Research-Supported Immune Boosting Strategies for Fall and Winter

Research-Supported Immune Boosting Strategies for Fall and Winter

Part 2: Proven Supplements to Support Your Immune System

Research-Supported Immune Boosting Strategies for Fall and Winter

Immune-enhancing supplements are not magic bullets, but many have solid scientific evidence backing their use. As part of a holistic immune health strategy, targeted, proven supplements can help you prevent, shorten and recover more quickly from viral illnesses like influenza and possibly COVID-19.

In part 1 of this immune health series, I talked about the role of vitamin D in optimizing immune function. I focused especially on its potential to reduce the incidence and severity of COVID-19 infections — a promise that is being increasingly studied, but that hasn’t necessarily made its way into mainstream medicine’s recommendations…yet!

Today I’d like to dig deeper into the trove of vitamins, herbs and other supplements known to improve immune function and help fight off the flu and other viruses. From familiar favorites like vitamin C to more surprising supports like the leaves of the olive tree, there are dozens of demonstrated natural immune enhancers which you can consider building into your seasonal wellness plan while working with a qualified professional.  

First, it’s vital for me to stress that supplements are just one small part of your ideal strategy to increase your resistance to infection. When I meet with my clients, we focus on immune health. This involves a comprehensive approach that builds on supporting optimal nutrition, healthy gut function, regular movement, quality sleep, stress management, and supportive practices like prayer or meditation. There is no one herb, formula or magic bullet that will give you iron-clad protection against illness, and each person is unique as to what may be best for their situation. However, there are SO many supportive nutrients and practices that can work together to help you build a more robust and resilient immune system. 

In this time where many are fearful and overwhelmed in the face of the pandemic, I want to share scientifically-backed information that can help you take positive action. Hope and empowerment are strong antidotes to fear and paralysis, and I believe both are powerful agents in their own right for building or maintaining optimal wellness. So let’s take a look!


Julie’s Favorite Immune Support Supplements

The list of evidence-based supplements for immunity is long, so I’d like to break my favorites down into seven categories and give brief info on each. 

If you’re a clinician or nutrition wonk, I offer more in-depth information and detailed references on nutrition, supplementation and immunity in this article I wrote for the Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders (AGMD) this summer.

Key Vitamins & Minerals

  • Vitamin D. This powerful vitamin derived from sun exposure has been shown to improve immune function, prevent infection and reduce the severity of viral illnesses. In new studies conducted since spring 2020, it’s showing promise as both a preventive and treatment option for COVID-19 — an exciting and important development you can learn more about in part 1 of this series. I often recommend Hi-PO Emulsi D Liquid (Designs for Health) for those who need to supplement. (Be sure to get your levels checked annually to determine need for supplementation.)
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit and other fruits and vegetables, and is a key antioxidant that protects against cellular damage, infections and cancer. It’s been shown to help prevent cold and flu symptoms and reverse the course of these illnesses, and it’s increasingly being used in high-dose IV protocols to help address antibiotic-resistant infections. I usually recommend 2000-4000 mg/day using a buffered formula in divided doses, taken with food to prevent stomach upset.
  • Zinc. Research on zinc has found strong antiviral properties against many viruses. Zinc enhances the immune system while also reducing symptoms and spread of viruses. It has also been used in some protocols throughout the country to treat COVID-19. Note: while lower doses of zinc on a daily basis may be quite safe, if you are taking larger doses above 30mg/day for longer than several weeks, copper levels may be compromised and copper rich foods or supplementation may be needed. Over time, high dose zinc can depress the immune system. It is important to work with a practitioner trained in supplements.
  • Key minerals. The immune system relies on a number of key minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and chromium for healthy functions that include producing virus-fighting cells and antibodies and helping to regulate inflammation. Including a  mineral formula as part of your multivitamin-mineral or as a stand-alone can help ensure you’re not deficient and that you have these minerals in a healthy balance. 


Antioxidants are your body’s key defense against cellular and DNA damage from free radicals — molecules that wreak havoc by stealing electrons from others. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, you can get an inflammatory condition called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress plays an important role in influenza and other viral illnesses and has been proposed to be critical in the lung and organ damage caused by severe COVID-19 illnesses. One way to bolster your immune system, lower inflammation and repair cellular damage is through eating antioxidant foods and supporting your body with nutraceuticals.

Glutathione is often called your “master antioxidant” and can be found in foods such as asparagus, walnuts, spinach, and avocados. Also, taking a glutathione supplement OR a supplement that supports glutathione levels such as NAC, n-acetyl-cysteine, which is a precursor, to support tissue levels of glutathione may be helpful. NAC is one of the major antioxidants in lung tissue. There is evidence that oxidative stress contributes to the pulmonary damage that may result from influenza. Studies have shown that supplements that boost glutathione have reduced the frequency and severity of influenza episodes. 

Vitamin C and E are both powerful antioxidants you can obtain through a healthy whole foods diet and supplementation if needed. They also support healthy glutathione levels. Three antioxidant support formulas I often recommend are NAC (Pure), Liposomal Glutathione (Pure or QuickSilver) and Antioxidant Formula (Pure). 


  • Elderberry. This gorgeous and delicious berry could win an award for my clients’ favorite formula to take (and mine!). Its power lies in its proven ability to lessen the severity of colds, flu and other respiratory illnesses. You can take 600–900 mg/day of an extract standardized to contain 22% polyphenols and 15% anthocyanins. It would be wise to discontinue during an active COVID infection. It has been highly debated that it may or may not stimulate a cytokine storm, an increased and harmful inflammatory response.
  • Olive Leaf Extract. Extract of olive leaf has demonstrated broad spectrum antimicrobial and antiviral properties, including against influenza. A product I use often during flu season is Olivirex (Bio-Botanical Research).
  • Green Tea/EGCG. There is accumulating evidence of immune benefits from consuming green tea or its active ingredient EGCG. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of EGCG are thought to be one of the main reasons for its role in disease prevention. A double-blind trial used the combination of green tea catechins and theanine (a compound present in green and black tea) and found a decrease in the incidence of influenza in healthcare workers.


Probiotics support your immune system by helping to populate more healthy bacteria in your intestines. They also help your mucosal lining secrete protective immunoglobulin, which is foundational to a healthy gut lining and barrier protection, helps prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria, and optimizes your immune system. A healthy balanced gut and strong barrier lining will help reduce inflammation as well. There are quite a few quality products I recommend, but, by far, the most effective in my practice has been Megasporebiotic (Microbiome Labs) and another new favorite is Ther-biotic Synbiotic (Klaire labs).


Beta-glucans are another place where you can get powerful immune-supportive properties from something delicious: specific mushrooms and the cell wall of oats! Beta-glucans that boost your defenses against both cancer and infectious diseases are found in the highest concentrations in the more exotic reishi, shiitake, and maitake mushroom varieties. You can also get a fair amount from oatmeal, barley and seaweed. For those of you who shudder at the thought of more oats, or mushrooms or mushroom tea, supplements are a great choice. Two good options are Beta 1,3/1,6- D–Glucan (NOW) and ImmunotiX 250 (Xymogen).


Immunoglobulins are one of the top supporters for immune and gut healing that I use in practice.  They help the intestinal immune system by binding a broad range of microbes and toxins within the gut and strengthen gut barrier function. Immunoglobulins have been shown to bind microbes and toxins in the GI tract and eliminate them before the immune system is activated. As these unwanted triggers are removed, it resets healthy immune tolerance and builds a stronger gut lining barrier to help protect you.  Immunoglobulins, as compared to colostrum, which contains dairy, are dairy free and lactose free making them ideal for those who are sensitive. Top products that I highly recommend:  SBI Protect (Orthomolecular), MEGAIgG2000 (Microbiome Labs), and MegaMucosa (Microbiome Labs).

Immune Support Formulas

Many reputable manufacturers offer formulas with ingredient combinations that work synergistically to support the immune system. Three great options I use in my practice are OliveDefense (Xymogen), Immun-Zyme (Apex), and Viracid (Orthomolecular). If your head is spinning from all of the info above and you’re looking for a single, balanced supplement, one of these may be right for you. It’s nice to have one of these on hand to take at the first sign if you feel you have a cold or the flu coming on.

I’ve shared a lot of information with you and my intention is not to overwhelm you, but to help you take steps to be informed and support your health in ways that are right for you. This is the perfect time to commit to focusing on our health and resiliency. 

In combination with a whole, plant-based, and varied diet; a healthy gut; and a supportive lifestyle, one or more of the above immune supports may help offer protection against COVID and this winter’s flu season. Regardless, the evidence is strong that it will increase your resistance to many diseases, both infectious and chronic, and, in my experience, offer you greater energy, vitality, and wellness.


If you’d like a short handout of my top immune support supplement recommendations, here is everything in one simple chart.


Download Julie’s Favorite Immune Support Supplements


Next up in my immune health series: HCL, PPIs and immune health. Stay tuned!

If you are looking for guidance on how to support your immunity through a personalized program that improves gut health and lowers inflammation and autoimmunity, consider connecting with me on a free 15-minute consultation.

Research-Supported Immune Boosting Strategies for Fall and Winter

Vitamin D, Immune Health and COVID-19 Risk

Vitamin D, Immune Health and COVID-19 Risk

Vitamin D, Immune Health and COVID-19 RiskBeyond cautionary measures like proper hand washing, masks and social distancing, your best defense against COVID-19 and influenza is a well-supported immune system. Learn how to keep it in fighting shape this season with my ongoing immune health series.

A recent comment on the national news got me so revved up it has brought me back into the blogosphere to set the record straight. Admittedly, I don’t watch much news lately, but my ears perked up when a national reporter asked a prominent MD:

“Other than following the CDC guidelines for diligent handwashing, wearing a mask, staying hydrated, and eating our veggies, is there anything else the American public can do to support their immune system?”

This was it … a great question! I was on the edge of my seat hoping this MD would come through and provide solid recent research and empowering strategies for an American public trying to weather a major pandemic.

But the MD’s response was a major missed opportunity. I was beyond disappointed by her answer, which I must respectfully call uninformed. She stated that eating a well-balanced diet and getting enough sleep was important … which I wholeheartedly endorse. But she followed by saying there was little research at this time that supplements or other interventions are helpful to support the immune system. She added there is some inconclusive evidence about vitamin D and that medical professionals don’t recommend people necessarily supplement.

My jaw was on the floor. This interview took place just last week, after over a dozen studies on vitamin D have been released in the past 6 months examining its possible preventive role against COVID-19. These studies are, of course, limited by the challenge of gathering data in the middle of an emerging and evolving pandemic. But several of these studies demonstrate a clear connection between low vitamin-D levels and the risk of COVID-19 infection. Further, the authors of these initial studies also connect their findings with solid prior evidence on vitamin D’s function in preventing and reducing the severity of influenza and other respiratory illnesses, as well as its ability to enhance and modulate the immune system in general.

Here are a couple of examples:

I continue to struggle with understanding why ALL medical doctors are not checking vitamin D levels on their patients and why research-based supplementation guidelines are not being offered to help people have greater control over their health.  Individualized and monitored supplementation is necessary to promote the most favorable outcomes.

A robust immune system is the heart of both preventing COVID and minimizing its impact should you catch it. Since we know vitamin D and other supplements can support the immune system, it seems irresponsible to me not to recommend their use in the face of a deadly global infection.

And the same is true for other interventions. Research is clear that lifestyle, environmental factors, and the health of your gut are vital to optimal immune health. That is why over the coming months I will be reporting on solid evidence-based research and strategies that I have been providing to my own clients and followers. I want you to find freedom from the paralysis of fear and give you effective tools that can support your immune system in the fall and winter months, and beyond.

So, keep your eye on this blog as I dive into your many options for optimizing your immunity: including diet, supplements, lifestyle practices, and how to support your immune system’s key regulator — your gut.

Before I sign off for today, let’s get back to the question of vitamin D.
Making the Vitamin D Decision
Are you getting enough vitamin D? Should you supplement?

Your skin produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun, and you need between 10-20 minutes of exposure on your arms and legs a few days per week, typically between the hours of 12-3pm to provide a baseline level. But this is greatly affected by cloud cover, skin color, elevation, use of sunscreen and, especially latitude. I live in Florida, where the sun is strong enough all year to trigger vitamin D production. However, most people in the US live above the 37th parallel, and this means they can’t make vitamin D from the sun November through March each year, and they must rely on whatever stores they’ve built up in the summer months. This is one reason why vitamin D levels plummet in the winter and seasonal infections like the flu rise at the same time.

You can get a small amount of vitamin D from foods, especially fatty fish like tuna and salmon, and some from liver, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified foods like dairy, dairy substitutes and cereals. The recommended amount for an adult daily is 600 – 800 IU. Three oz of cooked salmon has 450 IU; an egg yolk has 37 IU, and a serving of milk offers 2 IU. As you can see, supplementing in the winter in northern states may be your only easy option to ensure adequate vitamin D levels unless you really, really like sardines.

If you choose to supplement, it’s important to use high quality products from professional supplement lines and know that proper dosing can be affected by supplement quality, concentration of active ingredients and other factors. For the highest safety and greatest benefit, it’s best to consult a qualified clinician for testing and recommendations. The typical recommended dose is 800-2000 IU/day of Vitamin D3. Those with certain genetic variations or other conditions can require up to 5000 IU/day and in some cases 10,000 IU/day may be indicated for a short time span. Supplementation should always be done in conjunction with a licensed qualified practitioner.

With the correct supplement and dosing schedule, it’s possible to restore inadequate vitamin D to a healthy level, often in a few weeks to a few months. If you have low vitamin D levels and you supplement, it is important to recheck your levels in 3-4 months.


2020 has taught us that our health can easily be taken for granted … But I feel it may offer a needed wake-up call! There is so much we can do. Instead of just hunkering down and surviving this pandemic, let’s all commit to emerging stronger and wiser than ever. It is my hope that, individually and collectively, we learn to take steps to prioritize our health. It is not selfish or indulgent, it is necessary. Optimal health not only helps us to thrive, but it gives us the power to care for our loved ones, our communities, and the world.

Coming soon — more research-supported supplements for immune health

SIBO – Could it Be the Cause of Your Gut Distress?

Could SIBO bet the cause of your gut distress?

The 5-R Gut Restoration ProgramDo you suffer from gut-related symptoms like bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, reflux and more?  If so, you have plenty of company. And, no, it’s not always IBS. At least not at the root…

Let me explain:
Millions of Americans suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms.  The diagnosis of GERD, gastroparesis, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, and celiac disease continues to grow each year. In my practice, we seek to get to the root of what may be driving these illnesses. (Sometimes gut issues can often show up in other ways such as rashes, anxiety, joint pain, weight loss, and more). Food, environment, genetics, medication use, stress, and lack of sleep can be part of the problem. However, it is important to determine the state of the digestive tract to know how to provide the best intervention. You could be eating the “perfect” diet but if your gut and body are out of balance, it will not heal until this imbalance is corrected.

Recently, research has revealed there is a digestive disorder that is much more prevalent than previously believed, and it is suspected to be the possible cause of many gut symptoms…especially IBS (1). According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology 30-85% of IBS may be related to SIBO, and researchers suggest physicians give consideration of excluding SIBO before giving a definitive diagnosis of IBS. (2)

The Latest Info on SIBO

AGMD Beacon of Hope Journal: SIBO- Is it causing your IBS or gut-related disorder? by Julie Bender SibbioI recently discussed SIBO and its implications for GI patients in the Summer/Fall edition of the Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders (AGMD) Beacon of Hope Journal.

If you have any of the above symptoms, I’d highly recommend checking out the full article to learn all about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for SIBO (yes, this is treatable, and you don’t have to live with it!).

Listen to Learn More

I also had an in-depth conversation with AMGD on their Hope Podcast about SIBO and gut-related disorders, which I hope may help you find more information about this common, but overlooked issue.

A Brief Overview of SIBO

Pressed for time? Here is a short introduction to SIBO, how it comes about, and what can be done to address it.

What is SIBO & What Causes it?

SIBO stands for “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth” and is a condition in which there is an excessive amount of bacteria in the small intestine. SIBO is associated with a number of conditions including: motility disorders of the intestine (IBS, gastroparesis), dysfunction of intestinal nerves/muscles (related to food poisoning), autoimmune diseases, blind loop syndrome, untreated celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and more.

Normally the muscles in the stomach and the small intestine move food through the intestine in a synchronized fashion.  These series of contractions are called peristalsis.  The migrating motor complex (MMC), a small intestine cleaning wave, occurs only when food is not present, about every 90-120 minutes or when fasting.  If the intestinal motility is altered, such as in IBS, the MMC waves occur less frequently.  These movements help clear bacteria out of the small intestines, so when the action is disrupted, bacteria and food may remain in the small bowel leading to overgrowth of microbes.

There are a number of underlying conditions believed to be associated with SIBO, such as systemic disorders (diabetes, hypothyroidism, immune dysfunction); motility disorders (IBS, gastroparesis); celiac and Crohn’s disease; gastroenteritis from food poisoning; surgical alterations of GI tract; or prior bowel obstruction with scaring.  Also the use of medications, especially proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s), stress, hormonal imbalance, age, and diet can be a factor in why someone may develop SIBO.

Low stomach acid production is one of the main contributing factors to SIBO that I see in my practice.  This is because stomach acid is protective and helps kill any pathogen or bacteria that enters the upper GI region.  Stomach acid is necessary for optimal digestion, especially protein.  Long-term use of acid suppressors such as omeprozole, prevacid, protonix, etc is a risk factor for SIBO and for less-than-optimal gut function.

How to Test for SIBO?

Testing accuracy can be limited, as there is a lack of standardization regarding the normal bowel flora.  However, the best option we currently have is the lactulose or glucose breath test.  The bacteria in the gut will produce either hydrogen or methane gas, and the breath test can detect this, helping to diagnose SIBO.  There is also a third gas that these bacteria can emit called hydrogen sulfide, and testing for this gas is still in the works. Consequently, those individuals that present with this gas will have inaccurate or false negative results.

Treatment for SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is most often treated with antibiotics. Both prescription drugs, such as Xifaxin, or antimicrobial herbs may be used to treat the bacterial overgrowth.  Treatment regimens will vary depending on the type of SIBO- hydrogen or methane gas predominant.  Elemental diets are another option for treating SIBO.  In my practice working with SIBO clients on a weekly basis, I’ve learned to tailor interventions for the individual case. This will involve key foods, supplements, probiotics, and lifestyle interventions to help kill the bad bugs and repopulate the good bacteria.

SIBO can be very challenging to treat and often individuals may experience a reoccurrence.   That is why is it important to identify the underlying cause and any factors that increase the risk of developing it again such as poor gut motility, nutrient deficiencies, autoimmune dysfunction, stress, medications, and eating habits.

Can Diet Alone Treat SIBO?

No, there is no evidenced-based diet therapy for SIBO treatment or prevention.  Diet alone cannot reverse SIBO… you must work with your MD or provider to find the best treatment plan for you. However, it is important to also realize that just taking the medication is often not enough to clear the bad bugs…and a comprehensive approach and intervention is key to long-term success! So, what you eat is an essential part of the intervention plan to help eradicate SIBO. Often diets like the FODMAP diet or SCD (Specific Carbohdyrate Diet), or GAPS may be used. In my practice, I have had very good success with the SIBO Specific Diet.

What can I do if I think I might have SIBO?

If you think you may have SIBO, talk to your GI doctor to be tested!  It is important to get to the root cause of your symptoms and not suffer.  My practice also offers testing for SIBO if your doctor does not currently make this available to you.  Remember, when treating SIBO it takes a comprehensive approach and often a team to help support you in your healing process.  It is important to give your body time to repair and heal while fighting the bacterial overgrowth and to nourish it well after.

I have worked with many client’s who suffered and are now FREE from SIBO. Check out some of their success stories.  I would love to help you heal from within and find a PEACEFUL Gut!

What are the 5 R’s of Gut Restoration?

The 5-R Gut Restoration Program

The 5-R Gut Restoration Program

A properly functioning digestive system is critical to good health. Research is clear that the primary place inflammation occurs is in the gut.Inflammation can lead to both gut dysfunction as well as systemic inflammation — this may lead to fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, weight gain/loss, headaches, sinus issues, as well as serious medical conditions such as autoimmune disease (such as Irritable Bowel Disease, Crohn’s, MS, Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s, etc), brain inflammation, allergies, asthma, autism, ADHD, and chronic skin conditions.

In functional nutrition, which views the body as a whole and seeks to uncover root cause solutions, we use a system to restore digestive and whole body health that goes by the simple acronym of the ‘5Rs’: remove, replace, repair, reinoculate, and rebalance. It is the deep association between GI function and ill health that the 5-R Program is intended to address. When applied to various chronic problems, the 5R program can cause a dramatic improvement in symptoms, and often a complete resolution of the health issue.

5-R Program Goal

The goal of the 5-R Program for digestive health is to accomplish the following: 

  1. To identify the timeline of health events that have lead to current health concerns and address nutrition and lifestyle factors through education and appropriate interventions.
  2. To normalize digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients, while promoting effective detoxification.
  3. To normalize the balance of gastrointestinal bacteria and eradicate any pathogens.
  4. To promote diversity within the gut microbiota.
  5. To promote gastrointestinal healing through diet, appropriate supplementation, and lifestyle intervention.

A full 5-R Program takes approximately 6-8 months to complete. It is very important that you are prepared to implement somewhat significant nutrition changes to your diet, add critical supplements, make changes or additions to your lifestyle practices, and perhaps think “outside the box” when it comes to supporting your health.  Without these components, you will be unable to achieve the maximum therapeutic benefit. 

5-R Program Elements

Here is a brief description of the elements of the 5R program for digestive health.

  1. Remove: Remove stressors. Get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract including allergenic foods, parasites or other bad bugs such as bacteria or yeast. This might involve using an allergy “elimination diet” to find out what foods are causing GI symptoms or it may involve taking drugs or herbs to eradicate a particular bug. Stressors may also be emotional, related to environment, trauma, or interpersonal stress and that is why a collaborative approach is encouraged.  
  2. Replace: Replace digestive secretions by adding back things like digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.  These may be compromised by diet, drugs, diseases, aging, or other factors.
  3. Reinoculate: Help beneficial bacteria flourish by taking in probiotic foods or supplements and by consuming the high soluble fiber foods that good bugs like to eat, called “prebiotics.”  Foods rich in prebiotics can be helpful and harmful to the gut, depending on your stage of gut healing. 
  4. Repair: Help the lining of the GI tract repair itself by supplying key nutrients often in short supply in a disease state, such as zinc, antioxidants (e.g. vitamins A, C, and E), fish oil, and the amino acid glutamine.  
  5. Rebalance: Pay attention to lifestyle choices. Sleep, the way you approach and eat food, your emotions, exercise and stress can all affect the GI tract. Also activating your vagus nerve for digestive and optimal health is key!


You have heard it said,  “you are what you eat.”  In Functional Nutrition, we take it a step further in our belief that “you are what you eat, and then absorb, and then what you do or do not detoxify.” The GI tract performs many functions key to your overall health and well-being.

  • DIGESTION– This is the process whereby our food is broken down into smaller portions that are more easily absorbed by the intestines.
  • ABSORPTION– This is the process whereby the digested food is taken up by the intestine and delivered to the body for utilization as energy, nutrition, and other cellular functions.
  • EXCLUSION– This refers to the barrier function performed by the GI tract as it appropriately excludes substances from entering the body.
  • DETOXIFICATION– This is the complex process involving the liver and GI tract whereby toxins are metabolized for elimination from the body. Toxins include such things as medications we take that must be metabolized; the pesticides, preservatives, dyes, and flavor-enhancers we ingest knowingly in our food; and the over 4 million chemicals present in our environment not intended for use in our bodies.
  • ELIMINATION– After digestion has occurred and the metabolic phase of detoxification is complete, the GI tract must then eliminate the digestive and metabolic wastes of these processes. Some refer to this as excretion.

Reclaim a Peaceful Gut with the
6-Month JBS Gut Restoration Program

The 5 R’s are the foundation of my individualized, comprehensive Gut Restoration Program — designed to get to the root causes of your digestive symptoms and chronic illness. This is the process I used to help myself and clients just like you to recover.  In just 6 months you could be free of the pain and dysfunction that have kept you sidelined from life.

7 Attainable NEW YEAR’s Goals That Will Improve Your Health…Mind, Body, and Spirit!

January is almost over…. how are you doing with your New Year’s goals?  I personally stopped setting “resolutions” years ago and now focus on specific goals for each area of my life and/or set a specific word or mantra to help me focus on what I wish to achieve.

New Year’s resolutions/goals don’t need to happen on New Year’s Day, they can happen any day! When you take control of your health and your life, you feel empowered. Choose to feel empowered any day and don’t let the calendar dictate when you establish them… let it be on your time and in your style.

Here are 7 “fast” strategies that you can begin to incorporate into your life to help balance mind, body, and spirit.  The best thing…you can start them any day of the year.  Consider choosing 1-3 that are most important to help you get closer to your Wellness Vision for a spectacular 2018!

  1. Fill your Plate with 75% Non-Starchy Veggies. Yes, this means those with LOTS of color and ideally at least 3 different colors at one time to provide an array of nutrients. Unfortunately, carbs get a bad rap. Carrots and ice cream both fall into the carbs category, but we all know one is healthy and the other isn’t. Ideally, about 75 percent of your carb intake should come from mostly non-starchy veggies with a little addition of fruit. So decide to add as much COLOR and VARIETY as possible this year.  (Both are the “spice of life” :))
  2. Go All-Out with 7 Minutes of Intense Exercise. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, involves working at the very top end of your capacity for 45 – 60 seconds, then recovering for 3 minutes by walking or a slow jog, then returning to very high intensity for another 45 – 60 seconds. Don’t let the short time fool you! You’ll see significant fitness gains very quickly. You can do it walking, running, biking, jumping rope, dancing, or even swimming. Just focus on getting your intensity up to a 8 or 9 on a 1-to-10 scale during the intense intervals, and then allowing your system to recover as much as possible during the rest cycles. Be prepares to work up a sweat!
  3. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene. Going to sleep and waking at the same time each day creates a rhythm for your body. Only use your bed for sleep or romance. Don’t keep a television in your bedroom! Studies show the artificial, bright light can disrupt brain activity and alter sleep hormones like melatonin. (This is a hormone that can also impact your gut!) Consider an hour before bed…turn off your phone, all electronics, and find a relaxation technique (such as a hot bath, reading a book, meditation, etc.) that helps you drift into deep sleep.
  4. Spend 2-Minutes Meditating – Morning and Evening. What a great way to begin and end your day. The effects of chronic high cortisol and other stress hormones on our brains deplete brain power and leave us tired and often overweight. You don’t need 30 minutes of meditation or an hour-long yoga class to lower stress hormones. A 2-minute breathing practice, yoga, or meditation exercise can do wonders for your mind and body.   Here’s a breathing exercise called “Take 5” you can do several times each day. Sit on a chair, or propped up on pillows in your bed, or cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. Close your eyes and your mouth. Breath in slowly through your nose to the count of five. Hold to the count of five and then slowly breathe out to the count of five.
  5. Cultivate a Healthy Community. Friend power, not willpower, is the key to success with your health goals. When you shift focus and prioritize your friends, family, and coworkers, you deepen your connection with them and feel more fulfilled. Sometimes those connections might feel uncomfortable, but they’re worth it. Social media has its place, but most of us spend far more time there than we do interacting in real life, which new research shows it impacts our health and happiness. Instead, be sure to spend an intentional 5 minutes a day connecting with a loved one.
  6. Use a Gratitude Journal. There is great research that gratitude can transform your life by helping to develop greater positivity and happiness. A little reflection on your life and what you are most grateful for each day can help set your day (and perspective) up for success.  One of my favorite little finds this year that I have been using is the 5-Minute Gratitude Journal.  I love that it asks the questions and you journal your reflections both in the morning and the evening…all in 5 minutes tops!
  7. Capture Your “Mantra or Word” for the Year. What is it that you want to improve, achieve, give back, and/or strive toward in the New Year…how can you put that into one word to help you refocus and connect with your priorities for the year? Spend some time reflecting on what is most important to you. For example: “Balance”, “Authenticity”, “Fitness”, “Family” – could help you stay grounded and focused.   

Incorporate these fast, effective strategies and watch your life improve!

  Your resolutions and goals can happen any day.

Get started today  🙂

Could Hypochlorydria be at the Root of Your Digestive Problem?

Does this sound like you?

  • You get the dreaded belly bloat with cramps, pain, and feel like food is sitting in your gut after eating.
  • After eating a healthy normal sized meal you feel exhausted,  hungry, or anxious.
  • You have peeling nails, low iron or B12 levels, acne, or chronic fatigue.
  • Soon after eating you have heartburn or belch repeatedly.

If so, you may be experiencing hypochlorhydria (or low stomach acid).

  This very common condition is widely misunderstood. Hypochlorydria, (Hypo =  low; chlorydria = hydrochloric acid (or HCl)), refers to low stomach acid production. The stomach is highly acidic – with an optimal pH of 1.5-3 – which would burn you to touch it.  This acid is essential to activate a little enzyme called pepsin that begins to break down food.  Without an acidic environment it becomes difficult to  begin the process of digesting protein, thus impacting effective absorption of key nutrients from food.

Why Acid Is Important

Acid in the gut is the body’s first line of defense to kill any bacteria, virus, or harmful substance that enters the body through the mouth!  The secretion of HCL is an essential part of the digestive process and protects the body from all the many pathogens that we come in contact with on a daily basis.

Perhaps you are thinking…. what about all the people (perhaps including you) that take antacids and proton-pump inhibitors (acid blockers)?  It seems as if the general public all suffer from heartburn or reflux these days…and the media overrun by advertisements suggesting we need these pills for relief of our symptoms.

It may be hard to believe, but it is all too common that those with “ heartburn like symptoms” are actually experiencing LOW stomach acid… not too much!  I see this in my practice on a regular basis.  Originally antacids and PPI’s (proton-pump inhibitors) were only prescribed for short term use if a patient was found to have a stomach ulcer or gastritis.  Next to statin (cholesterol lowering drugs) anacids are the the most over – prescribed medication in our country.

How to Test?

Testing for stomach acid is done through something called a Heidelberg test which is rarely done, but a great option to determine the balance of acid essential for your gut.

 Keep In Mind:   If you have ANY kind of digestive dysfunction, it is important to rule out hypochlorhydria.  And if you are taking PPI’s or antacids, consider discussing with your MD about weaning down on the dose and eventually eliminate them unless you have gastritis or an ulcer.  This could hold you back from healing your gut and absorbing key nutrients and could be one of the root causes behind many digestive issues such as chronic GERD/reflux, IBS, SIBO, parasites, food sensitivities, and more.

 10 Signs that You May Have Hypochlorydria:

  1. You feel like you are unable to digest meat and/or have lost your taste for it. Most often I find that clients who are hypochlorhydric don’t enjoy meat or protein sources since they can’t digest it well!  With a little HCL support, they regain the ability to digest protein
  2. Your fingernails chip, peel, or break easily.  If you’re fingernails chip, peel, or break easily, it’s typically a clear sign of deficiencies in protein, minerals, and often also essential fatty acids. By now you’re well aware that deficiencies in protein and minerals are often due, in part, to low stomach acid production.
  3. You have anemia that doesn’t respond to iron supplementation.  Iron deficient anemia is so often a gut issue since it is typically an absorption issue.  This is a very specific example of a mineral deficiency that is exacerbated by low stomach acid. Sufficient HCL is needed for iron absorption and iron regulation. This may help you understand why it is so critical to have optimal digestion in order to absorb nutrients from food and supplements.
  4. You eat (or ate) a vegan or vegetarian diet.  Vegetarians eat very little animal protein; vegans eat none. Therefore, the body slows down production of HCL accordingly and is one of the core reasons that a vegetarian diet can be challenging for digestion.  Vegans are often challenged to absorb minerals from their food, properly triggering the production of pancreatic enzymes.  In addition, the secretion of HCL triggers release of intrinsic factor, essential to the absorption of vitamin B12.
  5. You experience belching or gas about an hour after a meal.  One of stomach acid’s important roles is to trigger the opening of the pyloric valve, the little valve that connects the stomach to the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). That little valve is very smart, and it knows not to open until the contents of the stomach are at the proper state of digestion. This includes a sufficiently acidic stomach environment. If the pyloric valve is waiting for a level of stomach acidity that isn’t achievable due to low acid production, the contents of the stomach start to ferment. Fermentation creates gas. Whether it goes up or down depends on your constitution, but it will be released one way or the other.
  6. You get heartburn.  Contrary to popular opinion, acid reflux isn’t always too much stomach acid…it may be just in the wrong place. Your esophagus has a pH of about 7, which is very neutral. Your stomach a pH of 1.5-3, very acidic.  The stomach secretes mucous to protect its lining but the esophagus has no such protective coating. If you’re not secreting enough acid, the pyloric valve doesn’t open, and the contents of your stomach start to ferment.  The gas it creates can build up and cause belching which may open the esophageal valve – the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach – to allow the gas to travel up. Sometimes, along with the gas, a little bit of stomach juices may also come up into the esophagus. The delicate lining of the esophagus is not equipped to handle such acidity…and you experience “heartburn”.
  7. You have really bad breath even though you brush your teeth.  Ruling out poor dental hygiene, it makes perfect sense that bad breathwould be the result of digestive dysfunction. If you’re not digesting the food in your stomach properly, it’s going to create toxic byproducts, which can quickly overload our body’s detoxification abilities. Let’s face it, we live in a very toxic world and our detoxification functions are significantly overworked. Our liver has enough to do without dealing with the by-products of a poor digestive system. Have bad breath even with excellent oral hygiene?… hypochlorhydria may be the root of the problem.  (Check out my 10-day detox program – great to do 1-2x/year to support the liver and gut!)
  8. You’re not hungry for breakfast.  I see this scenario often!  Do you find yourself eating a really large dinner, late in the evening, and then don’t feel hungry for breakfast? You may not be hungry because it’s likely dinner is still processing and digesting upon waking in the morning due to low acid.
  9. You get sleepy after meals.  Becoming sleepy after meals can mean a number of things: blood sugar dysregulation, poor sleep, improper macronutrient balance, or inadequate digestion. It takes a lot of energy to digest, so if digestion is not optimal it will put more responsibility on other body systems.  Feeling energized after eating is normal if good digestion is occurring.
  10.  You have undigested food in your stools.  HCL triggers the release of pancreatic enzymes that help to finish the breakdown of food once it gets into the small intestine. If not enough enzymes are secreted, you won’t finish breaking down your food and will see undigested food in your stool.

If you suspect you have hypochlorydria,  minor tweaks are often all that’s needed to boost HCL levels naturally. For others, more targeted support is required. You should only supplement HCL under the supervision of a health practitioner, and should never do so if you have an ulcer, gastritis, or take prescription antacids.

Action steps you can take at home:

  • Drink a small glass of room temperature water with ½- 1 Tbsp raw organic apple cider vinegar before meals. This stimulates the digestive process and encourages your stomach to secrete stomach acid. (note: if doing this produces a burning sensation in your gut, stop…this is not for you.)
  • Try taking Swedish Bitters before meals, just like your great grandma did. This works along the same lines as the apple cider vinegar – the bitter taste stimulates the digestive process.
  • Eat sitting down, slowly, in a relaxed state. Digestion involves your parasympathetic nervous system connected to your gut, meaning that it only happens when you’re in a relaxed state. If you’re under stress, your digestion is compromised. Digestion actually begins in our brains!
  • Give yourself some time to digest and take a light walk, don’t rush right into the next activity. It’s no coincidence that many cultures (with the exception of the US) enjoy relaxation after a meal. You don’t need a whole afternoon siesta, but a nice 10-15-minute stroll after lunch would be a nice gift to your gut.
  • Eat your last meal of the day at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed. This gives your body time to digest before lying down.

It is important to remember that each of us are unique.  It is all too easy to pin our symptoms on just one thing…like low stomach acid or a food sensitivity.  Often it may be more complex, and that is why I am here to help you address hypochlorhydria in a way that is best for you …or partner with you to get to the ‘root cause’ of your struggle so you can thrive in life  🙂 . 

4 Science-Based Reasons to Commit to a Gratitude Practice… all Season Long!


This is something I talk about a lot and try to practice in my own life.  Gratitude helps me stay grounded while supporting my health goals.  Thanksgiving is the perfect time time to be reminded of this practice.  Gratitude IS indeed a practice, since it takes intention and mindfulness.

As you enjoy delicious food, family time, making memories, travel, and opportunities to “give back” … seek ways to embrace gratitude!   While most of us have good intentions for gratitude throughout the year, it is easy to slip out of focus. Surprisingly, only 20 percent of Americans rate gratitude as a positive, constructive emotion.  Expressing gratitude isn’t just a nice thing to do, is it one of the most basic things you can do to transform your life…and there is no better time to start!

4 Reasons to Practice Gratitude

Just in case you need some actual research and extra motivation after the Thanksgiving season, here are scientifically-proven benefits of practicing gratitude.

  1. Practicing gratitude will make you happier than money or “stuff.”  It is so easy to focus our attention on what we “don’t have” and strive “to get”. Concentrating our attention on what we actually “have” will impact our overall happiness more than pursuing  money or  material objects. For example, the act of using a gratitude journal each day for a month has been shown to have a 10 percent increase on subjective happiness. Believe it or not, that’s the same reported increase as doubling your income!  The Gratitude Journal by Catherine Price is one of my favorites used in  the JBS Detox Program.
  2. Practicing gratitude makes us stronger emotionally.  Not only does gratitude improve our self-esteem and lower our risk of depression, it also improves our resilience and ability to deal with trauma. Additionally, it reduces toxic emotions like envy, resentment, and regret!  Choose gratitude over negative emotions when they creep in… it can transform your day!
  3. Gratitude heightens our immune system (aka: our gut!)   It has been shown to support blood cells to fight disease and decreases stress hormones like cortisol by up to 23 percent. It also decreases blood pressure and heart rate variability. It is important not to underestimate emotions as a root cause that lead to impacting health.
  4. Practicing gratitude helps us sleep better.  Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. In one study of 65 subjects with a chronic pain condition, those who were assigned a daily gratitude journal to be completed at night reported half an hour more sleep than the control group. In another study of 400 healthy people, participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test reported significantly better sleep.  Consider adding this to your daily sleep routine.

The science is in, gratitude has a positive impact on our overall well-being.  As 2017 draws to a close consider reflecting an all that you are grateful for and make a list… but don’t keep it to yourself, share it with someone!

With THANKS for YOU!   


Gut Dysbiosis – What It Is and What You Can Do About It!

The words, gut microbiome and dysbiosis, are practically household terms as research and information about the gut grows.  Just the other day I overheard two women in a local coffee shop discussing tips on how to “get their gut balanced”.  Despite increasing information there is also much confusion and oversimplification…the gut is complex!  To help you stay well-informed let’s define – gut dysbiosis – and how it may apply to you.

Within your gastrointestinal tract lies trillions of microbes – bacteria, fungi, viruses, even parasites.  This unique collection of microbes is known as your microflora…or your “inner garden”.  As with most gardens, the climate, temperature, and soil all impact its well-being.  The garden can easily shift out of balance compromising the health of the crop…not to mention becoming overrun with weeds if not well cared for.  You can think of this as dysbiosis…an imbalance and/or an overgrowth of the weeds or “bad stuff”.

Three Ways Dysbiosis Can Impact Your Gut

  1. The most basic imbalance is too many unhealthy microbes in the gut. An overabundance of “bad” inflammatory bacteria, too much yeast (such as candida albicans), or an unwelcomed virus or parasite lead to dysbiosis. To treat this type of dysbiosis, medications, broad-spectrum anti-microbial herbs, lifestyle and dietary changes such as including fiber-rich foods, probiotics, and supplements are very effective. The key is identifying and appropriately correcting the imbalance with the correct intervention!
  2. Poor diversity or not enough microbes can be the culprit. It may not be as common as an overgrowth but lack of or under-abundance of bacteria…even the good…can be problematic! An under-abundance may indicate that the lining of the gut where the microflora lives may be compromised and needs repair. Improvement may be achieved with appropriate probiotics, prebiotics, gut lining supportive supplements (like glutamine), and healthy bacteria-friendly foods.
  3. Your bacteria settle in the wrong place. Microbes live all along the lining of your gastrointestinal tract…from mouth to anus. It is important they live and thrive where they belong… which is primarily in the large intestines (or colon).  When they begin to overpopulate and take up residence in places where they don’t belong, such as the mouth or small intestines, that is when they begin to create problems. One of the most common disturbances is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth).  SIBO occurs when the gastrointestinal microbiome has shifted and the growing and thriving bacteria migrate from the colon to the small intestines. Antibiotics, herbs, diet, lifestyle changes, and even ensuring optimal thyroid and hormonal balance are important for correcting this imbalance…and avoiding reoccurrence.

How does dysbiosis happen?

There are many different reasons why we harbor the microbes we do…and often, your “story” related to your life and health history can be valuable in understanding how or why the gut has been impacted. Birth history, childhood, food choices, antibiotics, medications (prescription and over the counter), life circumstances, stress, environmental toxins, and food poisoning…all can impact our microbiome.

Could YOU have dysbiosis?

Digestive struggle of any kind suggests an imbalance or dysbiosis of the microbes in the gut. If you have stomach upset after eating, indigestion, GERD (reflux), heartburn, slow digestion, or bloating, it is important to address dysbiosis.  If you have bowel problems, like excessive gas, lower belly pains, constipation, or diarrhea – then dysbiosis is the prime suspect.

Dysbiosis can be the “root cause” of seemingly unrelated disorders

I work with gut dysbiosis daily in my practice.  Many of my clients are surprised when I suggest dybiosis as a possible underlying cause when they are not complaining of problems they associate with their gut.   As research grows, it is obvious how much the gut is involved with overall health and its influence on our body systems and disease process.   Dysbiosis may be silent gut-wise, while still causing trouble in other areas of your body.  That is why universally I am typically recommending a probiotic that fits the client’s unique needs as we begin to work on diet and lifestyle habits to promote a diverse, healthy, and a PEACEFUL gut.

Here are a few examples that could be linked to dysbiosis:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Autoimmune disease/disorder.
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Neurological and psychiatric disease
  • Eczema, weight loss, and chronic fatigue
  • Weight loss resistance

Basically, any inflammatory process can be traced back to the gut.  To get to the root cause quickly, additional testing is often needed and valuable:  Stool, breath, and urine testing – all of which can provide a snapshot of your personal microbiome. Results and information from testing offer a better “road map” on how to effectively address the dysbiosis with a highly personalized nutrition and lifestyle plan.

What to do if you suspect you have dysbiosis:

  • Talk to your doctor for a referral to a good gastroenterologist who is willing to work with you.  Also find a nutrition expert who is knowledgeable in gut health to partner with.
  • If you suspect SIBO…ask to be tested by your MD with a specific 3 hr. lactulose breath test.  (Did you know that it is estimated that 60-80% of IBS suffers have SIBO!) 
  • Take the FREE JBS Gut Assessment to see how healthy YOUR gut is.
  • Check out my 6-month Gut Restoration Program  which utilizing specific advanced testing to help get to the root cause by providing a roadmap toward restoring the gut to good health. A blood test is used to evaluate the gut barrier and stool culture to determine potential pathogens and balance of microbiome.  In addition, a highly specialized, tailored, and progressive approach is taken which involves evidenced based protocols and guidelines as well as regular visits to keep you on track toward optimal health.

Take good care of your ‘Inner Garden’ so you can enjoy good health – the ultimate fruit of your labor!

Your Partner for a Peaceful Gut!  🙂


ps.  Want to take a deep dive to learn more about your gut?

Check out my recorded  Webinar: The Gut: The Gateway to Good Health

for Free until January 1st!

Is a Food Sensitivity Making You Miserable? Find out how one client reclaimed her health AND love for cooking!

Food Sensitivities

Do you struggle with gut issues, acne, psoriasis, brain fog, or migraines?

 Have you been told you have leaky gut or IBS?

Food sensitivity testing may be something you should consider!  Helping clients get to the ROOT cause of their symptoms and health struggle is my passion.  This is just one test that I often use to get to the core of the issue…literally!

As you may know, the gut is truly the “gateway to good health”.  This is because approximately 80% of the immune system is in the gut… which is the largest area of contact with the environment.  When the integrity of our gut begins to break down due to poor health, nutritional imbalances, stress, illness, etc., the lining of our gut can become compromised.  When this happens it may activate the inflammatory response in your body in response to certain foods.  The purpose of the testing is to show which foods and/or environmental triggers are creating a chronic inflammatory response.

Acute inflammation is critical and helpful short-term for the defense of infection or injury.  However, with a food sensitivity… the immune system perceives food in the same way it perceived something that is harmful which results in chronic inflammation. By unknowingly eating foods on a regular basis that your body is reacting to, you set off this immune response. The body is reeved up- ready for a fight!  It is chronically activated, never giving the body a break. When this occurs white blood cells can release harmful chemicals and generate damaging free radicals (inflammatory agents) as they encounter  foods and chemicals that they are perceiving as “foreign invaders”.

It is often impossible to determine what food is causing a reaction, since reactions that work on the innate immune system can be delayed for several hours, even as much as a few days.  For example, you may have bloating, irritability, rash, or fatigue in the afternoon but may be reacting to something you ate at breakfast or for dinner the night before!

Food Sensitivity vs. Allergy

An allergy is a reaction that triggers the release of antibodies that results in immediate symptom onset. A true food allergy causes an immune response that can affect multiple organs and in some cases be severe or even life threatening. For example, if you have a shellfish allergy, you will know immediately after you eat shellfish!  Food sensitivity symptoms are delayed and are typically limited to digestive problems, but they can lead to chronic inflammatory health issues as well.

What Company Is Best for Food Sensitivity Testing?

In my practice I use what I consider one of the most accurate and well respected tests available today.  The Alcat Test is provided by Cell Sciences Systems Limited, Corporation,  a licensed  and  FDA complaint laboratory. The Alcat Test is the only test of its kind to have been awarded 3 patents.

The Alcat Test is an immunobiological blood test to analyze the inflammatory response of white blood cells to foods and environmental factors.  The test uses pure whole food organic extracts and all test substances are manufactured in a strictly controlled production process.  The facility is a registered FDA medical device manufacturer and ISO 13485 certified.

Clinical assessments of the Alcat Test used to guide dietary modification have shown significant improvement in many common symptoms.  The efficacy of the Alcat Test has been documented in more than 30 studies implementing rigorous double blind and often placebo controlled study designs.

References found: and I included some study referenced below!

The Alcat Test is designed to assess sensitivities to over 450 food, chemical and environmental substances. These sensitivities are shown to be associated with both acute and chronic conditions.

Chronic activation of the immune system has been linked to:

  •       IBS/ Bloating / Ulcerative Colitis/ Constipation/ Crohn’s Disease
  •       Fatigue/ Brain Fog
  •       Weight Gain
  •       Migraine/Tension headaches
  •       Eczema/ Psoriasis
  •       Arthritis/Rheumatoid Arthritis
  •       Anxiety/Restlessness
  •       Cognitive Impairment
  •       Attention Deficit Disorders
  •       Fibromyalgia/Joint and Muscle Pain
  •       Allergies
  •       And more……

By identifying your particular list of “trigger” foods and avoiding them for 3-6 months can help heal the gut and reduce and/or elminate symptoms.  One of the biggest misconceptions is that ALL food sensitivities have to be avoided forever!  This is NOT the case, nor is this healthy in may cases.  The key is to rest the gut and calm the chronic inflammation response.   This test can provide clarity and freedom to help you know precisely which foods are friendly or unfriendly to your body.  Together we take steps to be creative and find delicious meals and snacks to enjoy… while avoiding these foods for a time.  At the same time we are always working on healing the gut in our efforts to help you reclaim your health and achieve optimal wellness!.


Investigators Berardi L, De Amici M, Castello C, Torre, Giunta, Legoratto, and Vignini studied 48 patients who participated in an elimination diet based on Alcat Test results. They found that the Alcat Test-based diet improved symptoms in 71% of patients. In particular, symptom improvements were most evident in patients with higher symptom scores, dietary changes and everyday conditions. Presented at 30th Congress of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Cellular Responses to Food in Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

Investigators Fell PJ, Soulsby S, and Brostoff J conducted a double blind, placebo controlled study on 20 patients which demonstrated that an Alcat Test based elimination diet dramatically improved symptoms of IBS and had a statistically significant correlation between an Alcat score and symptom provocation. Published in Journal of Nutritional Medicine, Volume 2, Number 2, 1991.

For MORE details on the ALCAT Testing – click HERE

Be sure to watch the Video and take a “Tour” through the Lab!

Inspiration… Donna!

NO DOUBT…  it can be overwhelming when you find out you not only have more than one food allergy, but also food sensitivities and intolerances!  Such was the case for one of my clients.  Donna was one of those lovely southern women who always wore a beautiful smile, was ready with a hug, always looked put together, and just embraced LIFE.  However, sitting in my office many years ago, her world was flipped upside down.  Despite the cherry smile, tears took over as she admitted that she had a “love affair” with cooking and eating and felt her life would never be the same.  We worked through meal planning, how to modify recipes, and strategies for eating out.  I only saw Donna a couple times and I always wondered if she had found improvement and full recovery.  (Looking back, I certainly wish I could have delivered the expertise and the more individualized care that I now offer at my own practice!)

Guess what…. Donna reappeared in my life with a friendly phone call not long ago.   I immediately recognized the voice!  She had been looking for me (since I had gone into private practice after we met) and wanted to drop something off!  Well, I found out Donna not only reclaimed amazing health… but also reclaimed her LOVE AFFAIR with cooking…and wrote her own cookbook!  Four years of culinary creations in her kitchen and she released “LICIOUS” – Floribbean Recipes for those with Multiple Food Allergies that Just Love Delicious Food .

This is one women who when….

 “Life handed her Lemons ….so she made Lemon Quinoa!”  

(yes she did! – page 28 of her cookbook and it is delicious!)

For more about Donna, her story…and cook book.  Click HERE


Think Food Sensitivity and/or Environmental Testing may be Right for YOU?

Contact me today and let’s find out if this may help YOU get to the root of your health struggle!

Cheers to Your Health!


ps. I also offer many diverse testing options based on your unique situation and case.

A full listing will be available soon once the new website goes LIVE in July!  


Valentine’s Day Indulgence That Benefits Your Heart & Mood!

Do you have a LOVE AFFAIR with chocolate….did you wake up this Valentine’s Day morning with IT on your mind…knowing TODAY is your day to indulge? You are not alone…the world’s love affair with chocolate has grown over the years. Americans consume around 18 billion dollars worth of chocolate every year, with dark chocolate being the greatest trend due to its rich and intense alternative. This has certainly peeked the creativity of culinary artists experimenting with new ways to include dark chocolate in almost any form of food.

So the real question…..are there really benefits of dark chocolate…and what type and how much?

REJOICE dark chocolate lovers…the answer is YES! But only with awareness and mindfulness may you truly reap the health benefit. It is important to consider the source, type, and how it is made since dark chocolate can be high in unhealthy fat, sugar, pesticides, preservatives, and food coloring/dyes.

Fortunately...savoring small amounts of quality (preferably organic) dark chocolate (~1.5-2oz) that is minimally processed and contains 75-95% of cacao will deliver health benefits!

The Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

  1. Improve your MOOD: The high amount of polyphenols found in chocolate are phytochemicals shown to improve depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. A recent study showed that performance on cognitive test significally improved in elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment if they consumed a cacao drink continuing high levels of flavonols for 8 weeks, compared to those who consumed a drink low in flavonols. (Flavonols are a member of the polyphenol family found in natural plant food sources.)
  2. Acts like a probiotic in your GUT: Your healthy bacteria in your gut loves to eat chocolate too! Nutrients found in chocolate, such as the polyphenols, antioxidants, and fiber are not easily digestible. However, when good bacteria feeds on the fiber, compounds that are smaller, better absorbed, and non-inflammatory are released. This can impact the inflammation that occurs in cardiovascular tissue and why is is thought to help the heart.
  3. Can help your HEART health: The heart is really where it’s at when it comes to benefit. Research shows that the flavoinds in chocolate can help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Flavonoids can also significantly decrease systolic blood pressure in healthy older adults. It may also help improve insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction, both of which have a positive effect on the heart. A study published in JAMA found that those who ate chocolate twice a week who previously suffered a heart attack, compared to those who never ate chocolate, had a 66% lower risk of death from heart disease! (Remember folks…moderation! Chocolate alone won’t save your heart!)
  4. May stimulate your BRAIN to help you be more alert and attentive: Did you know that a good afternoon “pick me up” just may be the dark chocolate you are avoiding? A square or two of dark chocolate (remember, the darker the better) can have a significant stimulatory effect on the brain, which can make you more alert and attentive. Although researchers are not quite sure why, cocoa has this type of effect on the brain that researchers do know increases the occipital beta EEG readings, which corresponds directly with attention and alertness. (See below Cacao vs. Cocoa.) One of my favorite afternoon pick-me ups: Mix of raw almond, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, and cocoa nips!

So we know the ganache and fruit filled truffles and organic dark chocolate bars peppered with candies and sweetened dried fruit is not your ticket to good health! But instead a good quality dark chocolate will literally have an impact from head to toe.

(Check out the AMAZING truffle recipe below full of benefit this Valentine’s Day and beyond!)


What s the difference between cacao and cocoa?

In a nutshell, cacao is the purest form of chocolate we can consume (and the best). It s derived from the Theobroma Cacao, which translates to Food of the Gods. The cocoa bean is the basis of all chocolate and cocoa products, including cacao nibs. Every chocolate maker has a secret roasting formula of time and temperature to bring out a unique set of flavors from the bean. When the bean is cracked open and the papery husk is removed, the cacao nib comes into being.

Cacao contains more than 300 compounds, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.

Cocoa powder is basically finely ground cacao nibs, making them another minimally processed alternative to dark chocolate bars. You can sprinkle cocoa powder on foods, add it to smoothies, or use it to make hot chocolate or brain-healthy dark chocolate snacks and desserts. Avoid cocoa powder that is labeled Dutch chocolate or lists alkali in its ingredients. The alkalization process destroys cocoa s flavonoids antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compounds that provide many of cocoa s health benefits.

My 2 favorite brands for organic cacao nips and cocoa powder is Natives Naturals and Sunfoods Superfoods!


Self-love starts with taking care of our body…even during the holiday season;). BUT make sure that food is still delicious and indulgent. I have been looking for an inspirational treat to share with you to keep you eating healthy, but loving every minute of it. Known as Canada’s Spice Queen, organic spice purveyor, and founder of Spice Sanctuary, Trusha Patel shared one amazing recipe (I am actually making it RIGHT NOW) and I wanted to share it with you!

High in protein from cashew butter and almond flour, sweetened with B6 and iron-rich blackstrap molasses (although I prefer using 100% maple syrup), covered in heart-healthy and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and infused with a super balanced spice blend traditionally used to make golden milk or a turmeric latte, these Golden Milk Dark Chocolate Truffles will definitely do the trick.

Turmeric is always a key ingredient in making Golden Milk and revered for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and liver cleansing properties and definitely a spice we should all be consuming more of. (We sure do in my 10-Day Detox program!).However, turmeric does need to be used in a specific way for it to be properly absorbed and utilized by the body. Use with black pepper (but not if you have an ulcer or gastritis) and a good fat such as coconut oil. I love this recipe for Valentine’s Day since she has added both anti-inflammatory AND aphrodisiac spices into the recipe ….cardamom and ginger! …Oh my!


(Recipe from Trusha Patel, founder of the Spice Sanctuary)


  • 3/4 cup cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 tsp. blackstrap molasses (or substitute maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional but makes the truffles sweeter)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder*
  • pinch of black pepper*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 40 grams good-quality organic dark chocolate, melted


1. To make the truffle filling, mix cashew butter, almond flour, and molasses in a bowl using a fork or electric whisk.

2. In another bowl, combine the coconut oil and spices and mix well before adding into the cashew butter mixture and folding it in thoroughly.

3. Take a small spoonful into your hand and roll the mixture into a round ball, approximately half an inch in diameter, and place on baking parchment on a tray. Repeat until all the mixture has been rolled. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Melt the chocolate in a bowl. Using a spoon, dip the truffles into the melted chocolate before returning to the tray again. Repeat until all the truffles have been covered in chocolate. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes and serve.

The chocolates are best stored in the fridge in an airtight container and best eaten within a few days…which shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Happy Valentine’s Day & Heart Month!

Cheers to Indulgent Healthful Bliss,

Julie xo

ps. drop me a line and share YOUR favorite dark chocolate recipe or treat!