about the “healthy pearls of wisdom” that I learned while at the IFM conference last month in Scottsdale. At first I wondered where I should begin and then I remembered the three things that Dr Mark Houston drummed into our heads for three and a half days…all cardiometabolic disease (and probably all disease) is caused by one or a combination of three things: inflammation, oxidative stress, or an autoimmune process . I want you to know, as a healthcare practitioner this was quite a ‘load off’. I constantly feel like I am playing a round of “Where’s Waldo” when I meet a new client; trying to find the key to whatever is unbalancing their health. The revelation that it boils down to only three things is very freeing…I just have to find the cause of the inflammation, oxidative stress, or immune dysfunction and I am half way there.

Inflammation is a healthy response in a healthy body. It is triggered by the immune system to protect us against all kinds of bad things: bacteria, virus, cell damage, antigens (foreign things to which the body reacts), toxins, etc. It is supposed to show up, do its thing and then get the heck outta Dodge. But in today’s world of chronic stress, pollution, poor food choices, global exposure to all sorts of bugs, and chronic health problems, inflammation is chronic and pervasive in our bodies. Almost everyone has some level of chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hypertension, and all cardiovascular disease. But why are we so inflamed? There are as many reasons for systemic inflammation as there are chronic health issues in the body, but let me give you one example: Periodontal disease.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research almost 9% of adults aged 20 to 64 and over 17% of adults 65 and older have mild to moderate periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It’s typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden. In advanced stages, periodontal disease can lead to sore, bleeding gums; painful chewing problems; and even tooth loss. It also causes a smoldering inflammation that can move throughout the body causing many health issues.

All of the presenters at the conference include intake questions and a visual exam of the mouth with all of their new clients. I have added these surveys to my intake procedure also. There are many other reasons we can be chronically inflammed…here are just a few:

  • stress
  • smoking
  • poor diet
  • dysbiosis or imbalance of the gut bacteria
  • leaky gut syndrome
  • allergies
  • chronic infections
  • exercising too much or too little
  • exposure to toxins
  • hormonal imbalances
  • overindulgence in alcohol
  • trauma, both physical and mental
  • and the list goes on and on…

So what does all of this mean? For me, its easy…find the cause of the inflammation and I can help my clients to a healthier state. For you, it means to try to control some of the factors that cause inflammation: clean up your diet and take a good quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement, stop smoking or drinking too much alcohol, get your teeth as healthy as possible, take a quality probiotic, de-stress (don’t worry…I will be writing about that soon), do a detox or elimination diet once or twice a year, exercise smartly, and get some help from a functional health care practitioner if you need it.

July 12th, 2012

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Nutrition Therapy Disclaimer

Nutrition Counseling is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, mental or physical, and is not intended as a substitute for regular medical care.
Nutrition Counseling does provide nutritional evaluation, balanced diet planning, nutritional supplement suggestions, and lifestyle recommendations for the purpose of enhancing health.

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